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Quality vs. Quantity for 7 Year Old Racer

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

We have a six year old son who wants very much to follow his big sister and join our local race team next season.  We have the option of having him train with the team one day a weekend or both days.  If he trains one day he will ski with his mother and me the other day.  If he trains both days there will be the occasional day when he skis with us, but nearly all of his ski days will be with the race team.  My question is whether the quality of instruction he will get with the race team is more important than the greater miles he would get skiing with us one day each weekend.

 

In a typical day our family skis about twice as many runs as our daughter does in her training and that disparity would only increase in a training group of seven and eight year olds that our son would be in.  We also ski a greater variety of terrain than he would get training.  What we don't do is much instruction.  I am a good model for our son and he is a good visual learner.  But, I can't teach or model as well as the team coaches.  He has never taken any lessons, but he has participated in a handful of races as an independent.  Does anyone have any thoughts on the value of quality instruction versus the quantity of miles under his skis?

post #2 of 19

I'd ask him what he wants to do...does he have to commit ahead of time to either 1 or 2 days for the whole season?

 

If he ends up skiing with you one day (preferably the Sunday), you could ask his coach what they worked on and at least be conscious of that while you are skiing.

 

If they are training mostly gates without much free skiing, I think I would opt for 1 day of each (and may opt for that even if they are doing some free skiing, especially if he enjoys skiing with you).

post #3 of 19

I have seen, and experienced, whole lot of this sort of things, especially considering we had this competition thing at very young age going on probably even in more extreme ways then most of other countries. So my advice is to limit trainings as much as possible. With 6 or 7 years old kid, there are NO TRAININGS! There's play and fun but not trainings. If they are "training between gates" go as far as possible away from that team. 6 or 7 years old kids have nothing to do between the gates, end of discussion. Only thing you do with this is, that when kid will be 15, he will hate skiing, and will quit, and you can be sure, he will never spend another day on skis in his life (unless he's as weird as I am :)). Because with 15, he will start thinking with his own head, and not take your opinion as granted anymore, and he will be sick of these trainings.

Yeah I don't have kids so it's sort of easy to be smart, but as I said, I went through this myself, the only difference is, that I didn't got sick of it and I was racing till I was some 27, 28 (yeah I'm weird), but 99% of guys I have been training together when I was kid, quite before they were old enough to start training for real. So personally, I would suggest you to have him one day with team, other day with you, and don't bug him with training. Let him have fun. No training, no plans, no "getting in form"... fun and play, that's all what matters at 6 years old kids.

post #4 of 19

This seems to be my day for "If I knew then what I knew now." Sorry if I get on the soapbox. I can't cut this down much. It's long.

 

The basic fact is that you can't develop into a good ski racer, at an older age, if you are not a very, very sound skier. Running gates, and not making good turns doesn't yield much. I could give you dozens of stories about kids who were phenoms at 6, and out of the racing game at 15, and in some cases done with skiing. Sad. So some well intended "race coaches" kind of de-rail things. 

 

One issue: what does your race program do with kids that age? It should be about 85% free skiing, and controlled free skiing. This is something that the ski academy which many think is the best in the world, Stams in Austria, does right through the U14 years. Their U16's are free skiing more than half the time, yet are competitive on the Junior World stage at 18-19. Many of the bigger programs, particularly in the West have made similar changes, and now we have the USSA/USST "skills quest" which at least recognizes basic ski skills development, after having spent time with these programs. But I hear that some veteran clueless weekend coaches feel they know more, and are ignoring a lot of it. More gates for the 8 year olds. Not good. Red flag. 

 

What's been your experience been with your daughter?  I think things vary widely by program, and by coach, between coaching/instruction and coaching "a group." You want, I think, for the skiing fundamentals to improve, and for skiing to be fun in a holistic way. I've been in the alpine race world for a LONG time, but a good kids ski instructor can often teach a lot more. When our daughter was about 7, we did a ski vacation. Our son was 10. We put her in a private lesson three mornings, with a young lady who had a serious race background……a few serious things clicked with our daughter that week. We were lucky. It was not a normal vacation week, we were told to look up this young lady….and it was great weather. Some race coaches, who are clueless have this "ski instructors don't know jack" opinion. I think that good instructors might say the same. Truth is there are good and bad in both. I think you want a coach who is working on their skiing more than "racing." 

