- 28 Posts. Joined 4/2014
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Hi there, and welcome to epicski.
Competitive bump skiing is a specialized discipline that also introduces skiers to skills they can use around the mountain. Personally, I think any training is good training. That said, while you could "dabble" in competitive bump skiing, if you don't invest in serious coaching, gear, travel, and on-snow time, he's unlikely to actually be a real competitor.
Have you asked him what he wants to do?
No, but not for the reason you're thinking. Without a ski-specific coaching/instruction background, you're unlikely to know what you're recommending. (For example, your idea of standing tall strikes me as a misinterpretation of the coaches' suggestion - bump skiers don't stand tall.) Also, while this may not apply to you, most parents are terrible at coaching their kids.
My recommendation is to leave the coaching to the coaches, and have fun skiing together.
If you're intent on being his personal coach, I urge you to get some high level ski coaching certifications--otherwise you're seriously likely to upset everyone involved.
Skiing skills are the same regardless of "style". The blending is simply different, and you use different tactics in different skiing disciplines. Competitive bump skiers are generally at least decent at carving/racing, and vice-versa. (By decent, I mean well above the ability of a recreational skier.)
The better you become at skiing the zipperline, the steeper the terrain and the bigger the bumps you can generally take it into. But a good zipperline skier can apply those same skills to ski different lines. There's also no requirement that you ski in a zipperline in non-competitive situations. Same skills, just different tactics.
I'm confused by your wording. Any skill improvement requires adapting technique/"style". So yes, if he wants to get better, his "style" will need to change whether he wants to become a better zipperline skier, racer, freestyle skier, or anything.
Welcome to Epic kwc!
It's cool to see a parent put so much work into this.
Should I push him into that technique, just for the sake of better competitive mogul skiing?
If he wants to compete - yes. Should you push him? No! He's old enough to make his own decision. You can help him. Watch some competitive video at mogulskiing.net. Talk about the differences between his skiing and the competitive runs. Watch this mogul skiing clip. Can you see some of the same elements of Owen's skiing in this clip?
What I see in Owen's skiing is great training on using turns to control speed. What I don't see a lot of in his skiing is using knee absorption to control speed. I don't see a problem with a "small" stance per se in Owen's skiing. What I see is that when Owen gets in trouble, he gets absorption from bending at the waist. That's where the tall stance comment is coming from. Teaching Owen to be able to use more absorption in his knees will give him many more options in his bump skiing whether he continues in comps or not.
At this age, Owen can see (learn) a lot just by watching (sorry Yogi). Even though there aren't any organized camps (yet) in the Taos/Santa Fe area, both resorts should have at least a few PSIA level 3 instructors who can help Owen take his bump skiing to the next level, competitive style or not. Although there may not be enough critical mass to support a competitive bump development program in your area, it's parents like you who get these things started to break through the catch 22 of nobody being interested because they don't exist. Sometimes it can only take 3-4 kids to start a "program".
Here's a great idea for a summer training program for Owen: Jonny Moseley dryland training
See the difference?
Here is my perspective- I'm a New England skier, been skiing for about 30 years, and I've been an instructor for 11. I have spent a lot of time perfecting my bump techniques. Yes, multiple techniques. Zipperline, pivot slip, shaping turns, airing over moguls, GS turns through moguls, the whole lot. I've entered some open mogul competitions, did okay in them even though it was never my sole focus.
My take is that learning competitive, zipper line mogul technique is beneficial to a skier's overall ability. It is definitely a tool worth having in one's bag, and it's one that fewer and fewer people have anymore. However, it isn't the only tool one should have in their bag, and it is something that has a very specific application. In competition, bumps are seeded and shaped to be regular and the line is straight down the fall line. That's the situation where a competitive style works best. In irregular, skier shaped bumps and crud, different technique works better. Does a skier have to choose one technique and stick with it for their entire skiing lives? Heck no, not even close. I'll use all the techniques I listed above in the same 100 vertical feet of bump line sometimes. Just depends on what the bumps look and feel like, and what I want to do with it.
Something else to keep in mind, zipperline, competitive style bump skiing is anachronistic. It comes from the time of straight, skinny skis, where the best way to ski bumps was to smash your way from one trough to the next. With shorter, wider, shaped, and rockered skis, the options for skiing bumps have broadened greatly. There's no benefit in limiting your son to one way when lots of ways exist.
