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Free Ride Development versus Race Development...?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hello EpicSki Forum, 

 

So I am looking for thoughts, experience, and advice.

 

1st, I start with I can't ski anymore due to a car accident that left me with a broken neck, back, and sever concussion ...I can walk and move around decently after 3 years, but physician says no way he wants me to get on skies...so kind of a bummer, that I can't ski with my kids going forward, and now have to rely on others to do it.

 

I have a 6 year old, that has been in Private lessons for the last 2 years, up in Tahoe, back and forth between Squaw and NorthStar, first year 15 days on mountain, and this last year 32 days on mountain.  I know, the cost is ridiculous...however, she needs someone to ski with, and I can't, so I wanted her to learn the right way from the beginning.

 

So we now have a couple options this coming year...

 

1. We can enroll her in Squaw's Mighty Mite Program, which is a well respected program, the mountain is awesome, and kids are for the most part really good skiers ages 5-8 years old, and the program seems to promote Fun, and a focus on general skiing fundamentals.

 

2. We can enroll in NorthStar's Free Ride Development Program, which is also a well respected program (47 days of training), the mountain is all right, the Park Terrain is awesome, and the kids are good skiers, maybe not as intense as Squaw kids, ages range from 7-18'ish years old.  Free Ride Program seems to focus on Fun, free ride safety & fundamentals, as well as terrain park, half pipe, off piste, slope style, and race techniques.

 

 

My daughter did some Park Terrain Play-Training last year with Instructor, as well as tons of fundamentals, and some speed training. By end of season she walked away with a love for Big Powder Days (who wouldn't), but really enjoyed learning tricks in the Park and playing ski chase through the trees.

 

So as a developing skier, what are your experiences with young skiers...?  Should they focus on one thing, or a varied introduction...?  Does peer performance motivation help ( I think so) older kids pushing younger ones to ski harder, does the mountain terrain at such an early age benefit the skier more above anything else...?  I mean Squaw is a more difficult mountain, so would that really make a huge difference in her early stage development...?  I will supplement her training with additional coaching either way, so if we are at Squaw, on off days I will hire an Instructor for Park training, and if we choose NorthStar Free Ride, then on off days, I will hire Squaw Instructor for more challenging ski fundamentals...

 

So from your experience, what program or course of Instruction do you think sets the better base for a better all around skier.


Thanks, I know it is long winded, but I wanted to research opinions before deciding what is best course of action.

 

post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

Also, for a young skier, what is best equipment strategy...


She has been skiing Fischer Progressor Jr - 100cm/67 waist... now she says they are too slow, and she sinks in powder....crazy kid.

 

Boot flex, or brand...?

 

Ski type, length, Brans....?

 

She wants either Volkl Gotama 118cm/80 waist  or Elan Petite 115cm/80.5 waist .... plus a Fast Ski....she says....

 

Any thoughts...? on either a fatter ski, and a fast-Race oriented ski for her... 50 inches tall, 54 lbs....

post #3 of 16

I thought the good thing about racing development was that the young kids are on a closed, supervised course, and the objectives are very clear (which in my experience, actually suits young kids).  I am well aware that the aerial stunts and so on take little from the fundamentals of racing, but management of steeps, turning in steeps and bumps, and handling variable terrain do draw from many of the same skills as racing (better balance, reduced lead/management of ski lead, optimal weight distribution) and so most of the skills you want to foster for freeskiing are there for the development in a race clinic.

 

There are also a lot of park programs if you want to expose your youngster to aerials and other balance tricks in an environment thats easily supervised.  I think a lot of younger freeskiing pros did those sorts of things ... I know Windells up here has spawned a few with their summer ski camp ... and although it's "freeski", its on an open area of Mt. Hood (not sending 20 kids through a forest) and there is a lot of park time.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by drdevon View Post

I thought the good thing about racing development was that the young kids are on a closed, supervised course, and the objectives are very clear (which in my experience, actually suits young kids).  I am well aware that the aerial stunts and so on take little from the fundamentals of racing, but management of steeps, turning in steeps and bumps, and handling variable terrain do draw from many of the same skills as racing (better balance, reduced lead/management of ski lead, optimal weight distribution) and so most of the skills you want to foster for freeskiing are there for the development in a race clinic.

 

There are also a lot of park programs if you want to expose your youngster to aerials and other balance tricks in an environment thats easily supervised.  I think a lot of younger freeskiing pros did those sorts of things ... I know Windells up here has spawned a few with their summer ski camp ... and although it's "freeski", its on an open area of Mt. Hood (not sending 20 kids through a forest) and there is a lot of park time.



Actually, our race program promotes and encourages varied terrain.  With our devo program we spend about 25% of our time in gates.  The rest of the time we are skiing everything from groomers to bumps, steeps, trees and park.  We believe the skills gained in these types of terrain easily transfer into the gates while it takes much more work in the gates to learn the skills and have them transfer out.  As an athlete progresses within the upper level programs they will spend more time in gates but the fundamentals learned on the hill are still very key.  Personally, even as an alpine coach given that your daughter has shown more interest in freeride that's the program I'd put her in. 

