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What to buy for new youth race skier

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
My son is 11 & will be joining a local ski race team this season. He has skiied for several seasons out in Steamboat Springs (fearless on every run there!) & locally here in MN. Can anyone help me (his mom) navigate the different brands of race skis and give me some pointers on what to purchase or at least what to ask? He is 4'11" and weights only 79 pounds. Thanks!
post #2 of 24
Will he be on what is known as the "development team"?

Where are you from?
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
He will be on the junior development ski race team out of Welch Village, MN. He will also be participating in the Billy Kidd race school program for a week out at Steamboat Springs in December and again in March. He raced a couple of NASTAR races last year and really enjoyed it and did pretty well for his first time out for racing.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know the difference between Rossignol 9X Jr., Atomoic GS11, Fischer World Cup SL, Volkl Junior P60 World Cup? My son has narrowed it down to the first 3 and the Volkl was recommeded from someone else.

post #5 of 24
You can find a chart for selecting rossignol race skis by age and size here:http://www.rossignol.com/images/race...duct_guide.pdf

post #6 of 24
Hi Ski Mom

The September Ski Mag has a list of Jr race gear reviews. Last years reviews are on the web at http://www.skimag.com/skimag/gear/ar...335278,00.html

I found these 3 models on eBay recently.

This is the Dynastar Omiglass 64 team, includes bindings for $99:

Dynastar Team Course 64
Dimensions: 103-64-88
Size: 138-178
Price: $425
The 64 shines as a GS carving machine. It's easy to roll on edge for long, sweeping turns, and its construction provides a stable, solid ride. Testers can bend it for quick, short turns, but that takes work.
"Grippy and fun. Perfect for racers who love to carve and go fast." -Tyler
"Any radius, any speed. Could star in a movie: Mission: Possible. -David

This is the K2 Team SL, 136cm $99.00

My daughter uses the adult K2 Mach SL and finds it easy to use but very high performing.

Here is a review from Ski Mag:

120-140 cm, $150
Performance Factor 5
Fun Factor 5
Asked what this ski did worst, David responded, "nothing." The Patriot proved to be both fast and smooth in the gates, as well as easy to control and versatile all over the mountain. The testers thought it best suited to an advanced skier or better-someone who would appreciate its balanced feel and "need for speed." As Taylor said, "It does everything well, effortlessly. This ski improved my abilities."

Atomic SL:11 J
Dimensions: 99-63-88*
Size: 130, 140
Price: $375
The SL 11 takes the necessary ingredients of a great race ski-energy, precision, stability and a little craziness-and combines them in a rocket. More agile and controllable than a GS ski, it still has the stability and power needed for that discipline. It's heavy, especially with the Atomic binding, but ready to rule the race hill.
"So much energy and bite. All I had to do was tip it up. And if I really pushed, wow!" - Emma
"Best slalom ski I've ever been on. Just roll your ankles and arc." -David
(* Dimensions vary by length; these are for 130 cm.)

I found a pair of Atomic GS11 Jr: http://www.skimag.com/skimag/gear/ar...335278,00.html

Almost makes me wish I was a kid. The Atomic would be my first choice, followed by the K2. I've seen many Jr models on eBay recently. Search and you should find product in the $99.00 to 179.00 price range.

Hope that helps

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your input. My son is anxious to purchase his new skis but I hate to make a mistake on them! I've looked at Ebay and my local store and I just need to bite the bullet and go for it.

If anyone else has any other thoughts or suggestions, feel free to let me know!

Thanks again for your support.
post #8 of 24
I'll do some searching and list items available, If you like.

post #9 of 24
Hi Skimom,

My daughter an 11 year old racer, about 70 lbs skied on the Atomic SL 11 last year and loved them. They were about forehead hieght. She had a great time on them in and out of the course.

She has been racing for 3 years and thought they were the best , she has had.

Others on her team had the Dynastars and liked them.

Good luck on your search.
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
So, the Atomic SL 11's weren't too heavy for her? I've heard they are heavy and with my skinny son, I was worried about them being heavy in the turns.
post #11 of 24
Originally Posted by skimom2
So, the Atomic SL 11's weren't too heavy for her? I've heard they are heavy and with my skinny son, I was worried about them being heavy in the turns.
The Atomic SL 11 Jr is about as heavy as other good Jr race skis. The culprit is the Atomic bindings that can weight twice as much as other Jr binding types.

The Atomic SL 11 Jr is a flat ski that can accept any binding. I would choose another make of binding to solve the problem.

post #12 of 24
I checked the weight of the SL11 with bindings with an older pair of dynastar kids speed 63s. A 4/5 year old, kids race ski. This was a completely unscientific comparison, hold a pair of skis in each hand and then switch. The Atomics were a little heavier but that par was also 5CM longer. The difference seemed small. I am not sure it would be felt during skiing, maybe in the parking lot.

