In terms of coaching practice, good context can be helpful. For context, let's look to, for instance, Troy Flanagan, High Performance Director for the USSA (and one of the people behind increasing the focus of even our bumpers on aerobic base): "US Ski Team members concentrate on building a huge aerobic and anaerobic base."
The US has been influence by the Austrians among others, with obviously a lot of exchange between coaching staffs. Here's a guy who was around the Austrian team for quite some time, " ...good aerobic power is the sports-unspecific basis in alpine skiing on which any further abilities, inter alia anaerobic capacity, should be built." G. Neumayr et.al, Intl. Journal Sports Medicine 2006.
Neumayr even explains more specifically two paths by which aerobic power contributes, namely, 1) giving a little "extra" during a race by holding off the unfavourable effects of anaerobic metabolism a bit more, and 2) allowing fast and fuller recovery and quality training.
Per Lundstam, formerly with the USST (with them when he made this quote), and now with Red Bull: "...we do a lot of low-intensity aerobic work, so that when we put them on the snow, they can do five or six quality runs instead of three or four."
Likewise, developing a good aerobic base is a critical focus of developing junior racers, and junior freestylers as well. That is true in the US, and in Austria, and in Switzerland, etc. etc. As Condition correctly notes, it is not an EXCLUSIVE focus, and no one has said it should be exclusive. The idea that people are promoting solely long, slow efforts, all the time, and nothing else is a tiresome straw man.
The underlying physiology supports this approach, as does the practical experience gained over the decades.
Some of this can be understood intuitively simply by thinking about trying to ski while holding your breath, or while constricting the blood flow to and from your limbs, or at extreme altitude. If you are breathing normal air and then hold your breath, your one-rep vertical leap won't get hurt too much if you do it immediately after you start the breath-hold. Even without trying this on the slopes, most people can understand however that their skiing will be greatly compromised if their ability to breathe is taken away, or if they get plucked from sea level and put at 16,000 feet. This is true even for one run, but for multiple runs, attempting this could actually carry great physical risk, starting with epileptic seizures and going from there.
Likewise, some of the beneficial adaptations that occur at low intensity aerobic work simply aren't promoted as well by higher intensity work.
The importance of the aerobic system does point to other interesting possibilities for the future. For instance, hypoxic strength training is only in its middling phases of development. Likewise, it is fair to say that there is disagreement over how important it is to train at very specific zones of effort, versus simply insuring a range of volumes and intensities (that are recorded and tracked) and altered in response to adaptations.
Edited by OldPlank - 2/17/14 at 7:29am