"Racing can be enjoyed by pretty much any level of skier. Good and well informed equipment choices can help make it more enjoyable and assist with a skiers progress.
Race equipment is fairly specific but, if you’d like to try racing, it needn’t be too onerous to get some basic kit together in order to try this great and enjoyable part of our sport.
The most essential will be skis that will work for you and, by this, I mean a piste orientated carving ski. This will make life much easier for you to ski courses, both GS and slalom. For younger racers, there is a huge choice from most UK and European retailers with adults having to pick carefully as many skis sold currently may be a little too wide to be user friendly for the budding racer and this could have the result of actually making the task harder than it could be with the result of putting someone off racing at their first attempt. The type of skis that may work well include the Head Supershape Magnum, Rally and the Rossignol Hero ST to name a couple.
Whilst you’ll see racers at the top level kitted out with leg and arm guards, airbag equipped race suits , etc., the first item of protective equipment you’ll actually need is a helmet. It’s a requirement and one of the most important pieces of kit you’ll buy so make sure that you take care when choosing this. Ensure that it fits well so that it will give maximum protection if it’s needed. Most retailers have a good selection of helmets with race specific ones coming from manufacturers such as POC and Shred. Initially though, you can use the one you may already have or even hire one from a rental shop. If you’re trying racing at the Snowcentre, they have helmets for hire that can be used.
A back protector is another important item, especially for younger racers. I’d certainly recommend one of these as soon as someone decides to take up racing with a club or certainly if they start training regularly. This will help protect the back from impact in a fall, both with the ground and with gates. There are a few types. They can be made of a hard shell type plastic or a softer, more malleable material. Worn over or under the base layer and can be picked up from most good ski retailers.
Once you’re getting better you’ll be looking to get more protective equipment as you will be closer to the gates in both slalom and GS so the next thing you are likely to need will be pole guards, these attach to your ski poles and, as you get closer to the gates in slalom, these will protect your hands and fingers. They fit over the grips of the ski poles and, in more recent years, have been used as a third point of contact by racers at high level.
All of the equipment we’ve mentioned should be readily available in resort and at a good number of UK retailers who specialise in race equipment."
For more information on junior ski racing visit www.schoolsskiracing.co.uk