Olympics: How fast do downhill skiers go? A guide to Lindsey Vonn's best event

Speed, speed and more speed. The downhill is one of the signature events at any Winter Olympics for the breathtaking velocity of racers as they fly down the mountain at interstate speeds. Danger lurks around every turn, and there are soaring jumps where racers fly..

When it comes to Lindsey Vonn's best event at these Winter Olympics, there's one obvious question: Just how fast are those athletes actually moving? 

Good thing for us, plenty of others have asked these questions before:

So, how fast do downhill skiers go?

The answers vary, but the general consensus seems to be that Olympic skiers tend to fall in the 80 miles-per-hour range, with some exceeding even 95 miles per hour on the fastest sections of the course.

Recreational downhill skiers often average a speed somewhere between 20-40 miles per hour, as National Public Radio documented around the time of the Turin Winter Games, and sometimes Olympic-winning speeds fall in that category. Otherwise, though, most publications, including Trails.com and The Columbus Dispatch, suggest that Olympic skiers can reach top speeds of close to 95 miles per hour.

NPR cited former downhill skier David Currier, a 1972 Winter Olympics veteran, in reporting that peak speeds often exceed 85 miles per hour, as Currier said "there is one stretch on almost every course where racers reach 85 miles per hour or more."

polish-skier.jpg
Downhill skiing speeds can exceed 80 miles per hour. USATSI

That doesn't mean skiers are constantly and consistently traveling at that speed, but rather that, at some point during their descent, they have accomplished that.

What's the fastest an Olympic downhill skier has ever gone?

In and outside of the Olympics, the top downhill speeds approach or exceed 100 miles per hour.

Currier told NPR in 2006 that Austria's Klaus Kroell set an Olympic record with a 96.6-miles-per-hour feat.

Our Latest Stories