Originally Posted by Mass Ski Dad
Ha Thank you,
You are very correct in my opinion. I read this in January when I saw the first slalom training practice. It was amazing that in just one practice so much could go wrong. What I observed were kids that were balanced, had counter, were beginning to increase edge angle, starting to arc out, etc.
were now over rotating to reach in for the gate to "crossblock", skidding turns, LEANING in, etc. It was disastrous.
I immediately went home and did a little homework and found this article. Also that there has been much discussion in the USSA world of using stubbies only for little racers, for this very reason. I am surprised that it has not come to that yet. So I immediately told my son that he was NOT to crossblock and why. Before practice I said please tell any coach that your dad said that you were to just run the gate over and keep hands up front. I must say that at the SMS camp., they emphasized the kids' pole planting, edge angle, arcing out, angulation, and ankle angle. They did not teach the kids to crossblock. So when he does crossblock, it is because he needs to feel it for himself. Very typical, if you have boys that when you say don't touch the plate it's hot, the very first thing they do is touch the plate. I'm hoping to educate him so that he realizes that inside clearing feels better. I have faith. Or even better, just ski through it, my boys play hockey and even goalie they certainly have enough padding to just let the gate hit them.
Now as a non racer I always snickered when I saw junior racers ski. I could tell a kid who has grown up racing from a mile away. Very rigid gorilla like turns, lacking fluidity.
My opinion has changed. What I didn't realize is that a really good junior racer does have fluidity and everything else. They have the skills necessary to generate the high edge angle needed to rip the steeps and the aggressiveness and footwork to ski the bumps. With my kids we didn't see a gate until last year. I have seen a shift in their style, but with a lot of good things happening - Diversity I think is key. Even if it means hanging in the park.
We ski 85% freeskiing. And most of that is in the glades, side trails, bumps and jumps and jumps and jumps. 10% drills, and 5% gates. And did I mention jumps.
The emphasis on the benefits to freeskiing is clear, but if you don't get them in gates, it will not be obvious what skills are needed to work on. I know some readers may be saying, what about fun, isn't that what it's all about?
Well, absolutely. It's fun as a family to go on adventures together to new mountains, it's fun to ski fast, it's fun to hit jumps. It's fun to ski Mad River Glen on a powder day, but without the practice and hardwork, skiing Creamery at 7 and 8 just wouldn't be possible.
Now razie, when you say he survives in gates, I get it! I agree. As I watch him ski slalom, I see the worst skiing he has done, and awkward movements galore. So, what I did is try to ski the course myself. Holy moly, I couldn't even finish!! I tip my hat to all the racers I ever ignorantly criticized. That being said, like Razie said, there's a good way and a bad way.
#1, Stop cross blocking. Agreed.
#2, refer to number 1. And good things will happen.
When you say he shuffles to edge, do you mean he's scissoring, letting the inside ski lead too much? I'm not familiar with shuffling to edge.
Thanks for the feedback and reminder about cross blocking.