This information is to assist you in the selection of appropriate equipment for yourself or your child. Improper sizing or model of gear can impede the progress or development of a racer. Coaches will be looking for demonstrated ability or perhaps a sensation or feeling that may be impossible to attain if the racers equipment is not suited to their size and ability.
The most important piece of equipment you will purchase.
The boot must be sized to the athlete for the season they will be using it.
Large boots will allow the child’s foot to slide and roll within the shell effectively canceling energy transfer and response from the skis performance.
A competent boot fitter will remove the liner from the boot and fit the ski boot shell to the child’s foot. The boot may feel snug initially but the foam insulation will compress over a relatively short time.
If the child experiences pressure points from the shell cold feet and pain will result. There are two solutions to this problem. The first is to try on another brand of boot. Each manufacturer builds their own lasts, the sales person should know what shape foot a particular brand generally fits.
The second solution is shell manipulation. Boot fitters can stretch boots to accommodate bone spurs and other minor foot anomalies.
The modifications should be done to the shell. Liner modifications are only temporary. Glued on bits move with heat and activity. Cut out sections create cold spots and destroy the liners structure and warranty.
Foot beds are an asset to any boot and can often be transferred from one to another.
Keep in mind that they must be replaced with foot growth.
The other thing to remember is that ski shop personnel are not trained in, or competent in providing you with corrective foot beds or orthotics. The product they provide you with stabilizes the foot in the boot.
If you or your child requires a corrective foot or stance product see a Podiatrist, licensed Chiropractor, or Physiotherapist.
There are professionals locally that offer these services to skiers.
The next consideration after fit is flexibility.
Your child should be in a junior boot until they reach approximately 140 pounds. Junior boots are built of lighter plastic that will flex properly for young racers.
The boot you choose should also be free hinged. This means that the boot should actually flex or move at the hinge point.
The child should not have to bend or compress the shell in an effort to flex it.
If your child’s foot has grown out of the junior sizing range and they are below the 140 pound bench mark special attention will have to be paid to the natural flex of the boot.
The flex point is a fulcrum where the designer has generalized that the person wearing it will be of a certain height. If your child’s feet are not in proportion to their height at this stage of their development this would be a concern.
Buy your boots at a Pro shop
Very few racers will buy their boots off the shelf and ski away happily ever after. The snug fit of a race boot usually takes an extra visit or two back to the shop for adjustment. Pro shops offer a fit guaranty and expertise in fitting that you will not find at a swap or chain store.
Please support the shops that support us at Chicopee.
Initially any ski you are presently using will be fine for development or Entry level race programs. When it comes time to replace them however you should look to a race specific ski.
In the entry level programs only one ski is permitted for events, regardless of the discipline.
The ski that you are purchasing should be of GS side cut or a ski that is marketed as a skier cross ski. These skis are designed for medium to large radius turns.
One of the skills we are tying to develop in the early stages of racer development is steering. We want the racer to be able to adjust turn shape by turning the feet. This skill also requires that the athlete move fore and aft as well as vertically to accomplish the task.
Modern slalom skis have such a radical side cut that they can change direction by just laying them over on their side. This is often referred to as railing.
It is not a good technique for youngsters to acquire as they become dependant on the ski shape and not their own skill.
They have trouble adjusting to different turning radius which results in skidding and braking actions to accommodate the course set.
When your child moves into the K1/K2 programs and they are allowed to have event specific skis simply use the older GS ski for slalom as the child grows out of it. The slalom ski generally comes up to the chin area and GS skis are measured from the eyes to the top of the head.
By the time a racer is ready to graduate from K2 they have generally acquired the skills and size required to handle slalom specific skis.
Be aware that entry level skis are often sold with the graphics of race models. These skis are only suitable to the lightest of skiers or very young. They often are built of foam core and do not have the torsional strength required for a race course. They are very thin in appearance from tip to tail.
Junior race skis will get thicker through the binding area, similar in construction to adult skis. They are engineered to be easier flexing and often are targeted at different weight ranges for young racers.
Manufacturers supply the shops with charts that recommend the proper model for age and weight category of the racer.
When a racer reaches the more competitive levels of skiing such as F.I.S. or internationally recognized competitions the ski length, binding height and boot sole height will be dictated in the rule book. The coach will recommend the proper equipment.
Helmets are required for all race programs and competitions.
Race helmets must be one piece construction that covers the ears. They will be certified by ski standards for head protection.
The helmet must fit the head snugly with a chin strap that allows at most two fingers spacing between strap and throat.
It may not swivel or rock on the wearers head.
You may not wear toques or hats under the helmet to accommodate spacing. Thin helmet liners or thin balaclavas are permitted if proper fit is still achieved.
Snow board type helmets with soft ear pieces or removable sections are not allowed for ski racing.
Only ski specific helmets are permitted.
No snow mobile, motor cycle, hockey, bicycle, football or any other type of helmet is permitted.
Slalom type face guards are not permitted for league racing if they do not accompany a proper helmet.
Ski poles are required for all competition in Nancy Green league and older.
Pole length will influence ski stance.
Proper length is usually achieved by holding pole upside down beneath the basket while the handle rests on the ground. The elbow should form a 90% bend.
Some compensation should be made for stand height when lifter plates, binding and boot soles are added.
Specialty poles for speed events and slalom may be used in Kinder leagues and older.
Speed suits are not allowed in Nancy Green League.
Generic speed suits are suitable for K1 league racing and older. Plombed (air permeability testing) suits are required for FIS competition.