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SL Racing ski Questions

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Im gonna start a thread here with state of the art input on ski racing gear by you guys. You are going to help me to the masters podium next season. Im 43 and I just started racing this winter but Im a strong level 9 and I dont deserve being beat by 4sec on a short 25sec SL track. 2 sec on a GS track.

1. I have had problems with edge hold with my Head iSL RD's but after I had the base planed with 0deg edge bevel they seemed to be much better on icy worn out slalom tracks. Anybody ski with 0deg base edge bevel? I use sidewall edge angle 87deg.

2. Are my Head iSL RD's holding me back? Do you guys think that there are skis out there on the market that are superior SL skis to my FIS Race Department Sandwich construction Head's? Like the Atomic SL11 (SL12)!

3. How should I dress? I get laughed at since I use a regular jacket and pants. They ask me with a grin on their faces: wher's your back pack! Does it really speed you up to have a tight fitting racing suit? Especially in GS.

Any thaughts.... video on request by PM.
post #2 of 15
Originally Posted by tdk6
1. I have had problems with edge hold with my Head iSL RD's but after I had the base planed with 0deg edge bevel they seemed to be much better on icy worn out slalom tracks. Anybody ski with 0deg base edge bevel? I use sidewall edge angle 87deg.

I don’t personally like dead-flat bases, but there are others that do – go with what works for you and whatever skis you’re on. However, that said how did you plane the bases down to 0° base edge? I ask because “most” shops won’t run a ski over their stone unless it has some base-edge bevel to it.

Originally Posted by tdk6
2. Are my Head iSL RD's holding me back? Do you guys think that there are skis out there on the market that are superior SL skis to my FIS Race Department Sandwich construction Head's? Like the Atomic SL11 (SL12)!
If you would have said any other ski than the Atomic I would have said yes … (kidding Atomicman). Skis are like shoes – what fits one may not fit you, but you’ve gotta try them on to know. But 4 seconds in a 25 sec course? Trust me it’s not the skis …

Originally Posted by tdk6
3. How should I dress? I get laughed at since I use a regular jacket and pants. They ask me with a grin on their faces: wher's your back pack! Does it really speed you up to have a tight fitting racing suit? Especially in GS.
A speed suit won’t do squat for you at this stage on a 25 second SL course. It’s also not going to do much on a GS if your on the same hill (sub 20 sec?). Although a baggy wardrobe with hood flapping isn't going to help you either ... but still not going to make much of a differnce on a course that short - maybe tenths of a second.

You're better off running as many gates as you can. Spend the money on Nastar. Become a hardcore gate junkie and your times will go down. I'd also recommend practicing starts - you'd be amazed at how much time you're losing before you even get to the first gate compared to the veterans.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
No shortcuts... yes, Im prepared to become a gate junkie. Actually, If I dont injure myselfe I will be doing this until I beat guys that look awfully slow on the track but are still 2sec faster than me.

The guy in the shop told me he did not put in any bevel. Thats why I think that they are flat. They are also much better gripping now.

Whats wrong with Atomic?
post #4 of 15
I think the skinny on the speed suit is ,1 second faster for every 27 seconds on the course.
And the colder it gets the faster you will ski so you can put a damn jacket back on
post #5 of 15

Your Racing Background? Top Competitors' Backgrounds?

Welcome to the ski racing world. It is a lot of fun.

Like Woodee & Loboskis I have heard that the gain from a speed suit in SL & GS is only tenths of a second for most courses especially the length that you are talking about.

Has anyone ever seen any real data that compares speed suit times vs. non-speed suit times for a given racer? Please post the links if available.


What racing books/videos do you own? What racing articles/presentations on websites have you read?

What ski hills are you racing at? Which Masters division? What race training have you had & where - camps, clinics. etc.? Which ski hills near you have Masters training programs and how long will it take you to drive to them? What ski hills near you have night racing leagues and how long will it take you to drive to them?

