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Slalom skis for first-time racer

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

I've been skiing for a long time, but am finally getting my first chance to race in an organized setting (college club team) and I'd really like to invest in a pair of skis for use in slalom.  A little background, I'm a solid technical skier (level 7-8?  Don't really know) and stand 6 feet tall, ~155 pounds, and am in pretty good shape.  We'll be racing on the east coast, predominantly on the wonderful mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.  I also work in a ski shop that doesn't carry race skis, but I'd like to stick to the brands we sell (as far as companies that make race skis, this includes Salomon, Volkl, Rossi, Atomic, and Blizzard). Basically, I'm looking for advice on length, fis/cheater, and brand, as I really don't know where to start with this.

Thanks in advance,


post #2 of 9

hmm, get any discounts doing that job even though you may not have the skis on hand to try?  if so, 4 of those 5 brands make race skis and taking racing most seriously from what i can tell and, while not huge in world cup, i must admit i don't know what race skis, if any, salomon continues to make


as for length, 160 to 165 should suit you fine for a slalom course.  A non-fis ski may be the wiser and safer choice if you have no prior race experience or time on race skis.  for slalom purposes, typical edge bevels are .5 degrees for the base edge and 3 degrees for the side edge.


and, i hope you have a blast Rauch.



post #3 of 9

Good for you for starting racing. You're going to have so much fun. My 2 cents:


1) You're probably racing USCSA, wherein the spectrum of competitors and equipment is broad, and a cheater race ski is perfectly adequate. Don't get a FIS ski. Any FIS legal ski is way less fun to freeski than its cheater counterpart; if you don't believe me, borrow somebody's for a few runs and feel how demanding they are. And the cheater version will make a peerless ice freeski, thereby extending the reach of your (presumably limited) college budget.  Also, mere mortals like you and I are generally unqualified to operate FIS skis near the fun edge of their performance envelope (and even if this is untrue, it's hard to find enough hill to really let them rip out here in the East). I cannot emphasize enough how terrifyingly powerful a FIS ski feels when you have come from a background of gentle, friendly consumer skis. Like being strapped to a F-18 jet that you can't turn unless the afterburners are on. And the brakes have been disabled.


2) Brands: Almost all race stock skis have a high design/build quality, but performance characteristics and "feel" vary by brand and model. For example, Volkl Racetigers feel (to me) damp, smooth, and predictable, while Atomic Redsters like to hook up early. You might want to try a range of brands (perhaps including some not sold by your shop), and maybe keep a notebook of your impressions so as to narrow down what you do and don't like. I will put in a good word for Nordica Dobermann SLR's and GSR's as a playful, springy line of skis with brutal, unbreakable edge hold on sheer blue ice. I have literally no experience with Rossi or Blizzard and it's been years since I've seen a Salomon race ski.


3) Ski size: SL skis come in a very small range of sizes, so for a given manufacturer, there will probably only be one plausible choice for your height. Which is shorter than you're used to, probably 160-something. GS skis tend to ski long compared to today's civilian carving skis, so if you're looking at GS skis, you might want to try the same planks in both a longer and shorter size to get a feel for them. As a new racer, it's pretty easy to end up with too much ski underfoot and feel overwhelmed.


4) Boots matter a lot in racing. A lot. If you haven't spent time with a bootfitter you should do that before worrying about planks. 

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm looking at a pretty good deal on some RaceTiger non-fis skis, do you think a 160 or 165 makes more sense?  Also, do you think Salomon XMax 120 boots would work well for club racing and recreation?  Also, would they be usable for someone of my stature?

post #5 of 9

First, you should be on 165s, no question.


Second, don't be scared off of FIS skis. Like everything, they have a flex range that can suit pretty much anyone. Most U-16s race on FIS skis.


Check out this thread:



post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by ZeroGravity View Post

First, you should be on 165s, no question.

Second, don't be scared off of FIS skis. Like everything, they have a flex range that can suit pretty much anyone. Most U-16s race on FIS skis.

