Compiled by Tricia Pugliese
Are you thinking about taking up ski racing or looking to improve? Here are some basic tips from the EpicSki community that will get your budding career started.
To choose an optimal line you must first understand the concept of the rise line. Just as there is a natural fall line going away from the gate, there is a natural rise line straight up hill from the gate. No matter if you ski a high, middle or low line, the key is to start the turn at the rise line and finish the turn around the gates, as shown in frames 9-11 in the photo to the right.
2. How do you figure out which is the best place to turn, when looking at the gates from above?
Aside from applying the rise line concept, learn how the course is set before the race. Don't try to memorize the race course, but pay attention to the spacing of gates with particular emphasis on any major direction and rhythm changes, terrain features, unusual course sets, and, of course, sun exposure, especially moving from sun to shade.
3. How do you set up for an offset gate?
Get in the practice of looking ahead at least two gates -- for example, if the next gate is blue, look ahead at the red one. If the red gate is offset from the blue gate, you will need to take a high line on the blue gate and delay the start of the turn until after the rise line to go wide around the blue gate and finish the turn high enough to make the red gate. If you go too straight at the blue gate, you will finish the turn too low to make the offset gate. This photo shows Ted Ligety taking a high line on the blue gate in a similar situation:
4. What happens when you start a turn too early?
5. Is an edged ski faster than a ski riding on the base?
Generally speaking, yes, an edged, purely carving ski is faster than a skidding ski.
6. If two racers are skiing the same line, is it fair to assume that the fastest skier will be the one who skis it cleanest?
Yes, the "cleanest" line will involve more carving and less skidding. However, the horizontal offset of any set of gates will dictate this. The farther the offset, the more likely that your skis will skid somewhat from start to finish.
7. How does "pumping" fit into the picture?
Pumping is pushing down on the ski to engage the ski's camber to make it push back in order to maintain speed or accelerate. Pumping is a good way to avoid losing speed on the flats and is a great technique to work on for your racing experience.
8. Don't stop racing!
When you see the finish line, keep focused on what you've been focused on during the race. Too often racers see the end and either blow up or quit skiing too soon. The end may be in sight but its not over until you're clean through the last gate and have crossed the finish line.
There's a lot to ski racing, but this video of Ted Ligety training on the Olympic course at Sochi illustrates all of the basics discussed above better than a thousand words can ever do!
This article owes its existence to the thread Racing Basics and the excellent contributors there, with special thanks to Atomicman, Bob Barnes, Zentune and patrickjchase.