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How Many Pairs of Speed Skis Do WC Racers Travel With?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Looking for someone with World Cup experience to settle a friendly argument and shed some light on a few questions:

 

- How many pairs of speed skis, Downhill or SuperG, does a typical World Cup racer travel with?

 

- Do they have just one pair they think are fast and use all the time in all conditions, or do they have multiple pairs with different base structure grinds and pick the pair for each race with the base structure that best matches conditions?

 

There are lots of stories out there from Bill Johnson's "Red Sleds" and racers using a pair of speed skis until they delaminate - so what is reality on the World Cup today? One single pair rode all season or multiple seasons, or a quiver of skis used during the season?

 

Thanks!

 

BST

post #2 of 10

 I asked Graham Lonetto, a former WC Tech, a similar question once and I thought he told me it was somewhere around 10ish, give or take, sets that they travel with.  He told me they start the season with a nearly endless supply and do a lot of testing till they have it narrowed down to the ones they keep.  I don't think being a WC Ski Tech is quite as glamorous as a lot of people think and I think it's a lot more work than people realize.

post #3 of 10

It depens, as there's no "typical" racer :) Top guys have A LOT more support from ski companies then guys placing 10th, 20th... on WC. But even between these top guys it's different. There were guys with 100 pairs of SG/DH skis, and there are guys with 10 DH and 6 SG skis. But in general I would say average would be around 15 DH skis (training etc. skis included).

MoJo23 being WC tech sure sounds glamorous, but in reality it's everything but this. You spend hours and hours in wax room, you sleep much less then worse party animals (not because of partying all that much), you spend days in really crappy weather out on you knees in wet snow, which goes through in first 10mins, you test skis at -30c when everyone half normal wouldn't even get out of house etc. But then you have days when it's nice and warm, sunny and everything is easy, and if you get really lucky, your racer gets medal in WCH or Olympics. And most of people see just this last part and think, how great and easy "job" you have.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

I understand that top WC racers get first pick from the manufacturer, may take 20+ pair to test and sort through to find the fastest, and racers who are not on top have much less support and resources. Can anyone answer specifically this question:

 

~~- Do they have just one pair they think are fast and use all the time in all conditions, or do they have multiple pairs with different base structure grinds and pick the pair for each race with the base structure that best matches conditions? There are lots of stories out there from Bill Johnson's "Red Sleds" and racers using a pair of speed skis until they delaminate - so what is reality on the World Cup today? One single pair rode all season or multiple seasons, or a quiver of skis used during the season?

post #5 of 10

In XC skiing (believe it or not, but skis and waxes are much more important in XC skiing then in any alpine discipline), you can still see few (or even 5, 6) years old skis racers have and still race on them. But with xc, you don't need to worry about edge, so if you keep skis for races only, they can really last for long time. But everyone, in XC and in speed events on alpine side, have much more then just 2, 3 pairs of skis. For events where skis and wax play big role, you need to have more then just single pair. Different structures, different bases, even different stiffness or different binding mount are there so you pick optimal ski for certain conditions.

I have heard stories in alpine part of WC, about certain skis circulating around being used for years and years, but in reality, there might be year old skis still going around, but that's it. Noone is using 3, 4 or 5 years old skis. If nothing else, you run out of edge material before you could ride 30 or 40 races (with about 10 races a year). ;)

So to directly answer your question, yes racers in speed events, even those ranked around 30 or 40, have more then single pair. Even those "bad" ones, have 4, 5 or 6 pairs of DH skis. They might have year old one, but they still have them. With SL things are different, and guys placing around 30 or 40th, have 3 or 4 pairs, where they race through all season with single pair, or maybe 2. But with SL, structure and wax doesn't play much of a role.

post #6 of 10

I understand that there is this concept / belief that some skis are simply "faster" than others for reasons that seem to border on "black magic" (white magic?)

 

How do the top racers decide which ones are fastest?  Do they take them for runs through a speed trap?  It seems like the smallest change in body position (i.e., aerodynamics), snow conditions, etc. could lead to somewhat different times.  Once they're mounted up is somebody else really going to want them if the first guy thinks that they aren't "fast enough"?

 

Or is the ski selection more based on a visual inspection by the athlete and his technician?

post #7 of 10

A former Canadian speed team member from the late 80's told me that once they got their skis picked, they were set up for certain conditions and that they kept them that way for the season, meaning they didn't change wax types, cold stayed cold, warm stayed warm etc. I think based on that alone they would have several pairs to cover off temp and snow conditions. Things may have changed since then however.

post #8 of 10

When it's about speed skis (and xc skis) it's about testing. For speed skis, you normally have some 300-400m long test track (as straight as it goes with as little of bumps and other things which could interfere with consistent results), where you get to some 110-120km/h, with several "checks" in between, and you do whole bunch of test runs with each skis/wax to get sort of average. It's everything but pleasant thing, as normally it takes several hours to do very limited number of tests, not to mention you can do this also when it's -20 or -30c, and since you need to cut outer factors out, you are doing this in skinsuit (even at -30c) to keep wind drag factor consistent through the runs. Normally skiers themself do very limited number of these tests, but they still do some of it, as they also use this as their glide training. But most of these tests are done by service guys or testers that companies employ just for this and to keep servicemen a bit fresher (it's pain in the a**, to wax all night and then to test all day).

For xc skis you have normal skiing as test next to sort of same glide tests as previously mentioned ones (just that lenght is only from 50-100m, as you don't need to test skis at 100km/h but 20-30km/h is enough, as that's normally race speed of those skis). So tests take even longer, and testers need to have feeling for ski, as with "normal skiing" you can't just measure things like you can on test track.

ZeroGravity it's not that much of cold wax/warm wax thing, but it's about completely different bases for cold and for warm temperatures. Ptex is different and there's no chance "cold ptex" will be fast in warm conditions and vice versa. With "be fast" I mean optimal. It will still do good, but it's not optimal. So on the end it really looks like cold skis are waxed with cold waxes only, and warm with warm waxes only.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroGravity View Post
 

A former Canadian speed team member from the late 80's told me that once they got their skis picked, they were set up for certain conditions and that they kept them that way for the season, meaning they didn't change wax types, cold stayed cold, warm stayed warm etc. I think based on that alone they would have several pairs to cover off temp and snow conditions. Things may have changed since then however.

 

ZeroGravity - Thanks! You understand my question.

 

I argued that they have several pairs set up for different conditions, with different base structures, for cold/dry snow to warm/wet snow. Reason being it takes lots of work AND training session skiing to make a ski fast after a base grind/structure. That "break in" work is done at the beginning of the season so the skis are ready to go.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

I understand that there is this concept / belief that some skis are simply "faster" than others for reasons that seem to border on "black magic" (white magic?)

 

How do the top racers decide which ones are fastest?  Do they take them for runs through a speed trap?  It seems like the smallest change in body position (i.e., aerodynamics), snow conditions, etc. could lead to somewhat different times.  Once they're mounted up is somebody else really going to want them if the first guy thinks that they aren't "fast enough"?

 

Or is the ski selection more based on a visual inspection by the athlete and his technician?

 

KevinF,

 

Here's a couple good articles on the subject that should answer your questions.

 

http://www.modernskiracing.com/Butz.php

 

http://skiracing.com/speed-jumps-why-fast-skis-matter-and-how-u-s-team-got-em/

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