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40 Meter Radius

Today I was training some GS with the US speed team and Rainer Salzgeber, the Chief of Head Racing, asked me if I wanted to take a run on the new 40 meter GS skis and I had to indulge.  If you don’t already know, FIS the governing body of World Cup skiing decided two months ago that they should change the minimum radius from 27 to 40 meters and length from 185 to 195 cm for the 2012-13 season.  Essentially making it much more difficult to turn.  40-meter radius used to be the minimum radius for a downhill skis less than a decade ago.

Going up the lift Rainer, he said, “Just remember to get as many angles as you can.”  I was psyched for his advice since he debuted on the World Cup in ’89 and had an epic career.  It was during the mid 80s the last time GS race skis had a 40 meter radius.  It was part hilarious, part scary, and part entertaining.  After the run, I skied over to Dane Spencer who watched and said, “So you weren’t doing anything you told me you were working on.”  I mentioned the skis I was on and it all quickly made sense to him, “That explains a lot.”  We both got a good laugh out of it.

First off, they are great for slipping. My first run was a slip run where they performed exceptionally well.  They didn’t hook up at all; they gracefully slipped over every single rut, bump, and hole so nicely.  They would be perfect for course workers and coaches since they don’t torque your knees at all slipping.

In the course, they were also righteous for slipping.  I pushed out of the gate and found myself stepping at the first gate, second gate, and third gate before righteous sliding commenced.   The skis weren’t quite as bad as I expected.  I thought I’d fall over at the second gate and slide all the way down the steep pitch on Robins Run here at Coronet Peak.  It was basically skiing GS on Super G skis.  I was sliding the top of the turn a ton and hitting at the gate as hard as I could.  Creating more angulation was imperative and I was pretty happy I took Rainer’s advice to heart – it was the only way I stayed in the course.  Having 40 meter radius skis will completely change GS.  It will bring back stepping, sliding the entire top of the turn, and the dominance of brute strength.  Finesse will no longer be a concern in modern Giant Slalom.

I almost forgot to mention the scary part.  When skiing a GS on skis with nearly no sidecut, you have to go ridiculously straight, which means your tips get painfully close to GS gates.  I came into a turn on the pitch with my skis fully sideways as I was forced to bringing a new meaning to straight and late as my inside ski tip came mm from catching the gate and straddling a GS panel.  That would have been really really unfortunate.  I told Ted (Ligety) and he said, “That would have been sweet if you straddled it and broke your leg.  You should have taken one for the team.”  We all laughed, but he’s right FIS is out of their mind if they think straight, long skis are the safest option.  All I can think of is Matthias Lanzinger’s crash three and a half years ago in Norway.

We’re racing some GS tomorrow down here and I’m pretty psyched.  It will be on normal 27 meter radius skis.  Time to turn up the good.

With the new GS rules for 2012-13

Skiers to fair the worst: Thomas Fanera and Cyprien Richard (two of the best guys to watch on the wc in gs)

Skiers to fair the best:  Aksel Lund Svindal and Didier Cuche.

Wish I had pictures and video.  I’ll try to get it from Rainer at some point.

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