Overview of Racing Disciplines, Age Classes and Calculating Points

Race rules can be found on the USSA web site: www.ussa.org.

Alpine Ski Racing

1. Slalom (SL)

Slalom is a timed event requiring the execution of many short, quick turns through two different courses. The slalom features the shortest course and quickest turns. As in the giant slalom, each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. The competitors are required to pass between all the gates, alternate red/blue pairs of poles. Both runs take place on the same day. The times are added together, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

2. Giant Slalom (GS)

Giant slalom is characterized as the discipline that requires the most technical skill: skiers race down the mountain through a faster and more open course than in Slalom. Giant slalom is similar to the slalom, with fewer, but wider and smoother turns. Each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. Both runs take place on the same day, usually with the first run held in the morning and the second run in the afternoon. The times are added together, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

3. Super-G (SG)

Super G (super giant slalom) is the newest of the Alpine disciplines, combining the elements of speed from the downhill, while integrating high speed technical turns from the giant slalom. The course is shorter than downhill but longer than a giant slalom course. Each skier makes one run down a single course and the fastest time determines the winner. This race discipline is rarely held in Pennsylvania.

4. Downhill (DH)

The downhill event features the longest course and the highest speeds in alpine skiing. Racers attempt to record the fastest time during a single run with a minimum number of control gates. This race discipline is never held in Pennsylvania.

5. Derbies (U12, U14 and U16)

Each age group also has a Derby (Championship Race). Racers who score high during the season may qualify to go to a Derby at the end of February. Racers should check their Derby standings on the PARA web site. Participation in the Derbies is by invitation only based on points scored during the season. The formula can be found on the PARA web site at www.paracing.org under the FAQ section “What are quotas and how are they calculated.”


Age Classes / Limits for alpine race team

The competition year is July 1 - June 30 of the following year. A competitor’s class is determined by their age on December 31 of the competition year.

  • SR           Ages 21 and older (born 1993 or earlier)
  • U21         Ages 18-20 (born 1994, 1995 or 1996)
  • U18         Ages 16 and 17 (born 1997 or 1998)
  • U16         Ages 14 and 15 (born 1999 or 2000)
  • U14         Ages 12 and 13 (born 2001 or 2002)
  • U12         Ages 10 and 11 (born 2003 or 2004)
  • U10         Ages 8 and 9 (born 2005 or 2006)
  • U8          Ages 7 and younger (born 2007 and later)

NOTE: Racers should check with their local program, or with their local office regarding details or exceptions that may apply. Some regions, divisions or states may recognize other age categories below the U8 class for awards.


Calculating Race Points

The below information is a small synopsis of the overall rules for scoring and should not be used as the final official rules. This is intended only as a “high level” review of the scoring process in order for new skiers and parents to gain a better understanding of the process.
A. Race Points scoring (U16, U14, U12, U10)
The U10 thru U16 races are scored using the World Cup Points scale (below). PARA uses a race quota formula to determine which racers are invited to participate in one of the end of year race derbies. The formula can be found on the PARA web site at www.paracing.org under the FAQ section. “What are quotas and how are they calculated.”

**At this level you do not earn points when you compete outside of your division.

USSA Points Scoring (U21, U18, U16)

The official rules can be found in the USSA Alpine Competition Guide or at WWW.USSA.org web site. Some general guidelines:

  • Scored race disciplines are Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G, and Downhill.
  • All new skiers start with the seeded points of 990 points.
  • The lower your points the higher your standing in the overall discipline rating.
  • Lower seeded points allows an earlier start in your next race of that discipline.
  • The winner of a race is given “0” race points.
  • All racers are also given a penalty that is added to the race points for that event.
  • Points can be earned at any USSA sanctioned race

Points Lists

The Points List or “Seed List” are created by taking the average of the best two race results in the current season in each race discipline. So a skier must compete and post scores in two races of the same discipline before his score will change from the 990 initial posting. To further clarify, a racer must finish both runs of a race in two different races of the same discipline in order to have a change in the Points List standings.

The purposes of the Points List are:

  • To measure the relative performance of all competitors in the classification system.
  • To serve as a tool to “seed” (organize) the start order of a race.
  • To provide a method of team selection.

How Points Are Scored

While the winner of any seeded race is given “0” race points, a penalty is also calculated and added to each racer’s points to produce the racer’s final race score for that event.

The magnitude of the penalty depends upon

  • The seed points of the best five (5) racers who start the race.
  • The seed points of the best five (5) racers who finish the race.
  • Whether the times of those top five racers (who finish) are clustered near the winner or widely dispersed

This procedure allows the scoring of different races on different slopes and different days, each with different levels of competition, to be based on a common scale. In theory, this allows all racers to compare themselves against the world’s leading racers.

The average of a racer’s two best race results for a given scored discipline becomes the basis for that racer’s ranking among other racers. In order to gain better start positions by lower seeding points, competitors also must improve their skills, strength and tactics and then prove this on the race hill.

Race Points + Penalty = Final Race points score for that race

Calculation of “Race Points”

The International Ski Federation (FIS) point scoring system for ski races was developed in order to recognize the better performance of finishing fourth in one race with a one second behind the winner, as opposed to finishing second in another race with a time two seconds behind the winner.

Race points are determined by comparing the winner’s time and the individual racer’s time. The formula for points makes the comparison and produces points in each discipline according to the ratio of the racer’s time to the winner’s time.

Formula for calculating race points
P=((Tr / Tw) – 1) x F
P = awarded race points
Tr = the racer’s time, in seconds
Tw = the winner’s time, in seconds
F = a constant, for each race discipline. F=60 / (CM-1).
F Values Determined by FIS
Slalom 610
Giant Slalom 880
Super G 1030
Downhill 1350
F. Calculation of “Penalty Points”
In calculating penalty points for a race, the results (times) are listed in ascending order for everyone of the same sex who competed on the same race course. Even if competitors of different ability or age classes participated, ranking of the race results must always be used to calculate USSA race points and penalty points.

Penalty points are calculated by

  • Using the most recent USSA “seed list,” determine which five racers who started the race have the best seed points in the race discipline.
  • Add the seed points of the five racers. (B)
  • Again, using the most recent USSA “seed list” determine which five of the top ten placing racers have the best points in the discipline.(A)
  • Add together the race points of these five racers then subtract the best points (earned from a previous race, as listed in seed list) of these five racers.(C)
  • Placing Racer = a racer who finished both runs of a race successfully.
  • Add the total of (A) and (B), then subtract (C), divide the result by 10, rounding to 100th of a point, equals the penalty.
  • Penalty = (A + B – C) / 10

There are many additional rules and calculations that may impact the calculation of the race penalty. For more in depth explanations you should refer to the USSA Alpine Competition Guide.

*Scoring information taken from the USSA Alpine Competition Guide.

Please see the Pennsylvania Alpine Racing Association (PARA) Rules, Procedures and Qualifying Criteria for additional information.

Please see our Athlete's Guide Book for additional information.