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Racers or coaches - Has your season began yet ?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
No snow and high temperature means that we only start training seriously on the slopes around Christmas while we should already be sorting our gear out right about now... Shucks.

And I'm not talking about no fancy summer camps here At least my planks will be nicely waxed before the training starts...
post #2 of 14
All of us in the east are in your shoes. You have lots of company. None of our kids have been on snow. Our first tentative on-snow day -- Dec 2nd -- looks pretty iffy.

Time to start training Croatia-style with lots of ski-movement related dryland training.
post #3 of 14
Does anyone have any idea what a good trainning option is right now? we usually head up to MSA but the one trail isnt so attractive. So any reccommendations?
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMAS29 View Post
Does anyone have any idea what a good trainning option is right now? we usually head up to MSA but the one trail isnt so attractive. So any reccommendations?
Just checked some websites.. Sunday River has 7 open and Sugarloaf has 4. You know how they do it down there though.. Upper / Lower + all the little goat paths.. Each of them probably only has three open. ha ha..

The west is having an amazing start this season. We're going to be on day 12 tomorrow. All at Norquay & Nakiska. Only downer was that it was about -25 C today.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powderhoundin View Post
Only downer was that it was about -25 C today.
You dont even realise how much that -25 would make me happy right now...
post #6 of 14

Ski camps/training

I just finished a one-week camp (with the Tichys) at Copper Mountain, Colorado. The snow was very good for this time of year (with more falling since and a couple of more days of it predicted. ) Teams from all over the world were there. (Japanese, French, Italians--the Austrians, including Hermann Maier and Benni Raich, were there the week before.) I understand there's also training at Loveland and Keystone.

A lot of the racers (Masters and Junior) were out from the Midwest and East, complaining about no snow on their home hills.

I think there's a ton of snow in the Cascades, so there should be training on Mt. Hood (which weather.com reported already has a 57 inch base before the latest predicted three days of snow). I understand the Tichys will be running a one week camp out there December 26-30. (Always educational to train alongside a top-15 ranked NorAm slalom racer, with whom, alas, my video is never confused... ) For more info, check out www.tichyracing.com. Out here in the Sierra, the resorts that are (barely, partially) open got about 4 inches yesterday and are getting more snow today, so the various Masters training programs originally projected to start around December 9 (Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley) may (or may not) open on time. Our club league has GS training clinics scheduled at Northstar on December 9 and Alpine Meadows on December 16.

Unfortunately, it sounds like there's almost no snow in the Northeast. Think cool thoughts everyone... (Gee, it would be cool if I could stay lower in the transition, get more forward in the steeps, and ski a little earlier line... )

SfDean
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfdean View Post
I just finished a one-week camp (with the Tichys) at Copper Mountain, Colorado. The snow was very good for this time of year (with more falling since and a couple of more days of it predicted. ) Teams from all over the world were there. (Japanese, French, Italians--the Austrians, including Hermann Maier and Benni Raich, were there the week before.) I understand there's also training at Loveland and Keystone.

A lot of the racers (Masters and Junior) were out from the Midwest and East, complaining about no snow on their home hills.

I think there's a ton of snow in the Cascades, so there should be training on Mt. Hood (which weather.com reported already has a 57 inch base before the latest predicted three days of snow). I understand the Tichys will be running a one week camp out there December 26-30. (Always educational to train alongside a top-15 ranked NorAm slalom racer, with whom, alas, my video is never confused... ) For more info, check out www.tichyracing.com. Out here in the Sierra, the resorts that are (barely, partially) open got about 4 inches yesterday and are getting more snow today, so the various Masters training programs originally projected to start around December 9 (Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley) may (or may not) open on time. Our club league has GS training clinics scheduled at Northstar on December 9 and Alpine Meadows on December 16.

Unfortunately, it sounds like there's almost no snow in the Northeast. Think cool thoughts everyone... (Gee, it would be cool if I could stay lower in the transition, get more forward in the steeps, and ski a little earlier line... )

SfDean
Welcome Back Dean!! We missed you and your copious insights Are you saying that you didn't have your laptop with you or no Internet connection and couldn't provide Biff's Blog on Alpine Ski Training?

