The 2014 ski and ski racing season is here. The early season snow is perhaps the best in the past 30 years. Here is your annual "go-fast" check list for Meisters, youth racers, and all other 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.
Even though we have this beautiful dry, fresh snow, there is firm, hard stuff underneath. Race courses and late day skiing will be much more enjoyable with sharp skis.
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. Remember, it's not how you look, it's 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, roll your skis from edge to edge...leaving 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 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. Try it!
John Macdonald is a Level III Certified PSIA Instructor and is a Race Team Coach at King Pine Ski Area. You can email questions to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.