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More Weight = More Speed downhill?

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
 I'm in the midwest, and I race for my local high school, and I'm also on a ski racing club.

The Club ( Parks ) Is a super competitive enviroment. This is my 6th Year racing it. Throughout my ski racing career, my times have gotten more and more competive, and now i regularly place top 5 in Slalom and top 10 in GS. I've started to notice a few things. First off I weigh like 140, so I'm not flying down the hill.. (Normally my GS runs are 19 - 22 seconds depending on the course.) Everyone that is getting ahead of me in GS is a lot bigger then me, the all look 20 - 40 lbs heavier. 

But on the other hand, on my High School Ski Team, I get First or Second, Slalom or GS because everyone on the Other High School teams aren't very good.

My coaches all tell me at the bottom of GS runs, you did everything right, no missteps, its just you need that extra weight to be a winner.

So i present you with this question - You guys no any good ways for a 16 year old who has a crazy fast metabolism, never lifted a day in his life -- to gain some weight? 
post #2 of 56
I was 135lbs in high school but rocked at GS due to good line tactics.  If your hills are like most of mine, a typical course has 1 or 2 gates on a flat section, a long steep section and then a medium length flat section.  The key is to get as much speed as possible in the steep to flat transition and then just hold on.  Being lighter, you can get away with a more aggressive line with more mistakes than a heavier skier.

Being light is definitely a disadvantage, but unless you're a solid FIS or top USSA racer there's probably plenty of more important stuff to focus on.  Lifting, hasn't helped me gain much weight even though I'm quite strong for my size.  I too would like to know how to gain more than 5 or 10 pounds without gaining tons of fat.  I've never tried it, but maybe creatine supplements + lots of med/low rep lifting would help.  Reaching out on a limb, it might be interesting to try using a weighted vest in training and see how it changes things.  I might actually want to give that a try just for the sake of experimenting, although it'd probably be difficult to race with.
post #3 of 56
Funny, the Austrian coaches were pissing and moaning about Lindsey Vonn and her streak of podiums. 

She is "overweight" they proclaimed .. 

I guess if you run courses with flat ground and you are good at carrying speed ??
post #4 of 56

Weight is overrated.

In racing you need to create and maintain speed. Weight lets you carry more momentum which may let you maintain it better. It has no direct bearing on creating speed. Heavier guys may be physically stronger and can get more power into and out of their skis by being able to better control their skis, but it isn't specifically because they are heavier, just stronger. As a lighter skier you can afford to make fewer mistakes because you will loose more momentum than a heavier racer.

Being light has advantages. You are probably more agile and nimble than the heavier guys.

Maintain speed by being lighter on your edges and using as little edge as possible especially on flat sections. Choose a slightly more direct line. Work on your technique.

Be smooth on your skis. It is the contact with the snow that ultimately matters the most. Hard edge sets are slower than just a little less edge over a slightly longer time. Use your edges progressively, not abruptly. This applies more and more as you go from SL to GS to SG to DH.

Improve your start. The start is one of the easiest places to gain time and create speed that you can maintain for the rest of the course. You can easily pick up .5 seconds and a mph of speed at the start. Have your coach help you with your start. Good long hard pole thrusts (like nordic skiers use) are more effective than quick ones. A few good kicks rather than a lot of little ones works well.


post #5 of 56
 I think Daron Rahlves' coaches told him he needed to gain weight if he wanted to win races too.
post #6 of 56
I would suggest weight training. You will put on muscle and that will add some weight and help your skiing with more strength.

Work on better ski technique - at your level of competition, skiing skills should overcome any slight advantage of weight.

Are your skis properly tuned and sharpened? Ask your coach to check your skis.

However, it certainly would be an interesting experiment to wear a weight vest to see if it reduces your times in practice runs. But I don't think the race officials will allow you to wear a weight vest during comps.
post #7 of 56
the thought of being bigger makes you faster is shenanigans. Maybe at the elite level where a few hundreds of a second make the difference. Also I see that a lot at the K1 level (11-12) that the bigger kids tend to win more, but it's usually because they are stronger.