Anyway, how'd it go? Did you make big strides? Going to dominate the Men's class 4 (or whatever you're in) in Masters this year? Looking forward to your report on the training and whatever benefits you integrated into your racing

BTW, here in Park City we are getting 2 to 3 feet between today and Wednesday, the season is finally getting going in earnest. We should bashing PVC by next Monday.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Dranow View Post
Welcome Back Dean!! Are you saying that you didn't have your laptop with you or no Internet connection and couldn't provide Biff's Blog on Alpine Ski Training?

Anyway, how'd it go? Did you make big strides? Looking forward to your report on the training and whatever benefits you integrated into your racing

BTW, here in Park City we are getting 2 to 3 feet between today and Wednesday, the season is finally getting going in earnest. We should be bashing PVC by next Monday.
Thanks, Gary--

Congrats on the snow. That's great, and have fun!

I really meant to post some kind of report on my ongoing camp progress here (especially given all the online help I got from you, Rick, SkiRacer55, Alaska Mike, Slatz, skiingman and others in thinking about and preparing for the camp and thinking about quality racing turns in the off season) but despite a fanatical pre-season conditioning program, I was so wiped out at the end of every day, I could barely get my 13-year old son to lunch, dryland, dinner and video (and deal with his broken braces and equipment issues) and wax/tune my skis, let alone get to my work voicemails and emails or even think about posting something.

I skied with better hand position than I ever have, kept my shoulders much more level, had more of a minimalist technique. (Let's just say, given my approach in prior years, that wasn't all that difficult). And I made a LOT of progress on some other issues, and also brought back a bunch of things that need a lot more work on. Not surprisingly, my biggest issues were my usual suspects:

1. Pinched line, going too direct at gates. There I made huge progress, which leaves me only immense progress still to go on this issue. One "aha!" moment for me was seeing that Mike Tichy, a top-15 NorAm slalom racer (even in the year he had shoulder surgery) about half my age, who can ski a much more direct, lower line than I can because of his much tighter turns, actually skis a higher, earlier line than I do, even when I'm skiing earlier than I ever have before. I made a lot of progress, but even in the last day video, my 13-year-old son could see where I was deliberately skidding a GS turn just to avoid wrong-footing a gate. (Which could be called a double turn, but was more accurately a turn abandoned in favor of a skid instead of a DQ.) It's interesting--even when I think I'm practically skiing a turn from behind and trying to "stay ahead of the course" as Rick advised or "skiing an intelligent line for your ability level" as you advised, I'm actually skiing a late line--just not as insanely late as I usually do.

2. Getting consistently forward at turn initiation, especially when it gets steep and hairy in the gates. (i.e., when it is most needed and somehow least in evidence.) I made progress--especially late in the camp--by really concentrating on elbows forward in the athletic position (thus pulling my shoulders and hips forward, not just driving the hands forward while dropping the behind back.) Not surprisingly, I did better at doing this consistently in free skiing than when survival mode kicked in in the gates.

3. Occasionally too much on the inside ski. (Gosh, that never happened to anyone else....)

There were several other things I took away from the camp:

1. For some reason (actually, three) in slalom I had a lot of trouble with the simultaneous quick knee roll through the brushes exercise (like skiiing a 10-gate long flush on the flats) that all the other slalom skiers nailed. That's something I've got to work on.

2. A key differentiator for the really, really fast skiers was that at the end of the turn they (subtly, but definitely) explode dynamically down the hill and into the next turn, in a powerful (but not big--they stay in balance) projection of the CM. (I liken it somewhat, Gary, to your advice to me in slalom over on the NASTAR forum in a slightly different context of "throw your hat in the ring." Some people achieve it by a virtual double pole plant, and others in other ways, but it gets them out of the old turn dynamically and drives the CoM down the hill and forward, not just bobbing up wasting energy.) The Tichys are big at trying to teach this several different ways, and they have a bunch of exercises to promote the move and generate the muscle memory. I really got this--not, unfortunately, in the gates (except in short sections that were flatter), but conceptually and intellectually in free skiing doing the drills.

