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J5 Junior Racer -- what angles for edges? - Page 2

post #31 of 48
Thread Starter 
My son knows nothing of this stuff. We agree that he doesn't need to think about this bunk. Slap the boards on and rip them is all that he's concerned with; as it should be.

I'll have to rely on his coach since I don't think I can tell one way or another concerning his skiing and whether the equipment is working for him. He generally looks to ski very well to me, but he's already way past my level of sophistication regarding techniques and what to look for.

I still don't know how his coach could lower the base bevel from 1 to .5 (or zero, as he did on the slalmon skis) without stone grinding the skis flat -- and he specifically said he did not grind the skis

I appreciate the perspective and information you've all have given me. Atomicman, I know you didn't mean to attack me, and were just looking out for my son's interests. I value the information I get from the members of this site!
post #32 of 48
Originally Posted by Atomicman View Post
I tune a lot of skis and my experience with most folks have been that they over bevel the bases. there is a vehy high liklihood that those skis were never at .5 base bevel. it is really really easy to use a .5 base bevel guide and still end up with a 1 degree or more. (1mm gap with a true bar at 60mm across ski)

.5 degrees is measured with a true bar placed on and matching the angle of the beveled edge (across the ski) at 60 mm across the ski you would have a 1/2 (.5) mm gap

also if the skis were tuned at .5 and the 8 year old skied & raced on them a bunch before you got them it is highly unlikely they were at .5 when you received them, unless they were freshly tuned.
I couldn't have said it better myself. A .5 base edge is not the easiest to ski, and would agree that the kid was prolly never on a .5, that ski is very cupped at the tip and tail and needs a 1 b/e in those areas at the minimum, and at that age i refuse to put a .5 on kids skis, its just a waste of my time cause the ski always comes back to the shop cause "theyre railed", and its not just kids either, I usually have to play that game with a couple of masters racers every year. Fact is they all want .5/3 so they can be cool on the chairlift, when in reality what they need is 1/2.
post #33 of 48
Originally Posted by dmoney24 View Post

I still don't know how his coach could lower the base bevel from 1 to .5 (or zero, as he did on the slalmon skis) without stone grinding the skis flat -- and he specifically said he did not grind the skis
sorry, just read this, you cant change from 1 to .5 w/o a grind. Your coach is full of shit. I think that you should take control of your kids ski maintenance either doing it yourself, or finding a local skilled tuner and buying a season tune program from him.
post #34 of 48

Best advice yet. Why should anyone care if they hurt the coaches feelings? The guy probably has a chip on his shoulder anyway.
post #35 of 48
Originally Posted by BigE View Post

Best advice yet. Why should anyone care if they hurt the coaches feelings? The guy probably has a chip on his shoulder anyway.
Something is going on with this coach. It's common knowledge that you can't decrease base bevel without a grind.
post #36 of 48
I'd report his incompetance to the race school director.
post #37 of 48
Originally Posted by BigE View Post
I'd report his incompetance to the race school director.
come on BIGe

maybe he should ask the coach to explain to him exactly what he did or is doing to the skis. he can certainly report back here if he is unsure of the answer and then based on the info, might want to ask the program director about .5 & 0 base bevels on his 10 YO racers.

Our coaches were just the opposite, they didn't talk about bevels and equipment at all. We had to figure it out on our own andor from what ever resource we could come up with!
post #38 of 48
I've been watching this, and debating whether to post. I don't want to be coming off as a know it all, or a bag of hot air. Sorry. I have some perspective on this. I'm a former racer, son of former racers, and father to a couple of pretty serious racers, ages 18 and 21. I've been tuning skis for 40+ years, and around ski coaches all of my life. As a ski parent, I've done some things right, and made a bunch of mistakes.

I have real doubts about this coach. I know that he's "great" and has 30 years experience. Before even get to the bevels, he's got a boy 49" tall, and 60 lbs on an SL ski that's 55" long, and a GS ski that's almost a foot taller than he is. A lot of ski, IMO, for your son's size. I might be off base on that. We can have somebody else weigh in.

