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Relaxing in a course

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

   I wondered if anyone has some tips on how to relax in a course.  I often find when I free ski its a completely different feel.  My body is fluid and I can feel exactly what the ski is doing.  I can pressure it and release the energy between turns.  The weight is in the right spot everything feels good for the most part.  Then when I get in a course things are not as fluid. 

 

I often see people diving toward the inside you see weight in the wrong spot all sorts of things.  What I have noticed is a complete over pressure of the bottom foot sometimes to the point where I have to tell myself to release.  It's almost as if I over compensate when not in the right areas.  The other thing I have noticed is a complete lack of fluid motion between gates.  It's almost as if because you have to pull your hands in by a gate that the weight is off.  I am sure that sometimes I am still pinching at the gates.  The other thing is that when you start to slipping instead of doing the right things it often makes the situation worse.  You tense up end up low then skid turns instead of carving clean.  When free skiing its easy to play with crouching more, being in forward more, really using your outside arm to edge harder and release the ski.   In a course I often find its difficult to relax, get fluidity into the turns, and release with any sort of rhythm.

post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

    Just to kind of give someone an idea of what I am looking for.  I tried schlopies in a course and it was a very unique experience.  Generally in a course your inside hand tends to dive in and down toward the gate.  Doing schlopies put my inside hand position up higher and kept my weight on the down hill ski a lot more.  Of course I was slower going without poles through the gates but I think a lot of that time difference was in the start.


Edited by utahsaint - 2/10/16 at 9:42am
post #3 of 14

Second year masters racer here. I am not even close to being good yet, but I will share some of my thoughts in my "journey"  I am like you, do things reasonably well outside of gates, but in the gates things tend to fall apart.  However I am having decent breakthroughs recently.

 

1)  Pad up with protection so I have no fear of getting whacked by gates.  At least remove one thing from the equation.

2)  At the start I remind myself to "rise your eyes, don't think just ski"

3)  Work on only one thing at a time in the gates.  Even the coaches spot multiple issues in my run, they will only tell me to work on one thing for the next run.

4)  Take the high line to slow things down.  Pretty obvious here.

5)  Ski behind my 5 year old daughter in slalom skis and work on drills in green flat terrain.  This actually helped the most.  I did that one day for about 3 hours, I believe it was javelins, leap turns, and one ski drill or something like that  Basically working a lot on hip position.  Next day in the gates I had a huge breakthrough.  My hip was in the right place to exert a lot more pressure on the outside ski.  And I wasn't even thinking... it just happened.

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galun View Post
 

 

1)  Pad up with protection so I have no fear of getting whacked by gates.  At least remove one thing from the equation.

2)  At the start I remind myself to "rise your eyes, don't think just ski"

3)  Work on only one thing at a time in the gates.  Even the coaches spot multiple issues in my run, they will only tell me to work on one thing for the next run.

4)  Take the high line to slow things down.  Pretty obvious here.

 

 

All great suggestions.  I was in the gates this last Saturday without padding, oh those gates hurt.  I forgot what they feel like without decent padding.

 

Never thought about raising my eyes.  It's pretty easy to lose focus on the course and only see that one gate coming up.

 

Great point about working on only one thing.  I have so much to work on with lines that it's been my entire focus.  When the lines get off it just seems like everything goes bad.

post #5 of 14

Breathe!!!!  Ya can't believe how many skiers hold their breath in a course...even highly trained racers!

 

Supple ankles.  Don't brace against the ski. 

 

 

Look farther ahead!

post #6 of 14

Here's what works for me:

 

1.  Practice, practice, practice.  I beat those NASTAR gates as often as possible.  Our league course is longer and faster, but the practice helps a lot to lower the stress level on league night and the few FIS legal courses I will race.

 

2.  My pre-race routine is to inspect / skid each of the courses for our dual course.  They mostly mirror each other, so inspecting twice really cements the course set into my head, so to speak. I'll make at least one separate warm up run, practicing good edging/angles and quick transitions from ski to ski.  This is what works for me and makes me feel prepared and stress-free.

 

3.  Looking ahead is a must, or you will get tunnel vision onto the next gate- we all know what happens when you fixate on the next gate.  A mind trick that I use for myself to look 2 or even three gates ahead is to not try to keep track of the discrete gates but rather my intended line through those two or three gates ahead. 

 

4.  Have a buddy or teammate there to 'pump you up'.  Having some fun just before you slide up to the wand works for me.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

  I was able to run a lot smoother and carve a lot cleaner this weekend.  Ironic enough it didn't mean a faster time though.  The one thing I have been working on is getting my arms more in motion with my carving.  Since I work mostly instructing beginners we do not move our arms at all.  So often when free skiing I would end up with static arms.  I have been watching Jf Beaulieu a lot lately.  One of the things he talks about is slow motion walking.  What it becomes is skating into your skiing.  So the outside arm leads the outside edge of the downward ski.

