Super-G is variously considered as being the easiest or the most difficult of the four alpine skiing disciplines ; the 'G' stands for "giant" as in giant slalom.
It is considered easy, because it has neither the unforgiving rhythm of giant slalom nor the desperate search for speed of downhill. It is also mostly in super-G that surprise winners emerge (although this does increasingly tend to happen in slalom because of the new technique which more experienced skiers are having trouble adapting to).
It is considered difficult for much the same reasons : speed specialists find the sharper turns hard to negotiate while technical skiers are not always able to handle high speed along the straights. Undoubtedly, being a super-G champion is to be held in high regard, as super-G is the discipline which has the greatest variations from one event to another and therefore require an allround performer. Super-G courses are inevitably described by racers and spectators alike as being a fast giant slalom or a turny downhill; few are the courses which are called typical super-G
Super-G skiers not getting the credit they deserve is another victim of super-G's "in between" status; spectators (the casual TV viewer in particular) usually identify turny super-G's as being giant slaloms and the faster ones as being downhills. It is easy to tell a super-G from a downhill: the flags marking downhill gates are usually all the same colour, while those marking the super-G alternate between red and blue. It is more difficult for the novice to identify the turny variety; here are the tell-tale signs : the gates are much further apart, the racers spend more time in a tuck position, speeds are rather faster, often causing jumps which are exceptionally rare in giant slalom.
The material used is different from that of giant slalom. The skis are usually between 205 and 215 cm long and their radius has to be superior to 31m, mainly for safety reasons as more waisted skis might suddenly catch a bump, warp on their whole length and go twisting out of control (this has even happened with proper super-G skis, sometimes causing serious knee injuries ; all racers use heavily curved poles and several, particularly the women, wear big jaw bars on their helmet
Unlike giant slalom and slalom, a super-G is always run in one leg only. The racer's starting number being determined by his fis points, the first fifteen shuffled around and the rest following in the order of the rankings
The knack in super-G is picking up speed on the straights, and yet having enough finesse to put only the necessary amount of pressure on the edges to negociate the bends. The other trick that is difficult to master : you have to try to take the turns in one smooth fluid movement so as to cause as little friction as possible while at the same time still keeping the tightest line possible. It helps to have a lot of strength as a typical super-G will last around a minute and a half at speeds of up to 120 km/h (around the speed allowed on most motorways) ; this is why there is no second leg: it would be much too tiring.