Ski Racing Gear Sizing Help for Junior Ski Racers
It’s about this time every year that ski clubs and teams put out a list of junior ski racing essentials for the young ski racers on the team. Parents are then left to their own devices to figure out exactly what their child needs and how it should fit. We’ve put together a short list of some of the ski racing essentials we are most familiar with and how they should fit to give you some ski racing gear sizing help.
Ski Racing Helmet Sizing
A properly sized helmet for ski racing should fit snug. Very snug. When the ski racer has the helmet on their head and the chin strap buckled – do the roll test. Hold the helmet at the temples and have them nod yes. Does the helmet slide freely over their hair and forehead? If so, this helmet is too loose. A proper fitting ski racing helmet should wrinkle the wearers forehead when you try to rotate the helmet forward on their head. Now hold on to the helmet and have them shake their head no. Does their head move inside the helmet? Or does the helmet fit so closely that it moves too? If their head does not move freely within the helmet, it is the proper size.
Ski racing helmets are expensive. I know many of you would like to get more than one season out of them. So you are inclined to buy a helmet ‘with a little room to grow’. A helmet that slides on the ski racers head will not perform properly in the event of a crash. They are designed for optimal protection with proper fit. Read the data. Protect your kids heads. Get them the right size helmet for the season that you are buying it in. For younger kids, Briko makes a great, FIS approved helmet that has adjustable sizing called the Vulcano FIS Jr.
Ski racing suit Sizing
Ski race suits have become an essential piece of ski racing equipment at all levels. They are worn for aerodynamics and protection. An improper fitting ski race suit provides neither of these things. For a ski race suit to perform to the ability that it was intended to perform it should be very close fitting throughout the torso, and as close fitting as possible through arms and legs. Of course, it is impossible for all race suits to fit closely on all kids throughout the entire suit. On many the arms and legs may be a little baggy. Or some are baggy in the butt. Arctica has worked very hard to perfect the fit on our new youth Raceflex GS Speed Suit so that it works better on more body shapes and sizes.
On padded suits, the pads should lay where they were deigned to lay – upper arms, forearms, kidney/lowback, hip, thigh and shin. It should not be excessively baggy anywhere on the wearer. Or too tight. A race suit that is too tight is less aerodynamic because the fabric is stretched, making it more porous. The Race Place notes that properly fit speed suits “will initially be quite snug and require assistance stretching over the shoulders. However, the fabric “relaxes” after several uses to conform comfortably to your body. A new suit sized for initial comfort will stretch out and become oversized after the “break-in” period.”
Read the size charts for the suit you are interested in buying. Height trumps weight, so if your ski racer fits within the height measurements, but not the weight – use the height measurement to determine their size. If your ski racer is on the border of two sizes – buy the next size up. 99% all ski race suits that get returned are exchanged for the next size up.
When trying on a race suit, make you kid bend and stretch and get into a tuck position – all the movements they will be doing when ski racing. Also make sure there is enough room in the suit for their base layer and a back protector, but not so much room that the suit is baggy. Remember, zippers do not stretch. So make sure that the torso is long enough and the suit is not pulling in the crotch area or on the neck. Often race suits are too long in the arms and legs, most people just roll them up if that is the case.
Back Protector Sizing
The ski racing back protector is another integral piece of race protection that needs to be sized properly to ensure proper performance. The proper ski racing gear sizing of a back protector is to make sure that the protector covers from the c4 vertebrae (the top ‘knob’ on your spine you can feel when you bend your head forward) to the tailbone.
The back protector is intended to protect the spine in the invent of a crash. The way it does this is by absorbing the energy of the impact and dispersing it throughout the entire pad to protect against the blunt force trauma of a single impact against the spine. It is better to err on the side of too long than too short. Although that being said, sometimes longer is just too long and you are better off going short. Each child is individual and you will need to decided what is best for both the comfort and protection of your child. A back protector is only protective if they are wearing it. If it is too big or too small and uncomfortable or cumbersome to wear, they will not wear it. And then they’ve got no protection at all.
When trying on a back protector, make sure to have your ski racer get into a tuck position and other positions they will be doing when the wear the back protector. You may even want to have them put on their helmet and race suit to test optimal fit. You wan to ensure the back protector is not too long. Or too loose and riding up and interfering with their head position.
Arm guards are intended to protect a ski racers forearm from gate contact when racing GS and Super G. Because giant slalom ski racers brush the gates with their upper body, clearing gates with their arms. Proper ski racing gear sizing of a forearm guard is to make sure it covers from the tip of the elbow down to the wrist (over or under the glove) so that neither the radius or ulna bones are exposed anywhere. Most arm guards are made so that they can be cut down to size if need be. Make sure the length of the guard does not affect the ability to bend the wrist.
Shin guards are only used for slalom racing or training. They are intended to protect the knee cap and shin from the gates. Shin guards are typically available in two size – Large and small (adult and junior). The shin guard should cover the knee cap and the top of the ski boot so that none of the shin bone is exposed. Most athletes 5 foot tall or taller will wear the size large or adult shin guard. If the large shin guard is too long, but the small is too short, many shin guards are designed to be able to cut them down to size. They have lines on the back of them to indicate where to cut. Often on younger ski racers the velcro straps are too long to ensure a secure fit. Criss cross the straps to provide a more secure fit.
Full side zip race pants
Ski racing gear sizing varies greatly when it comes to full side zip training pants. Each manufacturer has their own unique fit. Arctica full side zip ski pants are a unisex pant this is designed to have a more athletic fit. Typical they fit men/boys a little slimmer than girls. Girls may need to size down one size to get the fit they desire. Arctica full side zip pants typically fit smaller than Spyder ski racing pants. A size medium Arctica Full Side Zip Pant 2.0 is shorter and sized smaller than a size medium in a Spyder pant. A medium Arctica pant is actually closer to a small Spyder pant.
The most important thing to consider when buying ski racing pants is comfort. Make sure your ski racer can bend and stretch and move in their pants. These are the pants they will be wearing every day. So they do not need to be snug and aerodynamic. They need to be comfortable, dry and warm.
Wearing the appropriate ski racing gear and body armor allows the racer to focus on racing instead of potential injuries or gear failures. Proper ski racing gear sizing inspires confidence in the ski racer. For more information on ski racing gear and ski racing gear sizing help read Ski Racing 101 from the USSA.