After a weather-related hiccup at yesterday’s unofficial training run, the racers enjoyed clear blue skies and sunshine today at the first World Cup race for the Subaru Velocity Challenge and FIS Speed Ski World Cup.
With a speed of 169.40 km/h, Italy’s Simone Origone dominated the Speed 1 Men’s division. His brother Ivan Origone is in second place at 168.64 km/h. France’s Bastien Montes placed third at 167.82 km/h.
For the Ladies division, the Swedish ladies took the first two spots—Sanna Tidstrand snatched the top spot at 166.24 km/h followed by Linda Baginski at 163.10 km/h. Sun Peaks’ racer Sarah McDiarmid is not far behind in third place at 162.18 km/h.
Stefano Bar from Italy won the Men’s Downhill category with a speed of 158.88 km/h. Second place went to Sweden’s Sebastian Lindblom who clocked in at 157.48 km/h. Gunther Foidl from Austria was in third place at 156.94 km/h.
How do these racers achieve speeds of over 160 km/h? The secret is in the tuck.
“The tuck is everything,” said organizer and speed skier Adam Earle. To get into the most aerodynamic position, the body needs to conform to the shape of an egg, he explained.
“While difficult, that’s really what you’re striving for,” he said. “You want your feet shoulder length apart, and your chest needs to go down to your knees. Then you put your hands up (in front of your chest) and you need to stay in that position for about 10 seconds while you accelerate from zero to 160 km/h.”
The right wax combination for the 240 cm skis helps lessen the friction and gives the skiers that extra advantage in the competition. Brand new skis may need to be waxed up to 50 times before they’re race-ready.
“I usually start with a little harder wax for the base and take it from there depending on the snow temperature for race day,” said wax technician Ian McLaren. “During that time, we re-wax every night and buff them out.”
They also use specialized equipment like a rubberized speed suit, curved poles and fairings, which resemble a car’s spoilers.
But the most dominant part of the speed skiers attire is what many refer to as Darth Vader helmets. The specialized teardrop shaped helmet does not only protect the skier’s head in case of a crash, it’s also shaped to keep the skier’s momentum.
“The helmets are shaped to seal onto our shoulders and our backs,” explained Sun Peaks speed skier Kenny Dale. It creates a vacuum so things are quiet when you’re speed skiing.”
Dale’s helmet is a combination of Kevlar and graphite and was manufactured in a nose cone factory for fighter jets in the U.S.
It may sound like a lot, but it’s what makes for astonishing results. Without these equipment, Origone, the male world record holder, and Tidstrand, the female world record holder would not have achieved their over 250 km/h speeds.