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How to go faster in straights / flats?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
As the title said, I would appreciate some help & explanation for my 9 year old who began racing this year.

The situation is... she can carve better many of her team mates but when the course become a little flat or simply when they approach the bottom of the run & tuck to the finish, even if she was exact same speed as her team mates when they both tuck, they took off from her.

As this other thread suggests (http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/90307/more-weight-more-speed-downhill), more weight helps (she's tiny @ 65lbs) but we also ruled that out as there's a 8 year old boy who is at best her height / weight still out runs her in straights.

So, what could be the reason or what can she try/do to make up the speed?

And on a similar note... me being a relatively new skiier (3 years). Same thing happens - I followed my daughter down a blue run, same speed, then she tucks. I followed. And she runs away from me. In this case, I'm double her weight

thanks!
post #2 of 20
Physics... 
1) When ski on edges, wax matters less (the edge touches snow and the touching surface is small)
2) When going straight, all area of ski touches the snow. The goal is to reduce friction (Fb in picture)
3) When on flat - the horizontal component of mg is less - skis go slower
4) As for steeps - mg pulls stronger. Speed is controlled making turns - don't feel the slowing made by friction... 

3.jpg 
So... What can you do about the problem...
Increase mg - increase weight (skis, boots - nothing in upper body since it goes on legs)
Reduce Fb - prepare skis better. I would stick to this one

Good luck 
post #3 of 20

While the right wax can have a huge impact, what is more likely the issue is simply technique.

Two skiers of equal weight and identical equipment side-by-side straight down the indentical  smooth slope, in identical tucks, and one finishes first. Why?

* Weight distribution .  The faster skier probably has their weight distributed further forward toward the tip than the slower skier.

Bend at zee ankles, not at zee knees. Zhen you vill be a vhizz on skis!


* Keep the ski flat. The faster skier will do a better job of keeping the ski flat, minimizing scrubbing off speed that results from by tipping back and forth every so slightly.

* More complicated stuff. Out of the physics lab and on onto the actual slope, it gets a good deal more complicated, and a racing coach can explain WAY better than me how to go fast.. 

post #4 of 20
One other thing from years of searching for ways to go fast on bikes (the pedal power kind).  If you want to go fast (downhill) on a bike, you've got to reduce air resistance as much as possible.  As the speed goes up, air resistance takes on more and more importance.  There's a reason why ski racers wear skin-tight speed suits; i.e., baggy clothes = air resistance = slow.  In that same thought, your daughter's profile to the wind is much smaller then yours, so that helps her go faster then you when you drop into a tuck.

Get low, get small, get fast.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggetions guys...

My daughter is also thinking more about techniques... a bit more info though - her ski is ~10-15cm shorter than her team mates (she is small). She said that even if she tried to tuck forward while her team mate leans back/sit on the back of the ski (they call it batmobile ), they are still faster. Perhaps she simply was not tucking forward enough even though she thinks she is?

At her age group, skin suit is not allowed yet.

And for me - yeah, I need to learn to get more compact.

I'd welcome any other suggestions or ideas how to help her... it sucks to lose in straights.
post #6 of 20
She could probably generate more speed on flats by keeping skis on edge and popping in and out of turns (higher boot flex would also facilitate this)...but on the other hand shortest distance between two points is a straight line...but you will often see people seemingly needlessly turning on flats passing skiers going straight as popping in and out of tuck turns can generate speed.
post #7 of 20
Proper wax and base preparation (brush those babies out). 
Make sure she has the right skis for the job (she isn't racing on recreational skis or using SL skis for GS). 
Practice her tuck. 
Keep skis flat (which can be difficult for her if she has any unaddressed alignment issues). 
Wear a speed suit (I assume she already does).  EDIT: saw that she cant wear one yet.....well wear the tightest closest fitting ski clothes she can get into to cut down wind resistance...when it comes down the the race...lose the jacket.

For someone so young and new to the sport this all might seem like overkill, but if the other girls have similar talents and their parents are going this extra mile....they will win because of it.

I remember several years ago racing my buddy down a small hill and having him beat me every time (this was before I ever did any formal racing).   I could not understand how it was possible, my skis were better, they were waxed and I was a better skier than him....then I realized that his clothes were all very close fitting.   I took off my jacket....he never won again that night.
Edited by Richie-Rich - 2/22/10 at 9:21am
post #8 of 20
Going straight, the ski is fighting it's own turn radius.  More base bevel and longer turn radius will be faster.

