Alpine Olympic Qualification 101
Olympic qualification for the U.S. Alpine Ski Team isn't as clear-cut as other sports. There are no specific Olympic Trial events, but rather a "selection period" for FIS Ski World Cup events from October 23, 2021 through January 16, 2022, with a set of Olympic qualification criteria athletes must achieve in order to qualify.
Thanks to U.S. Ski Team alumna and former downhill skier Edie Thys and Ski Racing Media, it's gotten a pinch easier to understand as she spent time dissecting the Olympic selection quotas in her latest piece. The Olympic selection quotas are created by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and restrict both the total number of athletes and the composition of each team.
As the piece notes,
It’s crunch time — the final stretch of competitions before 2022 Olympic teams are named. According to the criteria set by the IOC and FIS, only races from July 1, 2019 through January 16 will be considered for Olympic qualification. For the women, that leaves two slaloms, one GS, one super G, and one downhill (through Zauchensee). For the men, it’s two slaloms, two downhills, one GS, and one super G (through Wengen). The qualification period closes before the marquee speed events for women and men, at Cortina and Kitzbühel respectively. The cancellation of the men’s slalom in Zagreb further reduced the shots on goal for tech skiers.
This is always a stressful time for athletes still looking to qualify for the opportunity to represent their countries at the Olympics. There’s not only the pressure of competition but the added drama of lifetime expectations and extra media attention. Then, there’s the controversy surrounding each country’s objective and discretionary selections.
This year, those domestic dramas are taking a back seat as nations cope with Olympic selection quotas — created by the FIS and the IOC — that restrict both the total number of athletes and the composition of each team. As of now, for the U.S. Alpine team, that means 15 athletes — nine women and six men — will be making the trip to Beijing. As shown on this table from the FIS, only Switzerland has so far earned the maximum team roster quota of 22.
The difference in team size comes from two things: first, a total reduction in athletes, from 320 in PyeongChang to 306 in Beijing, and second, a mandated gender equity. A maximum of 153 men and 153 women can compete in Beijing. Each team can have a maximum of 11 athletes per gender, down from 14 in previous Olympics.
As we head into the final qualification period, we recommend diving into this piece if there's any question about the ins and outs of Olympic qualification criteria for alpine.