At that level of ski, they all seem to be pretty good. I bought Atomics for that Daughter because she wanted Atomics, if she had wanted Rossi's or Dynastars or whatever I was OK with that. The skis of a Jr. Race level seem to have similar pricing.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
This morning, my son decided he wants the Rossi's because his regular skis are Rossi's and he's been reading up and likes those the best. So now the question is: do I bite the bullet and buy 2 identical sets of skis so he can practice on the one set and use the other for race days? The race season for him will be a 13 week season with 1 -3 practices a week plus 4 "official" races. In addition, he wants to do some NASTAR racing both here and at Steamboat to try to quailfy for Nationals.

And then another question: when we're out at Steamboat for 10 days at Christmas, do we let him ski on the race skis or his regular skis?

Yes, this mother has way too much time on her hands trying to figure out the best possible scenerio for her son!
post #14 of 24

I would start the year with one pair. The advantage of two pair (one training/one race) will be important at the hyper competitive level, where a perfect race tune is essential.

Let him start the year on one pair and tune the ski before every race day. If he likes his equipment and can use it again the following year, consider a second set for race day only. He may want something different by midyear, no reason to commit to one model and size X2 at this point.

Hope that helps

post #15 of 24
I've never heard of a J4 having more than one pair of race skis. It might even be against the rules. J4s are just not that competitive, at least around here.

post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks Barrettscv. That is good advice and it makes sense.

And thanks to everyone else who helped answer all my questions!

post #17 of 24
Crystal Mountain, Washington has a ski race org, with a junior section. Their website has a 'For Sale' section and message boards where folks request and sell used ski equipment for the kids, including email notifications:

post #18 of 24
I was gonna say the exact thing about bindings i read up above. Make sure not to get too heavy a binding.

Also, he definitly does not need two pairs of skiis (training and race), especially as a j4. Even as you get to the upper levels, its all preference if you want both a training and race pair. You can have two of the same ski, that feel slightly different. Train on one, and come race day use the other pair it may feel just different enough to make you lose a bit of confidence, and then time and speed. That combined with if its an away race a hill your not used to, etc can mean alot. Also, they say the more you ski and wax on pair of skiis, the better they "soak in" the wax, or somthing along those lines. Whatever the reason, the more you wax and use a pair adds up to them being faster the more you use them. I have heard some world cup racers have been known to re use the same bases, just in a different ski for multiple years, but that also ties into if they liked how fast those bases were, like as i said before, can vary from ski to ski. So to sum that whole rant up, no, he does not need a training and race pair. If he wants the advantage of having fresh tuned skiis for his run, then he can do course inspection on his GS skiis, if its a slalom race and vice versa. But still, not everyone even does that.

However, you should look into getting both slalom and GS skiis, depending on how much dedicated he seems at this point. You can never tell for sure if theyre gonna stick with it im sure, but you must have some idea as of now.

Yes, have him definitly ski on the new race skiis for that 10 day trip your going on. The more time on them the better.

If he wants the rossis, go for it, if he gets to pick them out hell probably be happier with it. Just make sure theyre not too stiff that he cant handle the, and has a tough time and gets frusterated.

This is yuki's son by the way, he pays me to post for him.
post #19 of 24
Having two pairs of skis for a jr racer is a good idea. There are likely to be training days where snow coverage is light and putting a major ding in one of your edges is no fun at all and can easily ruin that new pair of skis. My kids are 8 and 11 and they have rock skis and racing skis. Many (if not most) of the other kids do too. As an example one of my kids pulled an edge out last year. I had to hammer it back in and then carefully file it. These are now rock skis.

So, the race quality skis come out whenever conditions are very good and for races. Other than that its the rock skis. Depending on the season one pair will likely get more use than the other.

A good place to buy the rock skis is at the yearly preseason ski swap (or ebay if you get lucky). If possible get the same model and size of ski. If you can't get the same model at least match up the size (length and sidecut). Another important item is to be sure that you have any used ski's serviced by a qualified tech. You want to be sure that they are tested, adjusted properly and in a usable condition.

BTW, we like the Dynastar and Atomic skis very much for the kids. Note, these are the race skis so they are more expensive than the models you see in places like REI. They start in the $200 range and go up (before you put bindings on them). Unless you are lucky enough to have a local shop that specialized in kids racing gear you will probably have to order them.

Also, J4's can very VERY competitive.
post #20 of 24

The "other" Yuki ...

Since your kid will be on a development team, there is a lot less pressure at this point. Please bare (or Bear), me out here.

The emphasis during the development stage is to develop a solid foundation regarding technique. Race gear comes in many sizes and flavors, just like ice cream or cars; at the D-Team level, you do not need race boots (they will be too stiff) and you don't need "race stock" high end gear.

What they will need is a good equipment that suits their needs; equipment that will fit and that they will be comfortable with. Please keep in mind that there is a big difference between being "fearless" at that age and skiing at speed with good technique in the gates. At that age as they advance, they are .... forgive me here ... but, they are "all balls and no brains". This is good in some ways but it has to be directed and they are in for an eye opener when it comes to having to turn versus picking your spots to turn.

