10 Tips to Alpine Ski Racing
Here’s a list of some techniques for all you ski racers. I learned all these skiing techniques from the best ski coaches, Mark & Stuart from Glacier Racing Ski Club, in Barrie, Ontario.
Training is super important when it comes to skiing. You need to do lots of core and leg exercises for skiing. If you ski competitively, you will be skiing every weekend of the winter both Saturday and Sunday. Remember to eat healthy, exercise, stick to fruits and veggies, and get enough sleep before your race!
2. Inspect the course before your race
You should always inspect your course a couple times before you actually race it. There will be an inspection time for all racers. It’s good to know what you will be racing down. Often there about 80 or more racers that will be doing this course. That means it is going to get super icy. My coaches always told me that after I inspect the course, to visualize it in my mind. Pretend that you’re racing it and remember all the gates, and how you’re going to turn around them.
3. Be aggressive
It’s good to be aggressive while you’re racing. My coaches always told me I look too relaxed and chilled out when I’m racing, and told me that I had to be more aggressive and knock the poles. At first I was really scared, but don’t be afraid to hit the gate while you’re in a slalom race. (A slalom course has the gates much closer together than giant slalom.) By hitting the gate, it will give you a direct line to get a better time. This technique is called cross blocking.
4. Always ski hard past the last gate in a race
I always see racers start to slow down on the last gate and cross the finish line really calmly. Races are time trials, so every second will count. Slowing down near the end will lose you a lot of time. I suggest if you’re feeling comfortable then go into a tuck for the last few gates. In a proper tuck, you should have your poles tucked underneath your arms and held forwards and get down low. Going into a tuck makes you go faster because you are in a smaller position, which will reduce the air hitting you. Ski hard right past the finish line, don’t slow down! Sometimes this may result into going into the netting surrounding the course. Incidentally, I have done this several times.
5. Wear a skin suit
If you’re a competitive ski racer, you will probably own a skin suit already. Wearing this skin tight spandex suit usually results in making you into a human popsicle because it’s so darn cold. The perks of wearing these form-fitting skin suits is that it will help you move more easily and is wind resistant which will help you go faster because you’re not wearing a big bulky ski jacket. You will move down the hill much more swiftly while wearing a skin suit. Also you will be really cold, so it will motivate you to make it to the bottom where your team mates will be cheering and giving you your jacket and snow pants back.
skin suits will help you move more easily
6. Stay focused, stay warm
It’s good to stay focused before your race. Visualization is key. My coaches always gave me a little pep talk for the first run and then for the second run they will ask you on what you think you can improve on for your second run down the course. (In races, the ski racers get two runs on the course.) As you are lining up with the other racers, people will often talk about how freezing it is, so try to keep warm! There are usually blankets with your team name on it and your coaches will wrap you up in it. I suggest you move around, because it will keep you warmer - and try to keep your ski jacket on for as long as you can before your race.
stay warm and keep your jacket on for as long as you can before you race
7. Proper racer stance
Keep your skis parallel, don’t spread your legs apart. When your legs are spread apart, it is really difficult to keep balance. When your skis are parallel it helps you get a faster speed because there is much less friction. When you are turning while you are skiing, remember that the majority of your weight should be on your inside ski. Doing this gives you a quicker speed when coming out of a turn. Pole planting is very important for timing your turns -and that goes for all alpine skiers. Carving is also very important because it helps you grip onto the snow and ice. It keeps you balanced. Skating is a handy thing when you’re slowing down in the middle of the hill. To do this, just put one ski straight and push off with the other ski diagonally. This improves your timing and speed.
keep your skis parallel
8. Show good sportsmanship & team spirit
Remember to always have good sportsmanship; cheer your team mates on when they are racing!
get into the team spirit
9. Timing is crucial in racing
Since racing is all time trial, every second will count towards your time. Start off your race by pushing out of the starting gate and skating to your first gate. End off the race by tucking past the finish line. All the tips I mentioned above will help you to go faster down the hill, therefore improving your time.
timing is crucial, push hard out of the gate to get a good start
10. Just have fun!
Enjoy yourself while you’re racing. Yes, it is a competitive competition, but it should be a fun sport and you will build lots of friendships.
Becca Tran is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.
All photos courtesy and copyright Becca Tran