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# Guesstimating Skiing Speed

I have always wondered how fast my normal crusing speed is.

Do you guys have anything that helps you gauge your speed?

I have always wanted to know when I get going fast on a long groomer and the wind starts whistling and my jacket is flapping like crazy just how fast I am going.

I'm sure my top speed is nowhere near some of you guys but I have to assume it is a decent crusing speed. The only people who pass me are racers and really fast skiers.
My brother and I used his hand held gps unit. It remembers the max speed during the run. We just reset it and switched off each run.
I also use a hand held GPS. Although sometimes I have to look twice, because it says i'm going a lot faster than I believe.

It's also pretty handy to use to calculate % grade on any particular slope.
I've got a pretty good feel for speed from cycling, since your body is out there in the wind and the trees/road signs/etc. that you see in your peripheral vision are a simmilar relative distance from you compared to where they (trees, not road signs) would be while skiing. That said, I got a GPS this summer and am going to try it out this season to see what it reads.
the GPS is kewl. then you can go back, plug it inot a top map on the computer and see your runs.

Hit 60 a couple of times at Breck last year.
generally, take how fast you THINK you're going.
then cut that in half to get closer to true speed.

my cousin tends to think he's doing about 60 on the flattish groomers; he's never too happy to hear me guesstimate "oh, about 20-25..."
go ski at a place where you let you rent GPS's for the day to track speed, vertical, etc. I think Copper, Keystone, Breck all offer them. Never tried them, but looks like it could be cool to get a detailed analysis at the end of the day.
So all of you who have measured by GPS - what were your average speeds?
I found two things to be true. If you think you are skiing really fast, you're not going as fast as you think. But OTOH, when you are skiing very slow, you are going way faster than you think you are.

The highest speed I was able to get to on a straight groomed blue run on a hard snow day with no wind was 53MPH. I was in a tuck.
If the snow conditions were not optimal, the speed became way lower even with a tuck. When I am not tucking, the fastest I could go was in the mid 40's. This is when running on well-waxed bases. I could feel the wind resistance limiting my speed.

Normal pretty-fast speed where no goggles would make my eyes tear up turned out to be mid 30's.

When I thought I was going really slow, I was still going over 20MPH.

I never tried straightlining on a black run, as that seemed like suicide, at least on the resorts I go to.

BTW, a GPS can give you erroneous results if there are abrupt movements. My friend once got something like 100MPH after he jumped over a table.
Do modern GPS units take into account the vertical movement as well as horizontal when calculating speed?

I'm just asking because I don't know. In other words, if I'm on a run that drops 500 vertical feet while covering 2000 feet between horizontal coordinates, does the GPS calculate that I've actually traveled the hypotenuse of the triangle rather than simply the long leg?

Just curious.

Bob
I beleive that GPS units track vert and take that into account.

I think I go about 30 mph which is fast for me. I think I only hit 40ish on Narrow Gauge and Competition Hill up at Sugarloaf.

Maybe if I had GS skis I would go faster.
Endless Seasons did it with a Radar Gun. I think 60 or so was max.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by slider Endless Seasons did it with a Radar Gun. I think 60 or so was max.
I would love to see an on-slope comparison of a radar gun versus a state-of-the-art GPS. I'm shocked that *someone* on this board hasn't already done it or heard of someone who has.

I'm still somehow convinced that a radar gun is more accurate at clocking a skier's speed than a GPS.

Bob
Quote:
 Originally Posted by xrisi421 So all of you who have measured by GPS - what were your average speeds?
Can't really do "averages", The lift ride thows that off. I was pushing real good to get into the 60's though.. IIRC, 62.8 was my max, that was on 180 G66's...If I had more ski..I could have picked up a few MPH.
I'm not sure that every GPS takes into account vertical drop during speed measurement. Mine in car sure does not.
I also doubt those handheld consumer oriented ones do either.
BTW, I have Suunto S6 watch(no GPS) which is advertised as ski speed measurer. What a crap! Though not bad as altimeter/temp measurer.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by igorig I'm not sure that every GPS takes into account vertical drop during speed measurement. Mine in car sure does not....
How would you even know the difference? Roads with any significant grade are rare and hard to drive on with a normal car. Consider that the maximum grade for an interstate highway is 7%. The difference between horizontal distance and distance point-to-point is about 1/2 of 1%.

