What Is the Super G in Skiing

As winter approaches, the preparation for Winter Olympics 2023 is at its peak. Among all the popular snow sports played in Winter Olympics, alpine skiing is a relished snow sport. It involves sliding down snow-covered slopes using skis with fix-heel bindings. In addition to being considered a sport, it is also a well-enjoyed recreational activity. There are many alpine skiing disciplines, but two have garnered the most attention from fans.

What is the super g in skiing? What is meant by downhill alpine skiing? This article covers everything about super-G and downhill skiing. Read along to learn about the difference between the two.

Super-G (Super Giant Slalom)

Super giant slalom, commonly abbreviated as Super-G, is one of the many alpine skiing disciplines. It is a speed event in contrast with other technical events like slalom and giant slalom.

During the 1983 season, super-G debuted as an official World Cup event and became part of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 1987. In addition, this alpine skiing discipline has been included in the Winter Olympics schedule since 1988.


Its primary objective is similar to that of the giant slalom, which is to ski around several fixed gates. Compared to the giant slalom, the gates on the super-G courses are fewer and widely spread across the trail. There’s a less vertical drop in the super-G course compared to the downhill one.

The super-G course at the Beijing Olympics is 1,984 meters long and has a vertical drop of 540 meters.

Vertical Drop

The vertical drop for Super-G courses differs for men’s and women’s races. It ranges from 350 to 600 meters for women’s races, whereas for men’s, it is between 350–650 meters.


Super-G courses are generally 30 meters wide. However, higher and lower widths are permissible in some cases.


Open gates should be between 6 m and 8 m in width.

Vertical gates should be between 8 m and 12 m in width.


Super-G started as a test event in the 1982 World Cup, comprising two men’s and one women’s races. Soon after approval from the International Ski Federation (FIS), it debuted officially at the World Cup on December 1982.

During its early years, super-G skiing wasn’t accepted globally, and it also faced a boycott. Then soon after, it was added to the World Championships and Olympics.

How Many Runs In The Super-G?

In super-G skiing, each player has to make only one run down a single course at the best time, and the player with the fastest time wins the competition.

What is Downhill Skiing?

Downhill is another alpine skiing competition discipline. Unlike other forms of alpine skiing like giant slalom, slalom, super giant slalom, and combined that put emphasis on technique and turning, downhill primarily focus on the six components, including:

  • Courage
  • Speed
  • Technique
  • Risk
  • Physical condition
  • Judgment


The typical speed of skiers in international competitions during downhill skiing is around 130 km/h. To boost speed, the athletes must have an aerodynamically efficient tuck position. Moreover, such a position helps minimize drag.

Downhill Skiing Course

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has outlined some necessary characteristics for downhill courses regarding their width, vertical drop, course length, placement of gates, safety precautions, and style. It includes:


Courses are generally 100 ft. wide.

Vertical drop

Vertical drop varies for men’s and women’s races. For men’s race, it ranges from 450 to 1,100 meters. For women’s race, it ranges from 450 to 800 meters. Also, the vertical drop may be shorter for races with two runs.


Ski gates consist of two plastic poles with an 8-meter opening between both of them.


The obstacles placed on the course are covered with nets, pads, and fences for safety purposes.

Super-G vs. Downhill

What is the difference between super g and downhill skiing?

Now that you know everything about Super-G and downhill alpine skiing, let’s highlight some of the prominent differences between these two major alpine skiing disciplines.

First Introduced

Super-G was first introduced in 1982, making it almost 40 years old. Meanwhile, Downhill was launched in 1921, making it more than 100 years old. It is the oldest form of alpine skiing.

Vertical Drop

As mentioned above, the vertical drop for both Super-G and Downhill alpine skiing varies.

Presence of Flat Areas

Most of the Super-G courses are curvy and bumpy, with little to no flat areas.

However, there are more straight areas in the downhill courses than in the super-G ones.

Incline At The Starting Point

The incline at the starting point of downhill events is steeper than that of Super-G events.

Course lengths

The course length of the Super-giant Slalom is shorter than the downhill course.


Skiers do not perform any trial runs before Super-G events.

Downhill skiers perform trial runs multiple times before the actual event.


Super-G requires shorter skis with solid ski poles.

Downhill requires the skiers to wear longer skis with flexible and bendable ski poles.

The number of gates

For men and women both, a minimum of 30-35 gates are placed in Super-G.

However, in downhill events, there is no specific number of ski gates placed.

Average speed

In super-G, racers can gain speed up to 130 km/h.

Meanwhile, in downhill skiing, a maximum speed of 153 km/h is attainable.


In Super-G, skiers are allowed to touch and come in contact with the obstacles and poles to make turns or remove them.

In Downhill, skiers avoid touching the poles to maintain their speed.


From the above discussion, Super-Giant Slalom and Downhill are two different disciplines of alpine skiing, and competitions for both events are held separately on a global level.

The length of courses, the average speed of skiers, and the equipment used, the number of gates, width and vertical drops of both paths vary.

In Super-G, skiers pass through the gates in a zigzag manner, while they have only one attempt to reach the goal in the shortest time possible. Meanwhile, downhill, the skiers have a straight route with minimum gates that help maintain a consistent speed.

We hope this answers your question, what is the super g in skiing.

4/5 - (5 votes)


James Baller
James Ballerhttps://www.ballercircuit.com
James is owner of BallerCircuit.com. He currently works as a personal trainer and senior coach at Baller Circuit. His main mission is to inspire people to relentlessly pursue their sport goals. He believes staying in shape has an overall positive effect on body, mind, and spirit.

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