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Weems doesn't race!

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 
I’ve invited Carv Lust to continue our discussion on teaching and racing that we started on another thread.

We got a little testy, but we did all right, and I’d like to continue the dialogue. If it flames, then I’m out.

Three things:
  • What’s at stake, and the reason the moderators didn’t like the way the other one went, is that there are a whole lot of experienced pros out there who don’t participate in these forums because they feel they get attacked and debated on so many levels that it really becomes boring and they have better things to do with their time. We'd like to have more of those people participate. What would be nice for these people is to feel they get questions that they can answer to the best of their ability—rather than attacks on their credentials and the organizations they belong to. It’s called civil discourse, and it’s not about being right. It’s about listening to and respecting the opinions of others. (Notice, CL that I did not ask you, or have never asked anyone for their credentials.)
  • I think it’s normal for people who talk about sports to talk about the very highest levels of the sport in the course of their search for improvement. It’s called being a sports fan. How many people do you know, who know nothing really about football, hesitate to have opinions about the coach or team who wins or loses? How many people do you know who do not seek to understand the movements of the great golfers or tennis players or ski racers or slope stylers?
  • I could very well be wrong or nearly right about lots of stuff. But I’ve studied and taught this sport for about forty years. In the process I study and talk to racers, coaches, competitors, sport scientists, learning theorists, writers, and many others in an attempt to understand what’s going on and what could go on for my students. I also have spent a lifetime, learning to read the energy of a body moving in space to see where it helps itself or sabotages itself. And finally, I don’t hang on to my opinions with any great sense of personal intensity, but I do look for what I perceive the universal elements that are useable for everyone, or that everyone seems to use. All I have is all I have. I’m trying to get better, and hope you are too.
So now, the question. Starting with you CL, what do you think are the functional elements of racing that can be transferred to recreational sking? Are there any? What is your experience that leads you these beliefs?

And unlike the other thread, you don’t have to keep it simple!
post #2 of 100
Well said, and thank you, Weems.
post #3 of 100
Like bonni, I'm a recreational skier. I have gotten a lot out of the KISS threads. I'd like to see more quality instructors participate in this forum. Even if you have a different idea on technique, share.

But please remember, I'm your target audience.

If people post here and attack another poster and try to "de-value" the others information, I'm not likely to trust anything the "attacking poster" has to say.

I really do want to improve the current skills I lack and expand on some I already have.
post #4 of 100
The KISS threads add value. I'm an instructor. Anything that helps me present information to a student in a more understandable way is great! Thanks for doing it and keep them coming. I see them becoming an important part of EpicSki.

Also, I don't care what method of teaching is used. What works, works. Thats why I like to see reasoned, civil, discussion of all the pros and cons.
post #5 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems
...

what do you think are the functional elements of racing that can be transferred to recreational sking? Are there any? What is your experience that leads you these beliefs?

...
Well, I'll play.

I'm a recreational skier who took up racing way too late in life to have gotten any good at it. Nevertheless, I think the race instruction and the racing (at whatever level) I've done has probably contributed more to making me a better skier than any other single element.

Racing illustrates (for me) the differences between a truly carving ski and anything else. The term "carved turn" seems to be open to a lot of interpretations, but when you're racing and the ski is really carving, you KNOW it. That feeling becomes self-reinforcing and the cool thing about racing is that you can tell, run by run, whether you're improving or not.

So, racing has taught me to understand the feeling of really using a ski through all phases of the turn. I don't do it anywhere near as well as I could, but the forced discipline of turning around a set of gates teaches me more about early edge engagement, weight distribution, angulation, and line than any form of freeskiing does.

Besides that, racing is so darn FUN. I love that feeling of anticipation when standing at the top of a set of gates and wondering if THIS will be the run when the majority of my turns will be good ones rather than vice versa.

I know that I will ALWAYS free-ski better after a session in the gates. That, for me, is the most valuable transfer between racing and recreational skiing.
post #6 of 100

Dont know where this will take me.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by weems
So now, the question. Starting with you CL, what do you think are the functional elements of racing that can be transferred to recreational sking? Are there any? What is your experience that leads you these beliefs? [/font][/size]

And unlike the other thread, you don’t have to keep it simple!
Functional elements!
Ski racers do nothing very much different from us everyday skiers. They have the same elements such as snow and slope at their disposal and skis and boots are also very similair if not exactly alike nowadays with the new state of the art RD skis and plug boots. We do everything they do only they do it much much further up the ladder. They do it faaster and they do it with better precision. But we can transfer allmost everything they do into our own skiing if we only adjust it to our level and speed limit. For example, you cannot carve down a black slope safely if its not closed for practise purpose. If you can maybe you are not carving or maybe it is not a black slope.