It all goes out the window after, when proper technique and line come into play. I was a small guy  at 165 lbs (6'3") but I was the fastest SG and DH skier in my division. Fix your line, block gates high in SL and you should see an improvement.
post #8 of 56
Wind resistance is a greater percentage of the net force on a lighter skier.  Weight does matter, more so in speed events.  However, since the course designers are busy designing courses too tight for the specified equipment, it shouldn't matter that much.
post #9 of 56
You can't "buy" speed with weight ... but what Masters was getting at (I think and I will indeed defer if wrong), is something like ...

If you have a steep section followed by a flat, a heavy racer will have (let's not get into aero drag and profile OK .. just to keep this simple) ... the "bowling ball" or "plumpkin" will have an advantage, all things like ability to glide and feel the edge (actually no edge), considered.  This is about the best example I can think of where weight will play out.  Some of the "fireplugs" on the kids team seemed to have a marked advantage with those flats ... (if followed by a steep) ... you could see it play out without having to resort to physics.
post #10 of 56
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post

Funny, the Austrian coaches were pissing and moaning about Lindsey Vonn and her streak of podiums. 

She is "overweight" they proclaimed .. 


I was thinking the same thing.  "Does this spandex suit make my butt look big?"

I would think there is something too that extra weight deal.  As long as it isn't offset by extra friction.
post #11 of 56
Friction, either from wind or the snow means heavier, bigger skiers need to overcome more resistance but the additional momentum they can develop due to their greater mass keeps that mostly equal. Although I remember a head wind turning a juniors downhill into a weight contest.
post #12 of 56
The weight won't generate speed, but it will help maintain it. If a 150 lb racer and a 200 lb racer run the same line with the same initial speed and each presses their edges a little harder than necessary in a single turn, the heavier racer will probably loose less speed.

It might be a factor, but one that is hard to address. Harder than line selection, a good start and good technique.
post #13 of 56
 One of the SMALLEST guys out there won the SL at Adelboden this weekend (Lizeroux) and consistently podiums as a top-3 SL skier in the world. Wouldn't put too much stock in to weight. One of the great things about ski racing is it isn't size disadvantaged; a strength-to-weight ratio is much more important IMO.
post #14 of 56
Phil what I'm getting at is that under some circumstances there is a benefit from weight and mass that a racer has and carries.  Specifically .... when you have a flat after a steep section .... a heavier racer can have some advantage all things considered ..... especially the ability to ride a flat ski.
post #15 of 56

Weight will become more of a factor as the wind comes up the hill. Otherwise it will be pretty insignificant. Strength to weight ratio will be more significant.

Ability to ride a flat ski is technique dependant. Flat is flat, no matter how much you weigh.

post #16 of 56
If air resistance is similar between the heavier and lighter skier, then weight will definitely be an advantage in a straight line. Here is a java application that simulates a skier accelerating toward terminal velocity


When I tried it, I found that on a 20% slope, a skier who weighs 90 kg reaches a terminal velocity that is about 20% higher than one who is 60 kg. Acceleration at all speeds is faster too.

However, having to turn all that mass from right to left is a definite disadvantage. I know that from experience.
post #17 of 56
Thats very interesting. I think it is more appropriate for a speed skiing event where there are no turns. Oh, two turns. One to get on the lift, one to get off.

I set up two racers at 50kg and 60kg on a 10degree slope (a realisticly flat pitch for a portion of a race course), a friction coefficient of 0.05 (for 0 degree C snow) and a net force of 0.46 for wind drag of a tuck (these last two coefficients are from the documenation). After 10 seconds of straight out tucking, the heavier racer may have had a 1 km/h advantage and be going a bit under 40 km/h.

