When offered the opportunity to tagalong for Rennstall’s annual pilgrimage to the Summer Fun Nationals at Mt. Hood in Oregon, the decision was obviously easy. Being financially indentured to my current over-priced location – Park City – I don’t get out of town much. So a company trip to one of the premier summer ski destinations in North America, to observe a National-level Masters ski race, and get a few turns in myself, was something my growing workload would have to tolerate.
I’d never been to the Northwest, had never skied on a glacier, and had certainly never been on a company-sponsored trip out of state. But excitement about all of the firsts aside, this trip was about offering mobile race room support to our most loyal contingent of Rennstall customers – Intermountain Masters racers. Not just a casual observer there to watch the process in action, Rennstall Manager, Erik Boller, put these fragile, keyboard-atrophied hands to work.
Each morning, at the base of Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge, we set up our parking lot workstation in collaboration with the guys from Fischer. Not your average parking lot set up, our adult-sized fort featured multiple ski benches, three fully stocked crates of wax, irons hooked up to the van battery, a bottomless cooler of beer, and plenty of lawn chairs. While the Masters made their morning training runs, we stayed below, edging, hot waxing, and scraping our fleet of 2014 race skis for afternoon demos.
But before I go any further, I should rewind and explain why, exactly, Masters racers had converged on Mt. Hood in the middle of the summer. They, after all, are why Rennstall leaves Park City in the middle of mountain bike season, and makes the 14-hour drive up to Mt Hood with skiing on the mind.
Summer Fun Nationals –
Started in 1989, the annual Summer Fun Nationals celebrated their 25th anniversary this July. Now a sanctioned USSA Masters event, the Summer Fun Nationals attracts racers from all over the country. Broken down into Giant Slalom on Saturday, and Slalom on Sunday, this race is one part national-level proving ground, one part social event of the season.
Not just a weekend affair, the Summer Fun Nationals are preceded by multiple week-long training camps for Masters racers of all ages and levels. With the beautiful Timberline Lodge and Mt. Hood’s famously warm and sunny summer weather as the backdrop, these camps are a great way to ensure that the muscle memory so vital to successful racing gets a healthy refresher halfway through the off-season.
And this up-coming season, in particular, comes with equipment changes in the Masters race world that will require some added adjustment time on the hill:
Masters Race Skis –
With the new FIS regulations applied across the board for the 2013 – 2014 race season, a new category of race skis has emerged. Designed specifically for GS Masters racers, these skis stray from FIS-norm requirements for length and radius. The new FIS radii of 30 meters for women, and 35 meters for men, no longer match up with the course conditions and gate placement of Masters races.
With highly trained Masters racers skiing better then ever, a category of race ski was needed that would fulfill the radius-needs of elite Masters racers, without sacrificing World Cup construction and performance. Fischer, in particular, has pioneered this movement with their World Cup Masters GS ski. Featuring the same sandwich sidewall wood core and double titanium construction as their FIS-norm counterparts, these GS skis are available in lengths of 183 cm and 188 cm, and have the 25 meter radius that is ideal for Masters courses.
Jans/Rennstall Supports Local Masters –
Rennstall tune shop manager, Erik Boller, is crazy about racing. And as evidenced by the trip up to Hood each summer, his enthusiasm and support for Masters racing isn’t confined to the winter months. Knowing that we have a unique race-crazy culture here in Park City, Boller is committed to ensuring that our local Masters have access to their hometown race-support even when they take their skiing out of state, and to the national level. It is an inspiring level of dedication, and a gesture that was greatly appreciated by all of the Masters who stopped by the Rennstall support tent – if even just for a post-race beer.
Nate Tomlinson, Senior Content Writer