It would seem that, since a GPS positions you in three-dimensial space anyway, the calculation necessary to determine the distance between two points would not be difficult.
Last year I was doing 135mph on my skiboards going backwards. That's the GPS figure.

(GPS does stand for "Girls in Pub Speed", i.e. the speed you tell the ladies in the bar you were travelling at in an attempt to impress them )
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat Last year I was doing 135mph on my skiboards going backwards. That's the GPS figure.(GPS does stand for "Girls in Pub Speed", i.e. the speed you tell the ladies in the bar you were travelling at in an attempt to impress them )

but did you beat snowytoes???
Beat Snowy Toes?
I knocked the stuffing out of him...
This may be a little off subject.

Here is an interesting read based on research presented at the May 2003 ISSS Congress held in St Moritz, Switzerland and, recent data on fatalities in the U.S. for the last twelve seasons.

http://www.nspgvr.org/region/Helmet%...iew%202003.pdf

Some Interesting Conclusions are listed here. The last statement below is the most interesting.

Speed Results: (all differences significant beyond p=0.005, F-test)
• Skiers faster than snowboarders; 3.5 mph
Skiers (44.5 km/h)> Snowboarders (38.9 km/h)
• Helmeted faster than non-helmeted; 3.0 mph
– Yes (45.8 km/h)> No (41.0 km/h)
• Good visibility faster than poor; 5.2mph
– Good (46.7 km/h)> Poor (38.3 km/h)

• Speeds are highest on ‘Blue Square” trails, not ‘Black Diamond’ or “Green Circle.’
• Skiers go faster than snowboarders,
• Persons who use helmets go faster than those who do not use helmets,
• When visibility is better, people go faster
• Males are faster than females,
• Intermediate and Advanced skiers go faster.

Implications of Helmets

Average speed of 43.0 km/h (26.7 mph) under all conditions well above the design evaluation criterion of 22.6 km/h (14.0 mph) for helmets.
• The kinetic energy at 43.0 km/h is 3.6 times greater than 22.6 km/h.
• For the upper 16% of persons on slope, the kinetic energy is more than 5.8 times greater.
•~35% of the population now uses a helmet,

Have helmets made a difference?

The overall fatality rate has marginally decreased (p-value = 0.06);
• Skier as well as Snowboarder fatality rates have not significantly changed (if anything each is slightly higher).
• The overall marginal decrease is due to the increased number of snowboarders and the decreased number of skiers.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by sjjohnston How would you even know the difference? Roads with any significant grade are rare and hard to drive on with a normal car. Consider that the maximum grade for an interstate highway is 7%. The difference between horizontal distance and distance point-to-point is about 1/2 of 1%.
Here in NWP we have enough passes to check that.
My car has speedometer too.
Of course calculation must be applied by GPS. That is the point. It seems that
their CPUs do not support good real time one.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese Can't really do "averages", The lift ride thows that off. I was pushing real good to get into the 60's though.. IIRC, 62.8 was my max, that was on 180 G66's...If I had more ski..I could have picked up a few MPH.
I find that hard to believe, in fact I don't believe it.

My Older son is 18 year old J1 FIS level Racer who weighs 215lbs with a Speed Suit on skiing on Atomic 210 Downhills that were previously owned by a US Ski teamer, averaged 53MPH at a downhill race last season(He won the training run in fact). These skis have been waxed literally hundreds of times, so much so the normally clear base at the tip is now Red. Because every course is measured from start to finish in actual distance with a rolling measuring device, we know how many feet the course actually covers, give or take variations in racer's line taken, and we know his time. This is an easy calculation. I am sure he hits over 60MPH in spots to average 53MPH.

