Originally Posted by Powdr
Why do aging baby boomers wear skin tight speed suits?
I was ridng the lift above the NASTAR championships @ PCMR this morning and nearly every "racer" was wearing one of these abominations. We aren't taking about B. Millers here, we are talking about 40 & 50 year old skiding wonders. I got news for these folks: the speed suit aint makin' a difference in your time! Do us a favor and work on skiing closer to the gates instead of wasting money on a silly suit. Clowns look better. And don't get me started w/ the women. Suffice it to say it isn't flattering. Why torture us on the ski hill?
It is just wrong.
OK, Powdr, (and OldSchool) I resemble those remarks (and, in fact, was one of those 40-50s that morning.)
1. Yup, you're right--it's fair to say that Daron Rahlves looked better in his speed suit than I did in mine. Even before the first few turns. And the comparison only got worse from there.
2. And it's also fair to say that the skiers at the Nastar championships race (unlike, say, Masters' racing) have a fairly broad range of abilities, since there are two skill categories and since some resorts are easier to qualify from than others. I beat some guys in my age bracket by six to eight seconds, and I was three seconds off Daron Ralves' pace. Some of them skid their turns and (fortunately) ski a wider line, so they're slower. (I'll take any edge.) But some of us (like me) hit every gate. (Actually, a fault--taking gates in the front of your shoulder isn't the fastest way to ski, as I've been told repeatedly, and the comparison pictures with Daron Ralves point it out as well--he's brushing gates, not knocking them to the snow.)
3. No one is going to confuse Heckler at Park City with the Hanenkam, but, yes, we were racing. Daron Rahlves had the fastest time on almost all the courses, but he and the other five pace setters were going for it, and so were the most of the rest of us, to the best of our abilities.
4. An important thing about ski racing (and if you asked us what we were doing, we were there to race) is that it isn't figure skating or ballet or a dog show--there are no points awarded for looking good, or for looking like someone else's idea of how you should. It's just about time. And if 95% of your competitors are wearing speed suits, why hand them .8 seconds by skiing in bib overalls?
5. Sure, NASTAR racing is a lot more Walter Mitty than Bode Miller. But for a lot of us (I ski 25 days a year) that's about as good as we're going to get right now. My brother was there (in his speed suit) skiing a little wide--but he's got two broken ribs, a broken collarbone, no health insurance, and limited opportunities for gate training. I don't really think it's your place to tell him, from the lift, how he should be bashing every gate. My son was there (in his speed suit) an awesome little skier. But we live three hours from snow, and he's got some learning issues that mean weekends really need to include major homework blocks--so an every weekend racing program isn't really in the cards for him. Instead, the NASTAR Nationals is about as good as it's going to get.
6. Dryland? My dryland program is fundamentally flat out there insane, and I expect to take it up a notch next year. But I'm 46, have a full time job, two children, and a marriage, which cut just a wee bit into training time. And--in a glimpse into your own future, let me just share for a moment a sad true fact here about life on the glide path--these extra ten pounds that offend you from the lift aren't likely to go away. (Let's just call them balast, or an offering to make even better friends with gravity.)
The bottom line is that ski racing is often joyous and sometimes fierce, but essentially and always a discipline. Like a lot of other things, it's about being as good as you possibly can, given the conditions and limitations--which include your training time and fitness level. I appreciate that we 40-somethings don't all look like aerobics instructors, but we're not dressed up for your aesthetic pleasure. We're there to do our best.
And if it turns your stomach and puts you off your lunch, well, studies show Americans eat too much anyway.
As your initial observation about our ski suited masses pointed out.