How Fast Do Downhill Skiers Go?

You may have seen downhill skiers on television or attended a ski race. When you see them fly by on their way down the slopes, competition skiers are typically reaching speeds between 40 and 60 miles per hour (mph), though higher speeds are possible. Elite Olympic-level skiers often reach up to 95 mph, and higher records have been set in downhill competitions. Speeds for recreational downhill skiers tend to be much lower, while those for speed skiers are much higher. 
 
How Fast Do Downhill Skiers Go?

Competition Downhill Skiing Speeds

Downhill skiing is also referred to as Alpine skiing. Competition speeds on downhill courses previously averaged 40 to 50 mph, with Olympic speeds reaching up to 80 mph. However, technology changes and new materials, designs and innovations have lead to an increase in downhill speeds in competition to about 75 to 90 mph for men and 60 to 75 mph for women.

Downhill Ski Racing Record

Prior to 2013, the top recorded speed during a downhill competition was 96.6 miles per hour. It was set by Klaus Kroell of Austria on the Lauberhorn course in Wengen, Switzerland. In 2013, however, French skier Johan Clarey broke the triple digit barrier on the same course, setting a new word record at 100.6 mph. 

Speed Skiing Record

Speed skiing is a highly specialized aspect of downhill ski racing. It is an event where the purpose is to go in a straight line down the mountain as fast as possible. In 2016, Italian speed skier Simone Origone raised the world speed skiing record to 158.424 miles per hour (mph). With this accomplishment, he shattered his own previous worlds record of 156.978 mph, which he achieved in 2015. Another Italian skier, Valentina Greggio, set a new speed skiing record for women in 2016, clocking an impressive 153.530.  

Average Recreational Downhill Skiing Speeds

Of course, recreational downhill skiers are not likely to reach the types of speeds demonstrated by athletes who ski competitively. Depending on the run, the average recreational skier swooshes along at average speeds ranging from 10 to 20 mph. Many factors can impact ski speed, including skier skills, course difficulty and slope, ski quality and length, and more.

Making the Most of Your Time on the Slopes

Whether you are just getting started with skiing or if you have quite a bit of experience on the slopes, it can be helpful to have a general idea of how fast downhill skiers go. To maximize your performance and safety, be sure that you are using skis that fit properly and that you are wearing appropriate downhill ski apparel any time you take to the slopes.  

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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