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Overcoming Fears

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hoping that this won't be taken as a "stupid" question.

My main form of skiing is GS and SG racing. I'll be practicing without gates, tearing up the slope, no slipping or imbalance or anything. I'll go over to the gates and suddenly its a different story. I'll get in the back seat a lot, my skis skid and I lose edge at times. I'll sometimes catch an edge and lose my balance, or throw me into the back seat. I notice that I don’t get on edge as much when I’m in the gates. I can feel myself losing speed because of these mistakes I'm making, and I feel that these mistakes are due to my shear fear of falling or messing up. I have my little "tricks" that help, such as trying to stretch my hands as far out in front of my as possible to push my body forward when taking a turn, trying to lean in toward the downhill ski as much as possible, etc.

I’m curious as to what others have done, while in the process of learning to race or step up their skiing, to get over their fear and ski in the gates like they do without them? Two seasons ago I had a pretty serious injury in my right hand that required a couple of surgeries to fix (shattered knuckle and torn ligament) that I received while racing, so there is always that in the back of my mind. I have scheduled several lessons as was the recommendation of others, I’m just looking for some advice outside of that. Thanks.
post #2 of 13
cam, could it also be that in the course your turns are dictated? Perhaps your line is not as round in course as out, so you're constantly recovering?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ssh
cam, could it also be that in the course your turns are dictated? Perhaps your line is not as round in course as out, so you're constantly recovering?
I thought about that, but I actually feel more comfortable in the course then I ever do out on the slope. On the slope, it takes quick thinking to find where your going to turn, make sure no one is around, make sure its a good spot to turn on, etc. In racing, you know where you are going to turn and when your going to do it. The dictation I don't mind.

As for the recovery part, that has happened to me, only because I have hesitated and failed to properly make the turn. This is something that I again attribute to just general fear.

I've thought about falling on purpose just so I can teach myself there’s not that much to worry about, kind of get used to it and not fear it anymore, but that can become dangerous and somewhat embarrassing.
post #4 of 13
Commit to your turn. It sounds like you are thinking gates and not turns when you're in the course. Think a free skiing turn. Start as high as the highest line is (that has been skied) and commit to the arc. Once you get comfortable in the course doing this start to tighten your line and hit your edges harder and later in the turn to shave off time.

I know you say you feel comfortable in a course, but it sounds like you need more time getting used to being in one - meaing you need to be comfortable with skiing the turns that the gates are dictating. When you see a set, you shouldn't see the gates but rather the turns that you have to make. Set up and follow through before you reach the gate and you should be more successful. skiing GS an SG is no time to be shy about setting your edge.


post #5 of 13
Greg, what do you think of starting very slow and round through the course and working up to speed?
post #6 of 13
When I am racing I usually try to build a rythm in the course. I am not sure if you mean building up speed from gate to gate or building speed from run to run (as in training) based on a tigher line. Either is possible, but lets assume that this is a one run shot as it is in a race. I am no expert racer. I am okay, but certianly not a FIS racer by any means. Due to being in the sport only a few seasons I am still not what I would call 100% comfortable in a race course. I usually try to start the first few turns in the high line, to set myself up for the rest of the turns in the course in order to "get myself going" so to speak. Once I do that I am good to go. Some of my best finsihes ever have resulted from using that strategy. Sure I could go after the tightest line right off the start and place higher by a few places, but I would rather finish than not... In my last season of full time competition I was landing top 15's and top 20's pretty consistently and - even a top 10 or two (USSA level races - so finishing with the 100 to 120 point guys, which is decent, but nothing to brag about).

My personal preference is to start round and build up a rythm and comfort. I am not a "true" racer though (meaning I didn't start when I was in diapers). Many guys I know (who smoke me) have the familiarity with racing to tear up the course from the first gate. Of course they are all running in the 60 point range and hitting a few FIS races every year, scoring them about 80 FIS points. I am not in that league. For a lower level racer, starting semi-slow and building a comfort level is important. When I attack off the start I often end up late and therefore even slower by the middle of the course. If I start conservative and then get "into" course, letting the skis run after a few turns, I fair much better.

Do note, that by slowly getting into the course, I do not mean passively skiing the course. I carve the turns 100% clean and fast, but my line is more round and high versus low and tight. Building a high line up top can also be beneficial to the bottom especially if you are skiing a single headwall course like ours in NY.


post #7 of 13
I think you are still in the "reactive" phase. You are behind the game.

That comes with time, and with time on snow, the gates will "slow down".
post #8 of 13
How about a race camp in June? You'll get individualized instruction in what you want.
post #9 of 13
A race camp is no substitue for time in a course...
post #10 of 13

Really good advice from ssh, Heluvaskier, and Yuki. In gs, ski for a round line where you pass under (below) the gate as you finish the turn and look 1 to 2 gates beyond to find the line. One you feel more confortable with this, you can start to tighten your line. Round turns finsihed under the gate will help you with the timeing and rythum.

For slalom, ski a lot of bumps, but not by pivoting and sliding, but with round turns until you can attack the bumps staying more in the fall line. Then start applying this movement to the slalom gates.

While free skiing, engage both skis from the start to finish of each turn until it becomes seemless and not so "outside ski "dominent. Once you get it, start skiing in the gates in the same fashion. That type of movement pattern will keep you moving into your turns and make the sensation of speed (excessive speed) go away.

A good coach/instructor can help you make sence of this and apply it to your skiing.

Good luck!

post #11 of 13
Start skiing slalom. It will force you to ski forward and may help you alot in your GS and SG.
post #12 of 13
I don't know this applies in your situation or not but I'll share with you anyway. I do find myself skidding and being thrown in the backseat often when it comes to ice, steeps and gates. There is something that I"ve been trying lately with some success based on drills and hints from a coach.

One issue (amongst others, some already mentioned by others) that I always have and I have realized recently is that I tend to angulate with my hips instead of my feet/ankles. In other words, I subconsciously relying the weight and position shift on my center body to tip my boots for me. Because of the resulted delay in edging, it causes at least two problems (others and free to expand) which I don't notice much (or at all) at lower speed and at the gates.

First, my edges do not hold well at high speed, on steeps and/or on icy terrains. Unlike other more atheletic individuals, I need my edges for control and balance.

Secondly, because of the lack of focus of the feet, I tend not to use and roll both skis at the same time. The 1-2 stepping foot work leads to bigger problems on other terrains/skills such as bumps, powder and trees.
post #13 of 13
Two things: ice and speed for the radius.

I'm not a ski racer, so maybe I'm out of line, but some one left some gates on the hill from a lesson last weekend and I took a few runs through them.

I noticed that the "course" was rather icier than the surrounding hill. When I'm free skiing, I don't usually make really tight turns on ice like that; I make easier turns on it or just go straight down on it, and if I do turn on it and end up slipping sideways a little it's no biggee. On the course you have to make the turn tight enough or miss the gate. It was no problem not missing the gate, but I definately scrubbed off way too much speed. My line was terrible. Free skiing, I make a great turn as tight as possible. In gates I make the turn that has to be made as great as possible.

Another thing I noticed years ago lapping a road-race course on a motorcycle with little experience might also apply here. If you manage to nail a corner or two, your going way too fast to really nail the next one.
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