At entry level, one pair of all around skis and well fitting boots and helmet just about covers the racer’s needs. However, the investment in ski racing equipment is not inconsiderable once a racer starts to compete more seriously. It is wise to consult with your coach to ensure that your racer is equipped with what s/he needs, as the right equipment plays a large role in the enjoyment and potential success of a ski racer.
Check out more tips for selecting the right boots on Center of Excellence TV here.
The age level of the racer will dictate which kind, and how many pairs of skis s/he will need. Young racers typically progress from one pair of skis to specializing with SL and GS skis.
The length of skis is determined by the height, weight and ability of the racer. Each brand has their own feel, and athletes can often test equipment at the end of the season to see which brand suits them best. Ski companies sometimes offer special ski racer deals available through ski clubs. Coaches are the best people to ask for help with ski selection.
It is imperative that racers’ boots fit well, as it is the boot that transfers the “message” from the feet to the skis. Without proper fit, the racer does not have the desired control, and performance will suffer. Ski shops and coaches can help with proper fitting. Custom made foot beds can help greatly to achieve a good fit.
Entry age racers need one pair of poles. As they progress to cross-blocking slalom gates at around 12 years of age, they will need to add slalom guards to their poles to protect their hands. This is when most racers like to have 2 pairs of poles – one with guards and one without.
Bent poles are used for speed events, and are not necessary until an athlete starts competing in them.
Helmets must fit properly to be of any use; they should fit snugly. It is not advisable to buy used helmets for your racer, as it is often impossible to determine if a helmet has sustained a blow merely by looking at it. Children tend to drop helmets on the floor, throw them into the back of vans and cars, and each time the helmet receives a knock, it may well be sustaining minor fractures that are not visible on the outside, but reduce the effectiveness of the helmet.
In alpine ski racing, the helmet must cover the ears. Soft ear protection is only permitted for helmets used in slalom. Helmet mounted cameras are not allowed.
Check out more helmet fitting and selection tips from Center of Excellence TV here.
Mouth guards: these inexpensive guards used for many sports can help reduce the effects of a concussion should a racer sustain a blow to their head. They also protect their teeth if a pole hits them in the mouth when skiing SL.
Chin guards: these guards are attached to the helmet to protect the racer’s face and teeth when skiing SL.
Shin guards: once a racer starts to train SL gates, protective shin guards must be worn.
Arm guards: some racers like to wear guards that protect their forearms when skiing SL.
Back protectors: Although not mandatory, these protectors are highly recommended for athletes competing at a higher level in GS and speed events.
Stealth: This padded protection worn under the speed suit is a staple piece of equipment for every higher level racer.
Most racers remember getting their first speedsuit – it shows they have truly entered the ski racing world. Entry level racers do not need a speedsuit to race, however most kids love to have one. As kids grow out of these tight fitting suits fairly quickly, there is a pretty good second hand market for them; ski swaps and ski clubs are a good place to look for a reasonably priced used suit.
Older athletes will increase their speedsuit wardrobe to include a trainingsuit and a racesuit, which may or may not be padded.
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