I'm astonished that he's recommend a flat SL ski, though. Some perspective. My son is strong {squats 500 lbs+, etc.}. He's been on snow full time, year-round for 9 years. He's a good SL skier. He, along with a number of older skiers {including some USST skiers} messed around with a flat SL ski a summer ago. Didn't work. No edge progression. On-off switch. He skis a .5 and 4 on most days. Kind of a different athlete, with a bit more experience than this youngster. There is NO WAY that a flat ski will help your son's skiing. Truth be told, I'm really surprised that the coach is so involved to the degree that he is even making any bevel recommendation. Seems odd. And equally odd is this idea of a flat ski.

The coach's assurance that he didn't use a grind, or belt to bring a 1 degree base bevel to flat is nonsense. I suppose that he could use a metal scraper, and a file forever, but I would doubt that. You can add base bevel easily...taking it back means a grind. Others are right on the money.

Now here's the potential dilemma, based on my experience. The best J5 coaches understand this stuff inside and out. They understand the kids development {emotionally and physically}, and they really are students of the game when it comes to little kids equipment. Note that we haven't even asked about boots!
The equipment changes constantly. At your son's weight he may need a very different ski that the boy who is 4'6" and 85 lbs. A lot of J5 coaches are weekend coaches. A lot with 30 years experience are "seasoned" and many are out of touch. An equal number may be right on top of it, I suppose.

I've had to deal with a lot of coaches over nearly 30 combined years of racing for our kids. Some were great coaches, great people, and just awesome. Some are great friends to this day. Some were arrogant, and insecure, way past their game...and clueless. Some of those, when questioned would take it out on the kids, so you'd need to walk on eggshells. we were pretty good at that. Parents who were questioning their wisdom found their kids shunned. Sad, and very true. If you're committed to a program based on whatever personal reasons, you absolutely need to navigate this. Don't confront anybody, don't make an issue of it, etc. No need. In the sands of time it really will be a minor speed bump.

I coached three kids as J5's who eventually made it to the the USST. I had nothing to do with their development, but they sure could ski the trees, and they cost me a fortune in hot chocolate and cookies {real training food}. We had a blast. I could no more coach a J5 today that fly myself to the moon. The sport has blown right by me. Yet, a lot of guys that I coached with then....about 30 years ago....are still at it. And all of them have weekday jobs. Good people, but maybe not so current.

My suggestion on the skis is simple. DO NOT mention a thing to your son, do not mention a thing to the coach. Get those skis to the best shop you can, and get them ground to a 1 degree base. Keep it our secret. The coach won't have a clue. If he puts a truebar on them, all that's happened is a bit of bending the file while tuning! He won't check them. J5 coaches should carry hot chocolate vouchers, not truebars. And I'm not the guy to make a recommendation, but those skis sound long. Somebody with more knowledge might weigh in.

Then, figure out how you exist for the season with this guy. Be cordial, and get a good dialog with him. My advice is to make sure that your son has fun every day. When you pick him up, smile. Big hugs. Do whatever he wants at that point. Let HIM tell you about his day. Do not under any circumstances let on that you have any questions about his coach. When my daughter was about his age, we were on a chairlift taking a couple of runs. She asked: "Daddy, why are you nice to my coach when at home you say that he doesn't know what the HELL he is doing? Who should I listen to, you or him?" Oops. He didn't know what he was doing, but I changed that day. One coach, and not me, and on the face, total support of the coach. I couldn't do that to her. It was brutal in more than one season in those younger years. But, the kids were on snow, with their friends, putting miles on and figuring things out and HAVING FUN. It all worked out.

Even to this day, my daughter and my son will remind me, more often with a chuckle: "Shut up. You're not my coach, and you're clueless." True. Very true.

The best advice I was ever given came from a coach who was a blast for the kids to ski with, a former WC DHer, and somebody who's coached a LOT of talent. Over a beer, he told me that my role was to "Be there, but not all the time. Show unconditional love and consistent support. Dispense a ton of hugs. Laugh and smile as much as you can. Get ready to write a lot of big checks for a lot of years. Bring some good food." Pretty simple. We've tried to make it fun for our kids, and although the sport can be brutally cruel, they still love it. They love to race, they love to free ski, they love to be in the mountains. It's played a big role in who they are.