Depending on variables, i.e. there is a range of variables where the following applies, it will sometimes be faster to actually turn slightly right and left so that you are arcing a very long turn in harmony with the skis side cut than trying to go straight having the right edge fight the left edge.

There is an ideal length for any weight and snow condition.  Longer skis might be marginally faster for your daughter's gliding.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post

Proper wax and base preparation (brush those babies out). 
Make sure she has the right skis for the job (she isn't racing on recreational skis or using SL skis for GS). 
Practice her tuck. 
Keep skis flat (which can be difficult for her if she has any unaddressed alignment issues). 
Wear a speed suit (I assume she already does).  EDIT: saw that she cant wear one yet.....well wear the tightest closest fitting ski clothes she can get into to cut down wind resistance...when it comes down the the race...lose the jacket.
 

She's on Elan RCX. For her group (I2) they only need /allow 1 pair of SL skis hence these SL skis. I'll try to take some picture myself to see how she tucks but I suspect the culprit might be that she's too far back even though she thinks she's forward.

As for alignment / keep skis flat, I think I'll just have to ask her to assess it for now. Plan is to send her to the bootfitter next year when we get new boots (again) - season is > 1/2 over now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Going straight, the ski is fighting it's own turn radius.  More base bevel and longer turn radius will be faster.

Depending on variables, i.e. there is a range of variables where the following applies, it will sometimes be faster to actually turn slightly right and left so that you are arcing a very long turn in harmony with the skis side cut than trying to go straight having the right edge fight the left edge.

There is an ideal length for any weight and snow condition.  Longer skis might be marginally faster for your daughter's gliding.

 

Umm... that would worth trying for sure though I just thought/assume that going in a straight line will always be faster even however slight zig-zack.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by goblue View Post


* Weight distribution .  The faster skier probably has their weight distributed further forward toward the tip than the slower skier.
 


Quote:
Originally Posted by hobieboy View Post

Thanks for the suggetions guys...

She said that even if she tried to tuck forward while her team mate leans back/sit on the back of the ski (they call it batmobile ), they are still faster. Perhaps she simply was not tucking forward enough even though she thinks she is?
 

Sorry guys, but unless you're skiing on a perfectly smooth and icy course, reducing the pressure on the tips is ALWAYS faster on the flats.  The reason is that if you pressure the tips your skis are having to plow through the slight build-up of snow that develops in front of the tip, versus floating over it, and this slows down the glide. 
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post


Wear a speed suit (I assume she already does).  EDIT: saw that she cant wear one yet.....well wear the tightest closest fitting ski clothes she can get into to cut down wind resistance...when it comes down the the race...lose the jacket.

Absolutely.  Even on a short course, stripping down to tight fitting clothes versus skiing in a jacket and snow pants can save two seconds or more (maybe not so much for the tykes, but it definitely will at adult speeds).  A speed suit will make an even bigger difference when  the time comes.
post #12 of 20
http://shop.usskiteam.com/store/product.php?productid=16821&cat=105&page=1

The above CD-ROMs contain some of the information you asked for, and will ask for in the future.  A bit much for a little kid, but you can use it as a reference for the decades to come like Hogan's Five Fundamentals of Golf.  Fundamentals don't change.
post #13 of 20
Aerodynamics, wax and everything else stated will help.  I'm not that familair with junior racers abilities but my daughter (12) races a little and I know what she can do and she can do what I'm going to suggest.

If she can carve better than the other kids and you've nailed aerodynamics, I would suggest getting a bigger lead on the hill so even if someone can catch her on the flats, she'll be too far ahead for them to to do it.

The way to do that is for her to skate her turns.  I'm not sure that is the correct term but it in essence is what you are doing.  When you push the outside ski ahead of the inside ski, you gain speed.  This is similar to what Ghost stated.  That's why some racers appear to be picking up speed each time they turn.  They are.

This is also how I catch up to folks or leave them behind.  Each turn I gain speed.

Kids have the hardest time flexing a boot.  My daughter, 72# couldn't flex he Nordica 55 flex boots and was in the back seat.  A boot fitter did a "V" snip to the inside cuff shell on the lateral side (4 o'clock  right and 8 o'clock for left) of both boots and now she can flex no problem and is forward.

Check the structure of the base.  If she's been training on the same skis all season, they might be showing it and a fresh grind might be in order (I know this is stretching it but figure I throw it in).

As for her pulling away from you - you're double her weight but probably triple her wind signature.  Everything that everyone stated for your daughter applies to you too.

Ken
post #14 of 20
Some good answers/recommendations and a couple that are questionable.