In short, there's no reason to force your son into anything. Let him develop all of his skills, not just a highly specific one.
You've already given him way more support than my parents gave me when I was learning and competing some. I've skied Pajarito once in the past, it's actually much better than my home hill was and some USSA national champions came out of my little home hill. The difference was, of course, that we had a Freestyle Team with coaches every year I was growing up there. Your kid's only getting occasional ski camp coaching correct? Regardless, he can parlay the fundamentals he's been told, but not yet mastered in to some pretty good skills if he just keeps skiing, and skiing a LOT! He's only 9 years old, cut him some slack. If you keep him skiing more than 50 days a year with occasional bump camps he'll catch up and be competing with the better kids by age 12.
I think you may be trying too hard for someone that doesn't have a local freestyle team. If you really want to do EVERYTHING you can short of moving to Squaw find the best bump skiing instructor at Pajarito and book them for lessons 4-5 sessions a week for most of each season. Other than that, just keep being a great dad and let him ski and learn best he can as often as possible. And keep going to the meets. They are a blast even if you never win anything.
Edit, also get him some pants with different colored patches over the knees or stitch some light knee pads on his pants. Judges can better see the alignment and motions that way, and it is (or was?) the norm for many competitors.
not sure what you mean by getting some input from the experts..... but here's my input so take it for what's its worth.
First, the freestyle coaches who have been doing for a while know what they are saying. They have to stay on top of what the judges are looking for, so if they are saying to ski tall, its because the judges are indirectly saying this by means of the turn scores.
Second, imo, the techniques in competitive mogul skiing is different, it may draw from the same skills but the emphasis of movements are still different from other alpine disciplines.
Third, seeing how your son skis, imo, he's following progression of kids his age. Somewhere in the mid teens, most will link it together and start blowing the field away, and that's for the kids who are training with their local teams and doing the summer camps things. The more he is away from a freestyle team, the more it puts him in the disadvantage side.
Appreciate the great feedback from everyone.
I do remember he's just 9, but I think the decision on looking at putting more time/energy on competitive bumps is difficult because alpine racing is pretty much the sole discipline in this area (we have great coaches for that).
We're coming up on making the summer decision for him to go to another camp. But those things are not cheap ($2K/week with travel), and the only competitions in our area involve about 350 miles driving. Gets expensive when there's no local training available, at least at present (there's now 1 other kid interested).
At the competition he did try (actually 2), those kids practice on bump specific training more in 1 week than he gets in an entire season. Only adds to the dilemma, on is it worth putting the time/expense for the competitive aspect. I always get concerned that it won't be fun if there's little reward in actually winning on occasion. Takes extra effort to push oneself when you aren't the kid getting medals in a sport (see racing kids that seem to lose motivation), although there was the comment that someone felt just competing in itself was a blast. I'll stress to him to keep his situation in context for his performance. (Kinda like the Jamaican bob sled team).
I wish I had some skills to train him, but my days skiing moguls were 20 yrs ago in long straight skis, I sucked, and I now snowboard for various reasons, including knee injuries. So hardly trying to train my son personally how to ski bumps!
When he asks how he looked, I usually just respond, "looked awesome!" I'll we can ask him to do is try to focus on a specific tip a coach told him and do his best to try to keep that in mind on a bump run. Even the advice given above about trying to absorb more at knees vs. waist is an extremely helpful tip (in regards to standing tall).
Appreciate the feedback on the aspect on concerning what was likely being conveyed to him, and I'm personally trying to read/watch/learn as much as I can from the forum posts/videoposts people put up on this site, you tube, etc.
After posting my intial thread, I ironically did ask him as someone suggested, about what his desire is in regards to formal skiing. Says less race training, more bumps with the desire to get good enough to compete. He says he's willing to work on learning a more of a competitive form, but with the understanding he's allowed to turn it off for the steeps. (So now do I have to buy ANOTHER discipline specific pair of Hart skis .. . .) We'll of course have to keep costs reasonable.
Of course all this mogul training takes a back seat to skiing as many different mountains as we can together before he goes to college (he's up to 26), skiing the steeps, and powder.
Maybe in his situation and this forum, we can try an experiment in "on-line" training with video posts of him and mogul skiers on this site giving him on-line feedback through the season? Seems better than getting no feedback all season . . .