Junior Race Ski Setup

From tuning, to mounting, and all of the adjustments in between, our Experts know what it takes to help junior racers compete at their best. Read on for more information about base prep, edge work, mounting, ramp angle, and stack height as they pertain to competitive Juniors ski racing.

Base Prep

Every racer, regardless of age, should take their new skis, fresh out of the box, to a professional ski tuner. According to Erik Boller, Manager of Rennstall, Jans’ tuning shop, “We pull the sidewalls and set the bevels to what the coach or athlete wants and strip off the wax from the manufacturer. Then we put the ski in a thermal bag and impregnate it with a base prep wax. This makes the tune easier for the athlete to maintain so the skis become faster, more quickly.”

After the initial tune, athletes are not only encouraged but are expected to maintain their own equipment. Obviously the amount of involvement depends on the age of the competitor. In the FIS group (16-20 years) the majority of the tuning should be done by the athlete with a professional tuning shop picking up the rest. Juniors in the U 14 and U16 classification should do about the same amount of work while the youngest racers, U10s and U12s, need not only help from their parents, but also a significant amount of help from professional ski tuners. And that’s where Jans can help.

Our tuning shop, Rennstall, is staffed with the most experienced ski techs that not only understand the physics of a ski, but also know how to translate ski tuning techniques to specific performance advantages on the mountain. Armed with the best equipment in the world and years of cumulative experience, our ski techs give junior race skis the same attention to detail as adult race skis. This ensures that the junior race equipment that parents have invested in performs as it should.

Rennstall expert technicians use four state of the art machines from Wintersteiger, whose ceramic disc technology ensures the perfect base grind. The Discovery 2 has a race package built into the computer that includes a grinding stone, ceramic disc edge and polish unit. According to Boller, “With this computer setup we are able to reproduce every factory race room grind.” Similarly, the Sigma 350 is a race stone grinder that is able to reproduce all the grinds that the factory race room would usually create by hand. Boller and his team of ski techs use this machine for second runs that need restructure since it is able to reproduce hand structures in a more efficient manner.

The Wintersteiger Trim Jet is the third machine in Rennstall’s arsenal of ski tuning equipment. This automated race edger can reproduce factory bevels from .5 to 5 degrees on the base and .5 to 4 degrees on the side. Lastly, the Wintersteiger Base Jet is an automated base extruder which applies a thin layer of P-tex onto the ski to speed up base repair.

The last step in our base prep process is to place the skis into a Thermobag or hotbox that holds up to 24 pairs of ski with bindings. The Thermobag maintains a high temperature for a specified amount of time to allow proper base saturation so that the ski absorbs the ideal amount of wax. While some parents of junior racers have been known to make their own hot box, we highly advise against it since you can easily burn the bases of expensive race skis. Entrusting your equipment to Rennstall for base prep keeps them safe from damage while ensuring optimum performance on the race course.

Bindings & Plates

Generally speaking, once kids weigh over 100 lbs., they ski on adult race bindings, so junior racers aged 15 and older, use even more customization in their binding and plate setup. Some athletes and their coaches might lift the toe and heel of their bindings so they are sitting on the ski at a different ramp angle. Similarly, older junior racers also manipulate the stack height on their skis. Both of these techniques are usually applied at more of an elite level where the athlete has already fine-tuned their racing skills and is searching for that extra half second.

Ramp Angle

To affect ramp angle, older junior racers often use a lift between the binding and the plate to raise the ski boot off the snow. This gives more leverage, allowing the racer to be faster edge to edge with the higher angulation required for better performance. “Being further away from the snow not only gives you more leverage, but you can also change the ramp angle from toe to heel or heel to toe depending on how the athlete is turning,” says Boller.

Stack Height

From a safety standpoint, if junior racers don’t have the proper stack height (from plate, binding and lift) they run the risk of booting out. And at high speeds on a race course, the risk of losing an edge adds a whole new dimension in terms of potential injury. If stack height is too high, athletes don’t have control over their skis and the torque from the raised height can mean that the knee becomes more at risk. “Improper stack height is like wearing stiletto heels,” cautions Boller, “Stilettos make your legs look good, but they don’t help your ankle much. Same with stack height, you get to a point of diminishing returns with the skis doing more than you want them to.”