Start Technique for Alpine Ski Racing
Racer Ready! The fundamentals of a Start Technique are essentially the same for every race with some changes in strategy that are employed to adapt to specific race conditions like start house set-up, the slope and the set of the first few gates.
1. Basic Setup Stance. Poles are placed in front of the starting wand. Make sure that your poles are not going to get stuck in hole made by other racers. The athlete’s weight is still back over their feet. Some racers will have their skis on edge or in some type of snow plow to control the movement because some start houses will have a slight incline to the platform.
2. The feet move closer to the start wand and the racer begins to straighten up. It is key to understand that the feet will not break the start wand at this point. Every racer has a preferred comfort zone as to how close they want to be to the wand at this point.
3. The racer then leaves the crouched position and “stands up”, extending the body. There is no jump at this point, a common mistake by less experienced racers. Note that the racers are planted firmly on the ground.
4. The athlete's upper body moves forward past the wand while the feet remain behind the start wand. As the racers weight is transferred forward, the poles, arms and upper body start to take the weight of the racer.
5. Weight and motion are fully engaged and committed moving forward. The athlete’s arms begin pulling the upper body forward with the feet remaining back.
6. The kick is introduced here only after the athlete’s center of mass has moved past the start wand. The kick is up and a little back but because the entire mass of the racer is moving forward. This action appears to be vertical only. The goal is to have the wand contact the athlete at the apex of the upper cuff and lower boot.
7. The arms are pulling as hard as they can at the point. The momentum and energy started by the upper body begins to pull the rest of the body through the start wand. The skis are now exploded through the wand. The racer is now on the clock.
8. The start sequence morphs into a powerful skate stride engaging the legs. It is key that the energy is directed forward in skating strides. Over-excited racers will often add vertical jumps to the skate stride which is counter-productive. The racers speed by the second gate is important to the speed that is carried through the course. Depending on the set of the course, the pitch of the hill and the event it is crucial that the athlete get up to speed a quickly as possible.