The fall season is upon us in Tahoe and at Start Haus – that means it’s almost ski race season. While most ski racers won’t be on snow until at least the early camps at Copper, everyone is thinking right now about their race gear for the upcoming year.
Snow: When testing products you should test it on a condition that is most similar to what you will be racing on during the season. This all revolves around the feel of the ski or boot. Depending on the condition you will find that there can be differences that will/can eventually add up to a time difference in the course and that can be the separation between you winning or losing.
Tune: Having the ability to test multiple different brands of products with the exact same Start Haus tune. This will result in you being eliminate the tune as being a variable in the test and making it easier for you to feel exactly how the ski feels.
Product: Ultimately you are testing skis or boots to see if you are faster than other brands. When you have the ability to test multiple different skis or boots in one day you are easily able to determine the differences between brands. This is easy because the snow conditions are the same, tune is the same and now the only differences will be product.
These three key elements are all necessary components to an effective test and deciding which brand is the best performing ski or boot for the athlete.
Ski camps will be taking place over the next few weekends through the Squaw Valley Race Program and Sugar Bow Ski Team; both camps will be open to all other programs as well. If you have any inquiries regarding these camps please contact Start Haus at 530.582.5781 or comment here and we will be happy to assist you the best we can.
Dynastar has been a major player in the race world with many Olympic and World Championship medals as well as World Cup titles in their long history. This racing pedigree really shows in the Dynastar Speed Course TI. The Course TI wears race graphics, carries a racing binding plate, and shares the wood/metal construction characteristics of the World Cup skis. Despite this, it is in fact a pretty different animal than a pure race ski. A wider waist width and rounded tail are the first visual clues that this is not just another race ski. The Course TI has a tight 15m turn radius in the 171 size and it is available in sizes as short as a 159 and as long as 183. This is a very good dual event race ski for non-FIS level competitors and also makes a great “cheater” GS ski for Masters racers. The Speed Course TI is even more than this though. This is a very good ski for someone that doesn’t race at all and is looking for a hard snow biased ski for everyday use.
The first runs I took on the Dynastar Course TI was at Winter Park during the annual SIA intro. The main test run there is an FIS homologated GS trail and has very hard snow most of the time. The upper part of the run is relatively narrow and has a moderate pitch. I used this part of the trail to vary turn shapes between short medium and long radius and then back again. The tapered tail released much more easily than the grippy, squared off tails that you find on real race skis these days. Through this exercise the Course felt amazingly comfortable and compliant through changing turn shapes and the turn release was energetic but manageable. As the trail got steeper it also gets wider and in this section of the trail, I opened up the turn radius and picked up the speeds. While the Course TI is easy enough at slower speeds, it really stands out when skied aggressively. The grip was like a razor even on the spots that were scraped off and shiny and the dampening was on par with a World Cup GS ski. The tighter turn radius kept the ski from running out at the turn finish the way a GS race ski would and when I took it out to the edges of the trail it managed the soft crud very well. For the skier or instructor/coach looking for a hard snow specialty ski, it doesn’t get much better or more versatile than the Speed Course Ti.
Parents often wonder what their role becomes when preparation for the race season is over and the competition season begins. New research published in the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, investigates the athletes perspective on their parents behavior during competition. Competitive youth (age 12-15) tennis players were studied and although different from ski racing, the information has validity due to the ever present parent/athlete relationship in all youth sports. The findings are described below in order to guide parents to better understand what they can do help their child during the competition season.
- Parents should focus on supporting the athlete’s involvement in the sport rather than the outcome of the competition. You want to give them support not put pressure on them . By focusing on the outcome(aka winning) the athlete may become nervous and their performance may decrease. In turn, this could make it even harder for them to focus on their next run or race.
- Athletes don’t value technical or tactical tips from their parents if the parents have limited knowledge of the sport. Your athlete knows you are truing to help them but sometimes it just confuses the, causing lack of confidence in their own ability.
- Athletes prefer feedback regarding effort and attitude. Athletes are aware when they don’t have their best race don’t need to be reminded by their parents that it was not their best.
