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Downhill courses for regular folks

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Chatting with Tag Jr. at our race league, he mentioned that he would really like to run a downhill course, not necessarily in a competition, but just so he can say that he tried it and did it.  I have never seen a downhill course open to the public a la NASTAR.  Does such a thing exist?  Are there downhill races for amateurs?

post #2 of 6

I can think of two citizen-class DH races that are still run:


The George Syrovatka Memoria Downhill takes place in early March at Jay Peak, VT. The course is fairly simple: 12 super-G style turns of increasing radius, followed by a flat-out, straight run into the finish, including a "pro-bump" over a cat track. Speeds at the bottom range from 65-82mph in the final stretch, depending on your ability and ski prep. This event attracts all kinds, from racing neophytes, to current masters racers, to former USST, Canadian and NCAA racers


There is a helmet cam video from the 2010 edition of the race below:



There used to be a North American Downhill Series (NADS - website) that comprised several races in New England, including the Syrovatka DH. They last ran the series in the 2010-11 season, from what I can tell. And I haven't been able to find a date for this year's Syrovatka race, so it's best to contact Jay Peak for that info.


There is also a citizen-class DH race at Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, WY, called the "Mini Hahnenkamm." This race is typically held in early March (the 9th and 10th this year, the first day being training runs - a requirement for both of these races). The course they ski was once FIS homologated, and is far more technical than the course at Jay Peak, including fall-away turns, a couple of big jumps, and very high speeds. The crowd that shows up for this race is typically ex-racers, but (as is the case with the Syrovatka race) all you need are long skis, a helmet, and the ability to sign away the event organizer's liability. But you definitely want to be a strong, confident skier with strong skills, especially on the Snow King course - I've skied it, and it is quite technical, with little margin for error.





A few notes: downhill racing is serious stuff, and you don't want to enter any of these things lightly. Regular recreational skis are not really suitable for these courses - you'll want, at the very least, a pair of recent-vintage SG or DH racing skis, as well as the skills to control them. I've seen NCAA racers do the Syrovatka on FIS-legal GS skis, and they are at the very edge of control. Both races perform a basic equipment check to make sure you have the right material for the task.


I miss NADS for this reason. NADS used to hold DH clinics for its participants who were new to the event, and they were a great introduction to racing DH and SG. The coaches were all experienced racers (including Doug Lewis, he of a bronze medal at the 1985 FIS World Alpine Chamionships in Bormio) and would build their charges up from technical drills to full-length test runs.

Edited by songfta - 1/25/13 at 8:32am
post #3 of 6

I am having trouble finding a current schedule, but in the past it looks like some of the Colorado Speed Series races required you to be a USSA Masters Racer, but others did not.


post #4 of 6

Here's a helmet POV shot from Tommy Moe's forerunning of the 2006 edition of the "Mini Hahnenamm." The course hasn't changed much over the years, that's for sure!


post #5 of 6
post #6 of 6

Like Songfta said, the Jay Peak DH is a great opportunity to "run what you brung" with minimal hassle for a first DH.   It is fairly straightforward and steep enough on the bottom section to get some real speed built up.  It was the first ever DH I had run (and at age 50).  I didnt have any speed skis at the time so used a pair of 195 non FIS GS skis.  In retrospect, probably not the smartest thing to do but biggest ski I had then.  Still got clocked at 69mph in the speed trap though.smile.gif..  


Go for it, one of these things you need to do at least once!

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