SPAC has relationships with several main ski manufacturers. If an athlete feels he/she is possible eligible for some type of sponsorship, they should discuss this with the Program Director and determine a strategy for approaching the manufacturers for sponsorship. This is generally done in the spring after the season is over and negotiated during the summer. Athletes interested in sponsorship should plan on attending at least one summer camp at Mt Hood in the June/July timeframe so that they can demo the latest ski equipment to ensure that the equipment they are interested in is the right equipment for their ski racing needs.
General equipment guidelines are defined in the SPAC Athlete and Family Handbook. However, if a parent is interested in purchasing new equipment for their athlete (skis and boots), they should consult with the Program Director for recommendations on length, brand, etc. Mighty Mites, in general, have 1 to 2 pairs of skis, particularly in the younger classes of racers (U8 and U10) they use the same ski for skiing and training slalom and giant slalom. Older Mighty Mites may elect to have a separate pair of skis for slalom and giant slalom. In the Junior levels, skiers often have 1-2 pairs of skis per discipline and use one pair as a training pair and the other as a racing pair. All skiers also need a helmet.
In addition, racers use gloves or mittens typically designed for ski racing (as they have extra padding and protection). All racers are encouraged to train in a ski racing suit, and there are usually a number of used ones available for purchase at the end of every season if a family does not want to get a new one. Lastly, ski racing pants and shorts are needed particularly on race days as they have “zip off” sides so that racer can easily remove them at the start of a race course and strip down to their race suit.
Boots are probably the most important piece of equipment from a performance perspective. Proper fit and flex are essential to developing the technical skills necessary to arc a ski. When acquiring boots, make sure the athlete is “shell sized” (foot in boot shell without the liner). A maximum of two fingers and preferably one should fit behind the athlete’s heel and the back of the shell when the toes are flat and touching the front of the shell. If there are more than two fingers between the heel and the back of the shell (in heel pocket), the boot is to big, without exception.
Once we have athlete in the right shell, the next critical step is to insure that the athlete can flex their ankles in the boot. There are many ways to achieve forward flex in a boot in the event an athlete can’t flex initially, however it is preferable to find a boot in the right size the athlete flex without additional boot work.
Boots are highly personal and vary in their last, stiffness, and features for a given size. Foot type, width and volume (not brand) will dictate which boot works best for a particular athlete. Boots should fit snug yet still allow for blood circulation. Circulation equals warmth. Most 3 and 4 buckle overlap boots work best for our athletes. Many rear-entry, mid-entry, and 2 buckle boots lack the forward lean and support required to efficiently pressure a ski early and carve thru a turn.
Be sure to ask a coach for an opinion about your racer's boot fit.
Full Helmets manufactured for ski racing are required for all SPAC athletes in gate training and races. Mouth protection is highly recommended. For slalom a bar on the helmet, or a mouth guard, or both. A mouth guard is highly recommended when training or competing in giant slalom, super G, and downhill.