I'm an old guy who got sucked into Beer League racing about five years ago.
I thought i could ski but racing is different.
Took me till now to get to where I can get consistent Platinum in NASTAR.
Some of the biggest things I have learned.
You have to run a lot of gates before you really get a feel for it.
Learning the course set for the day is key to improving. Pick the two hardest turns that will kill your speed and really set up for them on the gate before. Plan to brush these gates and stay high.
Watch the fast guys and girls to see where the racing line is. If you get out of the fast lane your times will skyrocket. Usually there is soft snow out of the line and it is much slower.
Line and clean turns are more important than tucking by a lot. Watch the YouTube of AJ at the Nationals or similar and you will see that even he doesn't try and tuck the crankers.
The right skis is something all racers search for. For a light woman this is really hard because most skis will be way too stiff to arc cleanly on a blue hill. My team captain is a Masters National Champion in the 70 yo class and about 100 pounds soaking wet. She skis an older vintage womans GS race stock ski with a 19 m radius. I just retired my Volkl Racetigers for an old pair of women's GS race stock Atomics in 21 m radius. Picked up nearly a second even though they don't feel as locked. Unless one is big and strong enough to bend even an off the shelf GS or cheater GS ski, they will be slow because the tips will plow. Real mens GS skis are for guys that can squat eight plates on a side, supple is fast. Rossi and Atomic made some great women's GS skis in 19 and 21 m radius a few years ago. These skis are family heirlooms, try and find some.
Wax is important but unless you are trying to pick up tenths instead of seconds don't get all crazy about it. If it is 40 degrees, you are at the championships, and the snow is soaked...then put $30 of fluoro on.
Then there is the start. Use much longer poles than you usually ski with. I ski 46" and race 52". Go to the gym and practice pole pushing on a cable machine. Poling is usually much more effective than skating. Ideally, give a huge push out of the start, snap your hands back forward to get your weight forward and give another huge push. Run over/skate around the first gate then try to get in one more push before the second. The second gate is critical becasue here you are transitioning into your racing stance and starting to carve. Don't skid here or you will lose speed that you will never get back.
Practice your tuck turns with your hands high in front of your face. The hands are breaking the air and are as important as anything about your tuck. Keep your butt high and counter with your upper body to initiate turns. Some people try to ski in a tuck without counter and it doesn't work for most. The counter initiated tuck turn will take you through the straight part of the set with minimum drag. Stand up for the crankers. (Now is the time for the technique mafia to tell me how they tuck turn without counter or unweighting by using foragonal foot squirt coupled with momentum from three turns past)
You will be faster if you are mentally aggressive and generally pissed off about how you are doing. Anger and adrenaline makes for agressive skiing. You are not in the course to have fun, you are there to go fast. Have the fun after, bring your A game to the start.
Remember, you win by going down the hill. Overturning to get high for the next gate is a common line mistake I make. Any extra time spent going across the hill is a waste.
It helps to have someone that you want to beat and vice versa. I have two guys in my NASTAR age group that really want to beat me. Competition is motivational and they have their work cut out for them!
Ski fast and take chances....the day will come soon enough when you can't!