SJ approaches on race skis! Suggest immediate evasive maneuvers!
Okayso......ski racing and the requisite gear is not exactly foreign to me. But!.......I haven't run a racecourse in anger for wellllllll........a looooong time and I really haven't had any interest in it. However, a recent thread got me thinking about folks just getting into racing and about how I'd approach it if I did want to do that.
So.........I'm a pretty experienced skier that's outta shape and in my later years. However, I have been a L-3 instructor, adult race coach, NASTAR pacesetter (hcp-2) race rep, ski rep, product manager, retailer etc, ad nauseum. I know the territory.....just haven't been there in a while and a half.
The first thing that strikes me is that many folks think that the thing to do is buy a really high end race ski, join a program, and get in there and pound gates. Despite my experience, that's not what I'd do.
First thing for me is I'd set up my boots. I've skied in Lange race(ish) boots for the best part of 30 years so that's what I'm going with. I'm currently in an XT and it's fine for what I currently do. I'd get an RS 130 or 140 (probably the 140), and get my stance set up. I generally ignore this for JSA but for racing, a different deal. Sometime down the road, I might build up a plug boot but that's not a great choice for my foot shape and I wouldn't need what a plug boot would offer for quite a while.
Then, I'd start to resurrect my racing skills outside of the race course. This would involve getting a pair of technical skis but not necessarily real race skis at the outset, and getting in mileage on them. I'd start to peel away the lazy habits that 10 + years of skiing on (mostly) wider skis have developed. I'd visualize each run as a race run and each turn as a race turn. I'd work on timing and on making the tightest carved turns that the slope and my skills would allow. Funny thing is.......a lot of folks will just get out there and lean on their boot tongues and ride the sidecut around and think that they are getting prepared to race. You need to work a lot harder on lateral positioning and tightening the turn radius because ultimately, each run down the course is sooooo different. I probably wouldn't jump in a race course for 15-20 days of skiing.
Eventually, I'll start to visit the course. I'm going to work on GS for the most part because GS is technically demanding where SL really isn't. I know if I can get the technical skills necessary to run good GS, slalom will come back comparatively easily. First, I'll do a lot of slipping and inspection and visualizing my tactics. I might shadow the course or where feasible, do some short sections. I won't be in any hurry to run full length. When I do start to run half sections or full length, I won't try to come remotely close to full speed. I'll try for 90% for quite some time, then later 95%. I'll limit my training each day to 3-5 runs and go for quality runs. This means that if I'm halfway down and I get really late and low, I'm probably going to pull off and regroup rather than spend the rest of the run recovering, running a slow bad line and probably blowing out again. Rather, I'll pull out, let the next training racer go by and then treat the remainder of the run as a sectioning problem. I'm a firm believer that grinding it out after a mistake is reinforcing the mistake and the attempted recovery, rather than the quality run that you want to remember. Imprinting three clean sections is much more valuable than a hacked full length run with a couple of recoveries and a generally bad line. Eventually, as get more on my game, I try to build each training session toward "one good run". When I nail that run, I'm likely to try to imprint it by going back up and doing a slower run as sort of a cool down lap. Then I'll go freeski. The course will always be there but if I follow up a really good run with a poor one.......guess which one gets imprinted.
Eventually, some SL training will start to happen but that's pretty soft cheese relative to GS.
That's how I'd do it, but that's just me and naturally...................YMWPV.