Sochi 2014: A beginner's guide to the alpine skiing events

The sport in brief

Alpine skiing is the most high-profile sport at the Winter Olympics, and possibly the easiest to understand - the quickest to get from the top to the bottom of the mountain course wins gold.

There are five disciplines: downhill and super-G are pure speed events - Frenchman Johan Clarey became the first skier to break the 100mph barrier during a downhill race last year - slalom and giant slalom are more about precise turning around a series of gates, while super combined is an all-round test.

British prospects

Frosty. Britain should win their first medal on snow at these Winter Olympics, but there's no expectation that it might come in alpine skiing.

Alpine skiing

Sochi 2014: Guide to alpine skiing

Global gold-getters

American Ted Ligety is world champion in three events, while Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal has won five world titles and Olympic gold in the super-G four years ago.

Slovenia's Tina Maze and German Maria Hoefl-Riesch are good all-rounders, and US teenager Mikaela Shiffrin is already a world champion.

What's new for Sochi 2014?

There have been no significant changes since the last Olympic Winter Games.

Pub bore

This year's competition features world-renowned concert violinist Vanessa Mae, East Timor's first Winter Olympian, Yohan Goutt, and 55-year-old German prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe,  who will represent Mexico, the country of his birth, wearing a race suit inspired by Mexican folk music.

Previous British medallists

Total: None

Highest position: Fourth (Gina Hathorn; women's slalom, 1968)