Ski Challenge does not have any equipment rules, you can race on pretty much any gear that you like. The following gives a quick overview of Ski Challenge equipment suggestions.
Most participants race on a “cheater” or recreational ski. Some use “Masters” type skis, which use full race construction but have a bit shorter turn radius than FIS level skis. Very few use true FIS or World Cup level skis, which have a higher turning radius, are stiffer, and have less sidecut. Some more advanced, stronger racers may race on true race skis but not all racers benefit from race skis.
Most recreational / cheater skis have a radius from 15 to 18 and have more sidecut with a slightly bigger shovel and tail than a true race ski. They are designed to turn easier at a lower speed.
Some lighter women race on Jr Race skis. These skis may have a little bit higher turning radius and are not as side cut as the “cheater” ski. They are usually a little bit softer or more flexible than a cheater ski or an adult race ski. Because these skis have less sidecut, and a smaller shovel, they may require a bit more edge angle to turn than a “cheater” ski yet perform like a race ski.
If you are a beginner Ski Challenge participant, you don’t need to rush out and purchase new skis or equipment. In fact, it may be wise to just start racing on what you already have. Once you get a feel for what it’s all about, you can make your way to one of our sponsor shops to get what works for you. Many of the employees at the sponsor shops also race in Ski Challenge and are more than happy to help you find the right equipment for you. Everyone is at a different level and everyone has a different skiing style. So, it’s best to get what works for you, not exactly what the fastest racer is on.
Some of our participants even race on Telemark skis or Snowboards. You do get a few extra points toward your medal if you are on Telemark skis or a Snowboard. You must alert Ski Challenge in order to receive your extra points. Once you have declared you are racing on Telemark Skis or a Snowboard, you cannot switch back and forth with Alpine Skis. If you decide to switch to Alpine skis, you must alert Ski Challenge in order to get your proper points.
Our participating sponsor Ski Shops offer discounts to Ski Challenge racers as well as expertise on all levels of racing and skiing in general.
Boots are the most important piece of equipment, for both performance and comfort. The most important aspect of boots is the fit. You need to make sure you have the proper fit and last shape for your particular foot. It’s no longer necessary to get a boot that is way too stiff or uncomfortable for you just because you want to be a racer. It’s more important to be comfortable and also to be able to flex your boot properly. And, remember, when it’s -5 out on the race hill, it’s much tougher to flex your boots than when you are in the nice, warm ski shop.
Boots are a big investment and can last for many seasons if you get the right ones. All of our sponsor shops offer great expertise and boot fitting. We would suggest you avoid buying boots online or sight unseen. It’s much more important to get the proper boot and proper boot fitting than to save a few bucks. Not only can the shop help you get the right boot and fit, they can also make sure your boot is working correctly with your bindings and skis. Boots can make or break your race run. They can help shave off that tenth of a second, or if you have an improper fit, they can add a tenth or two or even more!
Ski Challenge does not have any helmet requirements. You aren’t required to wear a certain type of helmet and aren’t required to run out and buy a new helmet every time FIS decides to change something. We recommend that everyone wears a helmet while racing. It only makes sense.
Some younger racers (and Masters racers) may also participate in Slalom racing. When you race Slalom, you are required to have a chin bar across the front of your helmet. We suggest for Ski Challenge that you either remove your chin bar or have a different helmet for Ski Challenge. In modified GS (like Ski Challenge) you are racing at a higher speed than in slalom. In a rolling or twisting fall the chin bar on your helmet may put undue strain and leverage on your neck.
Quite a few of our participants wear GS suits. You are NOT required to wear a GS suit. You can wear just about anything you want – even a costume if you choose! Many of our racers wear their regular ski pants and jackets. Some will take off their jackets for their race runs. Our stretch bibs should fit over most jackets. Some higher level racers who hit the gates also wear arm guards. These can be found at any of our participating sponsor shops.