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falling apart in the gates

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Anybody have any ideas to help a junior racer who free skis pretty well, showing good technique, but despite several years of training in gates completely falls apart as soon as she runs a course? The standard answer is of course just be patient and it will all come into place, but I'm afraid that she will just give up before that happens.

 

I have watched her struggle down a slalom course very, very slowly, skidding all over the place and literally as she went over the finish line ski the rest of the way down to the lift with aggressive, beautifully carved turns. The contrast was really obvious and something is clearly not working.

 

I have already tried putting her in short courses for techincal drills and the situation is similar for both stubbies and cross-blocking and in GS courses too. Nothing we try seems to help much. I wonder whether it could be something we are missing. Maybe she has some problem to look far enough ahead in the course? That might be due to an eyesight problem (which I am going to check) or a cognitive problem (rather harder to check). Or it could just be a mental block?

 

I don't think it's a motivational issue, she trains hard and seems to enjoy her skiing.

 

Any tips?

post #2 of 16

Any video of both in and out of the gates?

post #3 of 16

I only raced a little in high school many (too many) years ago and the hardest thing that I had to learn and understand was how earlier and how high to take a gate.  This starts with the initiation and setup for the gate.

 

As funny as this sounds, suggest that she start the turn say 5' earlier and about 2' higher and see what that does.  If she is late you are constantly fighting to keep up and slow down.  Part of this is confidence that you are not to early.  I remember that this was one of the hardest things to learn (not that we had much coaching, it was figure it out for yourself).

post #4 of 16

    I know that some people struggle with the fear of "hooking". We've all hooked at gate at some point or another. I wonder if she has done so and is now afraid of doing it again?? Of course, initiating well above the pole is key. Make sure she's early for the very first one...because if you start late, you stay late (and maybe get even later). Video would be great...

 

     zenny

post #5 of 16
Set up a course with double brushes, one marking turn apex and one marking where the gate actually would be.
post #6 of 16

I too have struggled with bringing free skiing into gates.  A few things that helped:

 

  • look past the gate instead of at the gate.  Basically looking ahead and trust your turn will take you around the gate.  I like to look at the next transition point and let me body figure out how to get there.  Think smooth!
  • For GS, go gate hunting....forget about times and line and all that...hit those gates and get used to them so you're not afraid to hit them and they won't throw you off in the future.  Think about creating a "wedge" with straight arms in front to brush the gates aside rather than hitting them dead on.
  • Setup gates, but no timer.  Problem with timing is you're always thinking about going faster through the course.  This can cause you to take a line too straight at the gates.  Also, it makes you forget all the stuff you're working on and instead you might revert to bad habits to achieve that good time.
post #7 of 16

Slalom especially is tough-there's really no substitute for running lots of gates. As someone who started racing late in life, I've gotten somewhat respectable in GS, but suck at slalom. I think other than races I got about 2-3 days of 30-60 minute slalom training sessions this year. I've improved a little-I've gone from "skid and hope" to a small degree of confidence, but I'm neither fast nor pretty!

 

Train, train, train and work on race oriented technique outside the gates.

post #8 of 16

Free skiing allows her to pick a line. Race gates don't. So figuring out where that line is might be the simple solution. Round high lines precede a lower more direct line. Three brush gates above the actual gate gives her the option to ski three different lines and still turn around the gates. Start with the highest brushes and work that line until she masters that line. Then move to the middle ones and finally the lower ones.

 

Beyond that tactical focus, it's worth mentioning peak performance and the mental side of competing. Stressing about a new personal best, or beating others are distractions that often get in the way of performing at our best. Avoid subjective comments about her gate skiing and praise her for her efforts.

