Skiing is a sport and technique of traversing snow-covered surfaces with the feet attached to long, narrow runners known as skis. The skis distribute the wearer's weight over a larger area, thus preventing the skier from sinking into the snow. Three kinds of skiing have developed: alpine, Nordic, and freestyle. Alpine, or downhill, skiing is movement down steep slopes; in races, victory is decided by elapsed time. Nordic, or cross-country, skiing, is movement over relatively level surfaces; racing involves covering short and long, undulating, prearranged courses in the shortest time. An important subcategory of Nordic ski races is ski jumping, movement down a vertical surface (called a ski jump) culminating in flight; the distance jumped and the skier's form are evaluated. Since the 1980s freestyle skiing, for fun and in competition, has become popular.
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