This simulation doesn't take into account any initial speed, rather starts from a full stop. Even on a GS on the flats, the gates are coming at about 1 every two seconds so the simulation isn't really coming close to how long a skier would be at speed, in a tuck on a flat section of a GS course.

So I still believe the weight difference is insignificant in GS, more so in SL. Most of the friction (loss of speed) will come from the edge penetrating the snow and ice and the amount of speed lost to friction will have everything to do with technique and pressure on the snow (both duration and force), not weight.

I really don't think the OP should add weight as a solution. A) he can't add enough to make a significant difference and B) a 1 percent improvement in technique will outweigh any weight he might be able to gain.

He could gain a 0.5 seconds just in the start. I would bet a beer on it. That would take 30 minutes of practice to learn then simply utilizing that knowledge in each start. I would agree to working out to gain strength. In the long run that has a good chance to make him lighter, though. But stronger is always better.
post #18 of 56

MR and Phil are correct.


But to simplify, all other things (skills) being equal, a smaller racer (Darren Ralves) will have an advantage in very steep and technical courses. A big guy will have an advantage on gliding (flatter more open) courses. In racing some courses and situations favor you and some don't. So race a lot and it will go your way some of the time.

In ski racing and bicycle racing there are many champions who are small in stature and possess phenomenal skills.

post #19 of 56
Los Angeles Times ... January 12, 2010 

The Austrian coaches have apologized to Lindsey Vonn for making comments that her being overweight would give her and advantage in three days of speed skiing.

Now what could the Austrian coaches know that ....
post #20 of 56
Thread Starter 
I'll try the Weight Vest thing next time we have a timed *PRACTICE*, I have been in the Gym every day i don't have practice, got some Weiy Protein. Gained A few pounds since this thread was opened.
post #21 of 56
Just curious? How much weight are you going to add with the vest?

To try to dispell the idea that weight is necessary to be faster, I just finished a DH race series at Ski Cooper. It is a mt. with a 1000 vertical ft. and a .9 mile course with 17 direction changes. My good buddy, weighing 175 lbs. was consistently faster than me at 210 lbs. over 8 of 9 timed runs. He is a turner, I am a glider. He never beat me by more than .4 sec and I only beat him in the last run because he goofed big time in a single turn. Technique won over weight on a course that favored gliding over turning.

Getting stronger and more fit by working in the gym is a great plan to improve your skiing. I'll be curious to hear how you do with the added weight from the vest. It is going to change your CoM so your technique will have to adapt. Additionally, dead weight in a vest is going to be very harder to manage relative to live (muscle) weight which is going to be distributed over your frame.
post #22 of 56
Thread Starter 
 It will be 40 pounds, but  should weigh about 180 by the time im done with growning and stuff
post #23 of 56
You are adding 40 lbs. in a vest. You hope to weigh 180 lbs. (without the vest) when you are done growing?
post #24 of 56
Thread Starter 
 yeah i weigh 140 right now. Still am growing. my projected growth and weight will be 180 eventually, so by skiing in this weight vest i can see if weight alone will impact my speed
post #25 of 56

I look forward to hearing about the results from using the vest.

post #26 of 56
Skip the vest, use Winisterol... all you need to know is right there in the name: Wini- like 'winter' or 'Win' and Sterol- for "I'm going Pro".

It's, like, Greek or Latin or something.
Edited by Whiteroom - 1/18/10 at 10:54am
post #27 of 56
I'd skip the vest. It will throw off your balance and completely ruin your power to weight ratio. When you gain muscle weight, it very rarely is concentrated in the torso- unless you do nothing but core exercises.
You're trying to buy speed here, instead of doing the work. Hit the gym, get advice on diet, and build up some lean muscle mass. Work on technique. Stop trying to find something to blame.
Go ski.
post #28 of 56
Thread Starter 
 I just wanna try a GS Training practice in it to see how much weight will impact my results. it might
post #29 of 56
Have you tried the weight vest yet? 

Inquiring minds want to know. Really.
post #30 of 56
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