A Few Tips on Kids Racing Equipment …
Purchasing ski racing equipment for your child can be confusing and an more than an education for many! Let us provide you with some advice so that you make an informed decision on behalf of your child.
Racing skis, in particular, are very different from regular recreational skis. In Ontario, we ski mostly on ice or very hard cold snow and as such the ski has to be relatively stiff and well constructed. Most race skis have a wood core and a specific shape designed to deal with hard pack and ice. Trying to race with recreational skis would be similar to driving a 2-wheel drive car in a snowstorm with summer tires. The odds of ending up in the ditch or stuck are much less with an AWD SUV and good winter tires. The same goes for race skis vs. recreational skis.
There are race skis for each discipline (e.g., Slalom (low speed and lots of turns), Giant Slalom (high speed and fewer turns)).
For U8/10 racers we recommend that racers have “junior race” slalom skis or multi-discipline skis made by Rossignol. The size of the ski depends on the ability, height and weight of the racer but at a minimum the length of a slalom ski should be no taller than the racer.
For U12 and above, their performance will be affected if they don’t have the proper ski for each discipline.
Ski boots need to be the correct size and not something to grow into. Boots need to fit snuggly (toes should be able to be wiggled but the heel should not be able to be lifted at all). The boots should be easy to flex (move the top of the boot forward). Your child should be able to flex the boot when they have them on with a little effort.
The helmet should be certified for racing with a hard shell around the ears. The helmet needs to fit snuggly on the head so there is no forward aft or side to side movement of the helmet on the head.
Goggles should not let air in and around the face. The top of the goggles need to fit snuggly against the rim of the helmet so there is no gap to allow air to hit the forehead.
Ski Pole Sizing
To fit a pair of ski poles to you, wear shoes or stand in your ski boots. With the poles upside down—grips touching the floor—grab the pole just underneath the basket so that the top of your thumb touches the basket. Your elbow should now be at a 90° angle. If the angle is less than 90°, try a shorter pole.
We recommend you purchase ski wear that is Canadian, made well and can last the rigours of both kids usage and our Canadian winters ! Ski pants should have suspenders and full zip on each leg.
Racers should have leather mitts that fit well (and so you’re able to put in a hand warmer).
For U8/10s a race suit is not recommended. Most U12s, U14 and U16s wear race suits. So not having one would place your child in the minority. You can purchase a new race for about suit for about $350, or ask parents if anyone has a slightly used one. The least important piece of equipment, from a performance point of view, is a race suit, so try find a second hand one.
Also, some of you may be going to the Ski Show or a Ski Swap to purchase your child’s equipment. Many vendors will be clearing their stock and selling old equipment that didn’t sell in previous seasons. A caution when buying ski racing equipment: make sure you do your homework before you go. I suggest you don’t go to to the usual sporting goods places, there are plenty of ski shops whose staff have expert knowledge about racing equipment and can help you out.
Used equipment may be found at Kijiji, Sport Swap and Play It Again Sports, but you have to know what you’re doing.
Take your time to make the right choice.