One item that came up for discussion this weekend and now it is something I am seeing other talk about is your true ability to turn when you have to. I ski down run-X and can take nice long turns and can take some tight turns (how tight depends on if I am in the groove or not). If you can carve, then you are most likely comfortable turning on your own whim.
However, turning when someone else demands you to turn is often daunting, and that is the idea behind racing around gates. Can you turn on someone else’s command and can you do it quickly and safely?
If you are comfortable skiing on resort’s NASTAR run then you obviously can ski their course. Skiing gates is easy, ski around a gate, skid, ski to the next gate, and repeat. You ski like that, and you do not figure big in the standings at the end of the day. Skiing fast around gates is not easy.
The question ski race courses put to you, can you make fast turns when you must and this is a good question for all who ski. Are you skillful enough you can make a quick turn at high to medium speeds when you have to?
As I have discussed here, there are different types of turn. The type of turn beginner or entry-intermediate skiers make is more based on skidding the ski and that slows you down. If your turns on the NASTAR course are made by skidding, then you do not place, but you will make the gates. Nothing more (when skiing gates) I dread than hearing the tell-tale scraping sound when I am turning for the next gate. My brother was filmed running a NASTAR course a couple of weekends ago and he is doing well and then he hits a turn and his loss of speed is noticeable and substantial. He makes his last gates no problem, but the skid cost him time and he did not medal on that run.
Sure, you can ski stylishly down any run, but turning on demand is the true sign of ski skill.