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What improvement to focus on

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello!

I am registered for an amature downhill race in a few weeks from now. It is a very beginner friendly course. I ran the same race last year and was about 30 seconds after the winner. (this is a big race where any age or skill can compete). Most part is company events and such)

 

Currently I had Giant Slalom skis, no special wax (hired skis), I had a not so good (wind wise) ski gear, no to slim carving skills. 

 

So this year I want to improve a little. And I would like help with what to focus on.

 

My assumptions are that these are the biggest issues:

1. Skill, I need to learn better carving instead of skidding too much and keeping small while doing it even if the turns are very beginner friendly.

2. Skiwear that does not take up too much wind.

3. longer skies with better surface towards snow.

 

I am not so sure about carving since the turns are not that hard so you don't have to slide that much but I guess I have to also focus on keeping the skis flat. Anyways this must be the biggest timedrain for sure.

 

But how about skiwear vs better skis... what gives the best effect if I would spend more money on any of it. Would I gain on longer skis or should I keep shorter for possibly improved technique?

 

I know I have to improve on all parts.. but what gives the most effect? 

post #2 of 7

From your list:

 

1 (skills) >>>>>>>>> everything else if you're 30 seconds off the winner.  Best approach there (IMO) is to take some lessons.  Preferably from someone who is good at racing and race coaching in particular, but if you're still working on carving vs. skidding you may need to focus on the basics before getting into race tactics.

 

If the course is more 'technical' (closer to SL/GS -- this is probably the case if it's 'beginner friendly') then the skis are the next biggest factor.  Both in terms of having a good edge/wax and matching the radius to the kind of turns they expect you to be making so that you're carving most of the time rather than skidding.

 

If the course is more set up for 'speed' (like a SG/DH), wind resistance may be a big factor.  But they would probably not have a setup like this (where you are expected to sustain very, very high speeds through the gates) and let beginners out on it.

post #3 of 7

Welcome to EpicSki!  Where is the race?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swippen View Post

Hello!

I am registered for an amature downhill race in a few weeks from now. It is a very beginner friendly course. I ran the same race last year and was about 30 seconds after the winner. (this is a big race where any age or skill can compete). Most part is company events and such)

 

Currently I had Giant Slalom skis, no special wax (hired skis), I had a not so good (wind wise) ski gear, no to slim carving skills. 

 

So this year I want to improve a little. And I would like help with what to focus on.

 

My assumptions are that these are the biggest issues:

1. Skill, I need to learn better carving instead of skidding too much and keeping small while doing it even if the turns are very beginner friendly.

2. Skiwear that does not take up too much wind.

3. longer skies with better surface towards snow.

 

I am not so sure about carving since the turns are not that hard so you don't have to slide that much but I guess I have to also focus on keeping the skis flat. Anyways this must be the biggest timedrain for sure.

 

But how about skiwear vs better skis... what gives the best effect if I would spend more money on any of it. Would I gain on longer skis or should I keep shorter for possibly improved technique?

 

I know I have to improve on all parts.. but what gives the most effect? 

post #4 of 7

Swippen,

You want to lose some of the 30 seconds between your time and the time of the winner.  Getting a time close to the winner will be difficult with only a few weeks to go.  But I think you can do a few things that will help.

 

1.  skill

I am assuming that the winner of the race last year probably has some experience in ski racing.  For you to get your time close to the winners, you will need many days of skiing (MANY) with deliberate practice, learning to carve outside the gates.  You will also need many more more days of practice in the gates, learning how to time your turn initiations.  The time you devote to learning to race will benefit your skiing when you aren't racing as well.  If the race is only a few weeks from now, your technique won't have time to improve unless you are skiing several times a week between now and then, and have a coach or instructor working with you.  But for the future, if your area offers race training, you can find a program and sign up for it next season.  If you are considering taking a lesson before the race, you can ask your instructor to focus on carving.  But trust your instructor if he/she says you need to work on other things first.  As a beginner, you may increase your time by learning some other fundamentals first.

 

2.  ski wear

A fast fix will be to wear clothing that is aerodynamic.  Racers wear spandex suits to cut down on air resistance.  You can lose maybe ONE second in a short recreational race if you wear a spandex suit, but the suit is costly.  Every second counts.  If you can wear a coat that is tight-fitting rather than floppy, that will help your time a little.  If it is warm and you can leave the coat at the top of the course and ski without it, that will help even more.  You won't get cold during your 60 seconds of racing; but consider the weather and the wind for the chairlift ride back up.  That's where you'll maybe get cold.  

 

3.  skis & wax

You are renting skis.  You'll probably do best with a ski whose turn radius is around 14-16, in a length that you are used to skiing.  Longer skis won't make any difference.  The rental shops probably don't wax their skis very often, so if you are running on flat skis, you're destined to go slow.  You can do a fast wax right at the top of the course by pressing some paraffin wax in X shapes on the bottom of the skis right before the race.  That will make them faster.  Try this out one day on rental skis before the race to see if you like the way the skis perform; don't just do it for the first time during the race itself.  Paraffin wax is cheap and readily available at the grocery store or hardware store in the canning department.  There are rub-on waxes for skis that you can use right before the race, if you want to buy that in a ski shop.  The paraffin is cheaper.