Can we transfer any functional elements from car racing into regular driving?
post #7 of 100
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
Well, I'll play.

I'm a recreational skier who took up racing way too late in life to have gotten any good at it. Nevertheless, I think the race instruction and the racing (at whatever level) I've done has probably contributed more to making me a better skier than any other single element.

Racing illustrates (for me) the differences between a truly carving ski and anything else. The term "carved turn" seems to be open to a lot of interpretations, but when you're racing and the ski is really carving, you KNOW it. That feeling becomes self-reinforcing and the cool thing about racing is that you can tell, run by run, whether you're improving or not.

So, racing has taught me to understand the feeling of really using a ski through all phases of the turn. I don't do it anywhere near as well as I could, but the forced discipline of turning around a set of gates teaches me more about early edge engagement, weight distribution, angulation, and line than any form of freeskiing does.

Besides that, racing is so darn FUN. I love that feeling of anticipation when standing at the top of a set of gates and wondering if THIS will be the run when the majority of my turns will be good ones rather than vice versa.

I know that I will ALWAYS free-ski better after a session in the gates. That, for me, is the most valuable transfer between racing and recreational skiing.
I agree with that, Bob. The clock doesn't lie about your technique, and it's huge fun.

Do you watch World Cup racing? What do you pick up from watching the top racers?
post #8 of 100
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6
Functional elements!
Ski racers do nothing very much different from us everyday skiers. They have the same elements such as snow and slope at their disposal and skis and boots are also very similair if not exactly alike nowadays with the new state of the art RD skis and plug boots. We do everything they do only they do it much much further up the ladder. They do it faaster and they do it with better precision. But we can transfer allmost everything they do into our own skiing if we only adjust it to our level and speed limit. For example, you cannot carve down a black slope safely if its not closed for practise purpose. If you can maybe you are not carving or maybe it is not a black slope.

Can we transfer any functional elements from car racing into regular driving?
What are the fundamental functional elements--the ones that intrigue you the most--from watching the great racers?
post #9 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems
What are the fundamental functional elements--the ones that intrigue you the most--from watching the great racers?
The thing that amazed me most from recent WC racing was the 2003 world championships womens slalom. It was held on smooth relatively soft snow and one could clearly see that they had carved two separate ruts with each ski. My turns often showed a perfect arc for the outside ski and a skid for the inside ski. I went to work on two footed carving that year.
post #10 of 100
Ok. First real post in a while... So "bear" with me. (sorry) I'll start by saying that I think Racing and Rec skiing might as well be two different sports altogether. Tdk6 used the driving/car racing analogy, but I'd take it a step further and equate it to Formula 1 vs. Drag racing. Both involve volatile fuels, tires, engines and a guy with a mullet behind the wheel. But you see one on ESPN Euro, and the other you see on late night FOX Sports... not the same sport.

There are only so many things the human body can accomplish, whether you are a racer, or a beginner skier. We can bend certain joints only one way, we can twist certain parts on only one manner, and we can move two or more parts either simultaneously, or sequentially. We cannot do things like create more mass, bend our knees sideways, or defy gravity.

There are only so many things skis are capable of, be they custom race skis, or standard rental fare at your local track. They can be bent, pivoted, twisted, tipped, or ridden flat. They cannot make you "better, faster, or stronger than ever before."

So along that rationale, Race and Rec (not wreck) skiing should be very similar... so why are they not?

It's in the "why's". Why is a recreational skier doing what he/she is doing? There are a million right answers and hardly any wrong ones, but they most certainly want to do it all day, do it safely, get a rush and have fun. Why is a racer doing what he/she is doing? To improve their time, to get from point A to point B faster than the other kid, screw safety, take a chance, get a rush, and have fun!

It's in the "How's". TACTICS. Racers do things to their skis that most Rec folks don't, but they do them using all the same movement patterns as everyone else... They have to. But they do them with different timing, duration, intensity and rate. (us PSIA goobs call this D.I.R.T.) Where a racer might focus on the tipping of his/her ski, reducing skidding and using the ski to go FASTER, a Rec skier may wish to focus more on the rotary end of things, skid the ski and use it to go SLOWER.