 

So the big pluses are probably that your son gets to ski with a group of little rippers, who become buddies, and that leads to sleepovers, birthday parties, and other adventures….a weekend with boys hanging in the summer, etc. It's FUN, and that's important. You probably see this with your daughter. Skiing with you will soon be more fun for you than him, but he'll love to show you his new stuff.  I think the ideal is if you can ski maybe a couple of runs, if he's not too tired with him after his group is done for the day. Get a hot chocolate, etc. Maybe as a family. Ski with him on days when his program does not meet. Take a Friday away from school and work. I have a couple of Magna Cum Laude, PBK, NCAA ski captains in my house who missed a LOT of school to ski as youngsters. Made zero difference. None. At the time, you would have thought it was ruining them as a students. We were setting a terrible example. Not so much. They remember the days off like they were yesterday, 20 years later. Another day of third grade math….not as much. 

 

I will also say, and this does NOT apply to ALL coaches of those ages, but quite a few of them are not that good, and trying to herd 6, 8, or 10 seven year olds is not that easy. If you get a great one, it will be fun, inspiring, and great for his skiing. Our daughter's J5 coach was a former French team member. Still a GREAT friend. He had her group skiing bumps, powder and trees, and doing one ski drills through pretty decent terrain before there was skills quest. They skied the most demanding parts of a very demanding mountain, and were crushing it as 10 year olds. This guy has the best touch on snow that I have ever seen, and man was he a coach….without the kids even knowing it. Monkey see, monkey do. Some clueless parents bitched about not enough gates, or about core shots to their very special J5 race skis. I bought two pairs….race skis, and the "to be destroyed having fun, and don't worry about it" skis, as did most parents. Of that group of eight, five went on to the D1 NCAA racing world. Three raced in US nationals as Juniors. At one point two of the girls were in the top five world rankings in a couple of disciplines as J2's and J1's. But as J5's they were getting in a ton of challenging miles, just laughing and having a blast. My daughter raced with a small stuffed animal tucked in her race suit until she was 16. She won it in a trivia contest with her group when she was 9. The thing went everywhere with her. Fun memory. 

 

From a ski racing standpoint, they need to be fast as 18 year olds, and the rest in terms of results leading up to that does not even really matter. Think Mikaela Schiffrin at one end of the spectrum. In terms of helping to grow a life long skier, it must be fun. And to make him a great skier, he needs a great foundation. Same with your daughter. When they are 25, they'll want to be great skiers…..forget the racing. It will be long done. 

 

So if the coach is a weekend coach, who raced in some half-baked program 15 years ago, and thinks that it's all about "keep your hands up, and stand on that downhill ski", and worse yet gets all excited to set courses for seven year olds to train, and takes pride that his team owns the local weekly kids race results, I would think a lot about this two days a weekend. Like I said you have observed with your daughter. Hopefully it's not that. The social piece IS big, even if the coaches are so dumb to think that the one day a weekend seven year old and his parents "are not committed"…and some clueless coaches will feel that way. 

 

My kids were in one of the biggest junior programs in the country. I have a good friend who was a college AA, in the USST system, and a pro racer. He made the decision to not have his kids ski in the program until they were J4's {11}, and when they started racing, they just killed it. Both skied at the NCAA level in college. They knew how to ski, and learning where to turn in the right place, the right way, in these gates was easy to pick up as a new J4. Beautiful skiers to this day, both working in the ski world. What they missed was the social piece, but they were right into it within a month. Girls. 