- Athletes notice when the tone of a parent’s voice does not match the comments made, or the body language. This may make the athlete feel under pressure and become distracted. By staying relaxed and showing support to your athlete they will relax and most likely their performance will improve.
- Athletes expressed the need, and like when their parents provide practical support. Parents can help “prepare and recover” for their next race.
The relations between athlete and parent is always complex and the above findings are only a few suggestions to help athletes reach their potential. The most productive way to understand your athlete’s likes and dislikes during the race season is to simply talk about it. Ask your athlete about what helps them have the most confidence and have fun. By Helping them to achieve these two things the will be on their way to finding their potential!
Knight, C. J., Boden, C. M., & Holt, N.L. (2009) Junior Tennis Player’s Preferences for Parental Behaviors. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 22, 377-391.
Journaling isn’t just for detectives like Nancy Drew (and diaries aren’t just for wimpy kids like the wimpy kid that kept a diary). Writing, journaling, diary keeping—whatever you want to dub the pages soaking the ink of your thoughts—is rad. And if you want to be numero-uno down the road, a training log is a great key to long-term success. If you track it, you’ll always be able to go back to it. If you end every training session with a journal entry, you’ll begin to recognize patterns, and solve the issues when you hit a plateau
Writing is also a good way to problem solve. Ski racing is full of confusing, convoluted lingo. Believe me, there were many times when I had no idea what my coach was asking of me. Don’t feel ashamed to ask questions, and in your journal, work through those questions. Technical talk is often hard to understand. When you work through a training session in your journal, you may realize, “Hey, I didn’t even know what my coach wanted me to do.” Ask for a drill the next day, and record it. If you’re ever having the same problem again, you’ll be able to look back and know exactly how to solve it.
You’ll also learn what works and what doesn’t work. Say one day you take two warm-up runs and the next you take five. This pattern continues and you realize that two warm-up runs work for you. Five just tires you out. Boom, problem solved and now you’re on to a more productive training session.
If you want to hit the front page every race, get proactive. Keep a ski journal. It’s a smart way to victory.
Boy or girl, we’ve all got bros that ski. Pant sagging, goggle gapping, and ski rapping—your bro-ski, man. You know who I’m talking about. It’s likely they give you a hard time for your ski strapping, goggle lens-packing, gate bashing style. And it’s likely you give them a hard time for—well, bro-ing. You love them for their different style, and their argyle one-piece pile.
Truth be told, we have a lot to learn from each other. To ski racers, technique is all discipline of the body. To free riders, technique is all creativity of the mind. Oftentimes, in the world of ski racing, the athlete gets very caught up attempting to travel past a gate the “correct” way. I’ve been a victim of this mindset, and I’ve watched kids ski stagnant trying to force technique. While there are basics to master, in the end, every skier has a different style, a different strength, and travels a different line.
Consider this common scenario: Your coach instructs you to move your hips forward in the transition. This piece of advice doesn’t mean move your hips forward like Johnny or Jackie; it means generate forward movement in your own way, to re-center over the ski in the transition, so that you can flex your ankle, bend the boot, and snap off a turn. Ted Ligety and Bode Miller have two different styles in the transition. You should, too.
Instead of lapping around, jumping back in the gate, and trying to do what you’re told in the blues and the reds, it’s time for the bro-ski in your head. Take the concept, and go make it unique to you. The best way to drive home an idea in ski racing is to master it in your free skiing.
Free skiing is the most underutilized tool in today’s ski racing environment. Programs pay a lot for training space, gates, and free skiing is, well, “free.” If you look to Europe, young ski racers are not allowed to touch a gate until they have mastered technique in their free skiing. These athletes are learning from the mountain; it is a natural course, using terrain as the turning pole, and mastering the arc without a pole.
If you’ve been slapping gates since you were 6, take a chance on free skiing. Opt for the free run over the training run (with the permission of your coach, of course). Put your hips on your tails for a few turns, move them so far forward you can’t initiate a turn, and find your own medium in the transition. You have to find the top of your own turn, your own way. It is, after all, your turn.
