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Help and advice for aspiring racer

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello all.

I'm a new member and am overwhelmed by the knowledge and advice that you all share with each other everyday. Looking forward to sharing my experiences with you guys in the future!

Anyway, I regard myself as a somewhat accomplished all-mountain skier who's trying to get into racing for my college team (U.S. Air Force Academy). I've never really had any formal race training, and since I just started this new passion, I'd like some guidance on selecting new skis.

Here are some of the items that I need to consider: I'm 5'10', 165lb, very inexperienced in the gates, and will have to qualify on a slalom course at Winter Park sometime this fall. Also, this summer I'll likely be heading up to B.C. to learn some fundamentals and get some gate time for about a week.

Currently, I'm looking at the 2003 Fischer World Cup SC and GS stock skis, as I'm getting a comp pair from my ski shop...However, this would be for next season and I wouldn't be able to train on them this summer.

In your opinions, what should I try and pick up right now to use in Canada (keeping in mind that my budget is somewhat limited and I'm gonna be getting a free pair of Fischers this fall) and what length should I pursue? Are 188cm for GS and 160cm for slalom about right (or should I pursue a different length due to my skill/lack of thereof)?

Finally, if anyone has additional advice or has gear that you'd like to dump...I'd appreciate any and all of your help!

Thanks for your time.


"Every success is built on the ability to do better than good enough."
post #2 of 9
This season was the first one that i had raced and i came into it pretty easily. Previous to this season i had skied gates very little, but i had a very strong skiing back ground. I ski for the University at Buffalo. We are only division 3 so that may be why i was able to do so well in my first season. I know that once you get into division 1 and 2 the competition gets pretty stiff. (I'm working my way to being able to compete with D1 racers - but i dont see it happening for a long long time) I dont know what division the air force academy is... Anyhow, if youre looking for skis to train on this summer just look around to shops to see what is left over if youre looking for something just to train on. Just so its a short slalom ski...

Anyhow, good luck with your training, and dont get discouraged at first. Slalom can be devastatingly discouraging; you will probly have to relearn a lot of yer basics. Also it helps a lot to watch other people ski gates, so you can see how its done and then try to imitate it almost. Watching world cup events is a good way to see what yer sposed to be doing, cuz if you can ski half as good as some of those guys then you'll be at the top of the pack.
anyhow im out,

ps. by any chance do you know Dan Piper?? I went to highschool with him and he is at the US air force academy.
post #3 of 9
Greg, sorry to nitpick, but after coaching college for 13 yrs, this is one of my little rants:

Divisions I/II/II refer to the NCAA, and dictate rules (for recruiting, playing season length, scholarships, etc.), not ability. About 43 NCAA school sponsor varsity skiing (check ncaa.org for latest tally). A few schools in the NAIA (an alternative to the NCAA, with looser rules overall) also sponsor varsity skiing, plus a few Canadian schools (don't know what their nat'l ass'n is called), and in the past a few NJCAA (junior colleges) have sponsored varsity skiing (don't know if any still do), as well as one entirely unaffiliated school (Sierra Nevada College).

Since so few schools sponsor NCAA skiing, schools with different divisional affiliations compete against one another, and the NCAA holds a single National Skiing Championships, with all the divisions jumbled together. Schools like UVM, Dartmouth, Boston College, Brown, UMass- Amherst can make a semi-legitimate claim to have Division I ski teams, since the schools are Division I, and they sponsor varsity ski teams, although they compete mainly against Division III schools. By contrast, such powerhouses as Williams, Middlebury, Bates are all Division III, despite their confused and misleading claims to the contrary. (Division III schools can elect to designate one of their sports to compete at a different Division level - some smalls schools in the Boston area do this in hockey - but nobody has done this in skiing, especially since it would make no sense as skiing competition is not segregated by divisional affiliation.) When I complained to the NCAA that Division III schools were making entirely illegitimate claims to have Division I ski teams, their resopnse was that not everything athletically that is wrong is prosecuted by the NCAA.

About half of the NCAA varsity ski teams are also affiliated w/ the USCSA (called the NCSA back in the 80s), which is sort of an umbrella organization, offering a national structure for varsity ski teams that are NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, Canadian (despite the US part of USCSA), and unaffiliated (Sierra Nevada). The majority of USCSA member teams though are club level. Buffalo is a club, as is Air Force. They are not Division III, as that refers to a category of NCAA membership, and although Buffalo is an NCAA member, it does not sponsor NCAA skiing.

As for for being able to compete with Div I racers, well, you could probably already take out most skiers at Harvard, so you're already there...
post #4 of 9
Interesting post. One of my best friends from high school went to the Air Force Academy. He also raced on the ski team. I'm not exactly sure if he raced the whole time he was there, though. Now he's flying B1's. He has been over seas since we started bombing.

About the skis you are going to get this comming season, sounds good. The GS skis you might want a bit shorter. Maybe around 180cm to 183cm but your choice on SL ski length is right on (in my opinion). You could go a bit shorter if you really wanted to get crazy, but even on the 160's you need to know where your center of mass is at all times in order to stay in a good well balanced stance.

About tips on actually racing, I'll leave that to whom ever you are learning from in B.C. and there at the Academy. I think you guys train at Crested Beute(sp) if I remember correctly. Best of luck next season at the Academy and with the ski team. Have a great time in B.C.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Everyone, thanks for your advice. Any suggestions on which slalom skis to look at for now? I'd like to pick up something that's going to be forgiving, as my technique will definatly have room for improvement.

Greg, I've never met your buddy Dan. We have about 4000 cadets, and while I know hundreds of people...I don't know them all (especially the freshmen).

For the record, the Academy has both men and women club level teams that compete in the USCSA Rocky Mountain conference.
post #6 of 9
For last year's skis (which I assume you're going for), you might look at the Atomic 9.16 or 9.12 in around a 160cm length. For something a little more recreational and forgiving, you can also look at the K2 Mach S.

Having recently gotten a pair of 160cm 9.16s, I'm constantly suprised at what they are capable of on the mountain. I've heard that some of the shorty slaloms out there (including the Atomics)were less than fun out of the race course, but I haven't experienced any resort skiing that made me wish I was on another ski. When I'm limited to groomer skiing, they make an average day a little more fun.

eBay is a good place to start your search. Although shorty slaloms are rare in the popular 160cm range, the off sizes occasionally pop up for a decent price. I think I saw new pairs of 150cm/170cm 9.16s with 412 bindings for about $450 recently. Not a screaming deal, but better than retail. New, unmounted GS skis in a variety of sizes around the $200-$250 range are extremely common, and you usually have more of a size selection.

Another good source is the local Masters program. Some of the racers there go through skis rather quickly and are probably already on next year's skis, and their "old" skis can go fairly cheaply. Do your research and see what suits your ability, tastes, and wallet.
post #7 of 9
The Stockli's that are in the Epic classified are a very fast ski.
post #8 of 9
I don't know if you know him, but get ahold of Steve Baker. He is on the AF Team, trains with the Loveland Racing Club when he can, and is a good source of info. He will be a 3rd year next year. Ski sizes 180-183 GS. SL humm... we've tested some sub 155's that were faster than the 157's etc. Stay under 160.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Ed - I had a good chat with Steve yesterday. He's a really motivated guy and helped me find some more direction. In fact, I'm now considering joining the LRC next season!
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