Super G vs. Downhill

Cori Gramms
Written by
Last update:

Background on Competitive Skiing

Skiing isn’t just fun – it’s also a serious sport. Skiing is such a physical sport that it became an official Olympic sport in 1936.

As a competitive sport, skiing comes in two categories. Alpine skiing races come as slalom, giant slalom, super G, and downhill races. Super G stands for "super giant slalom". From slalom to downhill race the speed goes up and the radii of the turns goes up. Alpine skiing involves skiing between gates on the same track in sections. More gates closer together means less speed and more technique is needed to get the job done. Slalom is also based on speed, but it also involves quick turns and precise movements.

This is separate from Nordic skiing with describes sports like cross country skiing (involves skiing through trails that are prepared on snow fields in an area specifically designated for ski events), ski jumping, and Biathlon (cross country skiing & shooting).

Downhill is one of the most prestigous disciplines in all of winter sport and is a really exciting race to watch. Skiiers need to go as fast as they possibly can on a particularly long hill, but they also need to make sure that they keep a grip on safety. The slopes that are used in downhill skiing are designed for this particular purpose, but skiiers still need to have a great deal of focus and pay attention to their speed. It's hard to imagine, but the Hahnenkamm race track in Kitzbuehel, Austria has a section with an 80% incline and the Lauberhorn slope in Wengen, Switzerland boasted record speeds of over 100 mph. Mind blown.

Super G races are often on the same tracks, but often start a little "lower" (not the whole length of the downhill race) and contain more turns.

In order to keep up with the changing trends in the ski scene, competitors gear up with the latest in ski boots, skis, helmets and uniforms and head back up the mountain for training and practice.


It’s no secret that the olympic discipline includes one main skiing discipline full of prestige: Downhill. It’s very easy to get confused about the difference between the two, both of these disciplines are made up of race tracks usually on the same slopes. Both are single-run discipline as opposed to giant slalom and slalom which are two-runs. However, many people get confused about what the two categories are.

Downhill is traditionally a very old sport which is where the skier goes from top to bottom, the greatest challenge is the risk factor. The winner of the competition is the one with the fastest time to complete the track. Super G was invented in the 90s and has, therefore, much less of a history.

The discipline of Downhill is one of the most difficult disciplines but it is also one of the most well-known disciplines within skiing. There are many powerful competitors with high performance capacity in Downhill skiing. Downhill is one of the most dangerous and well-known ski disciplines. Many people travel to ski resorts just to watch the Downhill competition!

Super G

These two types of ski racing are technically similar – and yet, very different.

These two events are both a part of the Alpine Skiing events at the Winter Olympics.

When the event was introduced in 1992, it became popular right away. Now, Super G has grown to become one of the most popular extreme events, and Super G skiers rank along their Downhill counterparts. It's a great competition combining the speed skills of downhill with the technical skills of giant slalom.

To learn the basics of skiing, follow the instructions below:


Although I was introduced to skiing as a young kid, I never had much interest or really understood what the difference was between many of the Alpine skiing events or techniques. All I knew was that I was being told of my speed in miles per hour.

Learning about, Downhill skiing techniques and how to do it was fairly easy because you just need a steep ski hill. Usually, super G races take place on the same hills and the pool of skiers competing is very similar in both competitions. The equipment, protective gear & clothing is also pretty similar.

Conversely, the technical stuff in GS skiing was a different story. You had to be able to master the art of being able to ski at full speed coming off a hill with one foot in the air and the other centered on the ski.

The winner of both competitions is the skier who reaches the lowest course time. The competitors run one at a time and each racer is timed from the moment they begin their first run until the finish. Their time is partly based on the presentation of the race.


Downhill skiing is one of four alpine skiing disciplines (along with Super G, giant slalom, and slalom). It is a timed race that takes place on a steep, downhill course, with a vertical drop of at least 450m (1,480 ft), but usually much more over the course of a trail.

There are fewer gates in downhill races, and Super G races are more technical.

The skis on downhill racers are usually longer, which helps them with gliding and going straight fast, while Super G requires better ability to turn.

Final Thoughts

Can you imagine moving down a 70%+ incline at highway speeds? That craziness applies to both disciplines downhill skiing as well as Super G. The sport of downhill skiing became a very popular in the first half of the 1900s, and the courses were designed to be longer to accommodate the speeds that the skiers were building. Since then, these courses have evolved to include all sorts of innovations. In the 1990s Super G was invented and is a very popular addition to skiing.

In this post, I talked about some of the biggest changes in the history of downhill skiing and explained how downhill skis and equipment have been specifically modified to allow the athlete to use the natural terrain and to achieve greater speeds. Also, how this all compares to Super G.

I hope you’ve learned something new, and now you can appreciate downhill skiing that much more!

Have you ever thought about adding downhill skiing to your life? If so, would you have any goals in mind?