As any skier may know, downhill ski racing and recreational skiing are two very different things. Although it may seem like a risky jump between the two, everyone should consider ski racing for many different reasons.
The community that exists within this unique sport is unlike any other. Ski racing may be focused on individual performance, but overall, many rankings are focused on the team as a whole. Within teams, there are several cases of healthy competition. Because of the individual aspect, teammates find themselves subconsciously forcing each other to become a better skier. The season where I had a source of healthy competition, I was voted most improved skier among my hill. Additionally, it is rare to attend a race where teammates aren’t sharing tips with teammates on how to shred the course up. Most teams also travel far and for days at a time to race. Over this period of time, bonds are formed with teammates as they travel to different peaks and explore the communities the destinations have to offer.
One of the greatest things to learn through ski racing is simply better skiing technique. Coming from someone who has skied their whole life, the second you seek out coaching on how to position your body, shape your turns, and bomb down a run, you will notice significant improvements within your skiing. Whether coaches have you running drills or repeating the same course until it’s rutted up, your skiing will be getting better by the minute. After a season of correcting old habits and applying feedback, your skiing should feel much better on any run.
Another aspect that a ski racing team offers is dryland training. This simple yet effective measure keeps skiers engaged throughout the year, making the transition easier into the ski racing season. Dryland training also keeps athletes in better shape overall. The exercises taught through dryland are not ones you would do every day. From rollerblading to running up a ski hill, dryland can be just as exciting as ski season.
Ski racing brings so many great advantages to skiers, but none is quite like the ability to travel and ski on different mountains. Ski racing brings racers to places they would have never considered. Not only that but ski racers are presented with opportunities like no other. Whenever I train in Copper, my team and I are often on the hill by 6 am, before the hill opens to the public. I am not necessarily a morning person, but this early morning racing lane is an experience that can’t be missed. The empty hill is a great way to train and stay focused, and the sunrise from the top of the mountain is also a plus!
Whether it be for skiing or just the experience of it all, ski racing is something everyone should try out.