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Speed skiing is the sport of skiing downhill in a straight line as quickly as possible. It is one of the fastest non-motorized sports on land. The current world record for skiing is 254.958 kilometers per hour (158.424 mph), held by Ivan Origone. Speed skiers regularly exceed 250 km/h (160 mph), which is even faster than the terminal velocity of a free-falling skydiver in the belly-to-earth position (about 190 km/h, 120 mph). Speed skiers wear dense foam fairings on their lower legs and aerodynamic helmets to increase streamlining. Their ski suits are made from air-tight latex or have a polyurethane coating to reduce wind resistance, with only a minimal (but mandatory) back protector to give some protection in the case of a crash.
The special skis used must be 240 centimeters (94 in) long and at most 10 cm (3.9 in) wide with a maximum weight of 15 kg (33 lb) for the pair. Ski boots are attached to the skis by bindings. The ski poles are bent to shape around the body, and must be a minimum of 1 m (3 ft 3 in) long.
Speed skiing is practiced on steep, specially designed courses one kilometer (0.62 mi) long. There are approximately thirty of these courses worldwide, many of them at high altitudes to minimize air resistance. The first 300 or 400 m (980 or 1,310 ft) of the course (the launching area) is used to gain speed, the top speed is measured in the next 100 m (330 ft) (the timing zone) and the last 500 m (1,600 ft) (the run-out area) is used for slowing down and coming to a stop. The start point in FIS races is chosen so that, in theory, skiers should not exceed 200 km/h, hence competition is aimed at winning a particular event, not breaking world speed records. At Pro races, there is no maximum speed and the speed attained is determined by conditions and safety.
Official world records
- The fastest non-motorized sport without land contact is speed skydiving, in which divers can reach speeds of over 500 km/h (310 mph).
- http://www.michaelmilton.com/SpeedSkiing.aspx Michael Milton - speed skiing
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