 

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by parkmonkey View Post

Also, for a young skier, what is best equipment strategy...


She has been skiing Fischer Progressor Jr - 100cm/67 waist... now she says they are too slow, and she sinks in powder....crazy kid.

 

Boot flex, or brand...?

 

Ski type, length, Brans....?

 

She wants either Volkl Gotama 118cm/80 waist  or Elan Petite 115cm/80.5 waist .... plus a Fast Ski....she says....

 

Any thoughts...? on either a fatter ski, and a fast-Race oriented ski for her... 50 inches tall, 54 lbs....


Having coached from Jr. Racing to the Olympics I can say that besides sking skills, the 1 thing that is most important especially at her age is to join a program that teaches a love for skiing.  That may sound "corny" but if you love skiing, you will get good at it.  If you dont love it, no matter what program you are in, you will never become a great skier.

 

Hence the program that offers commradery, support and fun is the one to go for.  Skiing skills are skiing skills and can be learned in any context.  Good race programs spend ample time skiing the whole mountain.  And good free-ride programs must teach fundamentals.  (Aerials and park are a differnt animal thou).

 

Hence the program where she is likley to have the most fun, most friends etc...is the one to join.  Some kids might find learning through exercises "fun", as they gain enjoyment from the social aspect, praise from doing a good job...and lack of direct competition.  With this approach all the kids can "do well" and feel accomplished.  Other kids might find learning through "doing" more fun.  This entails actual racing, or skiing big lines etc.  This approach is great for some kids, but others suffer as with this approach a "pecking" order is established, and kids who feel they are lagging behind might start to feel bad and take a hit to their self esteem, and hence the "fun" is lost, and then it is over.

 

As they get older, they can move into more serious programs.  But at 6, freeride vs. racing is largley irrelevant.  A good skier is a good skier.  Skills are skills.  As the progress they can specialise, but that is a few years off.

 

As for boots etc.  Get the brand that fits her feet best.  Often with kids boots choice is limited, but see how you go. Flex is usually soft also.  As for skis, I would reccomend narrower skis to enable edging skills to develop easier.  But fatter skis will make off piste skiing easier, which is important as well in order to keep her interested and keeping up with her friends.  But I would try to keep the skis on the narrower side for as long as possible.
 

 

post #6 of 16

Mighty Mites at Squaw rock! I have no idea how they teach but those kids are playing all over the mountain really having fun.

 

If your daughter is pro track in skills and drive, I would lean to the racing side. Have you seen the crazy things top Freeride skiers do? Although that probably is irrelevant compared to other risks they will face - my son just bought a motorcycle.

 

Hopefully your rehab will let you eventually get back on the snow to enjoy skiing with your daughter. Good luck!

 

Eric

post #7 of 16

+1 for Mighty Mights. They rip the whole mountain and have so much fun. The coaches are tops. And it's an easy transition from there to the next programs at Squaw.

post #8 of 16

Your screen name implies that you know park well. The terrain park at Squaw is not very good. The features in the park do not seem to offer good learning progression to me. The half pipe is buried probably half the season. Squaw did not even dig it out after March. There are large jumps but nothing large enough like other resorts have. I probably can go on and on about it. If your daughter choose freestyle, don't be surprised that she asks to snowboard in the future. You can also look at Alpine Meadows.

post #9 of 16

Julia Mancuso is a graduate of the Squaw Mighty Might program and in a recent interview credits those years for the basis of her development as a skier, not just a racer. The basic skills taught by race coaches will provide kids with the best foundation for a life long love of skiing. Once they have a solid foundation, kids can move into whatever aspect of the sport they wish. The strongest free skiers come from an early race background.

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Great feedback everyone...

 

Two things stand out... 

 

Fun is Number One... She didn't really take to skiing at first, but after a couple coaches, she found one she could look up to, Big Sister thing, and game over..! she was hooked...

 

Exposer is key.... Racing, Free Ride, Park, whatever route, she just needs to have fun while learning, but needs to learn all under the blanket of hanging out with good coaches and friends.

 

She is competitive, but very detailed as a young person, always wants to be perfect, so I will have to keep an eye on her with Racing, that she knows she wont win every race or competition.

 

Any thoughts on losing...and how young skiers deal with it...?

 

Thanks guys/gals...

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post




Having coached from Jr. Racing to the Olympics I can say that besides sking skills, the 1 thing that is most important especially at her age is to join a program that teaches a love for skiing.  That may sound "corny" but if you love skiing, you will get good at it.  If you dont love it, no matter what program you are in, you will never become a great skier.

 

Hence the program that offers commradery, support and fun is the one to go for.  Skiing skills are skiing skills and can be learned in any context.  Good race programs spend ample time skiing the whole mountain.  And good free-ride programs must teach fundamentals.  (Aerials and park are a differnt animal thou).