Dealing with this coach may not be easy, but making it as much fun for your son, and as easy as possible for him is a big part of this. It can be a tremendous experience. I'd figure out how to deal with the coach as best you can. It may turn out to be easy. I may have read it all wrong. Good luck, and have fun.

Sorry to be so long winded.
post #39 of 48

Great post per usual!!

You sound even more melancholy then i did!
post #40 of 48
Dmoney, a couple thoughts for you.

First, as the other contributors have said here, 0 is too aggressive. I don't know any coaches who would put a 9 year old on a 0 ski. Hell, I never put any of my FIS level 17-18 year olds on a flat ski.

That said, I have the same question you do. If coach didn't have them stoned, how did he get them flat? They sure don't come from the factory flat. That's a lot of hand filing, boy. My guess is they are not flat.

You can navigate this gracefully. No need to head butt with butt head coach. Do you know how to set a base bevel? If not, just take the skis to someone competent who can do it for you. Coach needn't know. These are new skis, right? Take your old ones with you if you still have them, and double check to make sure they really were at 0.5. I'm betting they weren't.

BTW, I don't at all read you as a little league dad. You just seem to be trying to get your head around your kids sport, so you can look out for him. My hats off to you.

Now, your coach may be another story. He may mean well, and be a good coach on snow, but just not have a good handle on the tuning end of the job. He may just be a little over zealous, and forgetting he's coaching 9 year olds. Hard to say without observing first hand. Give him the benefit of the doubt, don't let this throw you, turn you sour on him, cause you to run around behind him second guessing. Just watch and stay aware,,, just like you've done here.

Yes, you as a parent have a role in juniors involvement in this sport. Remember that a big part of your job is to help junior keep it light and fun. Celebrate his successes, but especially, be supportive and encouraging on the tough days. One of the great things about ski racing is that it helps a kid grow. They're out there all on there own, up on display for the world to see and judge. They know that, and it can be a tough row to hoe at first, but it provides them such a valuable opportunity to learn how to handle the good with the bad. How to be a good sport in victory or defeat To learn the important lesson that imperfection is the engine that drives improvement, that improvement will be there for the taking, everyday of their life, and that it will always be rewarding and fun.

Coaches help kids learn those important life lessons, by the core values they promote along with their teaching the skills of the sport. Parents do too, by the examples they set, and the encouragements they provide.

Enjoy your time in the sport. I coached full time for many many years, and I can assure you that great rewards lie ahead. You may not realize it now, but if you stick it out you will. Life long friendships,,, a sport you can share for years to come with your son, and one you know will bring him many more years of pleasures long after you've turned your final turn,,, life lessons that he will carry with him in every endeavor he undertakes the rest of his days. I've lived it, I've seen it happen for my racers and their families, over and over and over. I hope it brings you and your son the same.
post #41 of 48
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for all the great advice that you've all given me here. You're right, I'm just a dad trying to learn about a sport my sons are putting a tremendous amount of time into (and me!). And the only way I can learn is by asking questions. Thanks for providing me with a free education!

Originally Posted by Rick View Post

Now, your coach may be another story. He may mean well, and be a good coach on snow, but just not have a good handle on the tuning end of the job. He may just be a little over zealous, and forgetting he's coaching 9 year olds. Hard to say without observing first hand. Give him the benefit of the doubt, don't let this throw you, turn you sour on him, cause you to run around behind him second guessing. Just watch and stay aware,,, just like you've done here.

There is no chance that I will confront his coach on this stuff. I'm accustomed to navigating issues delicately (but sometimes, not so much for a desired affect). He's pretty hard core, but he's great with my son and the other kids. He raced and trained with someone famous in Europe (Atle Skaardal?). He's engrained a tremendous amount of knowledge into my little son's mind. Not just technical stuff, but how to approach races mentally. I have no chance of figuring out the base bevel on these skis. None. I do all his waxing and keep the side edges sharp at 3 degrees. That's it. I don't have the equipment for the base edge, and I'm probably not comfortable with screwing around with them. I'm pretty sure that after talking with his coach, he would take care of it for me and make sure the skis were at 1 degree, and not get mad about it. He's the one who showed me how to do the waxing and side edge work last season.

