Tricky Words in this week‘s OVI
Slalom. This word developed internationally in connection with skiing in the early 1920s. It was created through a combination of two Norwegian words: slad (sloping) and låm (track). The idea was to imitate a track running down a steep slope and passing through a series of gates, making it very winding /vájnding/ and bendy (samá zákruta). The challenge for skiers /skíőz/ was then to ski down the track as fast as possible, and passing through every gate. Each gate was then marked with two poles (gateposts), and the gates were given alternating red and blue colors to show the skiers the right order to pass through them. In fact every downhill (alpine) skiing race course consists of a series of gates, which get further apart as they develop from slalom and giant slalom through super giant slalom to downhill races.
The idea of slalom as a bendy course challenging skiers to stay on track and get through as fast as possible has its equivalent in motor racing, whether it's Formula One, Le Mans endurance races, saloon cars, Superbikes or others inbetween. In the middle of a straight section of race-track there's often a pair or threesome of smallish bends, just big enough to make the racers slow down, but at the same time small enough to make the drivers try to get through them in the straightest possible line. There aren't any curbs (obrubníky) around them, but corrugated concrete “hard shoulders” (krajnice) which the racers can drive over, but at the risk of damaging their cars. A bendy section like this is called a “chicane” /ši-KEJn/, from the French word meaning “tricky practice”, the same root as the Slovak informal word “šikana” (“bullying” in English).