Racer Parent: "I've seen the huge quivers of some of our racers- even the Mitey Mites. Must I buy ALL those skis?! It seems crazy to me!!"
Gadget responds: "You mean like 'racer/trainer' setups where the kids have 2 pairs of everything?"
RP: "Exactly! What's the deal with that anyway?"
G: "For sure, U-8s, 10s, and 12s DO NOT NEED Racer/Trainer setups. U-14, maybe; U-16 probably. By the time the kids are at the FIS level, they do really need them. But the Good News is there are tricks to get some of the benefits of multiple pairs, without the cost."
RP: "What?! There are ways to get 1 pair of skis to perform like Racer/Trainer sets?"
G: "Well- yes, no and it depends. Yes- for the youngest racers, 1 pair can perform as well as 2. No, at the highest levels, kids need more skis. And It Depends on how big and strong the kids are, how fast, and how much they ski.
Here are two tricks you can use:
1.) Mark one set of inside edges as 'Race' and the opposite as 'TRAIN." R and T also work. The racer then uses the right ski on the left foot (and vice versa) for training, and the right ski on the right foot, left on left for racing. This keeps one set of inside edges in better shape.
2.) After ironing on the 'wax of the day,' leave it a bit thick- just a light scraping to smooth the surface a bit. The racer can train and slip the course before the race, THEN fully scrape and brush the ski. The excess wax can help protect the thin layer of wax that is the fastest for the race itself."
RP: "OK, that is kind of cool, but I am still confused. When does my kid NEED multiple pairs of skis?"
G: So, when the differences in time between your kid and the other top kids gets much smaller, AND/OR your kid gets VERY strong, AND/OR the speeds get pretty high, AND/OR conditions really suck- then you need multiple pairs.
For Example- Warm Up Slalom 2014 u14 boys class. The spread from 1st to 10th place was nearly 10 seconds. It is unlikely that the Racer Trainers were much benefit. But in the 2014 u-16 Western Regional Championship GS, the spread was only 3 seconds. Can't let any speed slip away in that sort of race."
RP: "My u12 daughter only weights 81 pounds, and she barely skis the wax off of her skis in two days. She did get a 9th place once though. Does she need racer/trainers?"
G: " I really do not think so,"
RP: " My u-14 tears it up though. He is 145 pounds and keeps bending skis. He has won a couple of races and skis over 100 days a season now. Does HE need more than 1 pair per discipline?"
G: "Yup, I think your son can benefit from racer/trainers."
The bottom line is this: When your kid's coach says they need better equipment, they probably do. If unsure, you should ask a coach or two. You do not need to follow the lead of the other parents.
Full disclosure: We DO have more than one pair per discipline, and have for a while. If you can stand having more than once pair per discipline around, it can potentially prevent a few headaches. This is because multiple pairs makes it easier to keep one pair nice and fast- and you also have a spare should something happen to 1 pair of skis. If the athlete is skiing over 100 days/year, they probably do need multiple pairs. And yes, RP is also me... but I am a RP, so this just reveals one of my many alternate personalities.
Please write if you need further clarification.