3. I've got a truly weird cluster of habits on video that my poor 13 year old son (who learns like a sponge, but mostly learned to ski by skiing behind me) absolutely eerily mimics on video--in the gates I come up too much and too tall in transition instead of forward or into the new turn (notwithstanding the intellectual understanding of #2 above) and this promotes falling into the back seat, and I use too much independent leg action rather than a simultaneous edge change/knee roll, and I sometimes show excessive inside tip lead. (The resulting freeze-frame of certain transitions is an absolute cringe-a-thon in the video room.)

One bit of good news from the video sessions is that I have terrific recovery skills (a consistently late line will certainly teach you that, if you can finish your races.) What I don't yet know how to do, though, is how to translate that one-time in the course high edge angle emergency make the next gate screamer into a consistently higher angle/better turn.

It's a fun, funny, bedeviling sport we've got here, isn't it?

Have a great time in the gates,

SfDean.
post #9 of 14
Great report Dean! I assume you've got some video to post

Perhaps this should be in a Slalom Technique or specific technique thread but since we're here,,,,

Yesterday (as in most days) I get to ski with some of the best Masters in the country. I am enjoying skiing with Rick "Slabs" Slabinsky (among others) and I'm endlessly picking these guys brains (even if they don't know it ) Rick is arguably (and just put arguably as someone inevitably will) the best speed skier in the master ranks for the last several years. I base this on his results like winning the MoleculeF Speed Series (as he did in 2005). Anyway, he's good, and not just in speed. We were working on Slalom all this week. Rick rolls 'em up as quickly as anybody I've seen and but for nagging injuries would be right up there in the tech events consistently.

As we skied I'd tag in right on his tails and absorb his movements. Keep in mind his CM is at least 3" lower than mine and he is a tad bit younger (like 10 years) but there was more to his quickness. To make a long story short I weaseled his thoughts on slalom turns out of him and made them my own to the best of my particular physical limitations (another post on another day, capitalizing on one's specific assets) That is IN THE FREE ENVIRONMENT. What Rick said was that he first mastered "the turn" free skiing and then based on his own progression took those skills into the course (again, another topic on the value of not always running full courses). We all know what that "Turning on Demand" thing does to our timing and execution. He addressed exactly that as we talked. Of his several suggestions, which I will get posted in a slalom specific article somewhere, he said that even I (at 6' and 210 lbs) should go down to 155's for my early season training. That on the 155's the timing will be easier to execute and carving a higher percentage of turns likely. Then from there, once the basic timing is in my (or anyone's grasp) step back up to the 165 and add more fore/aft balance point articulation to the turn, building up more energy at the release (than staying more centered on the 155 through the turn - less tail).

My point on this long winded tome is that with practice and intention the things you can do in free skiing will eventually become available on demand. That creating a progression on how you apply each step (especially in the absence of constant coaching) and building the skills (almost assembling the skills) in a intelligent and thoughtful manner (each person should be there own best coach ultimately), each day, each opportunity will absolutely produce results on race day - over time. This sounds obvious but its not how everyone approaches each discipline. Some folks just go for miles and bashing gates endlessly hoping the plateau will give away to the peaks of Everest. Even when coaches are present (and this may be a bit of an indictment on some coaching environments that have long term repeat athletes, espeically for Master age groups). In short, it will come, it always does to those who practice with patience and intention. In short, strive to practice perfectly as every turn counts

Also, Dean, my buddy, my pal, please expand on this

Quote:
The Tichys are big at trying to teach this several different ways, and they have a bunch of exercises to promote the move and generate the muscle memory.
Love to hear all about it

