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What is up with Team Japan?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Not meant to be a knock...but...

I am watching the women's slalom 1st round and a Japanese lady skier was about to start and I was thinking she would probably DNF. 5 seconds later she missed a gate.

This is off the back of every member of Japanese men's team failing to finish the course the last two slalom races.

Strangely, after missing a gate, one racer actually walked back up a few feet to clear the gate properly and start over, but then he sped off and missed yet another gaye just a few seconds later. Was that to avoid penalty points from a DNF? It was bewildering to see that on the World Cup.

Anyway the Japanese are outstanding at ski jumping so not sure why they are performing ao poorly on slalom.
post #2 of 12

I have heard that the Japanese Ski Team suffers from the strong technical focus that the instruction industry has in Japan... becoming a demonstrator and competing in their demo competitions takes a lot of focus away from racing. While their technique in many ways is excellent, I think many do not apply it to racing.

 

Really though, that does not explain the troubles of a few individuals in SL. Without knowing the athletes better it is hard to know what is going on. With athletes who we know better and see more, we gain more insight into what to expect from them in various venues, conditions, sets and countries. 

 

Wasn't it Bode who always said, "that's ski racing."

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post
 

I have heard that the Japanese Ski Team suffers from the strong technical focus that the instruction industry has in Japan... becoming a demonstrator and competing in their demo competitions takes a lot of focus away from racing. While their technique in many ways is excellent, I think many do not apply it to racing.

 

This is very true. Technical skiing is very prominent in Japan. Largely though, the ski racers are not exposed to coaching of this type of skiing very often. They see it as children and try to mimic it, but are quickly turned away from it by their coaches. Remember demo skiing is largely using the inside ski, dropping the shoulders, and a tight stance. Might these skills help? Yeah, it's another tool in the shed to use on the hill but they just really aren't exposed to it as much as you might think.

 

As I've been skiing here for 2 years and got back into racing, I can say the differences are huge between USA and Japan. Japan has a HUGE emphasis on GS from a young age. Virtually all of the non-SAJ (Ski Association of Japan) races are GS. The only time there are really slalom races are for the yearly prefectural races and national races. You'll occasionally get the night slalom races here and there but nowhere near the amount of GS races.

 

This is a real shame. Not many people do super-g at any age. Slalom is practiced but not as intensely as GS. GS just overshadows everything.

 

Lately though, the prominent coaches are doing more technical and speed events on their own. Setting up their own events and races among teams and inviting sponsors and renown athletes to the event. This is pretty interesting as the ski hills are not the ones in control as it used to be.

 

EDIT: I largely deal with juniors and college students. Only occasionally do I work with the national members.

post #4 of 12
I lived in Okinawa for a total of ten years. No skiing there but I picked up a modest understanding of their mindset when it comes to technique when doing things - Form is EVERYTHING! I would bet that the mainland is the same.

I also was recently at a Race Coaches clinic and one of the conversations was that at the higher levels of the US Ski Team, most of the coaching is on tactics. This was from people that had worked with them (not as a coach).

So if someone spent all their focus on form and was then thrust into a situation where tactics were at least equally important, they would be at a disadvantage. Racers need to accept poor form willingly if it means a faster time.

I don't know that that is what caused the issues noted but is what pops in my head.

Ken
post #5 of 12
More thoughts soon.
post #6 of 12
Nutshell, form follows function, not the other way around. There's plenty of basic talent in Japan, but the coaching is often awful. What I saw was an absurd over emphasis on time in gates. At our local hill, one of the local coaches wouldn't let his kids take powder laps. I never saw a skier sent off the gate hill to work out a skiing issue, nor did I see any attempt at building skills and feel via free skiing. There just wasn't a basic understanding that skiing is FUN and a little well roundedness on the hill is a good thing. Do I think I could have done better than the local Jr race coaches? Yup. Without a doubt.
post #7 of 12
@markojp
Your description is not unlike many North American programs.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post

@markojp
Your description is not unlike many North American programs.

