re-sized ski cross

New extreme sport catches the attention at Whistler

It started at the Winter X games in 1998 but has been introduced as a medal event for the first time at Whistler – hot on the heels of snowboard cross which made its debut at Turin four years ago. But why is this newcomer generating so much attention

Ski Cross, or Ski X as it is often written, is a race on skis between four skiers on a man made course which includes twists, turns and spectacular jumps. The race lasts about a minute and then its all over. But the frequency of crashes draws attention – it is good TV viewing with non stop action.

The video below from WorldSportTV explains what it is all about and features the French champion Ophelie David who will be competing at Whistler, Karin Huttary, a former X Games champion from Austria and Enak Gavaggio of France.

A Ski Cross Course needs to meet requirements specified by the FIS (Fédération Internationale de Ski) rules. There are men’s and women’s events and both use the same course. Athletes will have to race the course many times during the event.

The course is constructed of obstacles such as traverses, flats, rolls, banks, moguls, and jumps of various heights and difficulties, all connected with turns.

  • Length: 800 to 1200 m
  • Vertical Drop: 150 to 250 m
  • Turns: 50% of the course must be turns of varying size and speeds between the other obstacles.
  • Features: 25% of the course must be traverses, moguls, banks etc.
  • Jumps: 25% of the course will be jumps 1 to 4 m high.

The excitement is immediate as all four racers start at the same time with racers spending as much as 25% of the race airborne whilst travelling at speeds of up to 65 mph and all the time there is the threat of a wipe out which can be your own fault or you may be taken out by your fellow racers.

After a timed qualification round the qualifiers race in knock out heats head to head with the first and second proceeding to the next round. When there are just 8 racers left there is what is termed ‘the small final’ to determine positions 5 to 8 inclusive and there is the ‘big final’ which determines positions 1 to 4 and therefore, in the case of the Olympics, the gold, silver and bronze medals.

Competitors are not allowed to push or trip or commit any foul play and can be disqualified from the competition if this happens.

The men’s final was held on Sunday and the winner was Switzerland’s Michael Schmid ahead of Andreas Matt of Austria who captured silver and Audun Grønvold of Norway won the bronze medal.

The ladies take to the hill today so do not miss any of the action, one of the favourites will be Ophelie David. Here she is winning the world championship held in Madonna di Campiglio in Italy in 2007. Thanks to sportsnetwork for the video and good luck Ophelie!

Don’t miss the action later today.

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