August 6, 2010, Newsletter Issue #310: FIS Ski Racing Equipment Rules

Tip of the Week

One canít 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 femaleís 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, menís and womenís 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 donít 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.

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