On average how many inches from the gates is your racing line in SL? GS?

What length are your SL skis? What length & model are your GS skis? Your height? Weight?

How much money are you willing to spend per season for training? for equipment/clothing? How many hours/week beyond the weekend are you willing to devote to training including driving time? How many days/season do you ski?

Please post links to videos of you racing in SL & GS courses so we can better understand where you are at.


For the folks that are on the podium for your age division:

a) What are their racing backgrounds (former national ski team, former college racers, former high school racers, points levels during their junior racing experience, etc.)

b) What are their training levels preseason and during racing season (week long summer race camps, multiday early season race camps, daily/weekly masters training clinics, physical conditioning, etc.)?

c) What are their SL ski models/lengths? GS ski models/lengths?
post #6 of 15
It is fun to dress like a middle-aged hoser and then go out and beat everybody younger. I did it for 15 years even though I had better race clothes. I would rather be warm on a cold, mid-west, Masters race night then look good.
Yes, the Heads are much better with 0 base bevel. As stated, most shops won't do less than .5. I hand tune my Head iSL to 0 degrees with a true bar wrapped in sandpaper.
Personally, I agree the Heads could have better grip on ice.
I would demo some other SL skis before you buy. There are other skis that are better.
post #7 of 15
TDK you will close the gap faster in GS than SL. You do need the skin suit for GS. The aero advantage starts in GS then becomes more pronounced in SG and DH. Full length GS it is about 2 seconds or so. Usually 0 degree bevel is seen more at WC level - but if it works for you then that is remarkable. You must have some pretty hard snow in Finland!

Tell us more about the racing scene there. I watch the winning SL runs from Levi WC sometimes. How long is your season?

- Fossil
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Some of you guys dont have pm activated and some have their account full. I will get back to you guys after skiing today.
post #9 of 15
Base bevel is a factor when it comes to edge hold.

The amount of base bevel only dictates how quickly you get to an edge and the degree of angles you must creat with your body to get your ski on edge.

the less base bevel, the quicker the ski is to get to an edge and the less angles you need to creat to do it. But wiht that said a true flat ski is very demanding and abrupt. there is little or no finessing the ski on edge it is on or off. Which in slalom these days is not realy the technique like it was in the days of straight skis.

Most slalom racers use .5 base bevel.

Your side edge bevel is all about edge hold. If you want more edge hold you should incresae your side edge bevel to 4 or 5 degrees. The Wc racers even use as mouch as 5-6-7 degree side edge in slalom. But they are skiing injected courses.

My guess is your problem is two-fold.

#1. Technique. it is much more difficult to carve turns in a rutted race course Freeskiing you get to turn where you want. Racing is all about line & timing. .
My guess is it is not the edge bevel on the skis although I would get rid of the flat base bevel immediately. That is not going to help you at all. It should make your skis ridiculously unforgiving to technique mistakes.

#2. The Heads are too stiff for you and you can't bend them. In this case i don't give a damn what your bevels are, you are not going to carve a turn, you will be pivoting down the hill because you can't arc the ski.

Of all the racers I know, and I know many junior top notch(read US Ski team and NCAA Divions 1 college racers at major ski racing scholls, kids at Rowmark. Not one uses a 0 degree base bevel.

Get a bit softer ski and use a .5 & a 3 as a starting point. You should probably be on a retail stock slalom board.

Take a pair of Store Stock SL11's out in a 165. You don't need the race stock or Wc version at your racing level. they are too stiff for me in a course.
But I do love them freeskiing.

I used store stock Sl11 racing masters.
post #10 of 15
Speed suit will help some (especially in the GS, less on the more technical Slalom) and to get an idea take your jacket off for 1 run and see how much it makes a difference.

Other areas besides the equipment - technique- have you had any evaluation or video of your racing? It can help alot to get with a good instructor or race coach and get some comments and list of things to work on. You work on them free skiing too then incorporate them into race day.

