Many sports have gained major media coverage over the years and created large fanbases accumulated of sporting enthusiasts that were once perhaps considered niche. Esports has become one of the biggest sports in the world in recent years with most sportsbooks now even offering betting markets just as you would NBA.
One other sport to have experienced a growth in popularity in recent years is skiing. As a competitive sport, it is one of the marquee events of the winter Olympics and TV coverage has increased as a result. Though maybe considered niche too in previous years, its tag of an ‘extreme sport’ is no longer a stigma and it the skill it takes to become a professional is clear for all to see.
One of the main reasons that skiing must start to be taken seriously as a sport is because of this popularity. Out of all the winter sports, skiing is also the most popular among bettors, drawing in tens of thousands of bettors in both land-based betting shops and online betting as well. It has also become an extremely popular recreational sport. Although of course this is mainly for residents of countries with the climate which allows it, many will make ski trips to take part. Millions travel to Europe every year to ski resorts in France, Italy and Switzerland.
Skiing stars are experiencing raised profiles within the world of sport too. Lindsay Vonn has become one of the biggest names in the sport. The American is only one of six females to have won World Cup races in all five ski racing disciplines. She beat Annemarie Moser-Prӧll’s record that she held since the 1970s when she took 82 world cup victories, which has now been beaten further by Mikaela Shiffrin. Vonn is now the second-highest ranked skier of all time, man or woman. She heads into the vast majority of events as favorite with the sportsbooks and her 2.2 million followers on Instagram is proof of just how high profile she is.
To help raise the profile of skiing itself, there has been a conscious effort to get more eyes on the sport. In the US, NBC Sports and Peacock have combined to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season. To sign a deal with major networks like these can only be a good thing and means that anyone with a cable subscription has the opportunity to watch one of the most exciting sports in the world.
The rise in popularity in the US can of course be put down to Vonn’s rise to prominence, but there are also some incredible skiing destinations here too. Colorado is the most popular with famous resorts such as Vail and Aspen and is the Mecca of skiing in the country. However, it is Europe where it remains most popular. Many European and North American countries and cities play host to some of the biggest ski tournaments in the world, let’s take a look at some of them.
FIS Alpine Ski World Cup – Multiple locations
The biggest tournament in the world of skiing is far and away the World Cup. Though plenty of events have taken place in North America, they are mainly hosted in Europe. Italy, France, Austria and Switzerland are some of the most recurring hosts.
Four hills tournament – Germany and Austria
This is one of the biggest ski jumping events in the world. It is a relative outlier in skiing events due to the fact that unlike other ski jumping events where the best 30 competitors in the first round qualify for the second round, all Four Hills events follow a knock-out system first. This makes for one of the most exciting events on the skiing calendar.
Winter X-Games – North America
Organized, produced and broadcast by ESPN, the X Games are one of the biggest extreme sporting events in the world. Big name athletes, sponsors and pundits paired with huge attendances make this extremely exciting. Held in the US, it is here where you will witness some of the most exhilarating feats of winter-athletic brilliance of all time.
With so much coverage of recent, the future of skiing looks bright, Mikaela Shiffrin breaking Lindsay Vonn’s record recently brings even more eyes and gives the US yet another ski star. Whilst climate change is affecting where recreational skiers are able to ski, resorts are working hard to preserve their environment. It may also mean that resorts may have to open at a slightly higher elevation, which is far from impossible. As we come to the end of the World Cup, it has been a great year for the sport and long may it continue.