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Fis/ussa Ski Lengths

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Recent changes as adopted by the USSA this year for the junior racers have been causing problems for many of these youngsters. These changes require "men" in the J-2 category and (optional), for second year J-3's to compete on FIS legal equipment. Men must be on SL skis of 165 and GS skis at 180. While I can fully appreciate why the FIS has mandated increased length and side cut requirements in the upper levels due to an increase in injuries as the the skis got shorter with more radical side cuts emerging, it can be argued that the imposition of these regulations will have a adverse impact since it has filtered down into the ranks of the 14 to 16 year old racers. Many of these kids just don't have the ability to bend and turn a 180 GS ski. Out west
gates can be set to more "conventional" distances between the gates, they simply have wider trails and more acerage, however in the east (as allowable) the gates are set a bit tighter to accomodate for the narrower trails. Here the 180 becomes even more of a liability for the lighter skiers.

It seems about half of our club falls into this "light weight" category. Many of these kids are just starting to develop and after having participated through the development ranks they are hitting a brick wall after five years of competition. They will be allowed to race but will be automatically DQ'd if they are not on FIS approved equipment.

I know the the creator didn't make us all equal and I'm aware that at 5'9 I'd never be (nor ever wanted to be) a center for the Lakers .... this is not an affirmative action rant .... but it seems that the governing bodies let this filter down through the ranks in too far reaching a fashion.

To illustrate this, this week, one of our very light J-2's took second in a GS but not on FIS legal gear. There was no challenge at this race and no checking of gear ... but ... despite his talent he will (as he has in the past five years) make it to state finals only to be disqualified. To add "insult to injury", his parents couldn't find a shop that would sell him "legal" skis because of his size.

There seemed to be a simple solution ... put the kids on softer rec skis, but when you see the tips start hopping on an icy surface you realize that that's not quite the solution either. There was some hope that the manufacturers would have had skis on the market to keep the kids safe and legal but that never transpired.

It's a shame to see the US, despite the decline in interest in Alpine competition have the legs cut from the program just as it seems to be gaining steam (Bode is still on top) ....

It would be nice to have a two tiered system where the kids could compete in two classes in the races .... FIS-SCORED ... and an "Unlimited" class, the classes would race together but be sorted out at the end depending on equipment. At least this would keep them in the game untill they develop the body mass to handle the equipment.

I would like to hear how other clubs are handling this or whatever equipment modifications may be working for your racers.
post #2 of 20
Appplying the same length and radius requirements that exist at the World Cup level to entry level J1 and especially J2 athletes is both ridiculous and stupid. I.E., it makes no sense to allow Bode Miller to ski on the same ski that you are requiring a 120lb J2 to ski on.

Of course, much about ski racing is already ridiculous, so what else is new?

My take is this: Put kids on appropriate equipment, if someone protests them, belittle them for it and tell them to get a life. Its hard to justify filing a protest when little Johnny beats little Jimmy, and they are both USSA J2s without FIS licenses.

For us big kids, it isn't an issue. 21m skis aren't a problem if courses are set within the rules, and the Fischer 161/165 is damn good for those of us that prefer the shorter SL boards.

Putting a 120lb kid that isn't an exceptional athlete on a 21m 180cm GS ski will stunt their development as an athlete, when compared to what you could do.
post #3 of 20
Now you´re experiencing what we already have here.
The men´s ski for 15-years olds is stupid, correct.
Already the fact they have to compete with burly guys 10 years older and 50 lbs heavier (not to speak about experience, strength etc.) is, IMHO, completely wrong.
The light juniors will probably need good women´s skis.
I have some fresh example:
two 15/16-year juniors I often train with, Czech Nr. 2 a nd 4 among *1989, now the first year racing FIS with the adults, did quite good in spring and fall on the glacier.
When in their first race of the season on hard technical snow in Italy, they were completely lost - both technically and physically.
It´s partly their fault - lack of condition in those lazy bas*ards.
OTOH, one on a 190 cm/26,5 m Head, the other 186 cm/27 m Atomic - could they ever have a chance even if they had squatted etc. like mad?
They are both still lean, though tall, still little muscle mass. Just normal at this age.
It´s pretty hard for them. I don´t think they will get anywhere. Not only because ot the material regulations but such races with 40 seconds or so behind will take the joy away.
A good selection? Maybe. But a cruel one.
Not only for the youngsters but also for the parents who invest so much money into the careers.
post #4 of 20
"While I can fully appreciate why the FIS has mandated increased length and side cut requirements in the upper levels due to an increase in injuries as the the skis got shorter with more radical side cuts emerging"
just once i would like to this "increase injuries" in a real provable statistic, in the old days when kids were skiing 205 SL/210 GS/215 SG/225 DH with DINs cranked to 20-24. they were tearing knees up like it was going out of style now the injuries that sideline kids for the season seem to be back injuries usually due tolackof conditioning/warmup.

all ski racing should be unlimited, ski what you can and FIS should stay out of ski design.
post #5 of 20
Actually, I think this is why some manufacturers (e.g. Atomic) have started giving the younger and lighter racers their LT and ST line of skis, which are designed for lighter skiers yet still meet FIS requirements.