Truth is, to me, the differences in mindset are so vast, and the differences in movements are so minute, that this is a tough question to answer. The answer lies in a skiers' motivation, and as for that? Just pick any point on an endless line and you can start from there. Each sect of the sport can have a lot to offer the other. Racers can have all the balls and athleticism in the world, but if they have no fundamentals to launch from, they become Bode Miller (a.k.a. "The Choke Artist Formerly Known as 'Clown-Shoes'". And I make no apology for saying that.) Recreational skiers looking to take the next step from skidding to carving need only to look at racing and what it does to a ski... just as Newfy just mentioned.

I realize I haven't really answered Weem's question here, but my experience in both worlds has taught me that while racing and rec can be filed under "skiing", that is really their only similarity. Anyone wishing to become a versatile skier can steal bits from both.
post #11 of 100
From the angulation thread....

Anyway, as a "starting point" of discussion, I think there are two main differences between ski racing and free skiing. 1). In racing, you are not the master of where you make your turns (duh!). Therefore a lot of your turn shape is dictated by the placement of the gates, balanced by the need to go fast. As a result, round turns aren't always going to be the answer for a racer. Sometimes, but not always. 2). As Mr. Weems said, and I agree with, that there are similar movements (I think they are essentially the same) made between recreational skiers and racers. However, due to speed in the course, what IS different is the intensity of the movements made by the racers, which is generally greater than those made by rec. skiers. This is especially true when it comes to pressure control and edging movements, as the forces that build upon the skier are directly related to the speed of the skier. If you can make the moves at high speed, you can most likely make them at low speed, but not vice versa.

L
post #12 of 100
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notorious Spag
So along that rationale, Race and Rec (not wreck) skiing should be very similar... so why are they not?

It's in the "why's". Why is a recreational skier doing what he/she is doing? There are a million right answers and hardly any wrong ones, but they most certainly want to do it all day, do it safely, get a rush and have fun. Why is a racer doing what he/she is doing? To improve their time, to get from point A to point B faster than the other kid, screw safety, take a chance, get a rush, and have fun!

It's in the "How's". TACTICS. Racers do things to their skis that most Rec folks don't, but they do them using all the same movement patterns as everyone else... They have to. But they do them with different timing, duration, intensity and rate. (us PSIA goobs call this D.I.R.T.) Where a racer might focus on the tipping of his/her ski, reducing skidding and using the ski to go FASTER, a Rec skier may wish to focus more on the rotary end of things, skid the ski and use it to go SLOWER.

Truth is, to me, the differences in mindset are so vast, and the differences in movements are so minute, that this is a tough question to answer.
I realize I haven't really answered Weem's question here, but my experience in both worlds has taught me that while racing and rec can be filed under "skiing", that is really their only similarity. Anyone wishing to become a versatile skier can steal bits from both.
Great post, Spag. I have abbreviated it here, and have some questions.

On the why's: Can a rec skier learn and become better from trying on the racer's motivation and attempting the same thing within his terrain/safety envelope?

On the how's: Can a rec skier learn to ski the slow line fast and be a better skier for it?

Your last sentence about versatility is the driving force for my quest to use racing ideas and ideals to help improve the lives of rec skiers.

Thanks. Nice to see you hear again.
post #13 of 100
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie
From the angulation thread....

Anyway, as a "starting point" of discussion, I think there are two main differences between ski racing and free skiing. 1). In racing, you are not the master of where you make your turns (duh!). Therefore a lot of your turn shape is dictated by the placement of the gates, balanced by the need to go fast. As a result, round turns aren't always going to be the answer for a racer. Sometimes, but not always. 2). As Mr. Weems said, and I agree with, that there are similar movements (I think they are essentially the same) made between recreational skiers and racers. However, due to speed in the course, what IS different is the intensity of the movements made by the racers, which is generally greater than those made by rec. skiers. This is especially true when it comes to pressure control and edging movements, as the forces that build upon the skier are directly related to the speed of the skier. If you can make the moves at high speed, you can most likely make them at low speed, but not vice versa.

