Advice For Cold Weather Racing

FasterSkierJanuary 23, 2004

The weather forecast for Thursday’s classic race at Masters Nationals in Marquette, Michigan called for 2-3 inches of snow, a low of —6 Fahrenheit and a high of 4F. The windshield factor was supposed to be negative 20-30 Fahrenheit with wind gusts of 20-30 miles per hour. The humidity is relatively high.

Here are some suggestions for how to deal with this type of racing based upon how I prepared for this event.

I usually have problems with my hands and face in cold weather but I raced, even though it was close to —18 Celsius.

The international recommended cut off for racing is at —18 Celsius. This is considered the turning point for when things turns dangerous. At this point it’s up to the race jury to decide weather a race can be held or not. Wind, humidity, weather forecast, racers age, race length, course-profile and so on will at this point be discussed at a jury meeting to decide if the race start needs to be delayed or if the race should be cancelled.

Here are some suggestions that might help you deal with cold weather racing:


It’s great to race in Lycra but it’s not very protective. I’m using a wind brief as well as wind brief style protective long underwear pants and top. Craft makes some excellent wind-block long underwear. It works. Men should use regular underwear as well as wind brief if you are (only) using regular sports underwear. I have seen grown men cry in desperation after cold weather racing where they didn’t protect their groin well. Trust me, you don’t want to try this if you haven’t experienced it.

I also recommend a lightweight protective race vest under your Lycra top for both men and women — something with a collar that protects your neck and throat as well. 

Your gloves need to be designed for cold weather skiing with a wind protective backside.

I’m keeping my race gloves inside so they are warm and dry until it’s time to go to the start line. The warm-up will be done in a similar pair.

Use boot-covers for the warm-up if you have problems with cold feet. Remove them right before the start.

Use earmuffs and two hats


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