Ski equipment is expensive and it can be intimidating spending money on unfamiliar equipment. There will be a number of opportunities to buy used equipment; other BWP parents, the ski swap, and ski shops within the state or closest province. Other great options include ebay, Scheels of Minot, and in Brandon Manitoba: A&L Cycle, Sports Check, & Stream and Wood.
For the beginning racer about any set of shaped carving skis in good condition that is the right size will do. If you buy used, check that the bindings are tightly mounted and in good working order. This should be done at a ski shop: many used skis have bindings that are no longer safe and cannot be adjusted. Find out before you buy! Make sure the edges don’t have large nicks and the bottoms are smooth, without large gouges or scratches. The classic mistake is to judge the condition of a ski by the colorful upper surface rather than the condition of the bottom. If you stand the ski on end, it should reach somewhere between the bottom of your child’s nose and their eyebrows. If you buy new equipment the ski shop can prepare them as part of your purchase (expect them to add $25-30 to the cost). If you buy used you will need to take them to a ski shop to have the bindings set, the edges sharpened and the bottoms waxed, and if necessary repaired. Your racer’s safety depends on having this done by a trained technician. The shop will need the boots to set the bindings.
As a racer improves it becomes necessary to have racing skis. While some may question this at first, we could make a comparison. How would you feel driving a ten-year-old luxury car with bald tires, (no traction), that’s stuck in second gear (getting moving is difficult, and you can’t go very fast) on twisty mountain roads, with poor brakes that you need to pump? Compare that to a SUV, with new snow tires, a five speed automatic transmission, and antilock brakes on the same road. No comparison, right? RIGHT! Racers need race skis. The skis need to be the proper size and tuned (bald tires versus new snow tires). Start with a pair of current slalom skis and as you add a second pair add giant slalom skis. In order for a racer to be competitive they need to be on competitive equipment.
During the course of the season you will want to keep your racer’s skis in good repair. Start off the season having them serviced professionally. Over time, you can learn about sharpening and waxing. To begin with use a cold or liquid wax and one of the very simple and inexpensive tools for touching up the edges. An example would be Swix H4 rub-on wax and an $8 edge tool found on line or can be ordered through our club. We have a deal with KUU for entry-level equipment all the way up to World Cup tuning equipment and waxes. Please consult with your coach before purchasing or attend one of our ski tuning workshops to decide what equipment you would like to use and learn how to use it.
Boots and Ski Poles
Boots are probably the most important piece of equipment with respect to a racer’s comfort, safety and performance. Unfortunately, you can’t buy oversized boots for younger racers so they’ll fit for a few years: they need to fit properly. (Proper fit is the inner liner removed, put foot into the empty shell, toe to the front of the shell, No more than two fingers behind the heel! Most kids can get one or sometimes two years out of a pair of boots depending on their growth rate. Used boots are fine as long as they fit properly. If you’re unsure about proper fit, ask one of the coaches or go to a ski shop. One last word on proper fit the racer must be able to flex both ankles and the boot whole buckled in. Lots of times parents buy high end race boots for little kids because they think that is the best thing but in almost all cases when it comes to younger kids that is way too stiff of a boot and the athlete is unable to flex his/her ankle and can’t bend like they need to. Please ask your program director before buying a boot that is too stiff.
One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear during the season is about cold toes. The first defense is properly fitting boots. You should also consider an electric boot dryer/warmer to use in between wearing. All boots get wet either through perspiration or snow getting in them. Wet boots are cold boots! A boot dryer will be among the best $ 20 you ever spend.
No need to spend more than the minimum here. Just get poles the right size with wrist straps and you are set. To properly size a ski pole, turn it upside down (with the hand grip on the ground) and the tip of the pole pointed upward. The proper “fit” of the pole is when the elbow is bent 90 degrees, the forearm is parallel with the ground, and the person’s hand is just below the basket of the pole
Hand guards are aftermarket plastic devices that are screwed to the top of the pole grip and clamped around the pole below the grip to protect the racers hand when they hit a gate. These are not necessary until racing slalom. Check with your Program Director or Head Coach to see when this will be instructed in their training.