L
Cool. Great stuff. On the issue of slow speed, high speed, Andre Arnold Ingemar Stenmark were known for training freeskiing at quite slow speed--overall and during warmups. Arnold told me that the reason he did that was that the slow speed amplified the errors and therefore forced precision. So, yeah, what you say, and more. If you can make them at high speed, practice them at slow speed, and then take the new version back to high speed.

This is also a rec application, in that rec skiers can emulate at their own speed some of the basic fundamentals that racers apply at those speeds. They may not succeed completely, but I'm thinkin' that this is a leverage issue: a little bit of success at imitating might create lots of success at overall versatilitiy.
post #14 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notorious Spag
Ok. First real post in a while... So "bear" with me.
oh my goodness....in a while......now if we can get robin to rise out of the dirt.

i feel obliged to suggest that it is via weems guidance that folks such as spag have re-surfaced. kudos to you weems.

my thoughts on this?

recreational skiing is a judged sport. i look at other skiers and say good or bad. i like or dislike. hack or good skier. how many times have i been seated in a chair and glanced at a bump skier and said to myself.......wow or if they would simply make this little change they would look great.

yesterday i skiied with Jim Shaw. Jim is an alpine ITC examiner and nordic examiner. we saw a skier who was straight out of the sixties in terms of technique and equipment. we were talking about the fact that it is entirely possible that many middle age skiers would spy this guy and say......that is what i want, that'e elegant skiing, that's hot skiing, that's so grooovey!

racing is a timed sport. it's not form it's function. i would sum it up as being all about things happening at the right time, at the right place. things must occur right now!

if the right things don't occur at the right time......time is lost or gates are missed.
post #15 of 100
The reason my posts to Weems were challenging his ideas and beliefs stems from the difference in his beleifs and what I have observed from real race coaches in operation. I have stood on the hill and watched close up the interchange between a truly great coach and a skier. I think Max 501 experienced the same thing last week skiing with Harald Harb.

His post about that experience I think deserves investigation. (it was bannished to the back waters of this Forum), I still don't know why, does it have to do with PMTS?

Max descibes his coaching experience in detail, it is a first hand view into real coaching. Max is a top notch skier, I don’t know about his racing background, but after viewing his photos on another forum, I can see he is for real and looks like he could be a racer. It would be interesting to hear from Max about what Harald had to tell him. Did Harald tell him he should incline his upper body or did Harald tell him he should skidd his turn entry. I think a real life situation would add reality to this thread.
post #16 of 100

Edge control

Quote:
Originally Posted by weems
What are the fundamental functional elements--the ones that intrigue you the most--from watching the great racers?
I've been watching a lot of WC video lately, particularly Slalom. The element that I find most impressive and difficult to emulate is there amazing edge control. There ability to adjust there initial steering angle (from LeMaster) with a subtle edge feathering and then transition smoothly into a carve. At times it's almost invisible and it all occurs at crazy speed.
post #17 of 100
Thread Starter 
I'm cool with that. Max, tell us what you learned. Tell us what you believe about skiing. Start a new thread. To keep in the instructional part, talk about the skiing, learning, teaching stuff. And don't make it an ad. Just tell us what it is.
post #18 of 100
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
The straw man was built when it was implied that Brian Stemmle, being a commentator, was in some way equivalent to other commentators. The other commentators were shown to be buffoons, thereby discrediting Stemmle.

The other commentators are the straw man.

FWIW: Stemmle was very good, in that he actually compared the 'round turns' to those of the skiers that finished on the podium. His comparisons were bang on. This was in a race this year.

"Holding polarity" sounds a lot like "fence sitting" to me.

If I were to offer conflicting definitions to my students, they'd at best walk away only confused, at worst they'd be confused, think I'm being evasive to hide my incompetence.

I've had experience with teachers like that, and heard comments afterwards like this: Student A: "He contradicted himself! Which statement is right?" Student B: "I don't think even he knows."

That can't be a good thing.

End BigE post

Weems reply:
"Gotcha. I concede the point and apologize for impugning Stemmle's commentary. It was conjecture without evidence.

On holding polarity, there are dilemmas where there is an either/or solution--a decision to be made. There are also dilemmas where people think that there are either/or solutions, but they are rather both/and responses. This is not just compromise or grey area. It's full attention to the benefits of both positions: maintaining their tension and realizing that the are interdependent. Examples are carving<-->skidding, process<-->results, clarity<-->flexibility, stability<-->change, team<-->individual, racing<-->free skiing, tactics<-->technique."

