Alpine skiing consists of three events: slalom, giant slalom and downhill. Downhill is the fastest, and thus most risky, event. Skiers can reach more than 80 miles per hour, and one small mistake can have devastating results. Downhill skiing regulations are designed to minimize the risk of this demanding race.
All rules and regulations are managed by the International Ski Federation (FIS). In the United States, ski competitions are coordinated by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).
Men's downhill courses must have a vertical drop of between 800 meters and 1,100 meters for championship and world-cup events, while other races must have a vertical drop of between 450 meters and 1,100 meters. Women's downhill courses must have a vertical drop of between 450 meters and 800 meters. Gates consist of four slalom poles and two flags. They must be red or blue at least 8 meters wide.
Downhill skiers are required to wear a crash helmet during training and competition. Skis with ski brakes are also required.
Three days must be reserved for inspection and training before a race. Downhill skiers are required to participate in training and must have at least one timed training run.
Downhill skiers must pass through each gate for their run to count. Almost all races are completed in one run, with the rare exception of conducting two runs only if the course does not meet the vertical drop requirements. Results are based on time.