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Evolution of racing and skis

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This question relates to the design of skis based on racing disciplines. It was prompted by the wide tail thread, but rather than hijack that thread, I'm posting my question here.

I recently (just this year!) saw a Super Giant Slalom race on TV, I don't remember where, but it seemed to me that the speeds were down a bit. How do speeds compare generally today with 10, 15, 20, and 25 years ago? Just curious, I'm more of a skier than a fan, and I'm not a racer, so you can colour me ignorant. Did they reach a maximum with a lot of carnage that forced the design of safer courses (like car racing)? How have the race courses changed? How are DH GS SG and SL skis different today than yesteryear?
post #2 of 10
Stenmark changed slalom for eveyone, he was the first one to go through the gate instead of around it, basicly start the "J" turn. I will let others expand past that.
post #3 of 10
I'm guessing you actually saw a GS and not a Super-G, as there was no SG 25 years ago. For GS speeds are probably the same or even higher than they used to be, but courses are more offset due to bigger sidecut.
I know speeds are up in DH due to better base prep/wax (fluoro), which has caused them to put more control gates in some courses.
post #4 of 10
Going by rough memory and impressions:

Downhill speed has (I think) been on an upward trend for some years. There was some carnage -- not tons, but a few incidents -- back a few years, but it lead mostly to much better safety equipment (nets, etc.) and more conservativism in the decision whether to cancel due to conditions, especially visibility.

Some WC downhills have gradually become turnier to keep speeds under control. Also, some bumps have been reprofiled a bit, I believe.

Interestingly, when the women speak up about their downhill courses, it seems most often that they're complaining that they're too easy.

Super G has only existed for about 20 years. I don't think there's ever been any period of carnage in the Super G event (not to say there aren't accidents from time to time). There seems to be a fair amount of variation. The course at this year's WC finals had some unusually sharp turns, though on steep pitches. That probably had more to do with who set the course and who he was trying to favor (successfully) than anything else. The fast ones are pretty darn fast. I'd guess that top speeds are faster than 20 years ago, if anything.

GS seems to be faster than it used to be, primarily due to better equipment and technique.

SL has changed a ton. The courses are much slower (all other things being equal): more back-and-forth across the hill. Yet, I'd say that they ski them faster in spite of that.
post #5 of 10
Some of the men on the WC were hitting 60+mph this season in GS !!! way fast(er)
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok. I probably saw the slowest SG race of the year. How have the skis changed?

Appearently speeds are up in all events, so slalom skis should now be stable to 45 mph and not crap out at 35 (in spite of their extreme sidecut and short length)! Yippee!

I found the old SG skis stable enough, so I'm guessing they are just a lot lighter now.

I'm guessing the GS skis are more stable and lighter.
post #7 of 10
For next year, slalom speed will be reduced by FIS regulations. Slalom speed has reached levels that were once seen in GS courses. As well Slalom skies might become even longer in the next season:

"Slalom skis will be measured on the running surface, eliminating a problem which surfaced this year when some ski companies added irrelevant pieces of plastic on tips and tails to meet the minimum ski length requirements. The running surface, or where the ski meets the snow, must now be 165 centimeters for men."
"Slalom Turning Gate Distances Altered

In an effort to slow speeds in slalom, the FIS is considering a recommendation to change the measurements from turning gate to turning gate from the present 15 meters to 13 meters. The governing body will also fix the number of direction changes at 55 without an allowance plus or minus. Women’s slalom will have the same 13 meter turning measurement. The direction changes will be fixed at 45.

Slalom’s were getting to fast according to Hujara, who told the World Cup Committee that speeds in some slalom events had exceeded 40 miles per hour. The new rule will go into effect for all FIS sanctioned slaloms. “We think this is a good change,” said Walt Evans, USSA Competitions Director. “We wanted to see speeds reduced.”

(Ski Racing 10. mai 05)
All my info taken from Checkracers post on carving-ski.de http://www.carving-ski.de/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=5171
post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by extremecarver
As well Slalom skies might become even longer in the next season:
I wasn't aware of this, but here's an excerpt from the latest FIS equipment rules:

Originally Posted by FIS Rules
Precision for the length of Slalom Skis as from the season 2006/07:

When a ski tip different from the main ski part is used, the measurement will only be taken into account to the extent it covers a surface corresponding to the natural shape of the ski.

The manufacturer has to mark the tip showing the limit of the natural shape and therefore allow an easy measurement. For the avoidance of doubt, specific designs of the ski tips as part of the main body of the skis are allowed.
This (as I understand it anyway) is a little different. The running surface doesn't have to be 165 cm (which would be a significant increase), but tips only count to the extent they "correspond to the natural shape of the ski." Not the most clear piece of rule-writing I've ever seen.
post #9 of 10
yip, its a proposal, but at the moment it is not really clear either. The length measuring seems to be not very easy to cope with. Than god, that racesnowboardmakers are measuring the length, like measuring people, so it is far easier to tell if the board will fit into your car, nah just kidding.
post #10 of 10
A few brief comments, just using my head:

(i) DH: traditionally it was more "down the hill", i.e. schuss, now the new tracks are more tecnical with more curves (turnier, as sjj writes) to suit better-turning new DH skis.
The last "old school" downhillers like Russi, Klammer, Grissmann, the Crazy Canucks, Muller, Alphand and others were, quit or are not far from it (Trinkl, Ghedina, Fritz Strobl). The new type of the DH racer prevailed and in about 1997 the Austrian guys from "Weltcup III"-group (Maier, Eberharter, Schifferer, Pepi Strobl, Knauss) started to dominate both the speed disciplines as the world cup itself.
The speeds are somewhat up although oficially everybody says they should be reduced, e.g. due to more difficult and less highway-like trails.
The skis: not much different length- and radiuswise (45-55 m) but softer.

(ii) SG: since 1984 on the WC
Formerly slower, more "slalom"-like (cf. the name "supergiant slalom"), now often very fast with speeds over 60 mph
In the beginnings, some excellent technical skiers were outstanding SG racers, e.g. Deborah Compagnoni who won her first Olympic gold in SG. Very few know that Alberto Tomba, known for his concentration on technical disciplines only, was ranked 5th in SG in 1988!
I had also mentioned the SGs Ingemar Stenmark took with the best 5th place in Garmisch 1984.
It´s debatable whether a race with such speeds should be held without the prior training runs.
The skis: somewhat shorter than they used to be (cf. the minimum length required by FIS) but Schifferer still on 210 cm (told me on the lift personally, I guessed around 209 cm), radius IMO around 35 m, softer

(iiii) GS: very fast in high-level competition, the trend toward "less carving" has been discussed in an other thread
used to be less fast - I just came across some FIS complaints from about 1980 that GS is no speed event anymore but closer to SL - which would indicate some changes throughout history

(iv) SL: seems to be faster owing to less friction and less loss of speed in the turns, similar trend as in GS, the maximum gate distance is used more often
is simpler and less complicated than it used to be (no complicated "slalom figures" but more simpler gates/combinations which is the only possibility in the speeds attained).

Both GS and SL skis are being discussed so often that I find any special comments not necessary.

It could be a big topic. Mine are just modest 2 cents offhand.
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