 

I was out West recently, and had the opportunity to watch a bunch of full time U12's and U14's from a very big program free skiing in about 8" of crud, following very good coaches through pretty rugged terrain, at real grown up GS speeds. I was just blown away. These kids were tremendous, and in complete control. I rode the lift with a 13 year old boy, about 100 lbs, on a pair of 183 GS skis. He must have drawn the sort straw to get stuck with the grandfather dude. I learned that these kids free ski ALL the time. They had just been at some race the week before, with most of the state, and this boy said that his teammates were some thing like 5 of the top ten, "we were OK"…."but the girls really killed it."  But he then says, we really want to be fast when we're U18's, and are working on a bunch of fun stuff. NICE!! Then he explains that he was "psyched because all of my group of eight can now do a back flip" off some rock in some chute. That was evidently a group goal. That's a skier in the formative stages, and group of skiers. And if you've ever seen Rahlves, or Mancuso, or Ligety free ski, you get it. Ted Ligety makes a lot of $$$ racing, but man, he loves to ski. Incidentally, I caught these kids training GS a couple of days later, and all I can say is wow.

 

I contrast that with what I see in parts of the East. No comparison. In terms of turning out skiers….none. I hope it's changing. I have seen so many kids pushed into half assed race programs, only to bail on racing, and in some cases skiing in their early teen years. And in every case, the parents were really well intended. But those programs back then, did a ton of gate training, even as little guys. My wife and I were pretty committed to helping our kids love skiing, nit jut ski racing. 

 

So, more to your question, I'd probably enroll him for two days, even for the social piece, but I would not hesitate to pull him every now and then at lunch time, to ski with you in the afternoon. See how it goes, and see what they do. Tell the coach that this is important to you, as a parent and a family when you pull him. Quality time. If your son wants to stay with his buddies, he'll tell you, and let him. Maybe you do it with another mom and dad, and one of his buddies. Just keep close to what is going on. Be excited for him, and don't be critical in front of him. In his eyes, his coach has to be Forest Carey {Bode and Ted's coach, BTW}, even if you have doubts. I can't urge you enough to adopt that approach in every sport. 

 

I recall my son when he was a second year J3 asking me if his coach had a clue. We had a good conversation. The following year, all three of his coaches had very recent national team experience, and it was pretty clear to him. But we never had that conversation until he was 15. Up until them, his coaches were great people, helping him get better as a skier, teaching him about racing. It was all good, even if it wasn't. And it was hard for me. At J2 Nationals, one of my kids had a very very good shot being near the top of the heap in the SG, having crushed the DH. I watched her run, and she came over a rollover in the air, and skied right by the next gate….DNF. Obvious course set to get the kids to pay attention to inspection. I asked about inspection. Her coach was really just BSing with his friends. I was ballistic. She informed me "YOU are NOT my coach. It's SG. It was my responsibility, and I blew it."  OK, she was more mature than me. And in the grand scheme of things, it made NO difference. So support the coaches. 

 

I don't think there's a bad answer for you. Fun is big to me, and to my kids looking back on it all. But I will say that the race training just doesn't matter at his age. One of my close friends runs a very big program, and he seriously has asked me to write a book titled "J3 JO's Didn't Mean Shit".  Ted Ligety didn't even qualify for J3 JO's as a FY J3. What you might get is that weekend coach telling you that pulling your son from time to time is "hurting his skiing", and that needs to train, and that is absolute, complete BS. Sadly there is a lot of vicarious living going on with even youth ski coaches. I was fortunate to have had a decent ski race career, and therefore no coach would push back with me, as I thought things through before speaking, and being immodest, was pretty much in the right. That didn't stop me from being pretty disappointed in overhearing what I took as the coach making it all about him {or her} with a lot of others. 

 

There is no wrong way to do this. Just realize that a junior race program at that age should be mostly about anything but racing…..time on snow with friends, learning to take instruction, etc. Whether it's good coaching is very honestly the luck of the draw. If he starts to learn about balance, begins to tip his skis up on edge just a little bit and feels them engage and carve, then release…..money. If he gets more comfortable, and skis better and faster on more challenging terrain…awesome. Thinking it's about skidding around gates fast, and winning little medals, not so much. And discussion of "tactics" from a U10, or even a U12 coach is IMO, just nuts. Run. 

 

My headline is simple. MAKE IT FUN FOR HIM. And there's no rush. Having your daughter in the program gives you experience to draw on. Is it a good experience for her? Remember, socially, boys and girls are very different at those ages. The boys will be social because they all love to ski, and want to be the next Ted. They bond with things that are common interests. Which is cool. The girls…..they cover the gamut. And in my experience they are a lot more mature…….until they're about 22.  Then some guys catch up, or start to.  

