Originally Posted by ScotsSkier
I am normally pretty much in tune with Beyond and he has a lot of good stuff here. However I will disagree with him on taking lessons from an LIII if your focus and passion is on racing. Some of the basics are similar but the focus and purpose of an LIII v. a L200/300 coach is quite different. In racing we want you to get faster, not necessarily prettier! (and wait for the flaming here from the PSIA guys ) . I don't mean any offense to them but we are trying to achieve different objectives. This is particularly true with Masters coaching where you need to individualize the analysis and approach for every athlete to match their age, mobility, physique and fitness. Very often with Masters you are working with guys who are coming to racing late/later in life and want to make progress because, simply, we dont always have that much time on our side and have multiple years of ingrained habits . That is one of the things I find most fascinating and rewarding about working with Masters racers. You cant just use a cookie cutter approach and work them through a multi-year progression because you dont necessarily have the luxury of time to get there.
And I normally am in tune with SS, so I'll gingerly take up the cudgels.
Past couple of years I was in the middle of the sandwich between my coaches and my instructors about just this. In fact, the P word came up derisively from the racing side several times. Then an interesting thing happened. Took a few lessons from the head of the school, very high level former racer, that were directed specifically at some issues I was having racing. And to paraphrase what he said: "Both sides are wrong. It's about teaching, not technique"
Put another way, the fastest way down a course will necessarily use the same basic technical principles that high level freeskiing uses. Physics is physics is physics. It isn't that some of the basics aren't similar, it's that they have to be the same. There will be differences in details, like positioning and using the arms, or leg placement, and obviously in strategy because only trees offer even a vague analogy in freeskiing, but even those detail differences get exaggerated by each side arguing with the other. In reality if you spend too much force trying to knock out gates, or even too much focus thinking about them, you slow down. If you take too straight a line up high, cuz it's faster, you'll pay for it trying to recover three gates down over the lip. There's a reason that Shiffrin and Ligety look like water flowing down a streambed; smooth is fast. Early is fast. Everyone predicted that Ligety would take his new GS's and stivot and recover late like it was 1996. Wrong. He made the new sidecuts fast by the same mechanics he'd always used. Get the damn turn done early so you can go flat for a few milliseconds longer each between. And Shiffrin, she's like watching ballet on edge. She's fast because her skiing's pretty.
The extreme opposite is true too: If you're too focused on elegance in freeskiing, you'll look like a fool after 2 serious bumps. You better be able to initiate now, recover on one leg, stivot, keep both legs independent, stay fast. But under all that recovery are solid basics that allow you to recover in the first place.
Now SS won't disagree I bet, as much as he'll argue back that he's trying to make latecomers skip the foundational work so they can compete right now. My response: You're putting an automatic ceiling on them; no one gets a free pass out of Physics 1. Yes, you can get them moderately fast, if ugly, and if your goal is simply to make them end up in a higher place instead of a lower, all good. But is that their goal? I guess I don't see the urgency to do well as much as I see the inefficiency of bandages toward a goal of becoming a better skier.
As far as passion, age, mobility and fitness: I once tried to follow a respectful distance behind Stein Eriksen as he flowed down through a mogul field, singing and talking to his buddies. I was fast and ugly and about two generations younger. (One instructor around that time said he had never met someone who had such good balance and recovery stemming from having to compensate for so many bad mechanics.)
Couldn't even vaguely keep up with old Stein. OK, not every guy in his 60's is a genius of the body, and not every guy in his 30's is as plateaued high intermediate as I was, but my point is that good fundamentals will make your skiing easier (and faster) as you age and get banged up. Whether you race or not. Bandages over mediocre fundamentals will carry a higher risk, however fast you go past that gate, to ACL's and concussions. Which don't heal real quickly later in life, trust me. And you don't learn those fundamentals racing, you learn how to race. Just saying'...