I think we're relatively lucky locally. There's a pretty big emphasis on time outside the gates in the local clubs. We probably ran too many as a kid, but we were always actively encourage to do powder laps and free ski as much as possible. The coaches were also pretty clear about not sorting out ski issues in the gates, which was good.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

Mark,

 

Very interesting perspective. I would have thought the more time in the gates, the better (specificity of training and all). What in your judgment would be a fair allocation of "free skiing" in a racer's overall training regime? 10% of time spent free skiing? Or more?

 

Also, would you care to expand how that leads to the consistent inability to finish a slalom course at the highest level? At the bare minimum, if a racer spends all their time in gates, I would think they would at least be able to make it down to the bottom, if 5 seconds or so slower. At least, that would be what I would expect from an elite professional athlete.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by iheartnyc View Post

Mark,

Very interesting perspective. I would have thought the more time in the gates, the better (specificity of training and all). What in your judgment would be a fair allocation of "free skiing" in a racer's overall training regime? 10% of time spent free skiing? Or more?

Also, would you care to expand how that leads to the consistent inability to finish a slalom course at the highest level? At the bare minimum, if a racer spends all their time in gates, I would think they would at least be able to make it down to the bottom, if 5 seconds or so slower. At least, that would be what I would expect from an elite professional athlete.

no. during a proper training ession, anything more than 4-6max runs through gates is simply counterproductive. As athletes get tired they start reinforcing bad habits and it becomes simply survival skiing. Better 4 full bore runs than 10 half-assed ones. Aways hard to communicte to parents though, who think that if they are not running gates all day they are not getting proper coaching.
Edited by ScotsSkier - 1/1/16 at 3:40pm
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post


no. during a proper training session, anything more than 4-6max runs through gates is simply counterproductive. as athletes get tired they satrt reinforcing bad habits and it becomes simply survival skiing. Better 4 full bore runs than 10 half-assed ones. always hard to communicate to parent though, who think that if they are not running gates all day they are not getting propr coaching.

I was one of the ones that would have disagreed with the "fewer is better" model until about a month ago when I had the opportunity to get coaching as part of a Race Camp.  We would warm up for about an hour but then the balance of the day was "crashing gates".  We had one set on the top of the hill & a second lower set.  I was super pumped for all the gates but found that after about 10 sets of gates (5 HARD runs) my legs were like jello.  I found myself "recovering" rather than skiing correctly which, of course, made it more difficult as I then found it VERY difficult to implement my instruction.  After lunch, I saw some recovery for about 3 runs (6 sets) but then I was foundering once again.  A small part may have been the mile high altitude but I think the majority was simply too much too fast (at that early point in the season).

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by iheartnyc View Post
 

Mark,

 

Very interesting perspective. I would have thought the more time in the gates, the better (specificity of training and all). What in your judgment would be a fair allocation of "free skiing" in a racer's overall training regime? 10% of time spent free skiing? Or more?

 

Also, would you care to expand how that leads to the consistent inability to finish a slalom course at the highest level? At the bare minimum, if a racer spends all their time in gates, I would think they would at least be able to make it down to the bottom, if 5 seconds or so slower. At least, that would be what I would expect from an elite professional athlete.


I think S.S. answered pretty accurately at 4-6, but we're out west. I'd have said maybe 8 runs of gates excluding slow drills, etc... using brushies, brushy corridors, etc....   

 

i.e. making it to the bottom. It's a damn sight harder than we think at the WC level with injected courses, etc...  Personally, I think Japan has some exceptional basic athletic talent, but the coaching is often painfully conservative at best, and dogmatically horrible at the worst. Remember too that the starts aren't granted by nationality, but by FIS points. If you don't have low ones, you aren't in the show. She lowered her points somewhere along the line, and that still counts for something. Speaking only for myself, I spent a good deal of time in gates. Didn't always make it to the bottom, but did ok all in all.  I learned a lot about myself and my skiing while in race programs. More importantly, I met a lot of great folks as well. 

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