 

Have fun. Sorry to be so long winded. 22 years as ski racing parent. 50+ of ski racing experience. 


Edited by Muleski - 3/2/14 at 1:26pm
post #5 of 19

BTW, This^^^^^^ is what happens when i"m on a conference call for 2.5 hours listening to eight people over-complicate and screw up a basic business deal. Should have taken Friday in the snow!!!

post #6 of 19

Great advice above!  In our program the kids don't even start to run gates (apart from the usual few fun races) until they are part of the U12 program.   and from there on up to FIS team, it is very rare that they are allowed to run a training course more than 6 times in a day.  This of course always raises the ire of some parents who think that they should be bashing plastic all day but is in facet the correct way to do it.  If you are training seriously, performance dips, bad habits creep in and it ceases to be of any benefit after 6 runs.  For the kids below U12, most of the coaches have previously come through the program themselves.  We also have structured goals for each of these lower levels to ensure that there is consistent skills development across the program.  

 

And it works!  (For a small mountain we have 250+ in our programs.).  It has been very well demonstrated this year where as a result of lack of hill space we have had Masters, U14, U16, U18/FIS all training together and running the same courses or parallel courses.  And the coaching direction has been the same across all the programs, providing further consistency in all the groups.    

post #7 of 19

That is a well run program, to say the least. Just awesome. 

 

And I know that that bigger program, up the lake, does a HUGE amount of free skiing as well. All you need to does watch Travis Ganong free ski. Wow!!!!

 

You can't really race, let alone talk tactics until you can make a good turn, over and over, and over. Plus it's got to be FUN!!!!

 

{Even at our advanced age!!}

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the thoughtful responses.  Good cases for one day and two days, which is why I asked the question. There are pros and cons to both.  I mostly want to give him the chance to become a great skier who loves skiing.  Seeing how my daughter's skiing has taken off since joining the team I am confident that racing is a great way to do that.  I know that he wants to be a racer more than almost anything.  He got a hand-me-down speed suit and he is constantly asking to wear it while skiing with us.  We let him sometimes and he strips down to just the suit so he can "go faster when I (he) tuck".  It is pretty comical to see a little dude in a speed suit freeskiing and tucking the cat tracks.

 

The team he will join is a good team.  I don't know exactly how much time the U8s spend running gates, but I know it is less than 50% and may be less than 25%.  They free ski every morning and don't train gates at all on powder days.  My daughter started as a second year U10, so I don't know exactly the way things would go for the youngest kids.  I do know the coaches are good and really want the kids to be great skiers.  Many of them are ski instructors who coach racing rather than race coaches who teach skiing.  They are all great skiers and I know they can model well what they want to see from the kids.

 

My guess is that my son would want to train both days, but he may be frustrated by the pace that comes with wrangling a class of seven year olds.  He won't expect that he will have to wait as much as I know he will.  That is a big reason he isn't on the team this year.  My wife and I were worried he would get impatient and just ski off.  We don't think that will be an issue next year, but you never know.  I think the social aspect is really big for my daughter, but it will be less so for my son.  My daughter needed to be with other girls who were letting it rip for her to push herself.  My son doesn't know anything other than pushing himself right to and over the limit.  He also has friends all over the mountain.  He will love skiing with his friends (he already knows many of the racers on the team) and as he gets older that will get more important.

 

I don't know that I am all that worried about how fast he skis at 18.  The chance that he races beyond this team is pretty small.  We aren't going to stop putting money in his college fund if he wins a race or two.  I just want him to love skiing, ski as much as he can and always want more.

post #9 of 19

It's so much fun to have racing kids. I have a second year U12 girl and next year her little sister probably wants to join the club as well in U10 (needs to gain some confidence first). As said, key is fun, whatever that is for your kid. There has been a lot of gate bashing lately (haha) but some kids actually love skiing gates even if it might be detrimental to their technique in the short term. Many here use M Shiffrin as an example. Don't know anything about her, besides that she's an extraordinary skier at young age and seems to have a sparkling personality... However, I saw an interview with her where she said that she wasn't particularly interested in skiing at all as a kid, but that she liked to go up on the mountain, hang out and drink hot chocolate. Until she discovered--gates. Then skiing became fun. Just a thought... People like different things. Key is fun. The hard part as a parent is to get involved in a "healthy" way. Good luck with your kids!

post #10 of 19

As a U14 coach, I know all to well how some parents think bashing gates is the only way to for their kids to get "results."  I agree with Muleski that all plastic all the time is not the answer.   

