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As if skiing was not expensive enough, ski racing is perhaps the most expensive hobby you can have. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to alleviate at least some of the costs. While the most obvious examples are the annual ski swaps that are held across North America, you should keep in mind that these swaps cater predominately to recreational skiers. The same thing applies to the popular ski shop event known as Sniagrab, (which, in case you have not figured it out, is “bargains” spelled backward) While these events are a great way to get what is often barely-used ski equipment, you will not usually find race-related gear at these sales.
To get real bargains on ski racing equipment, consider traveling to one of the events that is often frequented by ski racers. A great example is the Park City Ski Swap in Utah, which usually takes place in early November. People come from all parts of North America to attend this event. Considering that per capita, Park City has the largest number of United States ski Team members in its resident population, it makes sense that this would be the best place to find ski racing gear. When you add the fact that the U.S. Ski Team headquarters is located in Park City, it makes even more sense.
If you can't make it to Park City, another option is to attend a ski swap that is sponsored as a fundraiser for your local race team. However, you should make sure that the ski racing gear is still in compliance with FIS rules, which rend to change periodically. Also, when purchasing used race ski apparel, be sure that the zippers are in good shape, and that there are no rips in the seams.
Finally, when all else fails, a number of local or online ski shops might be willing to offer discounts to your ski racing team. It never hurts to ask.
Whether you decide to take up ski racing as a hobby, or whether you aspire to become the next Olympic Gold medalist, you will need to purchase racing clothes that enhances your skills on the slopes. Take a look at what might be required.
The Lycra one-piece ski suits that are worn by ski racers are not worn to show off their great bodies. These items are designed for warmth, freedom of movement and aerodynamic efficiency. These ski racing suits are usually padded, in order to provide protection in the unfortunate event of a fall. A thumb gripper keeps the ski racing suit from sliding up the arm, and a boot grip cuff can usually be found at the hem. This keeps the suit from sliding up the leg during the race. You will notice that these ski racing suits are made of “dye sublimated lycra.” This means that if the racer sweats, his or her skin will not turn the same color as the racing suit.
Sometimes, padded race clothing is not enough protection. For this reason, many ski racers wear body armor products such as knee pads and back protectors.
Racing Coach Jackets
Occasionally, you will see a man or woman on the race course wearing a long jacket. While this person might look a bit out of place, you'd best show some respect. This is the team's racing coach. Since the coach himself is not skiing, he requires something long enough and warm enough to keep him comfortable as he cheers you on.
If you are planning a ski racing event at your local hill, you will need specific supplies to set up your course. The equipment needed is determined by a number of factors, including: type of event, age of competitors, available racing staff and snow conditions.
In general, the starting area of your race course will need a rubber launch pad starting block, as well as a pair of dual-colored breakaway panels. The starting area should also have an obvious racing banner, which would discourage non-racing skiers and snowboarders from inadvertently entering the course. Additionally, the outside of the course should be defined by pole-supported nets. Other products include “Warning: Trail Closed” signs and specialized barrier tape. Of course, you will want an additional panel that would designate the roe-determined finish line of the ski race.
Your ski racers will require racing bibs and numbers, since most folks are not recognizable in racing gear. In order to mark the ski race course, be sure to purchase a set of bamboo poles. These usually come in packages of 50. Last but not least? You will of course need a set of medals for the winners.
One can't really talk about ski racing without talking about the International Ski Federation. In all languages, the name of this organization is always abbreviated to FIS. The origins of FIS date back to the Winter Olympics of 1924, when it was decided that ski racing needed an international governing body. As such, one of their duties is to set the standards and guidelines for racing ski lengths and sidecut.
For example, a female's slalom ski length must be a minimum of 155cm, whereas the minimum for a male racing slalom ski is 165. For giant slalom, women have a minimum length of 180 cm and men have a minimum of 185cm. FIS has also established rules regarding the radius of the ski. For example, men's and women's downhill racing skis must have a minimum radius of 45m. Minimum radius for slalom is 33m and 21m for giant slalom. These rules usually have a 10cm tolerance, and are often subject to change. For example, in 2007, FIS made some modifications in their required length for 15-16 year old male slalom skiers. The minimum length is now 155 cm.
While these rules might seem stringent, they have evolved because of safety issues. As ski designs became more efficient, speed began to increase. This was all well and good, until you took these faster and shorter skis and added multiple turns on icy, steep terrain. You don't have to be a fan of ski racing to have heard of the multiple injuries that have been suffered by ski racers within the past decade. As result, the FIS thought it would be prudent to add height, length and width restrictions for racing skis. So if you are planning to compete in any sort of ski racing event, you need to check the United Ski Racing Association website.
Do you have a future Bode or Picabo on your hands? Once your kid decides that he or she wants to be a ski racer, your choice of ski equipment becomes a serious decision.. You first rule of thumb, or should we say foot, will be to take the advice of your child's ski racing coach. They are the experts. No matter how much you love the cute little graphics of a ski brand, you really want a ski that will help your child win races and ski safely. In fact, while each child is different, most aspiring racers are less concerned with graphics, and more concerned with using the same brand as their racing heroes. That said, it is still best to consider your child's height, weight and skill level when choosing junior racing skis.
Atomic is one of the leaders in the Junior Ski Racing market, and all of their models comply with FIS equipment regulations. Next up is Blizzard's Worldcup GS Magnesium Jr. Giant Slalom Skis, which are designed for expert junior racers that are able to ski steep and difficult slopes.
If your child participates in different types of racing events, take a look at the Dynastar's 2008 team Course Junior Race Skis. Dynastar is a company that is known for its versatile skis, as demonstrated in its popular Exclusive Legend Women's ski. They have applied this versatility to the Team Course, making it suitable for both slalom and giant slalom events. This is due to its wider tip and tail, as well as its smaller turn radius. Of course, your junior ski racer should have sufficient skill in both short radius and long radius turns before choosing this specific ski.
As if distinguishing between the different types of skis was not confusing enough, determining the best type of racing ski for your event is even more of a challenge. Here are some basic guidelines for different types of racing skis:
Slalom ski racers are famous for their remarkable precision at short radius turns. For this reason, they require skis that have superb edge to edge grip, which accounts for their highly pronounced sidecut. Most slalom skis are quite short. However, be sure to check the FIS updated guidelines.
Giant Slalom Skis
Giant Slalom skis have significantly less sidecut than slalom skis. These longer skis have less sidecut than their slalom counterparts, which gives them extra flotation in deep powder.
If you've ever watched a downhill racing competition, you probably found yourself wondering of the skier was ever going to make a turn. The credo “Go that way real fast. If something gets in your way, turn,” sums up the basic philosophy of the downhill racer. As such, you won't see much sidecut on a downhill racing ski.
Extreme Race Gear
The freestyle skiers that race in Big Mountain extreme competitions require a ski that gives them the best of everything. The relatively ungroomed courses mean that the ski must be fat enough to provide flotation in deep powder, yet stable enough to provide support at breakneck speeds.