 

  I was playing a lot with walking and skiing on Saturday.  It feels really good almost like a new dimension in skiing.  To me it feels like less effort on the legs, hips, even your upper body.  It's just fluid, and natural.  The one thought I have is that you would have to be careful with the upper body to still keep it static downhill.  This is not my first time doing this but timing was off before.  Edging seems a lot stronger moving the arm.  Maybe it has something to do with getting the body more angled over that outside edge.  Either way I was able to bring that to the course.  It really kept me from slipping and made edging so much easier.  Since your body is in motion I didn't end up braced against the downhill ski.  So I think that is the key for me anyways. 

 

  The down side is that I was slower.  What that came down to was less time able to tuck portions of the course.  It's surprising how those little tenths of a second add up.  They setup a lot more turns on the flats this weekend.  A lot of people where complaining.  It was a challenge for sure that had a lot of people not able to tuck or get very good times.

post #8 of 14
Huh.  I had a different problem with my arms - my coaches said they were flapping too much.  They jokingly (or not) threatened to replace my poles with dumb-bells.
 
The arms flapping around screwed with my fore aft balance and I was in the back seat more than if my hands were consistently in front.
post #9 of 14

1. As mentioned above, breathe. If this is too hard for you, just exhale at the gate, your body will take care of the rest. Exhaling is that hard part, and can also be a tool for timing.

2. Look further ahead.

3. Stop running gates. Start with brushes. When you are carving cleanly and fluidly, move up to stubbies. When you are are carving cleanly and fluidly, move up to talls. If at any point you lose the fluid motion, go back. If you have hill space, you can set three mirrored courses (brush, stubby, tall) and move between them. If that isn't an option, set a course with brushes, slowly swap for stubbies, then slowly swap for talls. It is best if you don't swap all so there is a mix.

4. Read: http://www.skiracing.com/premium/4-ways-to-put-more-fun-into-your-race-runs

 

I'm not familiar with Jf Beaulieu, but there really isn't any reason for your hands or upper body to move. If you are playing with a walking movement, make sure the movement is coming from your femurs/pelvis and not your feet. I would recommend starting with a tight GS (18m max, no more than about 6 gates in a section, pure rhythm) and ski it slowly with slaloms. 

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by billgreen View Post

3. Stop running gates. Start with brushes. When you are carving cleanly and fluidly, move up to stubbies. When you are are carving cleanly and fluidly, move up to talls. If at any point you lose the fluid motion, go back. If you have hill space, you can set three mirrored courses (brush, stubby, tall) and move between them. If that isn't an option, set a course with brushes, slowly swap for stubbies, then slowly swap for talls. It is best if you don't swap all so there is a mix.
4. Read: http://www.skiracing.com/premium/4-ways-to-put-more-fun-into-your-race-runs

I'm not familiar with Jf Beaulieu, but there really isn't any reason for your hands or upper body to move. If you are playing with a walking movement, make sure the movement is coming from your femurs/pelvis and not your feet. I would recommend starting with a tight GS (18m max, no more than about 6 gates in a section, pure rhythm) and ski it slowly with slaloms. 

I had a fairly lengthy discussion about rise line so running at the gates is no longer an issue. Last week I was told I am rounding them out too much and getting to high of a line. I wish I could run brush gates and try a lot of unique things. Unfortunately I am doing league racing. So that is not an option.

You should check out JF Beaulieu. I would compare his skiing style to that of Ted. Which kind of brings me to the point of arms. Yes they are important or World Cup Racers wouldn't move them at all. I agree with you upper body movement should be minimal, but what is more important is not to twist the body. The page you shared the gal couldn't even carve outside the gates much less in a course. She looked to me like she has a lot of carry over from 90s skiing. A lot of vertical movement that then pushed into her outside edge. You can see that movement then extended to her outside ski causing it to skid. I had and sometimes still have a lot of those same issues. Movement in transition should be less vertical and more about absorbing the skis energy. When you have a large vertical movement depending on how much you flex that ski, you end up in the air quite often.

I am on 21m gs skis and carving quite clean. However I teach on slalom skis and getting a pair of 18m skis this weekend. I need to work on carving closer to the gate and not so rounded. Getting killed on league racing.

I have never thought about where the movement comes from. I'll have to play with the notion. It's a fairly large moment though so I don't see how it would come from the feet. Think monster steps, not general walking steps. Here is a video kind of for reference:

Edited by utahsaint - 2/19/16 at 7:53am
post #11 of 14

I get the walking movement, it is something that I have always talked about, but it is important that the movement comes from the right place, otherwise you are just generating massive tip lead and can get a bit hippy. Another way to think of it is moving your femur forward as you pull your foot back to maintain shin contact through the turn. It should feel like you are slicing a tomato with your pinky toe. On 18-21m skis you should be able to do anything, and take a very tight line. People talk about early vs. late, but try to think more in terms of entrance and exit angles. Where should you skis be pointing going into the gate, how far above the gate do you need to turn to have your skis pointing where they need to be at the exit of the turn? In any turn, the sooner you can transition to your uphill edges and the longer you can hold there the better. Make sure that you allow yourself a neutral phase in the turn, you need that time to get balanced on the new edges and your muscles need time to recover between turns. Going edge to edge would cause some of the troubles you describe.