And I actually see some logic in the FIS rules and regs. I think that a minimum turn radius for GS makes for a more challenging race (e.g. technique vs. wax). The maximum boot and stack height regs are also good safety measures (just like the wind permeability regs for DH suits). But for younger kids, it's quite the problem to foist them on equipment that's too much for them at the developmental stage, and I'm glad that some of the ski companies are addressing this issue.

Regarding the "J2 who isn't FIS licensed" and is just racing to get some races under his belt, then it's more of a "grey zone." I can understand another racer's protest against somebody using non-FIS equipment, yet I can also understand the racer just wanting to get some competition experience, regardless of equipment - after all, real races are really difficult to simulate in training. That it's up to the race referee and/or TD to decide gets really touchy in the land of subjective rulings. If anything, perhaps the USSA should address this during their spring and summer meetings - we don't need any white elephants sitting unnoticed until there's chaos.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by waxman
"While I can fully appreciate why the FIS has mandated increased length and side cut requirements in the upper levels due to an increase in injuries as the the skis got shorter with more radical side cuts emerging"
just once i would like to this "increase injuries" in a real provable statistic, in the old days when kids were skiing 205 SL/210 GS/215 SG/225 DH with DINs cranked to 20-24. they were tearing knees up like it was going out of style now the injuries that sideline kids for the season seem to be back injuries usually due tolackof conditioning/warmup.

all ski racing should be unlimited, ski what you can and FIS should stay out of ski design.
The reason FIS required minimum lengths was that shorter skis allowed too many racers to carve clean turns through the entire course. This led to almost equal times for most of the top skiers. In that kind of race, the wax tecnicians are more imprtant than the athletes. In order to spread out the field a little, FIS required greater gate offsets, making the courses too turny to be carved. The safety issue is that the wider courses, with racers turning more across the fall line, brought too many skiers too close to the edge of the trails. Longer skis allow more reasonable courses, more in the fall line, with less traversing. Crashes in that kind of course tend to go down the hill, not off the course. I think most racers support the new rules, both because of safety concerns and because it improves the competition.
It's unfortunate that the new rules put smaller kids at a further disadvantage, but I doubt that it has much real effect among the top J2s. As in most high school sports, the stronger kids dominated skiing before the new rules were enforced, and allowing smlller kids to use smaller skis wouldn't change that.
In New York, at least some kids have the opportunity to race in high school competition, which is not organized by USSA or FIS. Unlike USSA J2 competition, weekend skiers can be pretty competitive in the school races.

John
post #7 of 20
"the wax tecnicians are more imprtant than the athletes" hate to tell you this but the technician is always more important
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by checkracer
Now you´re experiencing what we already have here.
The men´s ski for 15-years olds is stupid, correct.
Already the fact they have to compete with burly guys 10 years older and 50 lbs heavier (not to speak about experience, strength etc.) is, IMHO, completely wrong.
The light juniors will probably need good women´s skis.
I have some fresh example:
two 15/16-year juniors I often train with, Czech Nr. 2 a nd 4 among *1989, now the first year racing FIS with the adults, did quite good in spring and fall on the glacier.
When in their first race of the season on hard technical snow in Italy, they were completely lost - both technically and physically.
It´s partly their fault - lack of condition in those lazy bas*ards.
OTOH, one on a 190 cm/26,5 m Head, the other 186 cm/27 m Atomic - could they ever have a chance even if they had squatted etc. like mad?
They are both still lean, though tall, still little muscle mass. Just normal at this age.
It´s pretty hard for them. I don´t think they will get anywhere. Not only because ot the material regulations but such races with 40 seconds or so behind will take the joy away.
A good selection? Maybe. But a cruel one.
Not only for the youngsters but also for the parents who invest so much money into the careers.
Have you seen Dartmouth's Paul MacDonald (Small) Ted Ligety from Park city(Smaller) or Paul's sister from U of V Jill (smallest) . They all seem to compete just fine even at the World Cup level. Yeah the are 18 or 19 put still very small & light!
post #9 of 20
Well, I don´t know them but I do congratulate!
I know and said it was also the Czech boys´fault - their coach is a friend of mine and we often discuss their rather poor attitude and lack of hard work
If those racers of yours got as far as WC even as small and light, they must be really good and they must have had good coaching, lots of motivation and good work done.
Another frind of mine, an Austrian coach, lets his 13-year-old son race on Atomics with 21 m radius.
There might be a philosophical question and debate whether such a selection when the best hold on and succeed and the not-so-good fall off (which is a general rule anyway) is or is not beneficial.
post #10 of 20
Yes, the FIS has mandated a 21m minimum turn radius for GS. The Atomic GS skis as used by male (even the smaller guys like Mario Scheiber) World Cup athletes are mostly anywhere from 26m to 29m from 186cm to 195cm, depending on the athlete and/or conditions and set. 21m is too small a turn radius at that level where snow is harder and the courses steeper. I know Rossignol supplies Thomas Grandi with 25m 190cm skis. Fischer, Head, Stoekli, Volkl all have larger radius skis for upper level racing.

