Ski racing can be for everyone | SierraSun.com

Ski racing can be for everyone

Bob Ellis
Guest Column

It’s never too late to start ski racing. If you’re one of those people who for years has marveled at the young kids in helmets speeding down a hill and thought, “Now why have I never done that?” now is your time to stop thinking and start ski racing.

To avoid psyching yourself out, keep in mind that any level skier or snowboarder can race, and any type of skis or snowboards can be used. However, the stiffer the skis or snowboard, the faster you’ll reach the finish line.

Sharp edges and proper wax will also help you turn faster and easier, giving you better control. Make carved turns when going down the course. They give you better control than skidding your turns.

Here are a few more things you should know before getting comfortable at the starting gate:

– Dress appropriately and hydrate accordingly for varying weather conditions. Check the temperature in the morning, and remember it’s easier to take a layer of clothing off and carry plenty of water than it is to go back to your car for more clothing or liquids. Drinking plenty of water at high altitude will enhance your performance.

– Review/inspect the course before you race. This allows you to see changes in terrain, snow conditions and course direction in addition to planning your skiing strategy. Inspect the gates with an experienced racer who can answer questions. Now, pick a line in the course that you feel is comfortable for you, and visualize the way you want to ski the course.

– Remember, the timer starts when you push through the band. Be certain to place your ski poles in front of the starting wand, which is by your shins.

– Go through the same colored gates. On the course, you’ll be turning from left to right and going through gates that have panels of the same color on plastic poles, either red or blue. Two panels of red would be considered one gate. You must go between the two panels. Continue down the course to the next gate, which would be two blue panels on plastic poles. Colors continue to switch from gate to gate, turning back and forth as you go down the course.

– Know the designated finish area and exit quickly. Most ski area finish lines have large panels where timing lights are located. For your safety and for the safety of others, finish in the appropriate area and exit leaving room for other skiers to stop.

– Join a local racing organization to cut down on the cost of racing. Local racing groups receive group discounts on lift tickets at the ski areas where races are held. The Far West Racing Association is a good place to start (www.fwra.com).

Remember, there are many ways to try racing. Some race programs have racing events for any level skier or snowboarder, from a beginner who can link simple turns to an expert who can rip through moguls.

Try your first course by joining a Far West Racing Association club or league, finding a ski area that has NASTAR or going to a ski area that has pay-per-run race courses. Additional information can be found at http://www.fwra.com or http://www.fwsa.com, or by emailing Bob Ellis at Bob@bobellis1.com.