Wax- are you regularly waxing and using temperature specific wax?

Your conditioning- do you have any off season work-out routine? What about cross training or going to the gym during the season- cardio, flexibility, and strength mixed. Pick up any ski work out article for specific stations like steps, lateral hops over a rope or tape on the floor, etc.

Finally the only way you can find out if it is the equipment is to go and demo new stuff or see if you can ski a friends or fellow racer's equipment for an idea of the edge hold, stiffness etc.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your great input here. The ones I PM the video link to can obviously see what ist all about but here I will try to answere some of your Q.

Racing background
Did local jr racing back in the 70-80.

Skiing background
Skiing since 4y old. Now 43. Strong level 9, instructor 94. Picked up master racing this year.

43y, 6foot2 220pounds (190cm 95kg)

Equipment used
Head iSL RD 165 for SL
Head iRace 177 for GS

Racing books
I have lots of different books on skiing and racing. Buy randomly ski magazines from several different countries all year round.

Budget / year
On skis 2000USD (4pairs).

I would like to go to a one week racing camp next year. We dont have any coach at our local hill.

Masters league
Mainly on a local hill but I also took part in a national masters final on wednesday. I aim for the national level but consentrate now on narrowing the distance to guys on our local 25 sec hill that I think I should be able to beat.

Competition equipment
The good guys all have state of the art FIS racing equipment. Winner at masters final had 195cm Fischer GS skis.

Slalom training
Mondays 2h + local race wednesday + teaching and free skiing 3 times a week

Physical training
I will start with that now after a 10y brake, I now have good motivation.

The video link I will give on request by PM.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much for your input woodee. Your advise is very valuable but there is one thing I find contradicting and it maybe one of my biggest setbacks: - ski a straighter line but create higher horisontal angles! How do I do that??? Heres my reasoning:

Not enough horisontal angles!

I should take a lower stance and try to extend my leggs and upper body into the turn. This way my skis would be put on a higher edge angle since they would be further away from my body. Body should be vertical with shoulders horizontal. Leggs should be crossing under quickly while upper body should stay in place. I should keep horizoontal moovement of my body to a minimum.
You also note that I have too much vertical moovement and this is clearly linked to what I have reasoned here above. With my technique in the video I have problems with creating strong pressure on skis during the turn. This is probably because trying to lower my body into the turn takes too much time. If I extended my leggs insted it would be much quicker and there would be less up down movement of my body that only creates distortion in CM moovement that should be cept to a minimum sideways and vertically. CM should be mooving forwards as fluedly as possible.

Gate blocking
You are right, I look at the gates because I need to block them. I never look at the snow or the base of the gate. I will try to consentrate on this at my next gate session.

Aggression and start
Aggression up a noch or two! Yes, I need to do that as well. Especially at the start. You mentioned that earlier and I feel like Bodie and not like Pranger at the start. I most likely loose a second right at the start by not using my skipoles enough combined with scating stepps.

If we look at my equipment next some have suggested I try softer skis. My 165cm FIS Race Stock skis are made for male FIS racers and could be to hard for me to bend into tight carves. If I look at my opponents they mostly have FIS racing gear all of them so thats why I was thinking that would be the best thing for me as well. However, here are some ski properties that could be considered:

