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Gate vs upper arm

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
As a beginner racer, I have already seen substantial improvements in my technique and times even after only a month of training.  Just a quick question about clearing gates in GS.  Two weeks ago, at my coaches advice, I began hitting gates to tighten my line; however, after taking out a few gates with my upper arm/shoulder, I developed a substantial bruise.  It almost looks like some threw a softball at my arm at 90+mph.  Now, a week and a half later I still have the bruise and added to it this past weekend, it is not sore or anything so I think it should just go away on its own.  Nevertheless, is this type of "injury" common and is it related to poor technique, inadequate protection (I do not have a padded race suit, just wear a ski jacket and ski pants with a few layers underneath), or a combination of the two?
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth View Post

I began hitting gates to tighten my line; however, after taking out a few gates with my upper arm/shoulder, I developed a substantial bruise.... is this type of "injury" common and is it related to poor technique, inadequate protection (I do not have a padded race suit, just wear a ski jacket and ski pants with a few layers underneath), or a combination of the two?

To quote your high school health teacher: it's completely normal - at least to an extent.  You are hitting the gates, and any high-speed contact between a gate and unprotected arms (or knees, shins, head, back) will result in bruising or friction burns.  The bruising is worse when you hit the gate "square," rather than hitting it with an angle where it will brush aside.  Take a look a pics of top GS racers and you'll see that they tend to setup their contact point with the gate to be at an angle that allows the gate to brush aside, rather than hitting at a more-or-less right angle, which can slow a racer down (at best) or spin the racer around (at worst).

A padded race top (i.e. one that would be worn underneath a speed suit) can help with this.  As a bit of a "ghetto" or budget work-around, pieces of foamcore (used in architectural models or for mounting posters) or cardboard, placed on your upper arms (stuffed between shirt layers) should suffice.

Good luck!
post #3 of 13
What he said...a top like a Spyder Stealth top is probably the minimum opening bet, and something like a Dainese Slalom Jacket, which you can, obviously, use also for slalom, is another option.  It's also not a bad idea to wear a GS suit (not a DH suit) under a top because a GS suit generally also has pads on the thighs, shins, lats, arms, and other places where you're likely to tag a gate...



Quote:
Originally Posted by songfta View Post


To quote your high school health teacher: it's completely normal - at least to an extent.  You are hitting the gates, and any high-speed contact between a gate and unprotected arms (or knees, shins, head, back) will result in bruising or friction burns.  The bruising is worse when you hit the gate "square," rather than hitting it with an angle where it will brush aside.  Take a look a pics of top GS racers and you'll see that they tend to setup their contact point with the gate to be at an angle that allows the gate to brush aside, rather than hitting at a more-or-less right angle, which can slow a racer down (at best) or spin the racer around (at worst).

A padded race top (i.e. one that would be worn underneath a speed suit) can help with this.  As a bit of a "ghetto" or budget work-around, pieces of foamcore (used in architectural models or for mounting posters) or cardboard, placed on your upper arms (stuffed between shirt layers) should suffice.

Good luck!

 
post #4 of 13
You can actually buy forearm armor.  Slytech, Leki, Jofa are some companies that make them....they are ubsurdely overpriced for what they are.   Alternately you can go to any sporting goods store and pick out some soccer shin gaurds that are BETTER quality than any of those purpose made gaurds and they will cost you less than $30, and they fit on the forearm as if made for them.   Some work better than others so open up the packages and try them out for fitment.   I use a pair made by Adidas, but Nike and Reusch make nice ones as well.

My bad......just realized its UPPER arm....well I dont see why you couldnt wear the armor up there too.  Actually there are a few companies that make armor jackets designed, I beleive, for skiercross that would protect you all over.
Edited by Richie-Rich - 2/3/10 at 11:22pm
post #5 of 13
Here's what songfta is saying. I hit a GS gate last week w/ a knuckle felt like I broke it for 2 days. Round turns.
post #6 of 13
You do not really need the full monty with pads but yup you will get some bruises.  My fav is when the outside pole whips around and whaps you in the back.  Ouch!

"Race" gloves with padded knuckles are a good but expensive item.  SL style pole guards are cheaper.

As a beginner race, line is more important than being super aggressive in terms of smashing the gates
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer256 View Post

As a beginner race, line is more important than being super aggressive in terms of smashing the gates

This is the money shot: the line is key!

When you have a good line, the gate contact will result as a side-effect.

If you "chase the gates" and ignore good line and good, quality skiing, it's like flushing money down the toilet.  When you reach for the gates, a lot of things tend to go by the wayside, including proper weighting of the skis, carving, line, etc.

So don't get too caught up in the pursuit of armor: the bruises will happen.  Think of them as marks of distinction!
post #8 of 13
I'm no expert but I don't think you should be hitting the gates too square in GS. If you look at the photo above you will normally brush the gate behind your shoulder. On GS suits there is a pad built into them there. If I'm skiing well, I seem to just miss that pad??!!! The gate kind of tweaks a little when I brush it. If you're smacking into them your line might be too direct. Don't just hit gates just because you think you should. Ski the best line you can. You'll brush some and miss some. The goal is to get the best time, not hit all the gates.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by skibumm100 View Post

I'm no expert but I don't think you should be hitting the gates too square in GS. If you look at the photo above you will normally brush the gate behind your shoulder. On GS suits there is a pad built into them there. If I'm skiing well, I seem to just miss that pad??!!! The gate kind of tweaks a little when I brush it. If you're smacking into them your line might be too direct. Don't just hit gates just because you think you should. Ski the best line you can. You'll brush some and miss some. The goal is to get the best time, not hit all the gates.