I will certainly never second guess the coach in front of my son (I suppose this topic is second guessing, but I contend I'm still just learning). I literally don't have the knowledge to share with my sons. I got them to where they are now, and going forward, my job is to provide them with the opportunities to grow as individuals, in whatever direction their lives go. If it is skiing, great. If it is something else. Fantastic. Makes no difference to me. As long as they are happy. And right now, it's skiing. In 6 months, its baseball....and so on.

In terms of the ski size, I have had doubts in the past (last season). Last year he was maybe 48 inches tall and probably 55 lbs. A head shorter and 30 pounds lighter than most of the other kids. He put him on those Solly 120s for slalom and 135s for gs last season. Truth be told, I didn't bring the gs skis to the hill for weeks and had him train gs with those 120 slalom skis, because I thought they were too much ski (why, I don't know, it's not like I know anything). Finally I said something to his coach, "should I bring the 135s, I've been too scared to break them out". He said "of course, they will help him a lot". "He can handle them in the gs course no problem, and could ski them in slalom if it was his only pair". He more than handled the skis last season. Though he is small for a first year J5, he's a strong little bugger, and I'm pretty sure he's already handling these new skis in 130 and 140 Rossis. He's pushing the Rossi 130s and 140s and carving them without any trouble. He does have the softest boot, the Rossi JR1 in a 20.5 because of his foot size. The boots are a huge inprovement over last year's.

So after I take care of this "back office work", I will make sure we have plenty of frozen pizzas and juice pouches for the next few weeks of practices.
post #42 of 48

Lot to be said for keeping the peace and some basic trust of your son's coach, while learning, as long as your kid is safe and happy.

Great insights provided in this thread.

Originally Posted by dmoney24 View Post
I have no chance of figuring out the base bevel on these skis. None. I do all his waxing and keep the side edges sharp at 3 degrees.

As A-man said, here's an easy method for checking the base bevels. Good back lighting and magnifying glasses help me, as do magnets.

Base bevel measuring w/feeler gauge, true bar & digital gauge

Edited by Alpinord - 9/30/11 at 6:24am
post #43 of 48
Late night for me when I was posting back here in the East. Ignore my comments about ski length. I had somehow fixed in my head that he was on a 140cm SL, and a 150cm GS. The 130cm and 140cm sound great! Sorry to be the clueless alarmist.

As everybody else has said, you sound like you're approaching all of this just the right way. I'm sure that you, your family and your sons will have a great experience with the sport. Hope that everybody has a fun season, and many more to follow.
post #44 of 48
A consideration that hasn't come up is the youngster's boots and his 'setup'. His knee tracking and corresponding edge angles may dictate less bevel - to provide more edge accuracy, less brushing.

One of the biggest challenges we have in advancing precocious 9-10 year olds is a good boot set up for good kids under size 22.5. The plastics are poor and support can be compromised, particularly knee tracking. We like our kids to track the knees just inside of center boot seam. As the tracking of knees moves inward to big toe, the ski becomes more brushy.

This coach may see what he wants and is doing it via the skis. I can understand what the coach is trying to achieve, which helps me visulaize how the kid is set up, which is probably a bit flat footed. A kid that is good enough to learn to ski a flat ski could become pretty wicked actually. The foot accuracy/awareness would have to be exceptional. Interesting.

Correspondingly, for an over-edged skier, we can increase the bevel to make things feel more predictable and less tweaky.

With correct boot set-ups our beveling ranges are 1/2 for those being introduced to the program, no GS skis flatter than .7, and our elite kids, including some j5's are accurate at .5/3 SL and .7/3 GS, contact point to contact point. I have never moved a pre-teen to zero base.
post #45 of 48
Some more thoughts on the J5 racing days, from my perspective, and my kids. I meant to add these to my earlier post, but anybody reading would have died from boredom.

