There’s a common saying in ski tuning. The 20% rule, this states that no matter what the snow conditions, a tuned and waxed ski is going to slide 20 percent faster than a non-tuned ski. But what does that really mean? Well, with the help of some very sketchy and inaccurate math we’re going to see what that can really get you.
Let’s say it’s a blower powder day on Whistler, you’ve raced over to Harmony Chair, standing halfway back in the lineup waiting for the gates to crack. Then they open, you’re thirty chairs back as you take that agonizing crawl up the chair, watching your favourite line, hoping no-one snakes it before you get there. You arrive at the top; hang a left off the chair and race full speed down Harmony Ridge cat track. This is where the love and attention that you’ve shown your skis really starts to show. Straight out the gate you drop your friends, “no friends on a powder day” always holds true……..… for a lap or two at least. One, Two, Three. Already flying past people along the ridge. Eight, Nine, Ten. You’re able to pick up the slipstreams of others in front, maintaining your momentum. Then the slight uphill, cruising past more gorbs who failed to carry their speed, cutting a hard right to the entrance of Harvey’s and Robertson’s. Perfect, only a couple of people have already been here. Use your momentum and hold the tracks higher and farther than everyone else has managed. People are going to really have to be trying to traverse around this far. It’s all yours for the taking.
Next thing you know you’re at the bottom of the trees and back at the cat track. Stoked on your fresh lines, but you want more. There’s still so much untouched left. You need to be back in the line a.s.a.p. and off you go chasing other riders back to the lift. The long flat traverse back enables you to pick off everyone else one by one all the way back to there chair, accelerating where everyone else is slowing down.
On a standard day I’d say you’ll be able to overtake about 20 people on the way back from Robertson’s. Add that to the twenty or so people you over took on the way there and you could make the claim that your tuned and waxed skis enabled you to overtake 40 people per lap who would otherwise be ahead of you. Split those 40 people across the queue gates on the North Side of the lineup, with average of 5 people group in each queue (no one seems to be able to count to 6 before the merge) then you will essentially be 2 chairs ahead of which ever queue you were to choose. If you then extrapolate that until you get on the chair, 2 chairs ahead become 4 at the first merge, which in turn becomes 8 at the second. Ignoring the number of ski school groups at the final merge you could theoretically be 16 chairs ahead or 98 people once the singles have filled up the chair.
Now say you kept on this route for the next 5 laps you would essentially have overtaken 480 of your fellow riders, plus a couple extra chairs from conveniently joining a group or two ahead at some point. Getting to the goods before potentially 500 other humans who could have torn up that slope before you got there.
That’s a lot of tracks you’re going to be ahead off.
……………………….Also, who doesn’t like going fast on Cat Tracks?