End of Weems reply.


I turn around and on another thread, exactly what I was pointing out about Weem's posts appears.

The difference between what I observed with a life long professional coach is that he comes to the point and gives precise feedback that always addresses needs for a movement or he exposes the most defeating movement in the skier’s repertoire. He explains why it is important to change and he explains exactly how to go about changing. He communicates with the athlete with a partnership style. He makes athletes feel confident and strong about their skiing.

Weems your posts are everywhere on the ski technique map, as if you want to make sure you don’t leave anything out. Unfortunately when you try to encompass and include all likelihoods you run the risk of being wrong in many areas. After observing Harald Harb coaching my kids, his approach is opposite, he is specific and accurate. He is easy to read and easy to understand, your version of ski racing is very confusing and very difficult to pin down. Every time you are confronted about your statements you cover yourself with arguments that offer alternatives as possibilities. Harald exudes confidence and positive energy.

Unfortunately, racers don’t have that luxury of indecisive; they can’t afford a moment of indecision. They need to know and completely believe in what their coach is telling them and what he delivers.

If a racer even gets the wrong impression or if they begin doubting what they should do, they are lost. It is for this reason your racing evaluations don’t make sense to me. You say on one hand it’s OK to lean or incline, and then on the other hand you say leaning is bad, for some skiers. Harald tells you exactly what to do and what he tells you works. I have never seen him reverse course.
post #19 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellensdad
The element that I find most impressive and difficult to emulate is there amazing edge control.
Have you skiied on really short SL skis?
post #20 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by carv_lust
Weems your posts are everywhere on the ski technique map, as if you want to make sure you don’t leave anything out. Unfortunately when you try to encompass and include all likelihoods you run the risk of being wrong in many areas. After observing Harald Harb coaching my kids, his approach is opposite, he is specific and accurate. He is easy to read and easy to understand, your version of ski racing is very confusing and very difficult to pin down. Every time you are confronted about your statements you cover yourself with arguments that offer alternatives as possibilities. Harald exudes confidence and positive energy.
CL,

Have you ever considered that maybe, just MAYBE that there IS more than one way to do things and that there COULD be more than one answer to "the question"? I could argue that the better coach would give their student multiple ways to do things and let THEM decide what works best for their skiing style. Isn't that better than forcing a square peg into a round hole?

L
post #21 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie
Have you skiied on really short SL skis?
Yes. Why?
post #22 of 100
Carv Lust. I think the advantage that a race coach has over MOST ski instructors is that a coach has the opportunity to be with one or very few students over an extended period of time, AND that they get to work in a very specialized region of skiing. They can become a "specialist", if you will. It's hard NOT to become precise, and to the point when there really isn't all that much information to deal with compared to the entire scope of what skiing is. Yes, a race coach can really shine under this circumstance and can definitely affect a positive change in their racer. But I also feel that that sort of specialization limits them to only a certain type (or types) of student.

Instructors have a similar, but opposite problem. The ski area opens its slopes to any and all types of skiers - wanna-be racers and "I'm only here 'cuz my husband is" Rec skiers alike - and the School is obligated to cater to all of them. In an effort to teach along a rather broad spectrum, the flavor can become "watered down", so to speak, because what works for one student can have an opposite effect on another. So Instructors can become limited (or at least sound contradictory) by the sheer volume of information gleaned from EVERY teaching experience.

Since we are specifically talking about racing, I think you are right. Specialized activity requires and deserves a specialist's coaching. A person like Harb will speak that language all day long, and as long as the goal is racing, and going fast, and holding onto that edge (and knowing when to let it go), and laying waste to gates day after day... then a good coach is the way to go. Personally I don't want a race coach telling me how to ski powder. I'll leave that stuff to Weems.
post #23 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie
CL,

Have you ever considered that maybe, just MAYBE that there IS more than one way to do things and that there COULD be more than one answer to "the question"? I could argue that the better coach would give their student multiple ways to do things and let THEM decide what works best for their skiing style. Isn't that better than forcing a square peg into a round hole?

L
Lonnie has an important point here.

I certainly know that my husband and I are skilled skiers, but what works for him does not work for me, and vise versa, and we do not have the same skiing style. Yet we are both technically adept enough to ski the same terrain and do it well and with confidence.