Assuming Wax, ski's, position on ski's and that she knows how to tuck properly then the problem is probably as follows:

Almost all race courses at the middle and lower amateur level have a flat section either in the middle or at the end or both. If this is the case in your daughters races then there are one or two gates that become very important and may be leading to your daughter not carrying her speed into the flats.  This may not be noticeable with the naked eye but a booboo on the gate just before the flats can cut the speed she is carrying into the flats.

Oftentime when inspecting a course(if you pay really close attention to the gate above the flats) you will see how to ski this gate, i.e. early turn, ski the high rise, or there is not turn or a very little turn.  This can make or break a run and could actually be the difference between lst and 4th etc.

Personally (a few years ago) when running the Super G at Mammoth there was always two gates just before the flat finish where you didn't turn if you set up right.  Big difference in winning this race more than once when all your competitors turn and you don't and you have to carry your speed to the finish line about 70-80 yards.  Try looking at the gate or gates just before the flats. Go Girl !!!
post #15 of 20
And then there's Bode's trick (that I used decades ago); get heavier skis to go faster.
post #16 of 20

There are lots of great tips in these posts.

The contact of the ski with the snow is the greatest contributor to maintaining, or not losing, speed:
 

  • good wax and base preparation,
  • smooth, well prepared edges,
  • proper base structure,
  • as little edge use as possible,
  • bring speed into the flats,
  • reduce any turning on the flats to the bare necessity to make the gates,
  • roll gently onto and off of the edges,
  • steady even pressure instead of hitting the edges hard

Notice that many of these tips involve edging skills. Edges are slow, bases are fast. The least amount time and the least amount of pressure spent on the edges, the better. The putting the weight back, not forward, is accurate, but hard to teach a budding racer. She may forget to get forward when needed.

Good aerodynamics are important as well. Create the smallest profile to the wind as possible. Lead with the hands to create a longer, more aerodynamic object. Chest down, hands in front of the face so you can just see over the hands. If you need to come up from a full tuck to a high tuck, keep the chest at the same height as the chest to avoid creating a pocket for the wind to get trapped in. Move the hands further forward and together in front of the face. Avoid letting the arms go to the sides.

My under-informed guess is that on the flats and straights your little racer isn't as flat on her skis as she might be. It isn't uncommon to get as low as possible with the feet a good distance apart but with the knees too close together, essentially skiing on both inside edges. A good flat ski position while tucking isn't particularly comfortable as the knees have to be over the skis for the skis to be perfectly flat. It takes a conscious effort to focus on a flat ski.

Practice tucking outside of the course, hopefully with a slightly soft surface on the snow that will show the tracks of the skis. Until the skis can run totally flat, they will be on edge and slower than a flat ski.

Not knowing the course or seeing your racer makes it difficult to give specific advise. Please supply video or photos if possible. Getting faster on the flats is a difficult endeavor.

One place that it easy to pick up time on a course is at the start. While it won't prevent a slowdown on the flats, it will provide a cushion of time that will reduce the impact of the flats. Use a good strong kick, followed by long hard strong pole strokes and skating motions. Avoid short arm and leg motions. Look like a Nordic skate skier out of the start. You can pick up .5 to 1 second by improving a start. The beauty of starts is that they will help with every course, not just the ones with flats.

Best of luck to your daughter.

MR
post #17 of 20
One important thing that I have not seen beeing mentioned here is that when going flat it is very important to relax the lower legs. Let the skis find their own way through the snow and don't try to steer them straight or adjust the spacing between them more than necessary. All good gliders are good at this.
Regarding the weight discussion, that is important. That is partly why Svindal is always faster in those parts of the course. He is the heaviest skiier ever that has won a WC title. Maier is not small either.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

My under-informed guess is that on the flats and straights your little racer isn't as flat on her skis as she might be. It isn't uncommon to get as low as possible with the feet a good distance apart but with the knees too close together, essentially skiing on both inside edges. A good flat ski position while tucking isn't particularly comfortable as the knees have to be over the skis for the skis to be perfectly flat. It takes a conscious effort to focus on a flat ski.

MR


AWESOME advice, thanks! 
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well, my daughter tried lean way more forward and that seems to help.

Still waiting for her to test if the skis are completely flat when she tucks. Hopefully MR's guess is right then we can work on alignment or keeping everything straight & flat.
post #20 of 20
I went skiing tonight and noticed it was very difficult to keep my knees directly above the ski AND that I had not been doing an excellent job doing it. Glad it was pointed out here.
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