- Length
- Shape of ski
- Stiffness
- Plate
- Standheight
- Edges
- Wax
- Brand

- I could choose a shorter ski, lets say 160 or even a 155 for our small hill competitions.
- I could choose a turnier ski with more shape to it. Shortening the length would automatically make it turnier. This way I could ski the same ski just shorter.
- Choosing a softer ski is not possible if I stay with Head. Buying a cap ski is not a good option since I loose the thin racing edges, special base material, VIST racing plate and ski construction. There is only this one sandwich model available, iSL RD. Ok, supershape but is that a good SL ski? I doubt it!
- I like the VIST racing plates because they are sturdy and rigid. Main thing is that I get the 55mm standheight and good ski flex.
- I tune my edges to 87deg and now with a flat base angle after each day of skiing. How do I know its flat? Because the man in the shop said so and there is same texture on edges as on base. I have smoothened that out with a diamond.
- I wax my skis with Holmenkollen wax after each day of skiing. I give them at least one layer but sometimes as much as 3-5 that I hotscrape and brush between applying new wax. If I race I use or if its cold I use temp specific hard wax or fluor.
- Im using Head because our ski school has a contract with them but that is just for teaching. When I race I can use whatever I want but it makes sence to use same brand. However, if I could nock 2-4 sec off by swapping to Atomic I would do it tomorrow. I have previously really liked Atomic but they would be very expensive for me to buy. Maybe I could get some second hand but racing skis wear out really quickly so if only possible I would stick to new ones.

Originally Posted by Woodee
Nice video. You’re a solid skier making nice turns. Because you asked about info specifically to the racing aspect … I notice:

You’re on a nice line, but you could go straighter (see #5). Let ‘em run.

Take the aggression level up 2 or 3 notches. It’s slalom – you should wake up mad.

I notice that you’re looking at the gate at eye level, which I guess is because you’re eyeing up where you’re going to block it with your hand. You should be looking at the base where you’re going to shin it out of the way.

Also, you have too much vertical motion and not enough horizontal/angles. Some of this may have gone away if this was early season ...
post #13 of 15

First year racing

I raced for nearly a full season before I bought a race suit. I did some comparisons on one of the local NASTAR GS courses, and my estimate is I can shave 1-2 sec. off my time with a speed suit, vs regular ski clothing. More on a day when there is a headwind.

The other advantage to a suit is that it;'s padded. I was tired of coming home sore from hitting gates. In Slalom, you need padding or body armor.
post #14 of 15

See what Atomicman said...

...I think he's pretty much got the inside track on what you need to do and the equipment. I've been pretty happy with Atomic, and as he says, this year's SL11Ms are great...you can free ski on them, but they'll do great in a course. I have a pair of next year's GS12s, and I really like the new construction. I'm going to get a pair of SL12s next year in a 165.

Re GS skis, if you really are 6'2" and 220, a 177 is okay for now, but it's basically too short once you start going faster. My GS12s are 180, and I just got a pair of 2005 185 cm. Head I.GS RDs...the 25 meter sidecut...that I really like.

You can go without a speed suit, but, as a couple of other posters have noted, you need to armor up fully for slalom, because it's full contact ski racing. If you get a GS suit with pads, that'll work for both events. Get some decent shinguards and I use a Briko slalom helmet. I don't like things hitting me in the face and I also don't like falling on the back of my head if I hook up. Gotta have slalom guards on your poles, too, and a pair of padded Reusch gloves or the equivalent.

If you're only getting one week of training a year, that's gonna hold you back. I train 2 or 3 times a week, and have been doing so for 15 years. Don't forget your dry land, too...weights, aerobics, flexibility stuff, and so forth.

Good luck...
post #15 of 15
A quick thought on skis (noting that the topic seems to have spread a little wider than the heading):

Do they apply the FIS length and radius restrictions to ordinary masters races in Finland? I'm assuming they don't, since you mention 177 cm GS skis.

- SL - Consider either 165 cm retail slalom skis or 155 cm race stock. The 155s are, of course, women's skis, so they're a good bit softer. While I guess it varies from brand to brand, generally the 155 race stock are stiffer than the retail skis.

- GS - I'd consider a "cheater" (more sidecut than FIS legal) ski, particularly since (I'm just guessing here), if the local hills in Finland are as short as you're making them sound, the setters are going to tend to a relatively turny GS. The model I hear people talking about a lot is the Fischer RC4 RC (not GS). Obvioiusly, there are a bunch of other choices too. Off the top of my head, given your size, you'd probably want to go for the 185, or at least the 180.
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