Women in Sports: Skiing
Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
- Skiing has been an Olympic event for women for more than 50 years. In 1936, Germany's Christl Cranz won the first women's alpine skiing gold medal in the alpine combined.
- Did you know that skiing was originally a form of transportation in the mountains of Europe, well before it became a sport?
- After World War II, women's skiing in the Olympics really took off as women competed in the downhill, the slalom and the alpine combined. The giant slalom was added four years later.
- Now there are many types of skiing that women are involved in. Besides alpine skiing, which takes place on steep hills, women now compete in cross-country skiing, the biathlon and freestyle. Cross-country skiing is a race on a long, flatter course. The biathlon is a competition made up of two events-cross-country skiing and target shooting. Freestyle skiing is also made up of two events-skiing over moguls, and aerials, where competitors ski up a ramp and do twists and turns in the air. Many would like to see women's ski jumping become an official sport, as it is for men, but for no apparent reason, it hasn't happened.
- The first American woman to win an Olympic skiing gold medal was Gretchen Fraser, who won the gold in the slalom in 1948. In 1998, Picabo Street came through for the United States by winning the gold in the super giant slalom. Julia Mancuso won a gold medal at the 2006 Torino Games in ladies' giant slalom.
- The Alpine skiing World Cup has taken place every year since 1967 in various locations. Switzerland and Austria usually dominate the women's competitions, although Germany's Katja Seizinger has won in 1996 and 1998. Janica Kostelic of Croatia took home the overall honors in 2006. Tamara McKinney won the World Cup for the United States in 1983 and Canada's Nancy Greene won the first two in 1967 and 1968.
- Today there are more than 30 women's World Cup skiing events that take place all over the world.
- Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria won two gold medals in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in the women’s downhill race and the super-G.
- In the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, American Lindsey Vonn won her first career gold medal in alpine skiing. Her teammate and 2006 giant slalom gold medalist Julia Mancuso finished second. Vonn's victory was the first for an American woman in the event. Vonn and Mancuso's 1-2 finish was the first for the U.S. in an alpine event in 26 years.