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Ruts on the race course

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Im never the first bird on the slope as a result when I go skiing things are usually already worked over a good bit. Now when I do my NASTAR racing thang, the course gets pretty rutted and skiied off. The ruts are not necessarily the line I want to take and so I often go above or below my actual line of choice since I dont want to catch an edge on the now 3-4" deep ruts by cutting across them. What to do? Should I be following those ruts since the fact that they are so carved-in might indicate that they are the best line? And even if they are the best line, I find it very difficult to ski effectively while be "guide railed" by others' path. Or, is it just the inevitable problem one faces as the day progresses and I should simply try to get out there earlier?
post #2 of 4
What you describe is not what I would call a rut. Double that number and then you have the start of a good rut. I have some citizen racing videos from the '70s and '80s where they are running gates in what we would consider a mogul field today. If it's above knee deep, then it's a rut. If your description is accurate, I'd imagine they're more of a mental block than a physical one. Why are you taking the time to admire the ruts? You get multiple runs- take multiple lines until you find the fastest.

In a typical NASTAR/citizen race, I find the ruts are usually straight and late- many courses will allow this and it will be the fastest route. Put your outside ski in the rut and ride it like a bobsled run.

However, if the course is more technical the rut is probably deepest below the gate, allowing for you to take a higher line cleanly. You'll be crossing the rut at the shallowest point (above or at the gate) and be coming underneath the gate.

And yes, show up earlier. You'll get more runs.
post #3 of 4
Other than ruts, one of the common problems with a late start here in the northeast is that it often gets above freezing once the sun hits the snow; a slower course.

You snooze ..... you looze ....

Get an alarm clock ....

I have never seen any maintenance on a NASTAR during the day. They can get in pretty bad shape.
post #4 of 4
I'm all for the gung-ho-ness and agree that most ruts are more of a psychological block than a physical one, but a "hole" that forms when a rut breaks through somewhere can seriously injure people. I've seen people break legs, ribs, etc. all because someone kept on running a course with an obvious hole that wasn't fixed. Its frustrating to watch two or three skiers eat it in a row and have no action taken until the next guy or girl goes down and breaks a femur.

I had a weird little hole almost break my leg two years ago, and it seriously hurt a bunch. Its a rare thing, but its also very avoidable for organizers.

As to the techniques for dealing with ruts:
-NASTAR: Wake up earlier. Most other forms of ski racing, ski faster and get a better seed. Or indulge in whatever sort of point scandal is available in your area to get a better seed without actually being faster.
-Pick a conservative line and stick with it. If you stay ahead of the course, you will cross most ruts in a very manageable way.
-If all else fails, don't fight it. Ride that bobsled. Riding the bobsled well will be faster and more enjoyable than beating yourself up trying to make every gate a brutal fall-away. I don't know when you make the decision to throw it in and ride the rut rather than a tighter and more sensible line, but probably when its about knee deep.

I don't ski NASTAR much, but I seem to recall that the ruts are usually in a completely irrelevant way below the gate location. You'll probably miss them entirely with a decent line.
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