Train to Race
The proper equipment set up and fit can give the ski racers increased chances of having success in training and competition. Poorly fit, improperly adjusted, or un-tuned equipment can prevent the ski racer from successfully developing their technical and tactical skills while inhibiting their ability to perform on demand at races.
- After adolescent growth period
- Dependent on skiing skills & fitness
- Club through Provincial Team Level
SKISSki selection, both model and length are personal and take into account a ski racers ability and goals. Optimal ski length is determined in the following order: ability, weight and strength. Ski racers should consult their coach and work with a ski rep to gain the best access to the best equipment for the ski racer.
Skis should always be well taken care of including sharpened edges, wax on the bases and bindings adjusted correctly. It is the responsibility of the ski racer at this stage to maintain their ski equipment on a daily basis in preparation for both training and competition.
Train to Race ski racers should have at the minimum:
- Two pair of giant slalom skis.
- Two pair of slalom skis.
- One pair of Super G skis, optional second pair if ski racer is strong in SG.
- One pair of Downhill skis, optional second pair if ski racer is strong in DH.
- One pair of all mountain "rock skis," not twin tipped, that allow ski racers to ski the whole mountain without worry or fear of damaging their race skis. These skis can be purchased at a ski swap, and they are meant to be taken off-piste as part of a ski racers development and refinement of their technical skiing skills in a variety of terrain and snow conditions.
Ski clubs should be encouraged to provide loaner speed skis, super g and downhill, to ski racers who are entering in the train to race stage.
BOOTSBoots must be professionally fit to ensure proper flex, alignment and ankle articulation. Ski boots that inhibit the ankle to flex correctly will result in the ski racers inability to pressure the front of the ski adequately and place them in the dangerous backseat position on the ski.
Properly fitting boots are required to execute technical skiing skills successfully in a variety of tactical situations. Properly fitting boots will allow a ski racer to engage the ankle and apply shin pressure. The cuff of the boot should fit firmly around the lower leg. Less experienced ski racers should ski in a softer boot, as ski racers gain more experience and strength to flex the boot they can start using a more stiff four buckle boot.
Ski racers are required to wear a properly fitting hard shell helmet for giant slalom, super g, and kombi ski cross. It's best to check with your local club coach to ensure the ski racer has the proper helmet set up for each discipline.All ski racers who are competing in FIS races are required to have the proper markings on the helmets to ensure it meets the safety standards for alpine ski racing.
Helmet fitting tips:
- Make sure the pads fit flush against the skier's cheeks and forehead.
- The back of the helmet should not touch the nape of the neck.
- The helmet should fit snugly with a fastened chin strap.
- The helmet should sit level with the front edge just above the skier's eyebrows.
- The helmet should not shift when the skier shakes their head from side to side or front to back.
- The helmet should work with the skier's goggles and fit comfortably when both are worn together. Have the skier try on the helmet with their goggles when purchasing a new helmet.
HELMETS DO NOT LAST FOREVER! WORN AND DAMAGED HELMETS SHOULD BE REPLACED TO ENSURE THEY CAN ADEQUATELY ABSORB POSSIBLE FUTURE IMPACTS.
Goggles should have double lenses to help avoid goggle fog which inhibits a skier's ability to see.
Ski racers must have a variety of goggle lenses available for different types of light and visibility; dark lens during bright days and low light lenses for flat light or bad weather days.
Goggles should fit comfortably on the skier's face when wearing a helmet. There should be no gaps between the helmet and the goggles, especially when ski racers are training/racing in the speed disciplines.
SKI RACING SPECIFIC GEAR
Ski racing does require a few more pieces of specific gear to protect and promote ski racer confidence. Ski racers in this stage will train in more formal ski racing environments on a more frequent basis, racing suits and protective and mandatory.
Ski racers should have a backpack where they keep all their gear in one location both at home and at the ski hill. Ski racers should check the items in their pack to ensure they have everything for training or races promotes independence, being responsible and accountable for their equipment.
Depending on the event contested ski racers will use different pole setups.
- Slalom, ski poles will have hand guards also known as pole guards, affixed to a straight ski pole.
- Giant slalom ski poles will have a little bend in the pole for increased aerodynamics to fit around the body.
- Speed ski poles used in super g and downhill will be bent to fit around the body to enhance aerodynamics.
RACING SUIT FEATURES
Racing suits at this stage are defined by the discipline contested:
- There are speed suits, giant slalom and slalom suits.
- Anatomically designed contour fit
- Front stretch zipper
- Available from ACA Shop.
PROTECTIVE GEARAll ski racers should use protective gear when training in gates. Protective gear becomes personal choice at this stage of development, however, all ski racers are required to wear all protective gear required by the FIS Rules & Regulations for the discipline being contested. Local clubs and provinces may also have minimum requirements for protective gear.