 

Skills quest type drills and and one footed skiing are probably run for run the best "quality" training the kids can get.  That said, at the U12/14 level -  especially in SL - the kids need a significant component of gate training.  I find this especially true for our young ladies who can be quite petite at this age, and are not used to the noise and bang of even Jr gates which some of our bigger boys regularly smash to splinters.  It is VERY important when training gates that the kids are armored up: bar, hand guards, shin pads and padded tops (if not training in padded suits.)  I am also increasingly a fan of back protectors. 

 

It is ironic that many "gate" parents are also the ones who go cheap on armor.  Racing is 50% technical and 50% confidence.  A whack on the knuckle or knee cap will undo months of progress.  

 

Whether or not your athlete EVER podiums is irrelavant as long as they are having fun.  Being in a race programs will make them LIFE LONG competent, athletic and CONFIDENT skiers who can hang with anyone in any conditions on (almost) any terrain.  This is ESPECIALLY true for girls who will sparkle amongst the hoards of timid swishers I see daily on the bunny slopes and put thier "rad" snow board boyfriends (the horror!!) to shame.  

 

At age you are speaking about, 7-8 - Brushes should be the rule.  At that size / age, even stubbies are humungus.  Just make sure that your coaches at this level are all about fun / miles /  and SAFETY.  You do not need a world cupper to teach basic race skills to second graders.  You DO need someone though  who is friendly, caring, and DISCIPLINED about keeping kids SAFE.  A group of hotshot 8 year-olds is a handful of baby birds.  VERY competitive and keeping them off each other's tails and maintaining "training space" and separation is HUGE.  Ditto for stopping uphill of a group.  This is something I take VERY seriously with my group.  Snow the group?  Done for the day.  I have seen WAY too many kids hurt with this little stunt.  Coached need to be paying ATTENTION.

 

Unfortunately, often the little kids are pawned of on half hungover college kids who may or may not give a hoot.  UNACCEPTABLE.  Shadow and video the training and SQUAWK to the director if you feel safety is being short changed.

 

Which brings me to an issue I have with Muleski's responses and the disdain he seems to have for youth coaching quality.  I am NOT a college or FIS racer.  I WAS a College FB player and wrestler (25 years ago) who fell into this ski racing gig in my early 20s.   I AM an active masters racer and competitive  league racer, and race with many of the parents.  In REAL life I am a HS English teacher and work with mostly freshmen.  I have been coaching Alpine racing for about 20 years on the HS and Middle School level and teaching for longer than that.  Do I have a "Clue"?  Yes I think so despite not ever being on the World Cup.  Can I model as well as the college kids fresh from Dartmouth, Colby, or UMASS?  No.  Can I model pretty damn well?  Yes.  Do I have things I can tell even YOUR hotshot besides "keep your hands up?"  Yes I think I do.  So, though neither I nor my colleagues have WC globes or Gold medals, and maybe we have a few miles, we still have a TON of experience and thousands of hours training little bodies and shrinking little heads, and have produced MANY quality collegiate and even USST racers.  

 

If you want to bitch about local hill coaching, then put your $$ where you mouth is and DO IT YOURSELF OR pony up the $$ to send your lil superstar to Burke, KMS or CVA.  Rant concluded.

post #11 of 19

Pat: Great, passionate post. Good advice from one in the business. Great example that if a 6 or 7 year old is fortunate to have a caring coach, who is hardworking, skilled and engaged……and makes it FUN, it's a big win. 

