The History of Alpine Skiing
Alpine skiing is one of the five major disciplines in winter sports. It is the sport of sliding downhill on skis.
The history of downhill skiing is quite old, beginning during the 19th century. The first race took place in 1868 in Oslo, Norway. The race was won by Sondre Norheim.
The first Olympic competition involving some form of skiing took place in the very first Winter Olympics in 1924. It was won by Henri Oreiller of France. Alpine skiing first made its appearance at the Olympics in 1936 for men and 1948 for women.
Getting to Know Downhill Skiing
A Short History
Downhill skiing is a sport that is practiced all year round, but the top competitions take place in winter. The major winter sport, downhill, has developed its own culture. There are many different disciplines within downhill, such as the super G, and also various technical disciplines, such as giant slalom and slalom.
As the name suggests, Alpine skiing started in the Alps, which includes the nations of France, Switzerland, and Italy. During the earlier days of skiing, there were no downhill races. It became popular in America at the beginning of the 1900s. Competitions started later when people started going faster and faster. Races were held to verify who was faster and, at the same time, to improve the technique. There are also many different categories for both women and men, depending on age and specialized athletes.
Women Olympic Gold Medalists in Alpine Skiing
Sofia Goggia (Italy)
Dominique Gisin (Switzerland) & Tina Maze (Slovenia)
Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Michaela Dorfmeister (Austria)
2002 (Salt Lake City)
Carole Montillet won the gold medal after a dramatic run. She was the heavy favorite to win, having won 2 golds, a silver and a bronze in 1998. But she had a poor day at the 2002 Olympic trials and had to be content with only bronze.
Furthermore, a week before the games, she injured her knee, hitting a tree while making a turn during training in the Alps. She considered pulling out after consulting her physiotherapist but changed her mind after her mental coach advised her to stick to her original intention of participating.
Montillet won her event, literally, on one leg. It was the fifth gold medal Montillet had won in World Cup events. During the five Winter Olympics in which she participated, she won four medals. The other one, a bronze medal, was won at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
In total, Montillet raised the trophy seven times: four as an individual champion, raising the team trophy another three times with her partners.
Three days after her victory, she had an operation to repair her torn cruciate ligament.
Katja Seizinger (Germany)
From West Germany, Katja Seizinger won the downhill gold medal in both the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics and was also part of the gold medal-winning team in 1994. She is one of only two Winter Olympians, along with Bernhard Russi, to have won gold medals at two different Winter Olympics in the same event. She also won the World Cup downhill season title in 1994, and in 2004 was voted by members of the International Ski Federation (FIS) as the best female Alpine skier of the 20th century.
Katja Seizinger (Germany)
Kerrin Lee-Gartner (Canada)
Marina Kiehl (Germany)
Michela Figini (Switzerland)
1980 (Lake Placid)
Annemarie Moser-Pröll (Austria)
How did she win the gold?
Moser-Pröll, the mother of slalom skiing, had been in great form before the race. She won three of her four qualifying runs and hastened to the lead on the last of her two runs in the semifinals.
After a poor first run, Moser-Pröll took the lead with ease in her second run. Her final time Downhill was 1 minute, 39.95 seconds. The Austrian beat out the long-distance skier, Marielle Goitschel of France, and West Germany’s Rosi Mittermaier.
Rosi Mittermaier (Germany)
Marie-Theres Nadig (Switzerland)
In 1972, the Olympics were held in Sapporo. In the same year, Switzerland hosted the Winter Olympics for the first time and won the most medals. Marie-Theres Nadig won the gold medal in skiing in the slalom event. It was Switzerland’s first gold medal in the Winter Olympics.
Nadig was already a high-profile skier in the “Swinging Skiing” period, and she was victorious at the Swiss Championships at the age of 18. Today, Marie-Theres is married to another gold medalist of the Sapporo Olympics, Hansruedi Fässler.
Olga Pall (Austria)
Christl Haas (Austria)
1960 (Squaw Valley)
Heidi Biebl (United Team of Germany)
1956 (Cortina d’Ampezzo)
Madeleine Berthod (Switzerland)
Trude Jochum-Beiser (Austria)
1948 (St. Moritz)
Hedy Schlunegger (Switzerland)
Alpine skiing has been an official Olympic game for women for a period of 70 years and men a decade longer. The sport's longevity is proof of its popularity, not only in European countries but also worldwide.
For full details regarding women's gold, silver, and bronze medalists, visit the List of Olympic Medalists in Alpine Skiing.