- Mouthguard or helmet chin guard
- Pole guards & Armguards
- Back Protector
SKI TUNING TIPS
Ski racers must maintain their equipment on a daily basis. Ski racers must have sharp and waxed and scraped skis for every training session! In the train to race stage, ski racers are spending more time on snow, it's important to continually check the forward pressure and binding settings frequently.
In this stage, a ski racers equipment will require a professional ski tune. Check with your club coaches to locate a ski shop near you experience with preparing and tuning race skis for high-performance competition. Ski racers are encouraged to attend an advanced tuning clinic hosted by professional ski technicians.
The following tips and instructions can be completed in order or as needed to maintain a ski racer equipment in top shape throughout the season.
Ski racers who ski on adequately tuned and waxed skis every day have a higher chance at mastering the fundamental skiing skills and be faster in races.
Ski tuning is mostly the same for both the technical events of slalom and giant slalom and the speed events of super G and downhill, but with a few exceptions for speed.
The goal for race ski tuning is to prepare the skis to:
- Glide on the snow with as little friction as possible.
- Carve in the snow as clean as possible.
- Before ski tuning, the skis should be allowed to warm up and be dried off with a towel after every competition and training bout; this is also an excellent time to inspect the skis for damage.
The following are key areas to check:
- Top sheet and sidewalls for nicks, scratches and marks.
- Ski edges for burrs, tempering or rock damage.
- Base or running surface for scratches, gouges or edge burn.
- Tip and tail protectors for cracks, chips or marks.
The keys to ski tuning are:
Having the necessary tools and materials available and seek expert advice when unsure. Being patient and complete each of the ski tuning steps correctly.
SKI TUNING TOOLS
A well-stocked ski preparation toolbox is an essential part of any ski racer’s gear. It will include a variety of items that will help maintain skis in race condition.
Essential ski tuning equipment includes:
- Set of vices
- Ski bake retainer/ sturdy elastic bands
- Flat block
- P-tex candles
- File guide (2-3 degrees)
- Brass/horsehair brush
- Silicon sandpaper (#100, #180, #220)
- Emery cloth
- Metal scraper
- Plastic scraper
- File cleaner
- Body file
- Chrome files
- Masking tape
- Diamond stone
- Iron or waxer
- Soft stone
- Ski straps
- True bar
- Fibertex material
EIGHT STEPS TO SKI TUNING
Ski tuning takes practice; the following guidelines will provide parents and ski racers with enough information to help adequately prepare a pair of technical or speed skis for training or racing.
There are eight simple steps to tuning race skis:
- Sidewall and Top sheet repairs
- Base repairs
- Flat base
- Edge bevelling
- Edge sharpening
- Ski grinding
- Selecting wax
- Waxing and scraping
1. SIDEWALL AND TOP SHEET REPAIRS
Marks or roughness on the sidewalls or top sheets of the skis will increase friction or drag. This is particularly true for speed skis because they run on the edges and sidewalls longer. It is essential to make sure the top sheets, sidewalls, tip and tail protectors on slalom and giant slalom skis are clean as well, to ensure optimum ski performance.
The following are materials from the ski tuning list of equipment that can be used to smooth over any roughness found on the sidewalls and top sheets:
- Silicon sandpaper (#180 or #220 grit).
- Body file (for severe damage).
- Emery cloth (fine or corse, depending on the damage).
2. BASE REPAIRS
The following sequence should be followed for repairs to a damaged running surface:
- Secure the skis in the vices.
- Make sure ski brakes are secured.
- Match the P-tex candle to the colour of the running surface (contemporary ski bases are black).
- Use a burning P-tex candle to fill in any gouges or holes (severe gouges should be done by a shop technician).
- Touch the candle (while burning) to a metal scraper to keep the candle flame from burning too hot (it should burn with a blue coloured flame).
- Drip as much hot liquid P-tex onto the damaged area as necessary.
- Allow the repaired area to cool.
- Scrape the excess P-tex from the base area with a body file so the repair work is flat and smooth (a metal scraper can be used, but the cutting edge of the scraper should be at 90 degrees and clean).
- To finish wrap fine silicon sandpaper (#220) around a flat block and smooth the repair area.
3. FLAT BASE
Most contemporary slalom and giant slalom skis come from the manufacturer with a factory finish to the edges and base. Skis that have had additional machining or shop work need to be checked for base flatness.
The following are some simple steps to use to check for base flatness:
- Use a true bar.
- Place the true bar flat on the base.
- Drag the true bar along the base from tip to tail with the skis pointing toward a source of light.
- Check to see if any light is visible between the true bar and base (especially close to the edges) if the light is visible close to the edges then the edges are high, and some edge bevelling will be necessary.
- The base should be flat in front of, under and behind the binding area if this area is not flat, wrap silicon sandpaper around a flat block and sand the area of the base that needs it. (always finish with a fine grit).
