Buying Guide for Race Wear
By Steve Kopitz
Race Wear includes a Race Suit and Training Shorts to be worn with a ski jacket.
Ski Race Suits are full body spandex suits designed for ski racers. The Race Suit provides better aerodynamics than ski jackets and pants do. Race Suits are not warm, it is important to wear quality long underwear under a race suit to help you stay warm on the slopes. A Ski Jacket and either Ski Pants with full length side zippers or Training Shorts should be worn over the Race Suit during training and warm up runs. For an improved time in the race course racers will strip down to the suit for timed race runs.
Race Suits are available in Mens, Womens and Kids Sizes. Womens Race Suits are anatomically cut for a woman and are typically available in more feminine colors. It is not imperative that a woman buys a women’s specific Race Suit. The suits have great stretch and will form to fit any body shape. Check the manufacturer’s specific sizing guides to ensure you are purchasing the correct sized suit.
There are two types of Race Suits, Downhill Suits and GS Suits.
Downhill Suits vs. GS Suits: Is there a difference?
There is a huge difference! GS suits have padding in them to protect racers when they hit the gates. Downhill suits do not have any padding; racers typically don’t hit gates when racing downhill so they don’t need the added protection. Additionally, Downhill Race Suits are not padded to comply with FIS wind resistance regulations.
The suit on the left is a downhill suit with out padding. The suit on the right is a GS suit which has padding.
Unless a racer is competing in FIS regulated Downhill events it is beneficial to have a GS suit with the padding. While Downhill suits aren’t as expensive initially, if you plan on racing or training ‘Tech Events’, especially Giant Slalom, you will most likely find that you need additional padding or protective gear which usually ends up costing more than the difference between the prices of the downhill and GS suits was to begin with.
Race Training Shorts
Race Training Shorts are like Ski Pants, but shorter. Training Shorts are worn over the race suit for additional warmth with out restricting mobility as much as a full pant would. They feature zippers running the full length of the shorts either up the center of the thighs or along the outsides of the thighs. This allows racers to get the shorts off easily to make their race runs.
There are a few companies making a few different styles of training shorts. Most training shorts are insulated and made of the same fabric that ski pants are made of. Other styles are available in non-insulated soft shell fabric. The soft shell style typically fit snugger to the body and provide better stretch.
Training Shorts are available in Mens, Womens, and Kids Sizes. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s specific sizing chart to ensure you are getting the correct size. Additionally, keep in mind that the Training Shorts will be worn over the Race Suit. If you have a GS Suit the padding will add about an extra inch to your hip measurement and about 1/2 inch to each thigh. You may need a larger size in Training Shorts than you would in regular ski pants.