Ski Equipment Essentials
11th November 2014
Safety is the number one priority in ski racing. It is illegal to compete in a ski race without using a helmet and I wouldn’t want to either! In slalom you can use helmets with soft ears if you wish but in speed (Super G and Downhill) you are required to wear a helmet that conforms to FIS regulations. I also wear a back protector in all disciplines when I’m racing and training. I wear a race suit during technical events (giant slalom and slalom) that has padding in the legs, arms and back and in speed I wear one without padding so I am more aerodynamic.
Different Types of Ski Equipment
In slalom I crossblock the gates to knock them out the way so I can have the fastest line down the course so I have hand guards on my poles, shin guards that cover the tops of my boots and my knees and finally I have a chin guard in case I miss the gates with my hands and they hit my face. In giant slalom I don’t crossblock the gates, I hit them out the way with my arm or shoulders so I have forearm guards as well as the padding in my race suit. In speed the aim is to be as aerodynamic as possible so I wear only my race suit and I make sure I pull it down over my boots to reduce airflow around my buckles. Apparently how you wear your hair can also make the difference of a few hundreths so I wear it as straight down my back as possible in the hope that it won’t slow me down!
Picking the Right Ski Boots
Ski boots are obviously essential and race boots are very different to recreational ski boots. They have to fit exactly to your foot so they are very tight and pretty stiff. You can have your liners filled with foam so they mould exactly to your foot. Extra bits of plastic, called plates, are fitted onto the bottom of my boots to lift me slightly to increase my foot angulation, however, there is a height limit on how far you can be off the ground! If you find that your buckles on your boots are often undone at the end of the run it might be because they are hitting off gates so you can buy little pieces of metal that attach over your clips to protect them. Most race boots come with a specialist strap on them to ensure your boot is as best fitted to your foot as possible. If you don’t feel like this is enough, Booster straps are the best out there and used by most World Cup racers.
There are quite a few other nifty things that you can get that may or may not enhance the way you perform. Gloves are essential to every skier. You can get special racing gloves that have hard padding on the knuckles and thumb to protect your fingers or you can get extra thin aerodynamic gloves for speed, they’re just very, very cold! I use Leki poles. They have this great strap system where the strap is permanently attached to your glove and you just have to click into your poles. They make it quick and easy to put your poles on and have a special safety switch so if you hit them off the ground or a gate really hard they will pop enough instead of injuring your arm by getting caught.
Ski Equipment Essentials
- Ski/Snowboard boots
- Ski Poles
- Ski Jacket
- Salopettes (ski trousers)
- Warm Socks
- Warm hat