How to Inspect a Course
Inspecting a course is a skill that improves with plan. Inspecting and memorizing courses is something that you can get better at with more practice. We will start with a technique that will allow you to chunk up a course into manageable pieces. Each discipline in ski racing requires slightly different inspection techniques; however the basic are the same.
A course has 4 basic groups: Conditions, Course Set, Terrain, Problem areas.
Conditions. The conditions of the piste and the incoming weather for the day. “The hill is icy with a chance of rain in the morning”.
Set. Rhythm is an important part that you should be aware of before you inspect the course. You will want to find out about the course distance and the relative offset. Usually your coach will have this information. An example: the course is an 11-meter set with a larger than average offset—a “Turny” course (long horizontal distances between the gates). This information is not always available when training so your only reference may come from prior experience with the prior coach. The course is then broken up into gate combinations shown in the image below. Early racers will find this much easier as a starting point. As you get better you will find it easier to memorize each gate. The course will go something like this: 6 Corridors, Hairpin, 3 Corridors, Flush, 5 Corridors, Delay, 8 Corridors, Hairpin, 3 Corridors
Terrain. At the start of inspection, you will have a sense of if the course is steep, flat or average. You want to remember any of the major terrain changes. Steep to flat, Flat to step, etc.
Problem Areas. Problems are simply the things that you think are going to be a problem. A really fast section to a tight gate. A rhythm change. A problem with the snow at a gate, etc.