 

Hence the program where she is likley to have the most fun, most friends etc...is the one to join.  Some kids might find learning through exercises "fun", as they gain enjoyment from the social aspect, praise from doing a good job...and lack of direct competition.  With this approach all the kids can "do well" and feel accomplished.  Other kids might find learning through "doing" more fun.  This entails actual racing, or skiing big lines etc.  This approach is great for some kids, but others suffer as with this approach a "pecking" order is established, and kids who feel they are lagging behind might start to feel bad and take a hit to their self esteem, and hence the "fun" is lost, and then it is over.

 

As they get older, they can move into more serious programs.  But at 6, freeride vs. racing is largley irrelevant.  A good skier is a good skier.  Skills are skills.  As the progress they can specialise, but that is a few years off.

 

As for boots etc.  Get the brand that fits her feet best.  Often with kids boots choice is limited, but see how you go. Flex is usually soft also.  As for skis, I would reccomend narrower skis to enable edging skills to develop easier.  But fatter skis will make off piste skiing easier, which is important as well in order to keep her interested and keeping up with her friends.  But I would try to keep the skis on the narrower side for as long as possible.
 

 



Great feedback... 

 

I will keep all that in mind...

 

I fully agree about "finding a love" , I have coached Football from Pee-Wee level to College, and same motto applies, the one's that love it, always seem to be "the one"

post #12 of 16

hijack.gif  I would be getting a new physician, and a new physiotherapist.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by parkmonkey View Post

Hello EpicSki Forum, 

 

So I am looking for thoughts, experience, and advice.

 

1st, I start with I can't ski anymore due to a car accident that left me with a broken neck, back, and sever concussion ...I can walk and move around decently after 3 years, but physician says no way he wants me to get on skies...so kind of a bummer, that I can't ski with my kids going forward, and now have to rely on others to do it.


 

 

post #13 of 16

First thing first.  I read the doctor concerns.  When you are ready, get into a bucket and learn to ski again.   As far as I can see whatever could happen on skis (bucket) could happen in life too.   So lets get you skiing so you show your her how much you love being with her.

 

Now I feel that anything leading to a early race program will truly give the best training.  She can always move to the other programs but would have a hard time move to a race program from the others.  

 

Hank

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the "get wells"... I will continue to work with trainer to get stronger, and hopefully buckle up those boots down the road.

 

As for the kid, only being 6 even for the most of all next season, I think we really concentrate on the opportunity of getting her in a peer focused fun group this year, at either mountain.

 

Then next year or year after, when she gets a little stronger, and 7-8 years old, we can look for a Racing Program for her to get involved in.

 

I want her to love it as much as I do, but I want her to "love it" because of her, not me or her mom....

 

I will try and get her coaches out of either program to work with her or introduce her to Racing examples...all while doing it with fun.  

 

She loves skiing fast, and matching turns with the her coaches, so I think if we paint it as a "game" with effort, then she will learn all throughout next year....

 

Thanks again..

 

Now let's hope for another 700 plus inches for 2011-2012....in Tahoe...!!!!

post #15 of 16

Kudos to you for wanting her to love skiing for her not for you or mom!  That should help take pressure off.  Her age is the age I've coached for 6 years.  Any one of my athletes can tell you my number one rule in skiing is have fun.  Everything else is secondary (although safety is equally important with that age I don't stress that quite as much, it's more my responsibility). 

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

Having coached from Jr. Racing to the Olympics I can say that besides sking skills, the 1 thing that is most important especially at her age is to join a program that teaches a love for skiing.  That may sound "corny" but if you love skiing, you will get good at it.  If you dont love it, no matter what program you are in, you will never become a great skier.

 

Quoted for truth.

 

At age 6, I don't think there's much to the race/freeride distinction.  It's possible that some of her peers will race in the Tahoe League, but it's not really necessary and probably bears little role in her future development.  I don't think that anything she'll do at age 6 is likely to determine her lifelong course, so I would make the decision more on practical factors.

 

So is there a practical reason why you need to limit to just those two programs?  

 

For non-race oriented skiing, I know several kids who've done very well at Squaw's Mighty Mites.  At that age, we had to choose between putting our kids in Mighty Mites and Alpine's Junior Development program (which is changing its name to "Development" for 2011-12).  The two have a very similar feel.  We chose Alpine because it was significantly cheaper, the mountain was a little more manageable in size, layout, and crowds, and the instructors supervise the kids at lunch (Squaw didn't do that then, but might now).

 

For a race program, I don't know any kids who went through the Northstar program, but my kids have raced against them in Tahoe League events for the past two seasons.  The kids did fine, but I didn't see anything to suggest that they were a premiere program.  The Sugarbowl and Squaw teams tend to dominate local competition, both in Tahoe League and Far West.

 

I've now had three kids on various teams at Alpine for the past six seasons -- everything from the half-day program for 5 year olds, to the race program, to telemark.  They have had a blast, for reasons that I suspect would be true at any of the Tahoe-area resorts, involving both skill development and socialization.  Some of their best friends are kids they see only half the year, but the intensity of that experience more than makes up for the infrequency.

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