A highly controvesial rule has been agreed by FIS the Skiing Governing body and SRS the Ski Racing Suppliers’ Association that will throw the Giant Slalom discipline back to the 90’s. The new rule effects the radius of the ski. The current FIS requirement is 27m, the new ruling will see an additional 8m to 35m.
The radius of the ski is the way of measuring the sidecut (or the hourglass shape) of a carving ski. Technically if you trace a line around one edge of the ski and continue round the full circle that then gives you the radius. Most piste skis have a radius between 14-18m. This gives you the opportunity to carve the ski at slow speeds.
Fundamentally this new ruling will make the skis straighter and longer similar to the 1990’s. The racer won’t be able to carve the ski round the gates so will have to steer and skid the ski.
Bode Miller is one of a number of high profile racers that are fighting to change the ruling “(The new regulations are) a complete joke,” Miller said. It’s going backwards every time they do a regulation. “This is another step back in time. Next year you will see people walking into a ski shop and buy better skis than we can race on in the World Cup. That’s a really bad situation.”
The new ruling has been defended by FIS and SRS as they claim it will reduce injuries (mostly ACL injuries of the knee) caused by the strain and stress of carving at high speed. but Bode disagrees:
“So to go back to skis from the early 90s is kind of a joke … It’s been a big jump from 27-meter radius to 35-meter radius. That could lead to a jump in injuries as well.”
Similar measures have been taken by other sports governing bodies in the past to reduce speed and incidents such as the FIA removing turbo chargers and grooving slick tires on Formula 1 cars. It was argued then that it would dilute the spectators experience. It seemed to make no difference down the line.
It would be surprising if this new radius ruling doesn’t effect the sport, you cannot argue that watching Bode carve round the GS course is impressive, will watching him skid around the gates have the same visual effect.
One thing is for sure. All those involved in the Euro test as part of their instructors qualification, will not be looking forward to jumping on a pair of straight retro skis, although it would give you an excuse to wear a one-piece!