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As I was watching the slalom part of the combination last night, it seemed to me that there were more gates on the course than just the ones the skiers were required to go around. Was that just a weird quirk of the tv angle, or are there extra gates? And if there are, how do the skiers know which ones they have to pass and which ones they can ignore?

Technically, they are not going "around" gates, but through them. The color alternates so that you know where you are; first, you go between 2 blue poles, then between 2 red poles.

The "extra" gates you think you are seeing are probably the second half of each gate.

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