New Season, New Shapes

Break the bank and stay at the Four Seasons, pictured. Think about it: Out of 83 located world wide from the Maldives to Mexico City, only two are situated at the base of ski hills. This is as good as it gets when it comes to ski town hotels. Beyond sweeping views of the mountain, Jackson's Four Seasons has its own private ski shop to wax them up nightly, outdoor hot tub with complimentary s'mores and wait staff to bring you cocktails, and a fully stocked games room. Worth it. If that's too much, stay at the Hostel X, the famed lodge near the base of the mountain that contributed to the formation of the Jackson Hole Air Force, the legendary ski tribe. You can split a room with your buddy for about $40 each.

Summit County, CO, Oct. 23, 2001--World Cup racers training here this week are adapting to new ski geometries.

That's because the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced new rules last spring and the factories had to hustle new skis onto the snow over the summer.

"It's been a mess," said George Couperthwait, alpine manager for Rossignol. "The big problem is getting out new GS skis for the juniors. The new rules affect kids down to age 11 and 12."

Briefly, GS skis for all senior FIS races must now have a minimum sidecut radius of 21 meters. Many shorter skis, especially women's skis, didn't meet this limit and had to be replaced.

In slalom, the minimum length for women's skis dropped from 155cm to 150cm. No limits were imposed on slalom ski sidecuts, so factories felt free to blow out the width of the tip and tail when they designed shorter skis.

The result is that a lot of racers, most of them women, are getting used to straighter GS skis and more radically curvy slalom skis.

In introducing its new Speed Omeglass slalom, Dynastar's changed its race stock slalom dimensions from 103-64-91mm to 113-64-102, according to race manager Tim Curran. The old ski had a sidecut depth of 16.5mm; the new one measures 21.75mm. Combined with a 5cm drop in ski length, sidecut radius changes from about 13 meters to about 9.2 meters.

"When we went to a shorter length we needed the extra stability of the wider tip and tail," Curran said. "The new sidecut gives racers a chance to get a smoother link between turns. We see less sliding to an edge-set."

At Völkl, the change hasn't been quite that radical. Race manager Jed Duke reports that Kristina Koznick has switched from a 106-63-93mm sidecut to 110-63-97mm, while dropping 10cm in length to 153cm. Sidecut depth changed from 20.25 to 18.25mm, and radius from 13 meters to about 10.4 meters. Along with the shape change, flex has grown softer, though torsional stiffness had been bumped up.

"Koz found the new shape exceptionally good from the start," Duke said, "though in general the younger racers tend to adjust easier."

Duke indicated that no change was necessary in the race stock P50 F1 GS ski, which currently uses a 101-65-87mm sidecut. At those dimensions, the ski meets the 21m minimum as long as chord length exceeds about 185cm.

Minimum sidecut radius for kids' race skis are 14 meters and 17 meters, depending on age, with a minimum length of 130cm. Stack height is now defined as the total thickness of ski, binding, plate and boot sole, and it's limited to a total height (snow to sole of foot) of 100mm for women and 105mm for men, and 90 to 95mm for kids.