- Clean the base with fibertex and brush with a brass brush alternate with the fibertex and the brass brush several times.
- Check periodically with the true bar for progress.
4. EDGE BEVELLING
Bevelling the edges refers to the angle of the edge from the base of the ski. Most technical and speed event skis come from the factories with a pre-determined bevel on the edges. The bases and edges of some speed event skis are perfectly flat.
The amount of bevel is related to:
Personal preference as a result of time and experience spent ski racing. Ski racers new to the sport should seek guidance from their coaches.
Skill level, it's best to ask your coach.
The following steps can be taken if the edges need bevelling:
- Secure the tip and tail of the skis in the vices with the base up.
- Wrap (3) layers of (1) inch masking tape around the top end of a chrome file (three wraps equals to 0.5 -1 degree of the bevel).
- Mark the edges from tip to tail with a black felt marker every (10) centimetre.
- Place the file across the ski making sure the taped end of the file runs down the middle of the ski with the remaining part of the file covering the edge to be bevelled.
- File the skis with smooth strokes from tip to tail on the right edge (tail to tip on the other side).
- Check how much the file is cutting by using the marks from the felt pen as a gauge (if the marks or portions of the marks are disappearing, then the file is cutting).
- Always bevel the edges before the skis are machined.
5. EDGE SHARPENING
Edge sharpening refers to the edge angle on the sidewall of the ski. As a rule, skis prepared for speed events are not sharpened as much as those for technical events. Slalom and giant slalom skis are usually sharpened for 3-5 degrees depending on the snow conditions.
Use the following sequence for edge sharpening:
- Secure the skis in the ski vice.
- Use a (3) degree file guide (a file guide will allow more control of the file and help create a consistent edge angle along the length of the ski).
- Mark the edges with a black felt marker every (10) centimetre.
- Use smooth strokes from tip to tail, while keeping the file guide close to the body.
- Use a diamond stone after filing to polish the edges.
- Finish with a soft stone along the edges after polishing.
- Detune the tip, shoulder and tail sections of the skis by gently running fine grit emery cloth
- Or silicon sandpaper along the edges (5 to 10 centimetres from the tip and tail toward the bindings).
6. SKI GRINDING
There are two types of grinds commonly used by ski manufacturers:
- Linear grind – refers to the long lines on the running surface.
- Diagonal- Linear grind – refers to the short lines in a diagonal pattern in the running surface.
These grinds are very good in all kinds of snow conditions (old snow, cold snow, new and wet snow) Skis used for speed events are bit production skis, so the factory grind is specific to certain snow conditions. The general rule of thumb for super G and downhill skis is to avoid changing the grind as much as possible.
The following guidelines will help coaches and skiers prepare skis to match snow conditions without changing the pattern of the factory grind:
- Open the base for warmer conditions by brushing the base from tip to tail with a steel brush.
- Close the base for colder conditions by sanding the base with #220 silicon sandpaper wrapped around a flat block.
- Finish each process by alternately brushing the base with fibertex material and a brass brush, several times.
7. SELECTING WAX
Selecting the right wax to match snow conditions depends on many factors, including the terrain and snow type.
The most critical factors that influence wax selection are:
- Snow temperature.
- Air temperature.
- Air humidity.
Choosing between hydro-carbon, highly fluorinated waxes, low fluorinated waxes and additives can be confusing. The best method is to select a brand of waxing products and stay with it. Most wax companies explain their waxing system very well, so it will become easier to choose and mix the right combinations to match the snow conditions.
The following are some key points to consider for wax selection:
- Highly fluorinated waxes are the best and the most expansive.
- Low fluorinated waxes work well in all conditions (best in very cold, dry conditions).
- Hydrocarbon waxes are inexpensive and very good for training and travel waxing.
8. WAXING AND SCRAPING
Once the wax combinations have been determined, the following steps can be used:
- Secure the ski brakes and place the skis in the vices (bases up).
- Using a ski waxer (preferably), drip a bead of wax down the middle of the ski.
- Spread the wax with a warm wax iron, ensuring that the wax iron is not smoking. A smoking iron means that the wax iron is too hot).
- Move the waxer back and forth along the running surface (the wax should have a liquid appearance until it starts to cool).
- Check the top sheet of the ski, near the tip, for warmth; it should not be too hot to the touch.
- Keep moving the waxer over the length of the ski until the camber of the ski flatten.
- Scrape the edges (base and sidewall sides) with a notched plastic scraper while the wax is warm.
- Allow the skis to cool (when the camber of the ski returns).
- Scrape the skis from tip to tail with a plastic scraper make sure the scraper has a clean 90degree edge and take off the excess wax.
- Brush the bases with a brass brush (warm conditions) or a horsehair brush (cold conditions) several times.
- Alternating between brushing and scraping will help clean off the excess wax clean the scraper and brushes frequently.
- Strap the skis together making sure bases are at the contact points (tip and tail).