New school slalom sets.
I’ll confine my comments to USSA Age Class, Ability, and FIS level racing in Rocky Mountain (RMD).
A few basics:
No rules have changed at either the USSA or FIS levels regarding any facet of slalom setting. However, there is no rule regarding offset distance. You can make a turn as round or as straight as you want.
Course setting is a very personal thing. Every one of our coaches has a signature in their sets. Some set rhythmical, some quirky with unusual combinations (hair pin, and delay sets), some very fast, some more back and forth. Also, course setters who are on bitsy slaloms themselves, set rounder than those still skiing straight cut skis. Lower level coaches tend to set tighter and less round.
The lower the level, the simpler the set. In a game between the course setter and the racer, the course setter will always win. It is fairly easy to set a “legal” course that is almost impossible for anybody to get through. Of course, that is not the point.
I haven’t seen any significant or consistent changes in Age Class setting. KISS seems to prevail. Every now and then, we will see someone set too round a set for this age group. This applies to races, not training.
I guess I’ll talk about what we used to set and compare that with what we do now. Two years ago a typical set on our race hill was 8-10 M vertical with 2-3 M off set. I would typically set 10 vertical with mostly 2 and a few 3 M offsets. Now, 10-12 M vertical (occasionally 9M) with 4-4.5 and even 5 M offsets is common. We held a USSA masters race this weekend. One of our coaches set a 12.5M vertical with 5M offsets. This is pretty consistent with what most of the European coaches were setting on this hill during their Fall training. With sets like this, it is not possible for a conventional slalom ski to consistently ski this offset without lots of skidding. The early November Super Series at Loveland had fairly similar sets. They didn’t have more offset, but the men’s course often went to 13M. The course setters were Canadian and US Ski Team Coaches.
Incidentally, we use 27 mm shafts on bucket gates for races; screw in’s are only used for training. FIS made us use screw in’s for the Super Series. If we can use bucket gates we’ll hold the Super Series again next year.
If this sounds like almost GS skiing, you’re right. However, GS courses are getting to be so round, that the skis won’t carve them any more. If you can, look at the St. Anton men’s GS and compare it to the Albertville Olympics. The men had to ski the course the same way. In case you didn’t know, FIS has restricted the amount of side cut radius to 21M. You can download all the FIS rules at www.fis-ski.com.