Check out this thread:


This. ! I see we are back to the regular thread where we try to frighten people away from Fis race slaloms. frown.gif.

You are going to race, and if you want to race as opposed to just take part, get the right tool for the job, not the pretend non-race job. And as for free-skiing the Fis is actually more adaptable, typically being a 13.5 r as opposed to 11.5 on the look a like one. Check out what every race coach is wearing on the hill, you will invariably find it is a 165 race stock slalom. These guys know what works!

Get a 165 race stock and start from there. Don't waste your funds on the non race and then realize you need to get the real thing.

Of the brands you carry, I would encourage you to look at the Rossi or the blizzard. Both top class skis. I am not personally much of a fan of the volks and I prefer the lighter swing weight on these two. The atomic is a great ski but can start to feel heavier with the x series binding.

Oh, and this comes from a background of someone who has actually skied all of these...., and also went through the wasted effort of buying some of the wrong stuff when I started racing....
Edited by ScotsSkier - 10/13/13 at 4:07pm
post #7 of 9

I got my first slalom skis last season.  They are Head WC 165 and the story behind them is that they were built specifically for Bode Miller and were part of his quiver.  They have a huge plate, are really heavy for their size, and are definitly the real deal.  I was excited, but a little intimidated to ski them.  I found them to be a ton of fun and not at all too demanding.  They grab the snow and really rip with no speed limit.  They are best when they are turning so maybe they are demanding in the sense that I make a lot more turns on them than on some of my other skis.  If you are serious about racing, get a racing ski.  You will be fine.


I don't ski my FIS skis too much in regular season.  They are too stiff and too short for powder and crud.  I plan on trying them more as a mogul ski this year, but don't want to beat them up in lessons.  When I am working I need to be ready to go anywhere and do anything without worrying about trashing my equipment.  These skis are too special for that.  I use them mostly free skiing early season on hard pack.  I have no race background at all.  I did a few race clinics last season and the clinicians all drooled all over my FIS skis.  My trainers like the angles I generate in short turns using these skis.  They think I should ski them more often.  The more you can put into them, the more they will give back.


DISCLAIMER:  I have been skiing for over 30 years and have been a full time pro for 8.  I don't really think I'm that good in the overall JH picture, but I am not an average skier.  I didn't find that the FIS ski lived up to all the hype about being hard to ski.  YMMV.

post #8 of 9

Get a "real" SL ski in a 165, but since you're just starting out don't over think the ski too much.  Your SL rhythm and overall technique will evolve over the season so fine tuning before that won't be worth it and may hurt you more than help you.  I'd focus more on getting the right kind of protective gear and getting that dialed in and properly fit.  Scotty is a tremendous asset to EpicSki with regard to overall racing gear knowledge and experience.  Take his advice as The Gospel!

post #9 of 9

I've been a sherpa with a credit card (aka parent of racers) for a long, long time.  My kids race in college as well in a club setting.  "Club racing" is a misnomer - it's pretty decent competition.  


Get the FIS slalom skis in 165 (there really isn't a lot of difference between them) and then go to a ski swap and get a pair of used GS skis in a size that makes sense for you - 175 or 180 to 185 depending on your ability to manage the edge or so.  GS skis last forever and you *will* want them for college club racing. Pick a pair that has good edge left (probably cost you less than $300).  


With the money you save on the GS skis, go to a local ski shop that caters to racers and learn how to tune your skis and get the basic set up of iron, vise, files, file guides, scraper etc...  Most ski shops have a starter set that is just fine for about $149.  Keep it simple - get some blue (or equivalent) and cold powder or a general purpose wax and cold powder to start and as you gain experience and skill you can up the wax technology as your performance increases.  You will definitely want to get good at managing your edges.


College club racing has all levels, but the course sets are generally challenging and the top end of the club racers are typically pretty darn good some with considerable FIS racing experience even though the range of racer is broad in general.


You'll have a blast.  My kids love it and it is a big part of their college experience and set of friends.  



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