 

The article I shared is about ski racing basics that often get overlooked. I think you are reading too much into it. If you want to get picky about hands, yes, they are important, but generally cause more problems than they solve. Quiet is good. Inside hand moving forward through the turn is good. Watch the top racers, there is very little excess movement, but really as long as your hands aren't messing up your feet, they aren't that critical. In the video you shared, there is zero upper body movement. I don't know what he is skiing on, but I suspect those turns would be very difficult on most FIS legal skis.

 

A couple things in your posts above caught my eye. In no particular order,

1) You say you are an instructor teaching primarily beginners. The boots I would want as an instructor teaching beginners and the boots I would want in a race course are not the same. This could be part of the issue (obviously I don't know, just a guess).

2) If you feel like you need to move your upper body for balance, that could suggest a problem somewhere else. Everything should basically be aligned along the outside ski with your navel aimed roughly at the outside ski tip.

3) Try generating edge angles with your knees, then use your hips to drive your knees vertically lower.

 

Good luck in your races!

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by billgreen View Post

 

A couple things in your posts above caught my eye. In no particular order,

1) You say you are an instructor teaching primarily beginners. The boots I would want as an instructor teaching beginners and the boots I would want in a race course are not the same. This could be part of the issue (obviously I don't know, just a guess).

2) If you feel like you need to move your upper body for balance, that could suggest a problem somewhere else. Everything should basically be aligned along the outside ski with your navel aimed roughly at the outside ski tip.

3) Try generating edge angles with your knees, then use your hips to drive your knees vertically lower.

 

Good luck in your races!

 

  I have different boots for teaching.  I found my race boots a bit uncomfortable since I can't even stand up straight in them.  Teaching for a whole day that way is completely uncomfortable.  Even so my teaching boots are not cozy soft and a 105 flex.  So I can ski hard with them and try things but they are not my race boots.

 

  I am not moving my upper body for balance.  I think you missed something there.    It is more about getting the extra umph on the downhill ski.  Try doing schlopies then try doing holding your arms quiet, then try actually having movement at the arm.  It makes a difference, not huge but enough.  Completely agree if its used for balance then something is off.  I don't lean or anything of that sort.  It is keeping me more aligned with that outside ski by following it, and or leading it.  Try walking without arm motion, its your feet that do the work, but your body has a natural tendency to have some swing at the arms. So its more about adding that natural swing into skiing.  Again mostly I teach so my arms normally when skiing are rock solid locked which I think creates different issues.

  Yes agree 100%.  Angles are not created from upper body, if they are then you have inclination.  What I see often in a course is people leaning into the poles.  What I find with arm movement is that it somehow keeps me more over that outside edge.  This is a very good thing as it means more pressure on that downhill ski.  Maybe what it does for me is to keep my focus off leaning into the gate.  I am not sure, I just know it worked really well for me.  I have yet to video tape what I am doing but will this weekend so I can review it. 

 

  Here is a good visual of that outside arm and ski lines:


Edited by utahsaint - 2/19/16 at 9:24am
post #13 of 14

Relaxation on course....I'll share something that took me about a 1 year to figure out when someone said it to me when I was competition in the sport of Fencing and applies in all sports.

 

"In practice you are relaxed and extremely prefect in technique, go for point (or win) and you change both physically and mentally"  Didn't get it at the time as I thought it was the same.

 

Later I discovered that in a competitive mode of mind set, I was out to win....this meant that the hinter brain did what was required screw the 1training....A bad thing.

 

Several things helped:

 

Understanding that this is happening and more importantly accepting it.

Training without this mind set really helps improve technique and skill level.

Lastly invoking this mind set in practice to understand and control it.

 

Each sounds easy, but trust me the first is hard and the last even harder.   IMO you never really fully control it (because you are competitive)  but at least you have understanding and that alone makes it manageable.

 

Now you relax because you can actual focus on the task at hand winning and trusting that your body knows (training) what to do to get there without the hinter brain interfering (most of the time;)).

post #14 of 14

Breathing is a great place to start. I worked with my daughter to hear the rhythm in the course. It's easier in a SL course because the gates act like beats of a song. A side note, my daughter can regularly guess what song was stuck in my head when I set a course because of the rhythm of the set, usually a Replacements song. For GS, you could count, in your head so other's don't think you're nuts, between turns. 

 

I've also found looking a few gates ahead can relax you because there's no surprises in your immediate future. Also really take your time with inspection. The idea there is a feel confident in what's coming up, 

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