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Racing: shorter skis, faster times?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Okay, this might be dumb but I'm wondering....

As the skis have gotten shorter, are the times down? Or are courses altered accordingly, tighter as the technology pushes up the performance? So, the courses Tomba skied are not - correct? - the courses Miller is on.

Are we at the point of diminishing returns as far as the benefits of shorter (SL) skis? What's the next tech-induced change(s) the FIS will have to make?
post #2 of 11
What will FIS do next? Well for starters, they are making the turn-radius minimum for skis in some disciplines BIGGER. I have heard from a ski rep that the SG ski has minimum radius UP 3 meters next year. I can't tell you about the other disciplines, but I bet that they also are changing rules to prevent wasting our good courses.

Kinda like golf- Augusta builing to keep up with the equipment...

-Matt :
post #3 of 11
I dont know about speed events... but i know that slalom has changed with the advent of short slalom skis. The courses are more round than they previously were because the skis can handle it. I dont know if it helps or hinders athletes but it seems that slalom has become a more competative event because of it (turns are more carved therefore are not torn up as much as they used to be). Is it bad.... im not sure... i think it is faster, based on the fact that you could not compete on long straight slalom skis now days and still win, even if you were the best slalom skier in the world. This topic is definitly one that should be payed close attention to. It may not be bad that the courses are changing - i mean we dont want to go back to bamboo do we (ouch)... it would be interesting to see how courses have evolved in the past until now and possibly see what they are moving towards...

post #4 of 11
It's really exciting and yet scary to see this drastic change in length and side cut. Downhill speeds havn't changed much but GS and slalom speeds sure have.

Reduction in ski length + Increase in side cut = increased speeds, better carving capability, and a masive increase in knee and lower leg injuries.

The coarses have changed a lot as well. To accomadate the radical side cut, officials have increased the off set from turning gate to turning gate. Also, because of the increase in speed the gates are farther apart (espesailly in slalom).

Last season there was a reported 32 to 35 knee and lower leg injuries related to the radical shape and length. That's about a 1/4 of the racing field!


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 11, 2002 11:54 AM: Message edited 1 time, by CERA F ]</font>
post #5 of 11
There is debate still about whether injuries are really going up directly related to the skis or not. It would make sense to me . . . F-16's are are more fun than Cessna 182's, but also more dangerous!
post #6 of 11
I know that par times for our Monday night "beer league" have dropped about two seconds since shaped skis showed up. The width of the run limits the course so the course hasn't changed much like it has at the higher levels. I tried to set a slower course and only succeeded in adding one second.
In real racing, course setting makes up for higher speeds of the equipment.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 11, 2002 07:53 PM: Message edited 1 time, by SLATZ ]</font>
post #7 of 11
There are even some reports that this has filtered down to the Junior racing. I heard of a hill that set a "straight line" course.

I can imagine the faces of the coaches as they did the course inspection. What can a 150 with a lot of sidecut do toe-to-toe with a 165 "big gun"?
post #8 of 11
I thought they only did that in Central. Refreshingly most all our courses had turns in them this year.
post #9 of 11
I beleive this is a classic example of "chicken first or egg first"...
I mean, did the coaches start to trace a race differently and thus "provoking" the
manufacturer to add more shape to the skis (and reduce lenght)?
Or viceversa?
Here in Italy, shape skis were deemed to be skis for beginner to intermediate skiers, not for racers (thinking pre 1997-1998) nor for "experts" (quite frankly said, most of the slopes are maniacally groomed, even the black runs, very boring after a while, but the conditions of a run so groomed are close to the one a race course has, minus all the chemical adds-on to the snow), and then marched slowly (but not really that slow)
As for times, I do not have historical data, but I think it's worthless to say that nowadays a racer takes less than 10 yrs ago on the Gran Risa (at La Villa, Alta Badia)
Skis are different, the race course is different, technique is different, and more than in GS, it can be seen in an SL.
For sure, shaped skis allows a skier who's able to exploit the tools efficiently, to keep a higher speed in every point of the turn, compared to the speed the same skier would have had with "traditional" skis, and that a GS course is now traced more "across" (left-right)a slope than it was 10 yrs ago.
post #10 of 11
They found that skiers could go faster on some lines with the shaped skis than others and altered courses accordingly.

With the new worries about injuries and speed vs. safety gates, they're getting re-altered again - probably not that often that courses get revamped because of excess speed on racers' parts!

Obviously also depends on what type of racing they're doing...

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 12, 2002 08:38 PM: Message edited 1 time, by skis&snow ]</font>
post #11 of 11
It was interesting that both the men and women in the recent Olympic slalom competitions wre on 150-155cm. skis. The quickest line through the course is skiing through the gates [ the reason for all the body armor,] not around them, thus times are coming down.

Whether or not we will be skiing all mountain 155-160 cm boards that can do anything, time will tell, but I think we are fast approaching the limits of effective ski design.

As to injuries, I would imagine that falling on ones ass and/or tail bone are the new places of greatest concern.
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