Bingo!

Hitting the gates will happen fairly often if you run a line like a high-level racer (though the speed will only come if you ski like a high-level racer).  Not every gate will hit on the scapular area: some will hit the forearm (assuming your line is really inside), others will hit the scapula, some will hit the tip of the shoulder, others won't hit a thing. 

But hitting the gates does not matter if the quality of skiing isn't up to snuff, or the line is bad.  In the end, fundamentals still win most ski races.  The edge usually goes to the racer who takes the best, calculated mix of risk and fundamental skills.  Thus why you see guys like Ligety, Hirscher and Blardone on top of the podium more often than Raich: the former three take more risks, while Raich tends to ski "within himself" in a technically sound way.  Raich has a higher finish percentage than the others, and tends to do better overall, but his tendency to land on the podium is lessened with his approach.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by songfta View Post

Quote:


Bingo!

Hitting the gates will happen fairly often if you run a line like a high-level racer (though the speed will only come if you ski like a high-level racer).  Not every gate will hit on the scapular area: some will hit the forearm (assuming your line is really inside), others will hit the scapula, some will hit the tip of the shoulder, others won't hit a thing. 

But hitting the gates does not matter if the quality of skiing isn't up to snuff, or the line is bad.  In the end, fundamentals still win most ski races.  The edge usually goes to the racer who takes the best, calculated mix of risk and fundamental skills.  Thus why you see guys like Ligety, Hirscher and Blardone on top of the podium more often than Raich: the former three take more risks, while Raich tends to ski "within himself" in a technically sound way.  Raich has a higher finish percentage than the others, and tends to do better overall, but his tendency to land on the podium is lessened with his approach.

 




These points are right on the money, in terms of the potential for bruising and hence the need for a d3o suit, a stealth top, and forearm guards being the result of very good race technique and therefore different tactics and line. That's the absolute take away: work on your skiing, create more angles and speed, learn to pressure the ski the right way at the right point in the turn, when to release it and use the fall line. That will all tighten up your line. THEN, you'll be clipping gates in a variety of ways, and you'll probably want more protection. Some guys at the higher levels {not national teams, guys who need to buy them!} swear by the Ruesch gloves of late because of the comfortable metal knuckle protector, as well. Skills first, then tactics, then the need for more protection. Very good points.

I spent some years coaching J4's and it was always a challenge in dealing with new "armor"! As if the kid was thinking that since he was wearing this stuff, and had pole guards, he needed to hit some gates, often when past them! My favorite was removing pole guards that some parents had put on bent GS poles! Always an interesting conversation. I was watching a J3 GS recently and at least two thirds of the boys had $150 Slytech forearm protectors. My guess is that perhaps the top 10 boys {out of 100+} may have actually used them, and "needed" them. I saw a lot of boys reaching for gates, and hurting their performance.

I think the point well taken is that these guys at the WC, EC, NorAm and top domestic FIS levels are doing things in terms of the basic skiing that are very different that the majority of people in a race course. That enables them to ski the line they do, and make the turns that they do. And then there's the tactics.......when to pinch off a turn or two, when to straighten it out, when to belly the turn more, give it more room, etc. It's not as simple as any one of us skiing closer to the gates, and trying to shorten the distance by taking out the gate. Straight and late is a tactic, of sorts. Doesn't always work too well.

 

Probably a good idea to pick up a padded "stealth" top, or something similar at this point, though. While you're working at it, and improving, there's no need to be in pain! Have fun with it!
 

post #11 of 13
FWIW, I wear and old pair of Salomon race gloves that have some decent padding and protection on the wrist and knuckles. I've saved a watch or two. For me it's really more for self defense if I get out of shape in the course and need to protect my face. Sometimes you just gotta show the gate who's boss and punch it out. Hand guards are handy for the less skilled, like me. I made some shin guards out of junior hockey shin guards when I was trying to learn slalom. Had to wear them under my ski pants so I didn't get laughed off the hill. I've since given up on slalom. Sure looks like fun, though.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Our coach has been politely reprimanding most of the people on the team to not reach for gates, and he says for the most part I am following his advice.  I dont tend to reach for GS gates, but I do have a tendency to sometimes try to knock down SL gates that I have no business knocking down, but I try to resist.  Obviously the line and technique are more important than taking out every gate, but according to my coach, I am skiing far too conservatively for my skiing ability.  As such he wants me to be taking out gates, not to go out of my way to level them all, but make a conscience effort to maintain as close of a line as possible--be aggressive.  Ideally, I have been told that the gates should brush your arm, maybe displacing the gate by 3-6".  Any thoughts on this?  However, while I do achieve the recommended brushing sometimes, I do not yet have the control to maintain that on every turn, thus eventually I end up being in a position where I either get too wide or can almost cross block a gate which is where I tend to get the most serious bruises, such as the one mentioned, which, now 2 weeks later, is still present. 

I do have a pair of Hestra race gloves which have saved my fingers/hand on multiple occasions, but they are certainly no replacement for pole guards.  Combining that with the bruises on my knees, I think I need to invest in some SL protection as well. 

...goes to find his piggy bank already smashed and empty...

Any inexpensive solutions for either?

I will try the cardboard suggestion this week at practice.
post #13 of 13
 If you can get close enough to the gates to NEED to smash em down, your turns should be round enough u just brush through them with your shoulder and your not going laterally across the GS gates as you do in slalom 
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