Skiers go downhill fast, right? And they go so fast that they leave behind a visible trail in the snow. But how quick are they? How fast does a ski racer go? Well, ski racing is about speed, passion, and endurance. In fact, ski racers are some of the quickest athletes on the planet.
Gliding on snow at 120 mph can crack even the strongest of hearts. Skiers can move at speeds as high as 150 mph, that’s for professionals of course. Recreational skiers have to contend with 20 mph unless safety is not a factor.
However, speed is not just the name of a major motion picture. It’s a key part of skiing!
Ski speed is measured in different ways and If you are biathlon fan, this article on Real Biathlon attempts a cool way of understanding it. According to RealBiathlon, Results and individual statistics for Men’s Non-Team World Cup events in Biathlon, the top achieved speed in 2020-21 Skiing event was 26.98 km/hr
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For mere mortals like us and recreational skiers, we will look into skiing as a sport in simplified terms, tell you about the fastest skiers in the world, and mention a few tips you can employ to reach top speeds. We’ll also look at the different types of skiing and what the speeds of these different types of skiing are.
Professional Ski Racers Speed
In the Olympics, the average skier speed ranges from 75 to 95 mph with the downhill racers gliding at around 50 mph. Of course, Olympic speeds are subject to change depending on the wind resistance, the skier’s abilities, and the equipment in play.
That said, the fastest ski racers on Earth can go over 100 miles per hour. That is not as fast as race cars that hit speeds up to 200 miles per hour (or even Formula 1 cars with speeds of up to 360 miles per hour), but it still is amazing.
The most skilled skiers are known to adore downhill skis-they glide on some of the steepest slopes in the world, to them severe injuries are not a primary concern.
With the mention of speeds, you must be wondering; how and who records these fast speeds. Well, it’s not that complicated, with one of the many available skiing apps, you can track a skier’s location, miles traveled and even vertical feet with ease.
Downhill Skiing Speeds For Professionals
Among Olympic skiers, downhill skiing is referred to as alpine skiing. There’s no off-the-bat average speed for a downhill skier during training but in competitive races, you can expect 40-50 mph with the figure rising to around 80 mph in the Olympics.
With Olympic skiers embracing technology and better equipment, the average speed for downhill ski racers has increased to around 70 mph for females and 90 mph for males. Technology has done the sport and its participants good.
The Fastest Downhill Ski
The downhill ski racing speed record was set at 100.6 mph after French skier Johan Clarey broke Kraus Kroel’s 96.6 records in 2013. Surprisingly, both records were set on the same course-Lauberhorn course.
The Speed Skiing Record
Speed skiing is where skiers go down a mountain in a straight line and at very high speeds. It is a respected aspect of downhill skiing although not as much as other forms of skiing.
The world speed skiing record is currently held by Italian skier-Simione Oregone who first set it at 156.978 mph in 2015 and went ahead to break it in 2016 and set a new one at 158.424 mph.
The women’s mark was set at 153.530 mph, also by an Italian skier, Valentina Greggio.
Downhill Skiing Speeds For Recreational Racers
Recreational downhill skiers are not as fast as their professional counterparts-the speed numbers on this side are a little low. Most recreational downhill skiers glide at around 20 mph depending on their skills and body build.
Other factors affecting recreational downhill skiers’ speeds are course difficulty, slope angles, and maybe the skiing distance.
Compared to Olympic ski races, recreational skiing speeds are simply child’s play.
Cross Country Downhill Ski Speeds
Equipment, especially apparel contributes greatly to a cross-country skier’s speed. On a straight downhill stretch, aerodynamic apparel can propel a downhill skier to 150 mph in no time. In 2016, Italian professional skier Simone Origone set a new world record after reaching 158.424 mph in France.
The risks involved in cross-country skiing are endless and professional racers have to maintain professional athleticism to avoid crashing. Professional cross-country skiers can reach an average of 30 mph on skis and 25 mph on flat terrain. These speeds are of course unheard of among recreational cross-country skiers.
What Factors Contribute To Professional Skiers’ Speeds?
Most of the time, our performance in any sport mainly depends on our skill level and our willingness to take risks. In skiing, however, there’s a lot more at play. Here, even your gender is a factor. Male Olympic downhill skiers are known to perform better compared to females-their higher risk appetite is a major contributor.
Female speed skiers are more cautious and prefer to keep their glide speeds moderate-the helmet has done little to get females to ditch their fear of speed.
How Can A Professional Skier Improve Their Speed?
The best way to improve your skiing speed is to learn proper skiing techniques and turning skills. You can try training in more challenging environments and getting help from an instructor-insights from an expert will go a long way to improve your control of yourself on the snow.
Racecourses are perfect training grounds as the ruts and gates are already set for you, and training will feel like real skiing competitions. As you glide through each gate and turn, your speed and maneuvering techniques will improve and in no time, you will develop traction on the snow.
Your body build plays a crucial role in your performance in any skiing competition, especially during tight turns. You will need to work on your back, abdominal, and leg muscles to bear the constant stretching. For this, normal body exercises will do in the initial stages as you proceed to more intense training later on.
Finally, the last tip; equipment, get the best. By best, I mean well-waxed and sharpened skis. Hot waxing helps to dislodge the surface tension, this way; you can glide through with less effort and more safety.
Things We Should Know About Speed Skiing
First off, we’ll blow the friction myth. The friction between your ski and the snow is nothing to worry about. You should, however, focus on the air right ahead of you. You can reduce air resistance by increasing your weight.
The idea that longer skis are faster is not entirely true since even shorter skis are known to perform quite well when placed in the right hands. It all depends on the amount of pressure exerted on the ski and not its length, besides; longer skis can be a handle when going around sharp curves.
Skiing as a sport is fun to spectate. Watching these men and women glide over the world’s steepest slopes at terrific speeds is the perfect thriller.
Depending on the event, average speeds for top skiers can vary, but for the most part, ski racers can reach speeds of up to 80 mph. However, the speed of the racer depends on where they are on the course.
If you choose to participate in the sport, however, it’s a completely different story. To move at such speeds and not get hurt takes months if not years of training and practice.
In the article above, we’ve discussed average skiing speeds and a few tips on how you can get your skill level to match the Olympics’.