Fast 50: How Olympic Skiers Keep Getting Quicker

Olympic skiing times keep getting faster thanks to equal parts man, machine, and mountain.

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Twelve seconds over 50 years. A quick dozen seconds is an eternity for competitive skiers and how much faster 2014 first-place winner Matthais Mayer went down the hill than 1964 gold medal winner Egon Zimmermann. It’s not just Mayer either — Sochi’s entire field of 47 racers beat Zimmermann’s time. Olympic athletes prove the mantra “records are meant to be broken” games after games, but what propels them to faster and faster times? In downhill skiing, equal parts man, machine, and mountain have modern skiers shooting down the slopes, reaching speeds their 1960s counterparts could only dream.