Seasoned ski racers and ski professionals understand the importance of finding skis that bring out the best of their individual style while mitigating some of the potentially unproductive aspects of their skiing and racing. Ski testing is necessary in order to identify which ski most enhances performance, and Mt. Hood, Oregon is a great place to figure out which race skis to purchase for next season. Below are some key considerations to ensure a productive and accurate ski test.
When is the best time to test 2012 race skis?
In a perfect world, ski testing would be done on winter snow and in winter temperatures. The reality is that next season’s race skis are not typically available to test until April or May. As a result it is difficult for the Eastern and Midwestern skiers to test on home turf. In the West you have greater opportunity to test. For example, in California there is still very good snow at Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain. For summer skiing, Mt. Hood and Whistler will be your best choices.
How do I get 2012 race skis for testing?
In the spring, some ski shops like the Start Haus has test skis available from suppliers like Atomic, Blizzard, Fischer, Head, Nordica, Rossignol, and Volkl, in stock so you can test them before the regular season ends. If you are going to Mt. Hood during the summer for training, most of the equipment suppliers have “Test Centers” where you can go and try skis of interest while training on the snow field.
What is the best way to test 2012 race skis?
The best method for testing new race skis is to control the test environment so you can figure out which skis suit your style and technique the best. I recommend that you use your existing skis as the comparison reference. For this to work well it is important to have your current skis in good shape. Make sure that your edges are clean and sharp, and use appropriate wax for the conditions. When you pick up the test skis, check the preparation before you get on the mountain. You want to be able to compare the skis, not the tunes. So be sure that the skis you are comparing are tuned to the same bevel.
How should I be skiing to test skis?
Freeskiing on the skis is one way to help decide which ski works best for you. The best results will be achieved if you further control the test. Testing in the race course is the ideal way to make the proper ski choice. Whenever possible, test when the snow is the hardest. This means making your test runs back to back with as little time in between runs as possible. That way changes in the course conditions will not be as extreme. It is also important for the test course to be challenging in terms of terrain and rhythm changes. You will need to trust your instincts in terms of the feedback you are getting from the skis on the hill. There are other elements that can be very helpful to determine which ski is working best for you. Take video of your test runs, so you can go back and review what you are seeing against what you were feeling. Video helps you to see where there may be some problems. For example the video will show if the ski you are testing is allowing you to stay on the fastest line in all parts of the turn. The other key to making a good choice is the use of timing during the test, the clock does not lie. If you compare solid runs with no mistakes, and are consistently faster on one ski versus another, that is the best feedback you can get.
Are there summer camps that are designed to provide ski testing for 2012 race skis?
There are camps like the Start Haus/Danielle Nichols/Sugar Bowl Camp at Mt. Hood that have incorporated ski testing by having 2012 race skis from all the major suppliers on-site. One of the goals of this camp is for athletes to successfully determine all of their equipment needs for next season by the time camp concludes. This camp will have timing and video everyday for the best possible ski test. In addition to the variety of skis, the condition and prep of those skis will be very tightly controlled.
Remember to bring your best attitude, motivation and effort out on the hill when ski testing. You have to “bring it” every run to find the differential in the skis you are trying.
The following tips will help you end up with the best race skis for your style and ability as a ski racer:
- Select the proper size ski for your age, size, strength, skiing skills, FIS compliance, and price. Use the resources available to make the best selection. It is helpful to discuss with your coach the correct size ski to test. Make sure that you understand the FIS rules for your age and where you will be competing.
- Use your current ski as the base-line or reference point and test the new skis against your existing ski.
- Use video whenever possible to help you make comparisons. Being able to see differences in your line and turn shape will help you to see which skis are really helping your skiing.
- Use timing whenever possible. For J3s and younger this is not as critical. For FIS level racers, it is strongly recommended that you use timing and video before you choose to switch skis.
- On salted glacier snow, new skis that are well prepared can give the impression of better performance because of the prep. Make sure that your skis, as well as the test skis, are sharp and waxed.
Good luck with your camps, ski testing and races this summer!