This makes me think of teachers in school. Kids (and people in general) learn in different ways: some learn by doing, some learn through analogy, some learn through techy talk, some learn by watching and "copying," and so forth. The teacher has to adapt his/her teaching methods to help the student learn. There is no one way to teach.

Thatsagirl
post #24 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellensdad
Yes. Why?
Those moves are much, much easier on a SL race ski. That's all.

L
post #25 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie
...maybe, just MAYBE that there IS more than one way to do things and that there COULD be more than one answer to "the question"? I could argue that the better coach would give their student multiple ways to do things and let THEM decide what works best for their skiing style. Isn't that better than forcing a square peg into a round hole?
Well said! As I mentioned on another thread yesterday, in racing there is no one technique or techincal element that will work in every situation.

And the same holds true for freeskiing and recreational skiing.

In racing, the goal is fairly simple: be the fastest person down the course. In pursuit of this goal, a racer needs to balance out-and-out speed technique (glide, carve, aerodynamics, weight transfer, et al) with constrant adjustments (drift, skidding, weight transfer again). Their line is roughly determined for them by gate placement and slope conditions (pitch, snow/ice consistency, light). Racers train ideal techniques in controlled practice situations, but use whatever is necessary - both good and bad - to get to the finish with the fastest time.

But a recreational skier can learn a lot from some race training. Here are some of the best things that a recreational skier can take from racing (and this is not a complete list, by any means):
  • Looking ahead to pick your line. This comes in handy in moguls, trees, chutes, crowds, dodgy spring conditions, and myriad other areas. Racers need this skill in the gates (the oft-mentioned "look two gates ahead" mantra), and it's a skill that's extremely useful all over the mountain.
  • How to be balanced in tricky situations. As mentioned before, the ski racer does not have free reign over the line he skis (at least if he doesn't want to be disqualified). And course sets will put a racer in all kinds of less-than-ideal situations that can throw the racer off-balance. Yet the best racers are able to recover without scrubbing speed or risking injury - again, a skill that's useful in the recreational world.
  • How to distribute weight between skis without disrupting a carve. I liked the earlier post about how racing teaches a skier what a carve is all about: having a solid platform in a turn. When I see video of many recreational skiers in race courses, they are often skidding their way through turns, relying too much on two-footed skiing, rather than carving with their weight primarily on the outside ski. (This also ties back to the "look ahead" bit above.) Race training is a sure-fire way to learn how to properly distribute weight and maintain the carve with both skis.
  • How to use as little edge as as necessary without scrubbing speed. Ski racers can be brutal to the snow, but the best have learned how to get away with the minimum amount of edging needed to ski their fastest line. As Olle Larsson always said, "treat the snow like you would your girlfriend's face: don't beat it up, be gentle." It's this ability that separates the top racers from the rest of 'em.
  • How to glide. The ability to ride a flat ski and glide, all the while maintaining control, is a key to successful SG and DH (and, to some extent, GS and SL).
On the other hand, there's a lot that racers can learn from recreational skiing. Things like:
  • How to slow down. As was said earlier, the racer looks for ways to go faster, whereas the recreational skier is often looking for ways to slow down.
  • How to ski more than just hardpack. This is a major change over the past 20 years, as race courses have become much more hardpacked across the board. It used to be that you'd only see icy and/or injected courses at the FIS level, but these days there's more emphasis on training with harder snow. But racers can learn a lot by training in soft ruts, or skiing soft snow and trying to maintain speed, or by skiing powder or moguls. Even Hermann Maier excels at powder skiing, which very likely helps his technique on the hard stuff, too.
  • How to recover in oddball situations. The gates in skiing (most notably in DH) are called "control gates," and for the most part a race course is a controlled situation, with most variables accounted for in the mix. Not so when skiing cliffs and chutes, or deep powder, or thick trees, or in a blizzard. There are a lot of good balance and recovery skills that are best taught outside of the race course (e.g. bombing across mogul fields on DH skis teaches good stance and balance).
So the two kinds of skiing are different sides of a coin, yes - but you need both sides of the coin to buy your soda.

Just my $0.02 - your mileage my vary.
post #26 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie
CL,

Have you ever considered that maybe, just MAYBE that there IS more than one way to do things and that there COULD be more than one answer to "the question"? I could argue that the better coach would give their student multiple ways to do things and let THEM decide what works best for their skiing style. Isn't that better than forcing a square peg into a round hole?