This ski racing gig can be a wonderful, but very long haul. If you get to the point that you have a near adult age kid who was not selected by the USST to go to Europe, or was selected to go to Chile ahead of his friends, or was not offered the D1 scholarship that he was promised because it went to a Norwegian guy with a better world ranking and a fistfull of WC starts, you'll realize that the J5 years should be about fun, and will absolutely be lost in the sands of time. There are plenty of opportunities down the road to worry about the rest. PLENTY.

I guess that it struck me that the J5 years aren't going to be really affected by a .5, .7. or 1 degree base bevel, in my opinion. And if there's one word that I would love to remove from ski racing, it's elite.

Just for kicks, I just took a look at a few pictures collecting dust in my home office. One was my son's J5 state team. 12 boys, all cute as can be. Three were still racing past their HS years. One picture of my son's J3 JO State Team. Pretty stacked group. Two had been to the Whister Cup, one twice. Same three still racing after they graduated from HS. One made it to the USST, and he was not a Whistler Cup kid. Only the three were still racing FIS by the time they were seniors in HS, a couple more skied on HS teams, and did a few USSA races. A number went on to great schools and played or are playing, at the collegiate level, football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, etc. A couple are pretty much big mountain pro skiers these days. The three left are racing in college, and still good friends. For them, it's still a lot of fun, and always was. Their relative age group rankings have continued to improve, all along. They love it. The rest bailed, primarily because it wasn't fun.

When my daughter was a J5, and a J4, she insisted that she carry a tiny stuffed animal inside her jacket every day. On race days, it was always zipped inside her speed suit. She also insisted on having some Swedish Fish candy for her friends at the finish. Through the years, we have always had the candy at the finish. Last fall my wife found the little animal, and stuck it in my daughter's Christmas stocking. That little critter made the ride down a couple of Nor-Am speed events last winter. She was really dissapointed with her DH there, but we had a huge laugh and smile when the critter was hauled out of the suit! She said it reminded her to make it fun.

I also think I should also mention that with boys, my experience is that the entire deck gets restacked when they go through puberty. The absolute smallest kid that my son skied with as a J5 was about 6'2" by 16, big strong and newly coordinated. I know parents who were crushed when their J5 phenom was real average at best as a J3, and quit because "he sucked and it wasn't fun {his words}" as soon as he was a J2 and racing against men. The first year of FIS racing for a J2, particularly the ones who were real fast as J3's may be the most brutal!
In my "dad" experience, it all changes after puberty.

Like I said earlier, I could no more coach a J5 group today than fly myself to the moon. For a bunch of reasons. I take a real long haul view on this sport. My kids have had a lot of sucess with this sport, and some real low times. Real low. I'm proud at how they handle it. And I love the fact that they love to ski. When they are training, or racing where there is great freeskiing, the fat skis are in the bag{well maybe not anymore with baggage fees!}. Skiing is a great pleasure. It's great fun for our family. My daughter is dying to get a tele set-up, and try that.

I spoke with my son last night, and asked him about his most memorable day on skis. Without question #1 was skiing with me and his grandfather when he was 6, and my dad was 76, the winter before he died. We had a boys long weekend up at our ski house, and it was awesome. They skied at the same speed....with real different technique! My son's comment last night was "that was so much fun, what a great time." We skied in trees, bombed the cruisers, had our own bump contest, all got Gold's in NASTAR, etc. My dad was a hell of a skier and mountaineer. I never thought we'd lose him soon after that, but to me it was pretty cool that my son has such a vivid memory of that time. He also remembers Grampa's scrambled eggs. I remember them both being in bed at about 8:30! He must have had more than 50 podium finishes as a J5, J4 and J3...and at the time they were important to him, but he chuckles about it now. Ski racing really started when J2 Nationals ended, in his opinion.
That's when it became serious.

I then told him that I was on a thread about base bevels for J5's, and his comment was "You ARE kidding right? Dad, get a life! Like it matters AT ALL at that age!" Then I mentioned the flat SL ski and he howled. He got into some technical talk for a bit, and I started to laugh! By me.

