Coach’s Blog by Daniela Ceccarelli, Olympic Gold Medalist and Team Principal for Golden Team Ceccarelli
This is a historical moment in which women are progressively lengthening the sizes of both slalom and giant slalom skis. The pioneers of this trend are the more physically structured World Cup athletes. Especially Petra Vlhova, the first to use skis as long as those of men. Even Federica Brignone took part in some 2022 season races, such as the GS in Courchevel with a 193cm ski, a choice she then revised when she returned to ski her 191cm skis.
The same goes for the slalom, where she started with 155cm, then gradually moved to 158cm, and then finally settling on a 163cm ski.
Testing plates on a 158cm ski
When Blizzard proposed for our program to test the 158cm World Cup model, we wanted understand exactly how the ski would perform. In order to test the development and the set up of the plates we used Protern.io’s GPS based timing technology.
We chose to use Protern, because the current optical timing system only provides intermediate and final time. Whereas Protern provides time, plus information on line, speed of acceleration and connection between sectors.
Start with simple tests, then progress
Our first tests were conducted in the summer. It was when we got to the more complex winter slopes; those with changes in slope angle, direction and snow that we were able to evaluate the difference between different plates.
This process of testing limits the variables involved. It allows our team to confidently link the change in equipment to a performance goal.
Is this case, we were testing skis and setup to assess how much they engage in terms of energy expenditure and how well they allow for recovery of errors. This is what every skier must deal with as they train and race.
Through the analysis with Protern, we saw that the longer ski was slower in the starting and pushing phase. This is probably related to the weight and size impact on skating. However, it was exceptionally fast in transitions, and more stable/reactive.
Olympic Gold medalist in alpine skiing and currently a TV technical expert for RAI Broadcasting. Daniela is also the Team Principal for Golden Team Ceccarelli, the ski club winner of the Italian Children's Cup rankings in the U16 and U14 categories.