Mikaela Shiffrin competes during the Ladies' Giant Slalom at the Winter Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

It wouldn’t be the Olympic Winter Games without ski racers flying down terrifyingly steep hills at ridiculously fast speeds. Alpine skiers must navigate a course defined by gates in a quest to get to the finish line in the fastest time. There are four individual events that fall across a spectrum that runs from technical to speed. Slalom is the most technical, followed by giant slalom. The gates spread out farther for the super giant slalom (better known as super-G) before skiers really let loose on the downhill, a breakneck race in which the top skiers can reach nearly 100 mph.

Although alpine skiing wasn’t included in the inaugural Winter Games in 1924, it has the distinction of having included matching women’s and men’s events from the start. Both women and men competed in the alpine combined (slalom plus downhill) at the 1936 Winter Games in Germany. The Olympic program eventually grew into five individual events that have been contested since the 1988 Winter Games — slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill and alpine combined.

The one notable change in recent years was the addition of a mixed team event in 2018. This is a parallel slalom competition in which the best 16 teams go head-to-head in a single-elimination bracket, with two men and two women racing for each country. Whichever team wins more races (or in the case of a 2-2 tie, has a better aggregate time) advances.

Austria (121) and Switzerland (66) are the all-time medal leaders in alpine skiing, with France (48) and Team USA (47) leading the second tier. Austria, Switzerland and Norway each won seven medals in 2018. The U.S. won three medals, with two of them courtesy of Mikaela Shiffrin and one from Lindsey Vonn.

Vonn, the most successful women’s racer of all time, has since retired. Shiffrin, 26, remains in peak form and is on pace to surpass Vonn as the winningest woman on the world cup circuit. No other Americans have been consistent podium threats in the world cup in recent years, although a handful of skiers have the potential to reach the top three at any given time. In December, Bryce Bennett became the first American man to win a downhill race in nearly five years. Breezy Johnson, meanwhile, posted three consecutive second-place finishes in downhill races in December.

The Olympic alpine skiing events will be held at the National Alpine Ski Centre in the Yanqing zone approximately 50 miles northwest of Beijing.

Updated on January 28, 2022. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

  • Mikaela Shiffrin broke into the elite ranks as a world-class technical skier, and at 18 she won her first Olympic gold medal in the slalom in 2014. The technical races remain her specialty, but over the years she’s become a contender across the board. In December 2018, she won a world cup super-G, in the process becoming the first skier — male or female — to have a win in all six races (parallel slalom being the sixth). Four years ago Shiffrin won gold in the giant slalom and silver in alpine combined in PyeongChang. Can Beijing be when she wins her first medal in an outright speed event?

  • The U.S. men won three medals in 2014, including Ted Ligety’s gold in giant slalom, but they were held off the podium four years ago in PyeongChang. With longtime stars Ligety and Bode Miller now retired, a new generation of U.S. men is looking to break through. Bryce Bennett did just that with his downhill win in December 2021. Fellow Olympians Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Travis Ganong both rank among the top-20 in the world cup overall standings. Ganong is the top-ranked U.S. man in an individual event, coming in at eighth in the super-G, while River Radamus, a three-time gold medalist at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games, is ninth in giant slalom.

  • Mikaela Shiffrin’s continued success dominates the headlines, but the U.S. women could also have medal potential from athletes like Breezy Johnson, Paula Moltzan and Nina O’Brien. Johnson is the only American woman other than Shiffrin to reach the world cup podium this season, with three second-place finishes in the downhill. Moltzan has eight top-10 finishes in her career, while O’Brien placed 10th in the giant slalom at last year’s world championships.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vermont): The son of 1972 Olympic slalom champ Barbara Ann Cochran, Ryan Cochran-Siegle burst onto the scene with two junior world titles in 2012. He went on to make his Olympic debut in 2018, with his best finish being 11th in the giant slalom, and has enjoyed steady improvement throughout his career. Now 29 years old, Cochran-Siegle ranks among the top-12 in downhill and super-G.

Travis Ganong (Alpine Meadows, California): A longtime standout on the U.S. team, Ganong, 33, has gotten off to a strong start this season. He has three top-10 finishes on the world cup circuit, including a third-place finish in a super-G in December at Beaver Creek, Colorado. A 2014 Olympian, Ganong tore his ACL just before the 2018 Olympics and missed the remainder of that season. He’s come back strong and should be most competitive in Beijing in the super-G.

Breezy Johnson (Jackson Hole, Wyoming): Johnson showed well in her Olympic debut in 2018, taking 14th in the super-G and seventh in the downhill. Now 26, she could be a bona fide podium contender in Beijing, particularly in the downhill. In three world cup downhill races this season, Johnson has finished second each time. The results are particularly remarkable coming after a series of serious knee injuries. Overcoming Italy’s downhill superstar Sofia Goggia will be a challenge for everyone in Beijing, but Johnson is ranked second in the downhill standings and has as good a chance as anyone to dethrone Goggia.

River Radamus (Edwards, Colorado): Radamus broke onto the scene in 2016 when he won the giant slalom, super-G and alpine combined at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Radamus, now 23, made his first world cup start the following year. Though he’s still seeking his international breakthrough at the senior level, he has posted three top-10 finishes in the giant slalom this season and was 11th in the event at last year’s world championships.

Mikaela Shiffrin (Edwards, Colorado): Shiffrin will be looking for her fourth Olympic medal in Beijing, after winning gold in the slalom (2014) and giant slalom (2018), plus a silver in alpine combined (2018). Like Lindsey Vonn before her, Shiffrin’s career can’t simply be measured by Olympic success. In between the Winter Games Shiffrin has piled up victories on the world cup circuit, and in January became the winningest skier in a single race when she won her 47th slalom. That was her 73rd win overall, putting her behind only Vonn (82) and Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark (86) for most ever. Already a three-time world cup overall champion, Shiffrin, 26, remains most competitive in the slalom and giant slalom but has won every event at least once on the world cup circuit.

Meet the full U.S. alpine skiing team in this teamusa.org article.

Feb. 6 – Men’s downhill
Feb. 7 – Women’s giant slalom
Feb. 8 – Men’s super-G
Feb. 9 – Women’s slalom
Feb. 10 – Men’s alpine combined
Feb. 11 – Women’s super-G
Feb. 13 – Men’s giant slalom
Feb. 15 – Women’s downhill
Feb. 16 – Men’s slalom
Feb. 17 – Women’s alpine combined
Feb. 19 – Mixed team event