He's not a J5 coach. So, don't flame him. He probably will be one day, and he'll have his own perspective on this. He was laughing that his best J5 day was when his group was doing a Chinese DH, the prize being a hot chocolate, and they all got stopped by ski patrol and lost their passes {including the coach}, so they spent the afternoon playing broom hockey and watching the NFL playoffs. He laughed that he could really glide as a 10 year old, and that they should have kept up with the illegal tuck runs to keep those skills polished. My daughter remembers one ski runs down the narrowest, steepest trails, when she was seven. Her coach through her J5 years was a former national team skier, and boy did he make it fun.

I'll let others go back to the tech talk. Nothing that I can add. Have fun. And for the coaches, do what you can to keep the current J5's at it, having a ton of fun, so that they continue in the sport. And remember that the parent commitment is huge in terms of time, finances and emotion. I always hope that the coaches value the parents, and that the parents value the coaches. Most parents don't know anything about ski racing, and a lot of coaches have never been parents. It should be a nice two way street. I guess that parents and coaches both earn that respect. For both "camps", the kids need to come first. Just my opinion, but I obviously think fun is critically important, and should be the number one goal.

It's great to watch the atmosphere at college races...fun, and lots of it, despite some of the lowest FIS penalties in the country....quite a bit different than other high level venues. The athletes, and their families are having a blast...again. A lot of these "kids" have been on the USST, and others have re-assessed the dream, or put it on hold. In the meantime, it's a great experience. I hope that every little J5 has enough fun along the way to make it that far!!

It's a great experience, a great sport, and a long haul. It's been great for our kids, but I would have worked even harder to make it fun all along the way. There's more than ample pressure to perform coming at you form every direction.

Thanks for the opportunity. {I'd still go 1 and 2, and be done.}
post #46 of 48
Amazingly, this post is even better then your other!!!!

Keep 'em coming!!!!
post #47 of 48

As a father of a first year J5 and a next year J6, your posts have really hit home. Thanks for the wealth of information - your perspective is fantastic.

My happiest times at my Son's races and I think his as well are when the race is over and we're evading ski patrol on our twin tips.

I race also and my kids cheer for me as loudly as I cheer for them - it's amazing how tight we are as a family on race days. I suspect we will wear out our family cow bell over the years.

Thanks for the great posts!

post #48 of 48
Thread Starter 

That is good stuff. I couldn't agree with you or your son more, and feel much better for it. This string of posts in this thread has been as valuable as any race camp I could take my sons to. But your final post put the cherry on the top of that sundae.

My goal with this sport all along has been to have fun, and it always has been. But in this sport, a lot of things get thrown at you from all spots (coaches, other parents) and all directions. And when you start from ground zero and don't know anything, you get sucked into this vortex.

But no matter what anyone else says, and it may be lost on some who have been involved since birth, this sport is dependent on equipment, certainly more than any other sport I've ever been involved in. My first experiences (in terms of ski racing) have been, "his skis are too short" and "his skis are too soft" and "his boots are too big"....make sense where I'm coming from? And it goes on and on, to the point that edge angles are being discussed by my son's coach, for a 9 year old! Believe me when I say this, I'm happy to learn all this stuff, but it is exhausting! Teaching my boys to play football and baseball, sports that I know very well, is so easy to me. Let's put it this way, no one has ever come up to me and said my sons had the wrong cleats...or the wrong bat...or the wrong baseball cap...or the wrong sneakers. Or that we needed a "better" one of any of those things. The kids just go out there and do their thing, and can do it very well. I've never had to wax or sharpen or wipe down a piece of equipment in my life for any of "my sports" until last year (believe it or not, I didn't wax or sharpen a ski for the boys from age 4 to age 8 ).

In terms of the little world I lived in before, this sport is from a different planet. It really is. And I sincerely doubt that anyone could argue that point.

I'll be the first to admit that I am, by nature, extremely competetive, and played at the collegiate level (no equipment, just bb shoes). I've hated to lose more than I enjoyed to win. But this ski racing thing is sooooo different. Do I like to see my son on the podium? Yep. Does he enjoy it? Oh yeah, he's wired with the same drive to succeed. He likes the fact that his room is already getting filled up with trinkets. But to him, racing is still no different than baseball or football. He's not "burdened" with all these choices and tweaks and maintenance and so on. And I don't want him to be. He only needs to ski, and he has no worries with that...hey, he's 9! Right?
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