Why is it called a hairpin

List of terms in the alpine ski racing circus

From the hairpin to the snow plow

The Alpine ski races are known to most winter sports fans in terms of the rules, but there are also various names that are partly known, partly not or have never really understood their true meaning. There are sarcastic terms as well as technical ones and there are different terms for the types of snow, so that a longer list can be put together.

The typical terms are summarized and briefly explained on this page. A few of the terms are described in more detail on a separate page in this chapter.

Aggressive snow

Snow is aggressive when it is very dry. This type of snow allows very fast driving, but does not forgive mistakes, especially at high speeds.

Aggressive ski

A ski is aggressive when its edges are too sharp for the surface. Then you may lose time because you cannot slide as you can for good times.

Outside ski error

The outer ski is the one that is guided outside in a curve, for example when turning to the right, the left ski is the outer ski. An outside ski error is any mistake that is made with this ski, whereby it is usually the case that one slips away with the ski and is eliminated or at least loses a lot of time.

Gritty snow or spring snow

Unpleasant snow that has already been used up and can be found especially at the last races of the World Cup in March. Then the outside temperatures are already higher and in the direct sun the snow reacts very differently than, for example, in January when the values ​​are lower.


This is how you describe a pole that is set out of the fall line, that is, you are dealing with a shape of a hairpin and you lose speed. The point is that you have to change the rhythm and the course doesn't get so boring. A hairpin is also interesting if there is a transition to steeper terrain afterwards, which first slows you down and then accelerates.

Inside ski failure

The inner ski is the inner guided ski in a curve. In a curve to the right it is therefore the right ski. An internal ski mistake can be that you slip away with this ski and lose your balance. You can drop out or leave a lot of time behind.

Tilt bar

The rod is anchored in the ground with a drill and gives way when there is counter pressure, which is especially an issue in slalom. In the giant slalom and also in the Super-G and in the descent you also use the tilting pole, but you have a goal with two poles, whereby the inner pole is a tilting pole, the outer one is a normal pole, but it can also give way. It was only with the tilting pole that it became possible to drive very narrowly on the course, but that also required appropriate protective equipment, which is why the racing drivers are dressed like boxers.

Supreme discipline

One can argue about this, but for many the downhill is the most important discipline in the alpine ski circuit. For others it is the slalom because the competition is much greater and because it is much easier to thread through and lose the race. On the other hand, it is an art to fall flawlessly down a mountain at 130 km / h and since it is a spectacle with jumps and fast corners, the descent is still considered to be the supreme discipline.

Slope breaks

When the slope gives way because the surface is already very used, it is difficult for participants with higher starting numbers to keep the ideal line. This is especially true for races like slalom, when grooves and holes have formed on the goals. The snow also gets slushy and it depends on the weather how easily a slope can break. There have also been races that had to be abandoned because the surface of the track no longer held and there was even a risk of injury.

Slope preparation

Preparation of the slope for a race, whereby the surface should be as compact to icy as possible. The slope should still be able to offer fair conditions for the last participant, but this is not always possible due to the weather. Work is often done with salt and, of course, water as well as a bar that is drawn across the surface. The piste can also show strong reactions and the snow can also be of different types, which you don't always have under control. Often a slope is in perfect condition, then there are two days of rain and the conditions are completely different during the race.

Choppy slope or rough slope

This is to be understood as a slope on which many grooves have formed. But it can also be a pimple-hard, icy slope with lots of waves. A bumpy slope is uncomfortable if it is also provided with holes at the gates in slalom. Kitzbühel is known for the descent on the Streif, which is very hard in some years with less snowfall and you can hardly keep your crouching position because you are constantly shaken.

snow plow

Sarcastic expression for participants with low starting numbers who have no chance of success in bad conditions, while the back starting numbers find much better conditions. This can be the case after heavy snowfall, for example, because the slope has to be retracted first.

Speed ​​discipline

Name for the fast races like downhill and super-G, in contrast to slalom and giant slalom as technical races. Speed ​​is also the criterion here because you drive much faster than in technical races.

Technical discipline

Slalom and giant slalom (also giant slalom) are technical disciplines in contrast to downhill and super-G, which are among the speed disciplines. Other races are also derived from this, such as the combination or the city event, if slalom or downhill is required, even in mixed form with the combination.


A traverse is a slope, which is especially important in downhill races. A traverse can also occur in the Super-G, but this is rarely the case.


A vertical is a gate combination in slalom, which consists of three gates set directly in the direction of fall and must be completed twice per round. This means that if there is only one vertical, the passage has not been set up according to the rules.