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local/night race leagues -- tips/tricks/advice

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

hey race fans ... 


(I did skim this forum and didn't see anything that addressed my questions, but if I missed something and am being redundant, please forgive)


I was asked to join evening race league this season.  I am a good skier and happy to go fast but have not done any official racing.  I was put on the "developmental" team (of 4 ppl) as it's my first season, but I'd still like to do as well as I can.


The kind of stuff I am looking for is

- ski selection (average 16 turn NASTAR type of course)

- tuning ideas (beyond base bevels and "brush the crap out of them)

- any safety gear?

- favorites for clear goggles

- etc.


mucho thanks in advance!



post #2 of 14

I'm sure others will add to this (and I'll be interested to see their suggestions), but here's a few ideas:

Skis: " Cheater" GS skis appropriate to your height and weight.


Safety: Helmet (I'm sure it's required) If there's any slalom involved, you'll need a helmet that can take a chin guard. Race gloves with knuckle protection are a good idea if you think you may hit any gates.


Speed suit: You'll feel like a real racer and the padding in the typical GS suit will protect your forearms and thighs. It's good for 1/2 to a full second on the typical course.


Good luck, "beer league" racing is a blast!

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks John.  


There's no slalom and I don't expect to actually hit gates (at 5'2 they'd hurt way too much!).  haha

post #4 of 14

Which mountain are you racing at?  The two big "ski race" mountains around the Boston area are Wachusett and Nashoba and they have very different course sets.

post #5 of 14

Get padded gloves even if you don't plan to hit the gates. Eventually you will hit one and a busted knuckle is no fun. As for everything else, observe. See what the fastest people are doing. What are they skiing on? Look at the people taht are just a little faster than you. What do they do and what are they skiing on. Then pick one of them and bet them a beer you will beat them next week.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

hey guys ...


It's Wachusett but it's not NASTAR ... they set a different course (was told 16 gates) and have their own pacesetter.


Those gloves are ugly and don't go with my outfit!  (LOL)  Thanks for the tips!

post #7 of 14

I've never raced Wachusett's course, but from seeing it, cheater GS skis are definitely what you want.  Course set is wide open and easy-blue steepness (starting basically flat -- I've seen a lot of racers tucking the entire thing).


I've raced at Nashoba which they call "GS", but it's really a dual slalom course with Nastar-style gates.

post #8 of 14

The Night League course at Wachusett is set close to a true GS in format. Generally 16-18 gates over a 400' vertical drop. Consumer GS skis in the 18-20 meter range seem to work best for most people. Some prefer true GS Race Stock, but the latest 27 meter + GS skis can be a handful. Most people on Race Stock GS are using the older 21 to 23 meter versions.


Race is on the lower half of Challenger Trail, which actually takes some skill to be really fast on. The start is relatively flat, so a strong start and skating ability is important for the first two gates. The course then goes down a pitch, so good edging skills are necessary, or you will skid out. The course then goes in a flat section for 3-4 gates, so excellent gliding (keeping the ski flat) is necessary not to scrub speed. The course then nose dives into the finish. They usually throw some big offset turns in here, and if you carried your speed off the flats, you really need to be on your game to make them clean. Lots of entertaining "crash and burns" at this point of the course. LOL. The fastest guys are going 40+ mph at this point in the course, with finish time in the 26 to 27 second range.


post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

hey guys -- thanks again.


so tuesday night was my race night ... I inspected the course and it was very easy lines (they may have set it a bit easier b/c of the recent thaw/freeze cycle and it being the first week).  here's my impressions:


start area is actually on a nice pitch.  start, skate one stroke each leg and get into a tuck.  there's about four gates then you go through a flat (I am only 5'2 so this was an impt place for me to really stay low and have a lot of speed) section and then roll onto a steeper pitch to finish.


the fastest guys were in the high 26s to 27s.  the fastest women were 29s to 31s.  I was 35 and that got me a silver+ medal.  7 more weeks to get better!  =D


post #10 of 14

Glad you had fun Kiersten. Our beer league started this week also (Tuesday morning and Wed. nite) and we've got the second and third Masters races this weekend.


One thing that hasn't been mentioned is waxing. This is especially important on courses that have flat starts and flat sections-your glide will be much better with proper waxing. You may want to search the forums for waxing and tuning tips-remember, every tenth and hundreth is important!


Keep us posted on your adventures in racing............

post #11 of 14

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!


NASTAR 4-4-09 left copy3.jpg


post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

hey JohnV ... I am super lucky to have been taught to tune by VailSnoPro himself.  I am all over the tune.  This week I got my base stone ground and set a .5 degree base bevel to go with my 3 degree side edge bevel.  And, I blend waxes (temps) and brush them.  They were nice and slick!



post #13 of 14



Great post, don't know if the OP got anything out of it but I certainly did, Thank you!


Congrats on getting consistent Platinums too.

post #14 of 14

Hey, writing that stuff down helped.

I tried to take my own advice today in NASTAR.

Dropped my best from 13.2 to 11.6.

Not too bad for a 66 yo.

Didn't stay on my line though so I know how to go faster.

Thanks 357!

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