L
This is a nice jumping off point.

Skiing is an open sport. Terrain features change, snow conditions change, light changes, pitch changes, course conditions change etc. etc....

There is no way that a coach should say "TACTICALLY, ALWAYS DO THIS HERE", or "Always have your stance 6" wide".

The coach needs to make the athlete self-reliant to handle whatever the course/hill will throw at them. The athlete needs to make the tactical and technical decisions depending on the circumstances at any given moment.

To do that, the coach needs to provide the athlete with choices. (Not choices on word meaning, but on actions/movements.)

I don't see anything wrong with teaching options, in fact, it's the right way. I do, however, see something wrong with limiting an athletes choices to a particular set of movements -- if they ever find themselves in a position that is not conducive to performing those movements, they are lost.

But those movements still ought to be one of the athletes options.
post #27 of 100
Race training obviously teaches you how to carve on firm snow. What's less obvious is how it benefits other types of skiing. It is clear that it does - Hermann Maier (mentioned above) and Jeremy Nobis are excellent off-piste skiers as well. And they could probably do pretty well in the bumps too.

The question is: does that come from their racing background, or simply from the amount of time spent on skis since early childhood? Or in other words, if Maier and Nobis had spent the same amount of time (with the same intensity and coaching) in their lives simply free-skiing, without ever seeing a slalom pole, would they be the same off-piste and mogul skiers today?
post #28 of 100
Wow Songfta,

Nice synopsis and comparison!!
post #29 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
Well, I'll play.

I'm a recreational skier who took up racing way too late in life to have gotten any good at it. Nevertheless, I think the race instruction and the racing (at whatever level) I've done has probably contributed more to making me a better skier than any other single element.

Racing illustrates (for me) the differences between a truly carving ski and anything else. The term "carved turn" seems to be open to a lot of interpretations, but when you're racing and the ski is really carving, you KNOW it. That feeling becomes self-reinforcing and the cool thing about racing is that you can tell, run by run, whether you're improving or not.

So, racing has taught me to understand the feeling of really using a ski through all phases of the turn. I don't do it anywhere near as well as I could, but the forced discipline of turning around a set of gates teaches me more about early edge engagement, weight distribution, angulation, and line than any form of freeskiing does.

Besides that, racing is so darn FUN. I love that feeling of anticipation when standing at the top of a set of gates and wondering if THIS will be the run when the majority of my turns will be good ones rather than vice versa.

I know that I will ALWAYS free-ski better after a session in the gates. That, for me, is the most valuable transfer between racing and recreational skiing.
I think it's interesting, Bob, that I find pretty much the opposite to be true. Perhaps it's just that I have not skied as long or as much as you or maybe I don't have the opportunity to do many gates so mine is not an equivalent experience? I too think that my hard snow skiing has improved and like you I more and more enjoy trying to keep my skis actively engaged throughout a turn (although not necessarily at your level of proficiency). However, I don't see much carryover to my off piste/soft snow skiing. On packed snow my main focus is trying to build angles and off piste skiing doesn't necessarily do much for me in that way.

On the other hand, the continually improving sense of balance that skiing off piste has given me goes a long way towards helping my hard snow skiing. With improved balance I find that I can much better focus and succeed in creating better angles on the hard pack. It's interesting that I have been able to do this in spite of a reduced range of motion in certain joints. I am very much looking forward to seeing what I can do in this regard in future seasons with a second hip replacement that will hopefully result in much better range of motion in my left hip as a previous one did for my right.

As I write this I think there is one area of hard snow skiing that has helped me off-piste. As I have learned to more efficiently release on hard snow and experienced the effectiveness of good releasing movements I have been inclined to search for the same kind of efficiency/effectiveness off-piste. While off piste it's much more "two footed," I have serched for and am finding much more efficient releasing movements based on my hard packed experience.

I know that I am a little off topic here as I am not specifically relating to racing and/or gate training.
post #30 of 100
Even if one were toaccept that there is any one right way to any one thing, there is not just one kind of learner and not just one way to turn on the light bulb. Some people need a concept intellectualized. Others need repetition and muscle memory, some watch and mimic. It is not possible for there to be one right way to instruct, even if you could get agreement that there is one right result.

And of course, there isn't.
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