Do you, much like Maverick or Goose from the 1980’s classic TOP GUN, have the need for speed? Are you a top notch skier looking to improve your already superior skiing prowess?
If so, then Ski Faster!: Guide to Racing and High Performance Skiing by Lisa Ballard may just be the book for you. With 25 years of coaching experience herself and holding nearly 100 national ski racing titles, this book covers just about everything under the rainbow in terms of skiing. From the most essential techniques and definitions to serious racing form, Lisa is able to go into comprehensive detail to allow anyone a better understanding of how to outperform their previous runs on the ski hill.
The book begins by acknowledging the various benefits of ski racing as both a sport and recreational activity. Lisa goes into her personal experience to tie all the different aspects that make this sport so engaging, including; what it means to ski faster, why ski race, it’s impact as a family sport, and why the best skiers in the world are, in fact, ski racers. With her background and knowledge, it’s fairly easy to see why she has these opinions.
The book itself is broken up into ten chapters. Each chapter covers a specific aspect within the sport, and how it can influence your next set of turns. The chapters are; The high performance turn, 10 secrets of skiing faster, understanding skis, selecting equipment, giant slalom, slalom, super g and downhill, get ready to race, tomorrow’s race, and race day.
Within the first four chapters, the ‘entry-level’ thoughts for the more casual of skiers can be found. This will give you all the tools required to understand body positioning, how your skis perform, what will help you generate speed vs sapping speed from your run, etc. Honestly, unless you want to do racing or have a serious complex about beating your boss at the next company race, these first four chapters will be fine.
Starting off, we get to look at The High Performance Turn. The chapter goes into depth about how small variations in your body position can lead to big differences when making your turn, how to properly initiate turns and transition out of them, and other nuanced things that can dramatically help your performance on a set of sticks!
The next chapter covers the 10 secrets to skiing fast, so we’ll keep that one secret
Undertstanding skis is literally just that. We get an opportunity to delve into ski production and why they’re made in the way they are. Lisa shows us how different skis lend themselves to different events, how certain skis are manufactured for different results, and how to look for your next set of skis at the store!
Next is selecting equipment, which is pretty straightforward. Basically, the book affords us a look into which pieces of gear are best for what you plan to do. What small differences to look for, and how some things that perform better may not exactly seem so on the surface.
Chapters 5-7 cover the specifics of the different racing disciplines. Giant Slalom leads the pack. This is primarily due to the common setup of GS courses across ski areas. Any time you come across a drop-in course or have a casual race day it will typically be that of the GS style. GS skiing will typically run 30-40 gates at about 45s-1min, and result in speeds of 35-40mph.
Next up is slalom. This event is considered the most technical of the events. Due to the agility required to complete the course without faulting a gate or not finishing, this is highly understandable. These shorter courses have a higher number of gates, quicker run times (30-40sec) and result in speeds of about 25mph.
To finish off the chapters of the racing disciplines is a combination between Super G and Downhill. These two events are categorized as speed events, due mostly as part of their name is the real goal of the race. Racers in these events do need technical abilities [mostly in terms of form and positioning], but these are outweighed by aerodynamics and limited turning. Super G typically runs at about 65mph whereas Downhill speeds are around 80mph average!
Chapters 8-10, the final three, are specially about setting yourself up for success. While most of these techniques are direct translations for skiers preparing for a race, I see no reason to avoid these chapters if you don’t want to improve your skiing. Heck, I recommend these chapters if you’re simply wanting to try some new techniques to improve your life! These chapters cover things like diet/nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle techniques to allow for a strong race day, meaning it can be a positive “race-day” no matter what you’re gonna be doing!
So, in short, Ski Faster! is a great tool for any skier looking to better themselves on the hill. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a complete green-horn, there WILL be something in this book you can take use of. So, if you haven’t already, be sure to at least skim the thing, I promise you won’t have wasted your time!
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