In a move that they say will improve safety on the World Cup circuit the FIS recently changed the regulations for ski dimensions. For the 2012-13 season they’re increasing the minimum length of Downhill, GS and Super G skis, and increasing the minimum turn radius for all skis except for Slalom. The biggest difference is a jump from a 27-meter radius to a 40-meter radius in men’s GS skis.
World Cup racers, like Ted Ligety and Steve Nyman, think that the changes are a step back in terms of safety and innovation, and they’re speaking out against them.
Ligety, who skied the new 40-meter-radius GS skis. just posted a blog post ripping into the FIS for the changes. “I finally had the chance to try a prototype of the 40m GS skis. And quite frankly, they suck,” he said.
According to the athletes, skis haven’t had a radius that long since the mid 80s, and GS skis radii have been less than 30 meters since the mid 90s, when today’s racers were starting to ski competitively.
That means they have to adjust their technique to the new skis, and make longer straighter turns, which they say ups the chance for injury, and will move ski technology and technique backwards. Warner Nickerson, who demoed the skis with Ligety says that, “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.”
Because of the racers concern, and industry backlash, the FIS could take back the changes. Ski Racing magazine says that “FIS officials report “the ski industry is requesting a reconsideration of the change to the new radius for giant slalom skis and the reduction of standing height and this matter will be addressed in late August.”