Alpine Skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics

The 2017/18 Alpine skiing season started with a shock, when French speed specialist David Poisson died in a training run in Canada in November 2017, after crashing into a tree past the safety nets. After Vancouver and Sochi with only one Alpine skiing venue, the events were again held at two different resorts, the Jeongseon Alpine Centre for speed events and the Yongpyong Alpine Centre for technical events and the team event. Yongpyong held the first ever World Cup race in South Korea back in 1998 and a total of eight races, all for men, were held in 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006. Pre-Olympic events were contested for speed events on the newly created slopes in Jeongseon in February 2016 for men and in March 2017 for women.

As at the 2014 Olympics the course for the speed events was designed by 1972 Olympic champion Bernhard Russi. The courses on Mount Gariwang were controversial as tens of thousands of 500-year-old trees were destroyed. These Wangsasre trees were considered sacred to some Koreans due to their connection to the Joseon ruling dynasty. The weather was a main factor at the beginning of the Alpine skiing events, with temperatures as low as -13° C. The Games were the coldest since Lillehammer in 1994 and gusty winds forced several postponements, so that two Alpine events were held on the same day three separate times.

The qualification system allowed for 320 quota spots with a maximum of 22 entries per nation and a maximum of 14 by gender, with four skiers per event allowed for each nation. This system allowed almost every country to enter at least one male and female skier in the giant slalom and/or slalom event. Austria, France, Switzerland and the United States received the maximum of 22 spots. Shortly before the Games the IOC gave three additional spaces under special considerations to North Korea (two male and one female).

For the first time since the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, when Super G was added and combined returned, a new event was added to the Alpine skiing program with the mixed team event, but the combined event was to be held for the last time. It was held in the same format as in 2010 and 2014, but the name was changed from Super Combined to Alpine Combined. The schedule of the women’s races were also changed as the speed events, including the combined, were not placed all together at the beginning of the Games. The attendance was poor at the Alpine skiing events with some competitions seen by less than 1,000 fans.

Austria again topped the medal ranking as the only nation to win three gold medals. In total, nine different nations won medals, with Austria winning seven medals, as did Switzerland and Norway. The most successful skier in PyeongChang was Austrian Marcel Hirscher, the only athlete winning two gold medals, while Swiss Wendy Holdener was the only skier to win three medals as she collected a full set of medals.

There were several family affairs. Four years after her elder sister Dominique won gold in downhill in 2014, Michelle Gisin won gold in the Alpine Combined. On the same day as Michelle Gisin won her gold medal, Michael Matt won bronze in the men’s slalom to continue the family tradition of his brothers. The Austrian Matt brothers won medals in three consecutive Games starting in 2010 with Andreas Matt winning silver in ski cross, follow by Mario Matt winning gold in the 2014 slalom, and the bronze medal from Michael gave them a full set of medals with Michael winning another silver in the team event two days later.

With her bronze medal in the downhill Lindsey Vonn became the oldest ever female Olympic medalist in Alpine skiing at 33-126, while Aksel Lund Svindal at 35-051 became the oldest male Olympic champion in Alpine skiing ever, winning gold in the downhill, and André Myhrer crowned himself the oldest slalom winner at the Olympics, only nine days younger than Svindal.

The biggest surprise at this Games was Ester Ledecká, a double snowboarding World Champion, with her Super G win, but the slalom bronze medal of Katharina Gallhuber was also unexpected. For the manufacturers Atomic won five gold medals, followed by Head with three and Rossignol with two. Head won a total of 16 medals and only four different companies were able to secure medals with Salomon being the fourth.

For the first time Eritrea and Kosovo competed in the Olympic Winter Games, and they competed in Alpine skiing with Shannon-Ogbani Abeda (ERI) and Albin Tahiri (KOS), respectively. Also for the first time, Malaysia competed in Alpine skiing with Jeffrey Webb becoming the second Winter Olympian for his country, only two days after Julian Yee participated in figure skating. While Hong Kong with Arabella Ng and Kenia with Sabrina Simader competed for the first time in Alpine skiing, Madagascar entered a female Alpine skier for the first time with Mialitiana Clerc. In all, a record number of 80 nations competed in Alpine skiing.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Downhill, Men Olympic 15 February 2018 55 26
Super G, Men Olympic 16 February 2018 61 29
Giant Slalom, Men Olympic 18 February 2018 109 68
Slalom, Men Olympic 22 February 2018 106 65
Alpine Combined, Men Olympic 13 February 2018 65 31
Downhill, Women Olympic 21 February 2018 39 20
Super G, Women Olympic 17 February 2018 44 23
Giant Slalom, Women Olympic 15 February 2018 79 48
Slalom, Women Olympic 16 February 2018 78 46
Alpine Combined, Women Olympic 22 February 2018 28 16
Team, Mixed Olympic 24 February 2018 65 16
309 (182/127) 80 (76/54)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Downhill, Men Aksel Lund SvindalNOR Kjetil JansrudNOR Beat FeuzSUI
Super G, Men Matthias MayerAUT Beat FeuzSUI Kjetil JansrudNOR
Giant Slalom, Men Marcel HirscherAUT Henrik KristoffersenNOR Alexis PinturaultFRA
Slalom, Men André MyhrerSWE Ramon ZenhäusernSUI Michael MattAUT
Combined, Men Marcel HirscherAUT Alexis PinturaultFRA Victor Muffat-JeandetFRA
Downhill, Women Sofia GoggiaITA Ragnhild MowinckelNOR Lindsey VonnUSA
Super G, Women Ester LedeckáCZE Anna VeithAUT Tina WeiratherLIE
Giant Slalom, Women Mikaela ShiffrinUSA Ragnhild MowinckelNOR Federica BrignoneITA
Slalom, Women Frida HansdotterSWE Wendy HoldenerSUI Katharina GallhuberAUT
Combined, Women Michelle GisinSUI Mikaela ShiffrinUSA Wendy HoldenerSUI
Team, Mixed SwitzerlandSUI AustriaAUT NorwayNOR

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Austria AUT 3 2 2 7
Switzerland SUI 2 3 2 7
Sweden SWE 2 0 0 2
Norway NOR 1 4 2 7
United States USA 1 1 1 3
Italy ITA 1 0 1 2
Czech Republic CZE 1 0 0 1
France FRA 0 1 2 3
Liechtenstein LIE 0 0 1 1