Originally Posted by Alaska Mike
I used to chase whatever someone claimed was the current "hot" way to ski (the MSRT is an example), but usually I find that without an understanding and application of a few core fundamentals these "innovative" approaches are an effective way to plateau your skiing. I'm not saying these approaches are wrong by any means (I'm not really qualified to do so), but I think 90% of adult racers are fooling themselves when they think that they can skip the "easy" stuff and cut right to the fast stuff. There really are no short cuts to effective and fast skiing- just some paths are shorter than others. What it takes is a lot of effort and focus to develop the skills necessary to make those kinds of refinements later. That's where formalized coaching is key.
*Sigh*. A lot of what you say, Alaska Mike, resonates with me. It's frustrating, though, because I'd love for it not to be true--that instead there's some quick fix and with one change (not 11 incremental improvements plus looking ahead more in the course and being more aggresive in the steep parts) I'd make a big leap (not, like last weekend, a scattered heap.)
My current, somewhat inconsistent, fantasy candidates for dramatically improved skiing are (1) consistently relaxed forward hand position, and (2) using the inside pole as a "cat's whisker" brushing the snow with the basket before pulling the hand forward and in at gate clear, like Joel Chenal does, for tactile feedback with radical inclination, creating more confidence to promote radical inclination while reducing the incidence of boot-out style crash. Prior/other fantasy candidate for radically improved skiing was more deeply flexed and laterally displaced inside knee. That seemed to work nicely on slalom skis while free skiing, but God only knows where the technique went when I was actually in the gates on Sunday... (Certainly didn't show up on the scoreboard, which last weekend indicated a raceday proximity to my skiing of, say, no closer than Austria.)
But (sadly, for us 23-ski-day-a-year guys) I increasingly think that some of these "silver bullet" improvements for racers are often effects, not causes, of steadily improved skiing. So the fastest guy on race day, whose mid-course still picture shows those perfectly relaxed forward hands at gate clear, is in that position because he's skiing with phenomenal confidence and balance while doing everything else right (great line, wide stance, rolling the ski early in transition, bending the shovel, ideal inclination for the necessary turn, not over-pressuring the ski, quiet upper body, parallel edge angles, no excessive inside tip lead, sufficient flexibility in hips and key joints...) Of course he looks relaxed--what he's doing is easier for him (even at his faster speeds) than what I'm doing is for me. (Where, in fairness, my current slalom technique appears to involve, intermittently, several additional sports as well--boxing, pogo, and tumbling among them. Plus semaphore signalling. And on Saturday, hiking. All I can say in apology of that ugly 53 second run and the goofy crash on Sunday is, you guys try going fast with that kind of multitasking....)
So get as much coaching as you can, from a good source so you can steadily progress on your key issues, and also get if from varied sources, because some of it you can "get" only if put a different way.
(Unfortunately, I don't have time to get instruction before this weekend's and next weekend's races, so for me, I think it's back to the Indenial(tm) Program, magical thinking, and the cat's whisker/relaxed hands/inside knee thing. And some people thought eBay was going to put an end to yard sales....)
Busy packing the ibuprofen,