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.

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)