 

4.  tactics

You don't have too much time between now and the race to learn new things.  But you can easily change the shape of your turns, and where you turn, in order to minimize braking.  The way the turns go around the gate (tactics) matters a lot in improving your time.  

 

--Think of a turn as a C shape.  

--The top of the C should start way above the gate.  

--The middle of the C should be outside the gate, somewhat wide, and still ABOVE the gate.

--The bottom of the C shape is where you pass the gate.  

--Your turn should be almost done as you whizz by that gate.  

--As soon as you pass a gate, start the next turn.

--Many beginners ski straight towards the gate, then try to hook a turn fast around it and end up skidding down the hill.  Then they look at the next gate and ski to it, then make a tight, braking turn around it too.  They link braking turns all the way to the end of the course.  They do this because they are thinking about the gate.  Do not think about the gate.

--Think about an imaginary C shape in the snow around the gate, with the gate at the bottom of the C, and make your skis follow that line.

--There's much more to tactics in a race course, but you are a beginner racer so working on just this should be a good starting point.  

 

5.   practice before the race

Between now and the race, if you can practice making round C shaped turns with the end/bottom of the C going around an imaginary gate on the snow, that might help you do it inside the course on race day.  As you make your runs, look at the snow way ahead.  Find a shadow or dip or something in the snow that can be a gate, imagine a C shape line around it as described above, and make your skis follow that line.  Start your turns before you get to the imaginary gates, pass the "gate" at the end of your turns, and start a new turn immediately.    Keep finding imaginary gates ahead as you ski down and link your turns around them.  

 

Best of luck in your race.  


Edited by LiquidFeet - 3/28/13 at 6:13am
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies!

The race is this one: http://www.skistar.com/en/Are/Event/Skutskjutet/
(Winning time I think was 1 min 57 seconds)

So no.. there are no technical turns.. its mainly very flat and very easy.. Only like 2-3 turns where there is skidding risk.

(sorry should have added more information about the race in the first post since its very different from a "normal" race)

My aim is not to gain the 30 seconds at all. that is impossible in this time. My aim is to beat a few more of my friends (those that where 2-3 seconds faster last year).

I think there is a possibility to get help with some wax for the skis at the start location which i missed last year. Also the hotel i am staying at should have this service but then I will loose some wax on the way to the start. I will focus on getting some wax this year.

Some of my friends wrapped their ski-wear in cling film last year (which looked hillarious) but I don't think that could have gotten them that much of a benefit. I think I will try race in tight jeans and a tight sweater.

i only have like a day to practise but I will focus that day on some basic C turns to improve cornering and try working on my position (since I think this might be the most important in this race)




So.. working on my position.. and some C turns if I have time. Secondly making sure I get some wax on the skis and then also keeping a tight fit on my ski-wear. But I wont hassel a lot about getting longer skis or so since I probably wont be able to handle them much better anyways?
post #6 of 7
Quote:
So no.. there are no technical turns.. its mainly very flat and very easy.. Only like 2-3 turns where there is skidding risk.

(sorry should have added more information about the race in the first post since its very different from a "normal" race)

 

Yeah, that's... pretty flat from the photos and map.  I was thinking this was something more like a NASTAR course where it's not super steep but you would be making turns all the time.

 

On something that flat (where you don't need to turn much), you can build speed by:

 

  • skate at the start to get moving
  • keep your skis either flat or doing 'railroad tracks' turns (very long radius, just edging with very little flex or rotation, try to stay pointed down the hill unless you have to make a sharp turn)
  • tuck (be as aerodynamic as possible)

 

If there is a tighter section (more turns) then it'll come down to losing as little speed through there as possible.  A speed suit will help your top speed a little but won't do much if you scrub all your speed whenever you have to turn.

 

Appropriate wax should help.  What I'd try to do is to get a good hot wax the night before, and then get some rub-on or spray-on wax that you can put on your skis right at the start gate.

 

With a good GS ski (at least a 16-20m radius) the limit will probably be your skill and not the skis.  If they're really soft, crappy rental skis that might be a problem, and you should see if you can get 'demo' skis or other high-performance rentals that will be stable at speed.

post #7 of 7

Look up "tuck" on the internet.  On very gentle terrain, practice going absolutely straight on flat skis in a tuck before the race.  Stand up, then tuck, then stand up again.  You'll notice the difference between the speeds - the tuck is faster.  That's because it cuts down on air friction against the top of your body.  BE CAREFUL with your tuck; stay forward on your skis as you do this.  You don't want to be falling in a tuck on the course.  Use it only on the straight sections of the course.  

 

Enjoy the race!

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