 

I have a number of friends who have skied on the WC, and then coached. Some were great at it. Some….not so much. I know guys who have been very successful, even at the WC level, as coaches who were not great athletes, and some not really ski racers. It's like grapes and watermelons. Not the same. I think it's the same in any sport. The best athletes are rarely the best coaches. Though, as you progress up the age group and skill level ladder, more of the best coaches have had some exceptional experience. Not all but more. 

 

I think that you misread any "disdain" on my part. There is none with a broad brush. I was trying to point out that not all U10 coaches are alike, and I assume you agree.  Obviously you're a passionate guy. I have six decades of experience in this sport, at a pretty high level. I, and my wife, were three sport athletes in college. My mother was a college coach, and a national team athlete in another sport. My dad a national team skier, and captain in the 10th MD, something that he was much more proud of. My kids being able to ski with them both is a very lasting memory. Athletics have been a big part of our lives. And they continue to be. And it's FUN. 

 

On the small hill part, one of my favorite spots has about 100 feet of vertical, is entirely a non-profit volunteer run place and had produced more NCAA racers than I can count, a few USST skiers, and at least one gold medalist. Has a huge youth race program, and a bigger learn to ski deal.  I love the place. Tiny makes it sound too large. Makes Wachusett look like Whister. 

 

Our kids went pretty far as ski racers, but I think they've become a heck of a lot better people that they were racers. Their race experience no doubt had a lot to do with that. And for us, the cool thing is that they love to ski, and ski a ton. They just love it, in their mid and late 20's. And it's really a lot of fun to ski with them, though exhausting!

 

Back on topic. 6, 7 years old. It's all about learning more about skiing, and everything else, and having FUN. I can't say it enough. 

 

My point on the "clueless coach" was that there is remarkable inconsistency in the sport. Huge. Anybody in the sport has to agree with that. And I was trying, as I believe you were, Pat, to help the OP figure it out. Not knowing a thing about you….I obviously wasn't putting you in that category. So please, it was no personal insult. Two weeks ago, I had a conversation where a 30+ year weekend coach at a huge program {not at my home mountain}, somebody I've known REAL well for a long time, told me that "Skills Quest is complete BS", and proceeded to brag about his 9 year olds that looked like Ligety in a GS course. Sure they did. "Swing by to watch them." Decided to take a pass. This guy was and is about gate bashing. I can only imagine him in other sports as a coach. You get the picture. Many people would say that he's a "great" coach. He's not. Maybe he once was. Not now. Not close. Even if the kids do "look" great know, they'll hate this by the time they are U18's. I'd bet money on it. The first cruel years of FIS racing can be brutal for the young "star".  We don't measure drop out rates, too, much, but this guy would be right up there. 

 

Pat has it dialed it. FUN, and skills development. And I agree with the safety piece as well…herding a group of 8 little rippers is a ton of work. Great points. Good advice. 

 

Have a good rest of the season with those kids, Pat. Seems like they are very lucky to be learning from you, and not every kid has that opportunity. 


Edited by Muleski - 3/9/14 at 9:50am
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by pat View Post

  I am also increasingly a fan of back protectors.

I was surprised to learn that protectors isn't mandatory in the US? Over here (Sweden) they won't let a kid partiicipate even in tech training sans back plate. Then, we are the Volvo-country. But if I was a coach it would feel good to know that all the kids were wearing.
Edited by Karlsson - 3/8/14 at 9:11am
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertc3 View Post
 

We have a six year old son who wants very much to follow his big sister and join our local race team next season.  We have the option of having him train with the team one day a weekend or both days.  If he trains one day he will ski with his mother and me the other day.  If he trains both days there will be the occasional day when he skis with us, but nearly all of his ski days will be with the race team.  My question is whether the quality of instruction he will get with the race team is more important than the greater miles he would get skiing with us one day each weekend.

 

In a typical day our family skis about twice as many runs as our daughter does in her training and that disparity would only increase in a training group of seven and eight year olds that our son would be in.  We also ski a greater variety of terrain than he would get training.  What we don't do is much instruction.  I am a good model for our son and he is a good visual learner.  But, I can't teach or model as well as the team coaches.  He has never taken any lessons, but he has participated in a handful of races as an independent.  Does anyone have any thoughts on the value of quality instruction versus the quantity of miles under his skis?