You are entering the zone of the "Black Arts"; racing is a whole different ball game and there will be so many things to learn regarding sharpening, wax and flex of boots ..... but that will come in time .... later.

There are no easy answers here when it comes to the selection of gear and in engineering there is a saying .... "Good, cheap or fast: pick two!". I went through the "gear chase" for several seasons and if I had to do it all over again my approach would be different. One of the initial goals is to save money and try to maximize the use your kid will be getting out of the gear. In a perfect world, they would get two years our of boots and skis and even poles. It's not a perfect world ... they grow pretty quickly.

With that said, I would seek out a shop that is knowledgable in racing and most importantly, has a seasonal rental program. The cost is not that great and is probably cheaper in the long run and most good shops will make adjustments to boots and even allow changing gear as they grow ..... sometimes at mid season those boots will suddenly just become too tight and painful. If you think that you can resell the gear at the end of the season (you will probably be spending close to $400 if you buy) ... I wish that was the case but I've gotten used to taking a hosing on my losses.

Boot fit and comfort are critical! Make sure the person that is doing the fitting knows what the hell they are doing and even go to a few shops to check out what you are being told. Some shops will have some kid who will "posture and pose" and come off as "the authority" ... you buy it and you are stuck with what the idiot put your kid on. Ask the coach and some other parents on the team for advice on where to shop and where to avoid.

The kids EGO ..... yeah, they wanna' be on race gear and be like all the other bigs dogs on the team. They want race stuff and you can't blame them. A good shop will be able to rent/sell the Lange L-10 Jr. race boot and they will be able to remove some plastic to soften em' up and give the boot better flex. Regarding skis .... they don't need "race stock" stuff on a D-Team, they won't be able to flex the ski and learn how to set a proper line and carve; the last thing you need is a kid fighting an overly stiff ski in the gates and usually the D-Teamer's will be running 30% "drills" to build technique, 50% free skiing while incorporating the lessons contained in the drills and only 10% to 20% actual time in the gates, usually NASTAR type courses. A good off the shelf SL ski will get them through quite nicely here.

As they start into the USSA events and race SL and GS ... and their level has improved, they will indeed need the better stuff and the waxing and tuning and will all fall into place.

D-Team is about having fun and developing skills. Please try to be a "savy" parent but don't fall into the competitive race parent trap at this point. I watch some parents spend big time and $$$ push there kids to tears. Now is the time to relax and enjoy and be supportive. Bode Miller was not an exceptional skier in his early years ... I try to stress that no matter where you finish, the race program kids are the strongest skiers on the hill hands down and they will carry that skill and joy for the rest of their lives.

Check into the programs offered and take a careful look at the coaching staff and the overall commitment that the hill has to the race program. Talk to a few parents on the team and get a feeling for their level of satisfaction with the program. We originally started with and left "The Race Team from Hell" where the "coaches" were .... words can't describe, and moved after a few years to a program that has a better and balanced approach. There is now some pressure to get my son to "defect" and join another team but those guys are of the win at all costs, political has hell mode. Check out a few.
post #21 of 24
BTW, Yuki's post about GS and SL skis is a good one. If he is serious about winning then at some point he'll need skis that are designed for the type of course he's running. That's not to say that you can't use an SL ski in GS and visa versa. You certainly can and my kids do (we use SL for everything). However, the kids that have GS skis have an advantage on the GS course just as the kids with SL skis have an advantage on the SL course.
post #22 of 24
I recommend either the Atomics or Volkl JR skis.

post #23 of 24


I was trying to focus on the D-Team role here. I fully agree with you that as they start the "travel team" stuff they will need the GS and SL and will concede your point that during the second year (if they haven't moved to the travel team already), that's the time to start "fine tuning".

I don't want to even go into what my kid has in the garage and it's pretty excessive. He does however, spend four days a week on skis and uses them to their fullest so I bite the bullet. Now as a J-3, foot beds will help and I had his boots shaved and canted at GMO. Sounds excessive but it did make a difference.

He will be putting on at least 75 "on snow" days this season.
post #24 of 24
Yuki, I hear you! I have a garage full of ski and boots. Luckily my youngest gets to use the hand me downs so biting the bullet is easier for me to justify. I started the kids off with fairly standard equipment and the coaches pointed it out our first year (I think they were J6 and J5 at the time but they were already very good skiers). Basically he said that the jr race skis were better made and would yield better performance. When I went to price the Dynastars with bindings I almost had a heart attack and then I decided they could wait a year before they upgraded. The 2nd year I put them on the Jr. Race stuff and I have to say that the kids noticed the difference and I could see it in thier skiing. On a slick race course the difference was dramatic.

Funny you mention the footbeds. I've been thinking about getting them for my kids. They'd be a huge improvement over the crappy ones that come in the boots. So far I haven't found anyone that has blanks small enough.

BTW, your other post is right on. Especially about pushing the kids too hard. You will see plenty of that going on, if not in your particular program then in the teams you race against.

I've never heard of anyone renting race quality gear...that's an interesting idea.
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