 

Not to mention what everyone wrote about the fear of smacking gates. Which is why I feel hitting GS gates might not be the best medicine since the panel makes those gate pretty stout. Tree skiing might help more because to do that effectively you must find a line where you avoid hitting the trees while finding a clean line around them. It also takes the competitive aspects out of the activity.

post #9 of 16
good suggestions, so far...also try setting a stubby course. use a 13-14meter set with a little further offset than usual...but make it the same all the way down-no delays, flushes, or hairpins. just a plain jane, "super slalom" course (think corridor). this will help her learn to turn above (and to shin them off) without needing to worry about upcoming changes in rythm. when she gets comfortable with that, add in some break a ways with the same set...and then after that, more of a "normal" set. keep in mind, these things take time smile.gif

zenny
post #10 of 16

does she love skiing? if yes, then who cares?

if no, does making her race make her hate skiing?

then let her ski for herself...

post #11 of 16

sometimes the snow can be firmer/icier in the course than outside of it- something else to think about in addition to good suggestions above.

post #12 of 16

learning to make turns where she has to instead of when she wants to. "Justanotherskipro" is right on from what I understand of the problem. (great turns after the gates, where she gets to pick them)

 

 Is she racing with a team and getting coaching, if so then this is being either missed or the coaching attitude is just learn the timing by failing in the gates (not the best way to improve). Tree sking would be good or medium bumps might be better for slalom, short radius turns without gates. Have her sync ski with someone else leading, also makes her turn when she has to.

 

If available have her run NASTAR courses, usually pretty mellow but still good technical training (race her for NASTAR time she might surprise you). anyway I hope whatever the outcome she still ski's for many many more years racing or otherwise.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
An update. We ran a GS course yesterday. I spent a LONG time with her doing a thorough course inspection and we marked out her chosen line with brushes. There was a big improvement. I also asked about her eyesight and that is indeed part of the problem. She couldn't see more than one flag ahead! She wears glasses for most things, but not apparently for skiing. I'll talk to her parents about that. Quite obviously it's difficult to ski a good line if you can't see very well.

Thanks for the suggestions. The brushes did help.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperkub View Post

An update. We ran a GS course yesterday. I spent a LONG time with her doing a thorough course inspection and we marked out her chosen line with brushes. There was a big improvement. I also asked about her eyesight and that is indeed part of the problem. She couldn't see more than one flag ahead! She wears glasses for most things, but not apparently for skiing. I'll talk to her parents about that. Quite obviously it's difficult to ski a good line if you can't see very well.

Thanks for the suggestions. The brushes did help.

    I remember leaving my contacts at home one time...all I had was my glasses (only wear contacts when I ski, glasses for everything else), which didn't fit under my goggles. Made running gates very difficult indeed!!

 

    zenny

post #15 of 16

When she "carves beautiful aggressive turns" outside of the course, can she maintain arcs with a consistent turn radius across varied terrain? Do the arcs get longer over time?

Sounds like the eyesight is likely problematic, but I would guess given the description that there is also a technique issue. Probably balance related. (Not that she has no balance, but rather her technique does not keep her in balance throughout the turn in difficult snow conditions -> possibly related to separation of upper and lower body and staying forward)

 

I once was someone who had the same issue, thought I was really ripping while free skiing, skiied at approx 180 USSA pts -> I was not ripping while free skiing, rather I was just good at keeping it together on flatter trails with nice snow. I was not capable of laying it down in flat light, crappy/bumpy snow, or on a specific line. Real revelation came when I learned how to properly engage my hip in the turn and really allow my skis and body to separate at the top part of the arc. (Dropped alot of points and the impact was huge on my free skiing) 

post #16 of 16

I know I am a bit late in replying to this thread but the past 15 years of coaching High School after doing USSA Far West the one thing I have learned about girls is that they will not ski with speed until they feel they have control over the situation, ask your wife.  A couple of thoughts to work on are first finishing the turn, and not aiming at the next gate.  Finishing the turn is probably one of the most critical positioning functions that can be done in a race course.  Once the skier lets go of the outside edge the body mass is going to go straight until the new edge engages, so why not use the engaged edge to get the body into an above the gate position so that more turn can be done above the gate and power through just under the gate.  Interestingly enough we are only talking about a few more degrees of turn to get above the next gate.  Look on a course next time you inspect and have her work on finishing the turn more.  The line to follow would be at the outside gate set if there was one.  The other point is to not free ski without really coming around the corner and really feeling the edge engaged for an extended period.  One of the extreme drills that I have used is to make a complete loop as hard as possible and then do it again, really focusing on edge engagement.

 

Good Luck

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