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The Alpine Ski World Cup comes to Beaver Creek

American skier Travis Ganong during a training session
American skier Travis Ganong during a training session on Wednesday. Photo: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

The International Ski Federation Alpine Ski World Cup arrives in Beaver Creek, Colorado this weekend for its annual Xfinity Birds of Prey races.

How it works: Think of the Alpine Ski World Cup like the PGA Tour, but for skiing. Each weekend during the winter, the world's best skiers travel to venues all over the globe.

  • Tour stops: After opening races in Austria and Finland, the men's tour goes to Lake Louise, Alberta around Thanksgiving, while the women's tour goes to Killington, Vermont. Then the men come to Beaver Creek and the women go to Lake Louise. After this, they'll be in Europe for the rest of the season.

Disciplines: Downhill and super-G are speed events, while slalom and giant slalom are technical.

  • Downhill: Longest course, fewest gates, highest vertical drop. You get one run.
  • Slalom: Gates are closer together than any other discipline, requiring skiers to zig and zag quickly. You get two runs.
  • Giant slalom: Gates are spaced farther apart than in slalom but not as far as in super-G. You get two runs.
  • Super-G: Gates are spaced the furthest apart, and because its a speed event, it has a higher vertical drop than the slalom or giant slalom. You get one run.

Go deeper: How climate change could affect your favorite ski resorts