Considering what was available when I was racing (210cm 50-55m GS skis, 200cm 55-60m SL skis) kids (and their parents) these days should buck-up and deal with it.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Betaracer
I know Rossignol supplies Thomas Grandi with 25m 190cm skis. Fischer, Head, Stoekli, Volkl all have larger radius skis for upper level racing.
According to some European sources, Grandi´s Rossi GS 03/04 should have been: 189 cm, 99-66,5-88, radius 26 m
Head GS RD: 190 cm = 26,5 m, 195 cm even more
Stockli: 192 cm = 24,4 m
Elan: 194 cm = 25,5 m
etc.
Might be different - more shapes
Yet, may I modestly suggest we don´t turn the thread into one of many WC-ski discussions?
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by yuki2
It would be nice to have a two tiered system where the kids could compete in two classes in the races .... FIS-SCORED ... and an "Unlimited" class, the classes would race together but be sorted out at the end depending on equipment. At least this would keep them in the game untill they develop the body mass to handle the equipment.

I would like to hear how other clubs are handling this or whatever equipment modifications may be working for your racers.

I'm not familiar with the competition circuits in the US, but in Canada equipment rules are only enforced at the FIS level and above. We have other events known as "National Points" races where the equipment rules are not enforced. These races are an opportunity for weaker FIS aged atheletes to be more competitive, with lower entry numbers, and more relaxed attitude toward the FIS equipment rules.

Quote:
Originally Posted by checkracer
OTOH, one on a 190 cm/26,5 m Head, the other 186 cm/27 m Atomic - could they ever have a chance even if they had squatted etc. like mad?
IMHO I don't see a problem with the current FIS equipment rules. Yes some of the smaller, weaker athletes are at a disadvantage, but it's a gravity assisted sport, so they are at a disadvantage regardless.

Dynastar, Salomon, Head, and Rossignol all make their GS skis as short as 175cm (and some smaller), so I don't see why any coach would put a first year FIS aged athlete who is under 150lbs on a 185cm or larger ski that is designed for a much bigger man.

I think that in some cases it may be a simple case of poor equipment selection, rather than an athlete being inhibited by the rules. If a first year FIS kid has skied atomic all his life, but now has to conform to FIS rules and atomic (for example only) doesn't have a ski under 185cm that will meet the regulations, maybe he should consider switching to a different brand..
post #13 of 20
Atomic has FIS legal sidecut (21.5m turn radius) from 171cm in 5cm increments.
post #14 of 20
Powderhoudin'

This season USSA has decided to conform to the FIS rules here in the States.

Yes it is a gravity assisted sport, but most Junior GS and Slalom courses truly favor smaller kids.

On the other hand SG and DH is definetly a big kids game.

So I hear all the time at the speed events from parents, the only reason that big moose won is because of his weight on the flats.

I hear at the steeper SL & Gs courses form the big kids parents, that liitle pip squeak won because of his size.

The reason a kid doesn't switch if he has been with Atomic all his life is they are giving him gear on some level. do you really want to blow that off and then want to come back to them the next year? Not a good idea. Maybe can't get help from another company and already has a deal with someone!

Since, every run at a race can be different, ie some racers run in the fog, some racers rimeing on their goggles, some run new snow, some run inperfect sunshine. Otrhers have a gust of wind , someone else runs when it is dead calm! How do oyu make all these varibales equal? You don't.

It is not all about length. it is about Flex. Can you bend the ski.

Find a ski you can bend I don't care what size you are. If you are 112 lbs. J2 boy and must ski on a 180cm GS ski wiht a 21m turn radius fins one you can flex!!!!