It depends. Are you a really strong skier or ex-racer? Are you really a good model?  Will you push him on challenging slopes/terrain? Does your ski area have hard terrain? Will you teach him to jump in the terrain park or off Cliffs?

Why does your Daughter only get 1/2 the runs that you get? Are they over instructing?  Are they waiting in line to run Courses? Something is wrong there.

 

7 is fairly young for a 2 day weekend program. However, I've coached kids that age that would ski with the race team 2 days a weekend and train a couple weeknights.

 

In the midwest Race teams ski a lot of gates even from an early age. In Washington State the Race teams free ski more, but the more serious kids train gates 1, 2 or 3 weeknights.

post #14 of 19

I didn't read some of the novels folks wrote in the thread, so apologies if this was covered already.

 

Pretty soon he is not going to want to ski with you at all. Kids basically want to play with their friends and have fun; sorry but that's not you and your wife. It doesn't matter what the program is, just let him be with kids his age. Whatever they are doing he will learn, have fun and be competitive. You will still get to ski with him once or twice a year, but if it's every Sunday, he will start to loose his love of the sport.


Edited by MrGolfAnalogy - 3/9/14 at 1:51pm
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muleski View Post
 

 

 

I was out West recently, and had the opportunity to watch a bunch of full time U12's and U14's from a very big program free skiing in about 8" of crud, following very good coaches through pretty rugged terrain, at real grown up GS speeds. I was just blown away. These kids were tremendous, and in complete control. I rode the lift with a 13 year old boy, about 100 lbs, on a pair of 183 GS skis. He must have drawn the sort straw to get stuck with the grandfather dude. I learned that these kids free ski ALL the time. They had just been at some race the week before, with most of the state, and this boy said that his teammates were some thing like 5 of the top ten, "we were OK"…."but the girls really killed it."  But he then says, we really want to be fast when we're U18's, and are working on a bunch of fun stuff. NICE!! Then he explains that he was "psyched because all of my group of eight can now do a back flip" off some rock in some chute. That was evidently a group goal. That's a skier in the formative stages, and group of skiers. And if you've ever seen Rahlves, or Mancuso, or Ligety free ski, you get it. Ted Ligety makes a lot of $$$ racing, but man, he loves to ski. Incidentally, I caught these kids training GS a couple of days later, and all I can say is wow.

 

I contrast that with what I see in parts of the East. No comparison. In terms of turning out skiers….none. I hope it's changing. I have seen so many kids pushed into half assed race programs, only to bail on racing, and in some cases skiing in their early teen years. And in every case, the parents were really well intended. But those programs back then, did a ton of gate training, even as little guys. My wife and I were pretty committed to helping our kids love skiing, nit jut ski racing.

 

 

 

While I completely agree with this sentiment, a lot of this disparity is driven by conditions and available terrain.  In most of the East (everything south of Vermont/NH) the only option most days is groomed hardpack.  Most kids at our race program get pretty bored skiing the same thousand feet of groomers all day.  They find the gates to be a whole lot more fun.  Which is why some of those tiny hills produce great racers.  The coaches are mindful that they need to keep the kids out of the gates more, but I think they could do better.

 

When it snows the woods open up, the bumps build, and the race team has a blast hitting that stuff.  But it's all too rare.

 

As the parent of 3 young Eastern racers your assessment certainly rings a little true, and concerns me.  But there's not much choice around here.  Which is why I make a huge effort to get my kids free skiing in Vermont and Colorado every year, something many parents can't afford.

post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pat View Post
 

Whether or not your athlete EVER podiums is irrelavant as long as they are having fun.  Being in a race programs will make them LIFE LONG competent, athletic and CONFIDENT skiers who can hang with anyone in any conditions on (almost) any terrain.  This is ESPECIALLY true for girls who will sparkle amongst the hoards of timid swishers I see daily on the bunny slopes and put thier "rad" snow board boyfriends (the horror!!) to shame.  

 

 

In REAL life I am a HS English teacher and work with mostly freshmen.  I have been coaching Alpine racing for about 20 years on the HS and Middle School level and teaching for longer than that.