I submit to you unless you are in a speed suit, and on some incredibly prepared speed skis you cannot hit anywhere near 60MPH simply due to the wind resistance of your clothing. A couple of years age we were at Vail and running a Nastar GS course with a speed trap. Our fastest times were about 41 MPH & we had jackets on.

A-man!!
A car's speedometer is a pretty poor reference. They are often way off. It would make more sense to use the GPS as the reference to determine how inaccurate the speedometer is, rather than the other way around. For best results do it at a good speed (like 60) on a straight road with a clear view of the sky.
We have many "Radar Signs" around our area that post your vehicle speed as you go by. My speedo is right on!!!
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Atomicman ... I submit to you unless you are in a speed suit, and on some incredibly prepared speed skis you cannot hit anywhere near 60MPH simply due to the wind resistance of your clothing. A couple of years age we were at Vail and running a Nastar GS course with a speed trap. Our fastest times were about 41 MPH & we had jackets on. A-man!!
A-Man:

I'm in general agreement that nearly everyone overestimates their skiing speed. Along the same lines, I'm an avid fisherman and I'm continually amazed at all the 20-inch-plus trout that get caught here every year. It also happens with estimates of how much powder we skied yesterday - "it was waist-deep, dood!".

However, I'm pretty sure 60mph is reachable without TOO much difficulty and without a speed suit. The reason I say that is that the ski patrol here used to have a county-authorized radar gun that they would play with from time to time. They would set up little edge-of-trail speed courses just for fun (this was 20 years ago, so of course they could never do that anymore due to liability concerns). Tucking for about 8-10 seconds down a moderately steep - probably medium-black at most ski areas - groomed run would get me a bit over 60mph in regular ski clothes.

Of course, *averaging* 60 down an entire run is a totally different matter.

I would bet, however, that if your son's average speed in that downhill was 53mph, he probably went well above 60 in places. In my younger days, I did a few downhills and when you're on long skis and wearing a speed suit, the acceleration is just amazing when you start down a steep schuss. My highest radar-clocked speed was 71mph, and that was in a race that averaged less than 50.

What's interesting now is that with the new skis it's so FUN to make round, fast turns on groomed snow that I seldom find myself going straight any more. Or maybe that's just my way of rationalizing the fact that I'm too chicken to go real fast in my old age.

Bob
I'm with you there, I am almost always turning and there is no doubt in my mind it is the "Chicken" factor. But I am still not so sure about the accuracy of a radar gun either. Aren't they designed to bounce off a solid surface (probably large & metal). At least since I knew the distance traveled and the time we are fairly close on the racew hill.

I just think 60 is more diffucult to obtain then we think!
A-man,
I am sorry if you do not believe me. If you do a search on my name in this forum, I doubt you will find one either condensending or inacurate post. I have no reason to lie. Was the GPS off? Maybe, but I also had it in the car and it was regestering the same MPH as the car. I was not "averaging 60 MPH".. it was my "Top Speed"

Bob, thank you for the support
All I was saying is from my experience aerodynamically pretty damn hard to go 60MPH dressed in normal ski clothes. I wasn't questioning your integrity, maybe the method of measurement.
When your goggles start sliding backward off your helmet, you're going fast enough.
A couple of years ago out in Vail skiing in China Bowl the Poppyfields East Run, I overheard some guys talking about the speed they were recording with what I assumed was a GPS device. They looked like they were skiing pretty fast , and I heard them state the speed was 40 mph.

Poppyfields is a pretty good place to get it rolling down a consistent moderate pitch . I probably haven't exceeded 40 mph if their speeds were accurate. I felt like I was clipping along pretty fast too, obviously not that fast. Last year the guy I was skiing with dusted me pretty good on the same run when I kidded him asking if he thought he could keep up.

I remember years ago this same guy was over at A Basin and the Mahres were there filming something. When they were done they took off and this guy and his brother tried to keep up with them and they said it was a joke how much faster the Mahres were accelerating out of every turn.
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