One thing is for sure, whatever the rules are they must be enforced consistently. You can't have weaker skier skiing on small skis that beat a mediocre racer racing on legal stuff. It is not fair to the mediocre racer or that racers parents that followed the rules.

I don't really care what the rules are a slong as they are applied consistently across the board!

Now since my kids are in the big moose category, I best not see any little pip squeaks on illegal gear since I spent the dough to make sure mine were legal!

Also here is the updated FIS/USSA equipment chart.
http://www.ussa.org/PublishingFolder...sequipment.pdf
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Betaracer
Atomic has FIS legal sidecut (21.5m turn radius) from 171cm in 5cm increments.
FIS legal begins for men at J2 & up at 180cm. But the closest size is a 183cm & it is 23m.
post #16 of 20
My catalog has a 181cm 21.5m GS ski. SKU A041106(race chassis) or A041108 (world cup chassis)
post #17 of 20
Wow, they sent my 1st year J2 the Womens's Blue GS11m w/WC chassis in a 183cm 23M.

Interesting. We would have rather had a 181 21.5
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomicman
The reason a kid doesn't switch if he has been with Atomic all his life is they are giving him gear on some level. do you really want to blow that off and then want to come back to them the next year? Not a good idea. Maybe can't get help from another company and already has a deal with someone!

It is not all about length. it is about Flex. Can you bend the ski.

Find a ski you can bend I don't care what size you are. If you are 112 lbs. J2 boy and must ski on a 180cm GS ski wiht a 21m turn radius find one you can flex!!!!
I think you've made a very good point here.. A kid has to ski a ski they can handle.. Like I said above there are plenty of different brands to choose from that cover a variety of stiffnesses and sizes, so why keep the kid on a ski that he can't handle just because he gets a deal? Isn't the athletes development and performance worth the extra $$$. If the equipment selection he/she is making is hindering their performance than what's the point in investing in the sport at all?

However, I fully agree with you that the flex is the key factor here.. Which to me seems even more reason to have a kid switch brands if you can't get the ski company he/she's been with for years to provide the legal skis in a flex they can handle.
post #19 of 20
Yes, I fully agree (it´s not possible to disagree) with Powerhoundin and Atomicman.
I agree the choice of both Atomic 186 cm and Head 190 cm for the boys seems to be a poor one.
The one on A. doesn´t get his skis from the factory but from a man in Austria who is getting them from At. The choice is that of the boy/the parents. They could get skis of other brands at a comparable price, too.
The other on Heads gets them directly through Dieter Bartsch at a good price as well. So there IS a fairly good choice both of lengths and flexes.
The problem is both are fairly tall and a ski 190 cm is approximately his height. He skis in Dobermanns (another possible source of problems?) fitted by one of the most renowned Austrian bootfitters.
They probably somehow don´t feel like combining the tall boy´s body, its levers and race boots with some shorter and softer ski - just my speculation. I´m neither the coach nor the parent.
Atomic FIS-legal from 171 cm on - yes, that´s what the 13-year-old I had also mentioned uses. His father has a Race School in Pitztal, a contract with Atomic and probably a very good chance to get a really soft ski.
Head also has 21 m from 170 cm on, its 180 cm-GS has 23.8 m.
Another problem: I don´t think you can get a really soft GS-ski at 190 cm. As we know, it´s a length for big guys, then why?
Hence: I agree. A poor choice. Too long and probably too stiff.
One of my skis is an older Head GS with about 23 m. As it got softer and softer, I could study how easier it was becoming to flex. Now I feel almost as on a SL.
A new ski with such a flex (it still has a good grip, only the stability and rebound suffered) would be a cinch to flex even for a light J.
Well, then there is the old truth: the correct gear choice is paramount.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ski flex is indeed the "crux of the dougnut" but it would have been darned nice if the manufacturers had the goods that were directed at that market. My first reaction was to look at what was available. At least if we put our kids on a Fischer, Atomic or ... in my case Stockli ... we were dealing with a known product. The kids at the hill swap and trade and try whatever fits on their boots (we hear about it later ... we don't "sanction" the practice"), but in the end they try all kinds of stuff.

Look at the cost of that "learning curve" ...... that's over $1200 (SL & GS) a pop! And ..... the shop .... a darned good one REFUSED to sell the kid a 180!

I used to ski P-40's at 193 and 188 (not race stock) ... but when I went over to the Stockli GS in a 178 I had a hard time bending the things (170 pounds).

Sorry for this frustration driven ... I guess it ain't quite a rant ... but ... just when you get a pretty good handle on the game the rules go and change. Stockli just doesn't have a ski that fits so he may just have to spend a few long days on the demo rack at the end of the season.
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