The 2015 ski and ski racing season is here. The Mountain Meisters (Cranmore), Pioneer (King Pine), and Attitash weekday races have all begun and the youth racers will be ripping it up Monday at Cranmore competing in the Schneider Cup race. Here is the annual "go-fast" check list for Meisters, youth racers, and all other fast (and less-fast) skiers:
1. Make sure your skis are tuned-sharp edges and waxed bases are a must. You should always start your season with tuned skis, and then work to keep them waxed and sharp. It really makes a tremendous difference (especially the edges part). If you are racing on last year's skis, have them stone-ground and tuned so that you start the season with flat, textured bases and with sharp edges.
The serious racers (and skiers) sharpen and wax their skis before every race. They also keep track of left and right skis — so that they can ski and train on one set of edges — and then swap them for race runs to have the sharpest edges possible.
2. Strip down to race. It's amazing how much time everyone can pick up by simply removing a parka (especially the hooded ones). Consider investing in a GS suit. Again, remember, it's not how you look, it is how your time looks.
3. Invest in a helmet-they're warm, comfortable, and might just save you someday. Also, everyone seems to go a bit faster when they put a helmet on.
4. Get in a tuck and have a go-fast warm up run — just like you were in the course. Make some turns "at race speed" and make sure everything is working before you get in the course. While tucking and zooming down the trail, tip your skis from edge to edge by rolling your ankles and knees. Try to leave two clean tracks arcing back and forth.
Note: please give the other skiers plenty of room as you break the sound barrier. Buzzing the general ski public with fly-bys is not good public relations for us ski racers and someone (possibly you) might get hurt.
5. Lastly, get on your edges before each gate. Sometimes it takes a few races to remember to start your carves above the gates, not at them. Turn early and keep your eyes down the course.
Now go out, go fast, and don't slow down until you're well past the finish line.
For the non-racers out there, plan on going out and challenging yourself. Identify two or three things you'd like to accomplish with your skiing (such as becoming comfortable on a trail you don't currently like to ski). If your ski skills are improving, you always get more for your ski ticket dollar.
Remember, best advice of all, take a lesson or attend a race clinic. You'll have a great time and improve your time.
John Macdonald is a Level III Certified PSIA instructor and is a race team coach and trainer at King Pine Ski Area. You can email questions to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.