 

You hit on one of the biggest reasons we encouraged our daughter to try ski racing.  We wanted to help her have fun becoming a great and confident skier.  Also, we wanted her to have something that, unless she was dating another racer, she would be able to do much better than any boyfriend.  She is only 10, so no boyfriends in sight, but we are pretty sure it is mission accomplished.  We just had the regional U12 championships last weekend and while she wasn't within shouting distance of the podium, she skied well, had fun and pushed herself.

 

Two of our favorite coaches on the team are teachers.  They may not spend 6 days a week on snow, but they make their living helping kids acquire skills and they know how to do it.  They are also great coaches, but I think they are better teachers.

post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NordtheBarbarian View Post

It depends. Are you a really strong skier or ex-racer? Are you really a good model?  Will you push him on challenging slopes/terrain? Does your ski area have hard terrain? Will you teach him to jump in the terrain park or off Cliffs?

Why does your Daughter only get 1/2 the runs that you get? Are they over instructing?  Are they waiting in line to run Courses? Something is wrong there.

 

7 is fairly young for a 2 day weekend program. However, I've coached kids that age that would ski with the race team 2 days a weekend and train a couple weeknights.

 

In the midwest Race teams ski a lot of gates even from an early age. In Washington State the Race teams free ski more, but the more serious kids train gates 1, 2 or 3 weeknights.

 

I am a very strong skier, but not an ex-racer.  I am good model, but certainly not as good as the coaches.  The quality of their instruction is the big draw for me.  We ski challenging terrain and our mountain has plenty.  The race team skis the same challenging terrain.  I don't that they would take their 7 year olds to the toughest spots, but our 10 year old loves to tell us about the hard runs she skis with her team.  They take them places that scare them and it makes them much better skiers.  They will take the kids to the terrain park occasionally, but I am sure not nearly as often as my son would like.  We hit the parks quite a bit and he and I share an affinity for jumping off everything in sight.  I don't think he skis a run without going off of at least one jump.  He knows where they are on every chair, every run.  His runs down the mountain are a connect the dots of jumps and drops.

 

I don't know about over instructing.  Mostly the issues are logistical, but inevitable.  When you have 6 to 8 kids in a group you will often get a kid with cold hands, one who needs a bathroom break, one who takes a bad spill at a bad time and looses a ski when the coach is 200 vf below him.  There are of course times when they are waiting in line for a race course, but that isn't typically a big problem.  I don't think there is anything wrong with the team or he wouldn't be joining it.  I know it will make him a better skier.  I only worry he might be a bit frustrated by the pace as he isn't a patient kid.

post #18 of 19

Sounds to me like you have it figured out. Having raised a couple of kids through their young adult years, the fact that he's not a terribly patient kid {and boys at that age sure can be that way. Ours was!} is something that might be helped a lot by being in a regular weekend team group. Just normal growth and development stuff.  I think it was a big part of my kids' young life experience, even putting ALL of the ski piece aside. We have a boy and a girl, and yep, they're  not the same! 

 

You sound really comfortable with the program, the coaches, the works…..so I assume you're doing it. Good choice. Have fun, and make sure it's fun for him. He'll have a blast. Great opportunity. 

post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muleski View Post
 

Sounds to me like you have it figured out. Having raised a couple of kids through their young adult years, the fact that he's not a terribly patient kid {and boys at that age sure can be that way. Ours was!} is something that might be helped a lot by being in a regular weekend team group. Just normal growth and development stuff.  I think it was a big part of my kids' young life experience, even putting ALL of the ski piece aside. We have a boy and a girl, and yep, they're  not the same! 

 

You sound really comfortable with the program, the coaches, the works…..so I assume you're doing it. Good choice. Have fun, and make sure it's fun for him. He'll have a blast. Great opportunity. 

Funny that it sounds like I have it figured out because I feel less certain that when I posted the question.  When I posted I was pretty sure he would ski Saturdays with the team and Sundays with us.  Now I am giving serious consideration to having him train both days.  We are really comfortable with the program.  He likes the racers, he loves the races, he knows and likes some of the coaches.  It is a good fit it is just a matter of one day versus two.

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