Ski Clothing has a wide variety of features and functions. Race specific clothing has special features usually adding cost to the product. A ski jacket, insulated pants, gloves (or mittens) and your racer is ready. There is no need to buy special racing suits and fancy race clothing when you are just starting to race, that can come later. Multiple layers are warmer than a single heavy material and wicking materials such as silk or polypropylene are best against the skin. Remember when it comes to racing suits and other fancy clothing that a warm and limber racer in regular ski clothes will usually be faster than a cold, shivering and tight racer in an aerodynamic racing suit. They will also be less prone to injury. We also have team jackets your athlete can purchase once they begin racing and want to feel more like part of the team.
Jackets and multiple layers are warmer than a single heavy layer. Outside materials need to be wind-proof. Waterproof is not necessary although it does help keep racers more comfortable. Hoods are a great feature for cold and windy days.
If you do need to buy pants, buy the ones with full side zippers that go completely up the outside of the legs. If your child does move into a speed suit, they will need these to be able to get their ski pants off before racing. Training pants are great as well because they give you the flexibility to turn them into training shots by removing the legs to make them into training shorts.
These are great for racers because they cover the Torso but allow coaches to see their independent leg movements. In warm weather this is what they will wear most of the time for training and racing.
Gloves and Mittens
Gloves provide for easy use of zippers. Mittens are typically warmer due to all the fingers in a common area. Glove and mitten material should be leather or a durable windproof/waterproof material with leather palms. We use a rope tow in training a lot and leather palms last a lot longer.
Good socks should be high enough to at least get over the top of the boots. One pair of thin wool blends is preferred. They are worth a couple of extra dollars. Thick socks or multiple layers will bunch up and cause blisters. Speaking of blisters nothing should be in the boot but the sock. Sticking pants, long underwear or anything else in the boot will rub the skin and cause blisters – guaranteed! The one exception is the disposable toe warmers made for skiing that some racers like.
Speed suits are aerodynamic Lycra based one-piece outfits. They are minimally or not insulated therefore not warm. Entry-level racers do not need this accessory. Higher level racers looking to maximize their speed through aerodynamics will use speed suits. Remember, when it comes to speed suits a warm athlete performs better with less chance of injury than a cold child.
Protective equipment encompasses a variety of things, some are required for safety, while others aid in racer comfort.
Helmets are required for all BWP events including practices. The only requirements are that the helmet be designed for snow sports, Skiing or snowboarding, and that it fit properly. For practice any winter helmet will do but to race MASD no soft sided helmets are permitted, the ear coverings must be a hard material and for U14 and older FIS Stickers must be on your helmet to race GS, SG and Downhill events. Helmet should be able to be worn without straps while shaking head quickly doesn’t slip or spin loosely around on your head.
Goggles are Required for all BWP events including practices. Racers need goggles that properly fit their face and around the helmet. Deeper goggles are available that work well over glasses. Tinted lenses are fine and they also work at night. Fog resistant goggles have a series of small holes that facilitate airflow inside the lens that help especially for those who wear glasses. More than one pair or interchanging lenses for older racers is nice because different lighting can make visibility harder at speeds.
Hand guards are aftermarket plastic devices put on ski poles designed to protect the racers knuckles and hands from direct contact with gates. There are two basic types of hand guards.
- Full wrap: Attaches to the top of the ski pole grip and the shaft of the ski pole.
- Half Wrap: Attaches to the shaft of the ski pole but not to the top of the grip
Shin guards are plastic leg guards that slalom racers wear on their shins to protect their lower legs when they hit the gates. They are not something a beginner racer needs. As a racer skills improve the need for shin guards will increase. Besides the additional comfort, they will save a lot of wear and tear on ski pants Your head coach will advise you as to when your racer would be moving into this training stage and would need this equipment
Mouth guards are not mandatory but are strongly recommended at all BWP events.
Back protectors are not mandatory but are strongly recommended at all BWP speed training, Skier cross, and races. Beginner racers would not need to purchase this item right away. Your head coach will advise you as to when your racer would be moving into this training stage and would need this equipment