Giant slalom is one of the four disciplines of
alpine skiing ; The others being slalom, super-G and downhill
In giant slalom, the gates are formed by four poles, two on each side, joined by a coloured flag:
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Like in slalom and super-G, the gates alternate between red and blue. A giant slalom is run in two legs of around 40 gates; each leg lasts about a minute. The distance between two gates is usually between 25 and 30 metres. Most of the gates go right-left, with the occasional banana (or undergate) thrown in which will cause a slightly longer bend than usual, hence the term banana.
Giant slalom is considered to be one of the technical events (the other being slalom), which means that it takes a certain amount of finesse to get down more smoothly and therefore quicker than the other racers.
Giant slalom skis are between 185 and 195 cm long and have a radius of around 20 m (the FIS has limited this to a minimum of 21m actually). Helmets are compulsory and most racers wear protective clothing, particularly along the arms. Some racers use curved poles so as to be able to improve their tuck position, but others like to stick with straight poles as their center of gravity is central to the pole and gives them a better position.
The rules for starting positions and such are dependant on fis points and are pretty similar to those for slalom.