Good for you Dean and glad you had a successful Camp! Its good to be back on skis, eh?
post #10 of 14
One more question Dean. So, are you saying that you actually took some concepts or notions from some posts somewhere and were able to apply it on the hill and experience some sort of result? Just curious, I'm doing some research :
post #11 of 14
I love flush drills. Freeskiing I love to do ankle roll drills, where the goal is to make as many direction changes as possible by just rolling the ankles. Not complete turns, but just direction changes on a relatively gentle run (you will gain speed). Maintaining body alignment is extremely important, as is focusing solely on the ankles.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Dranow View Post
One more question Dean. So, are you saying that you actually took some concepts or notions from some posts somewhere and were able to apply it on the hill and experience some sort of result? Just curious, I'm doing some research :
I absolutely took a lot of things away from a lot of posts, and definitely used them, Gary--

But I'm probably something of an extreme case on that front (an outlier) in that (A) I live away from the hill, (B) I start obsessing about ski season and racing technique way before there's any snow to practice on, (C) I'm something of an ambitious fanatic, for the number of days I get to ski a year, (D) I'm an intellectual learner and an analytical guy, and (E) I've been thinking about this for a long time, so there are some convenient "hooks" already installed to hang new knowledge on.

I also have some sense of some of my issues, so that (for example) when I see Rick's balance (and balance point) -oriented exercises for first day skiing, I know I want to try them, because I know a huge first day issue for me is getting sufficiently far forward.

Someday soon, I should put together a (characteristically, frighteningly long) post on some of the things I've picked up from posts, and elsewhere, to apply to my issues in skiing. As I think back, some of the most powerful of them were discussions linked or tied to pictures of WC racers, so it was easier for me to get it. And some of the other most powerful learning came from things I posted, which were not entirely correct, and when someone gently challenged me or nudged me in a different direction, it really made me turn things over in my mind for a while and reexamine some of my approaches.

My personal view of learning is that it's kind of idiosyncratic. When you tell a student/racer "get more forward," for example, he may bend at the waist, or stick his hands forward, but drop his behind back. But if you go through a litany of different mantras to get the same result, student A will get it from one form of words, and student B will get it from a different form of words.

So, in my example of just one of my issues, for getting forward, I've seen all the following on line, some of which were helpfull to me on this issue, and others of which might work for others:

If I'm trying to bend the front of the ski, I work on moving the body into the turn early, flexing the ankles, and generally making things happen at the top of the turn. --Alaska Mike, NASTAR forum.

“Try to feel equal pressure on your shins as you push into your turn. One way to do this is to find a letter on the tip of your ski and push it into the snow. Pretty soon, you’re standing on your toes without thinking about it.” --Picabo Street, USA Today, February 18, 2003.

It’s easier for your skis to catch up with your body than it is for your body to catch up with your skis. [EpicSki, somewhere, but I never copied down the source]

Move more than you think you should, more than you think is necessary, and more than you think is safe. At the start of the turn, move your shins against the front of the boots. This pressue will transfer to the front of the ski. Your goal is to make the edges bite into the snow by putting pressure on the shovel of the ski at the moment of edge change. --Weems' Web site, as quoted on EpicSki.

Early forward pressure: This is accomplished via ankle flex for some, waist for others. --Ron LeMaster's 11/06 Boulder talk, as quoted on EpicSki by SSH.

You want to move your center of mass FORWARD and into the turn for proper edge engagement. I focus on flexing my new inside ankle (left ankle in left turn) toward the turn at the beginning to start my COM moving forward as well as inside. If I flex my knee, I tend to move more laterally, and then I'm behind the skis. --Kneale Brownson, EpicSki.

Also know that the more pivot you execute, the more opportunity it offers you to auto move your fore/aft balance point from tails to the tips. --Rick, EpicSki, specifically on slalom technique in the gates.

No matter how much of the tail you use at the end of the turn, get back to the tips for the initiation of your new turn. --Rick, EpicSki, same.

Instead of thinking "hands up and hands forward" think "get your elbows forward". It pulls your center of mass naturally forward into the athletic stance. --Deb Armstrong.

Another way to think about keeping the weight forward is (especially in slalom) focusing on pulling the feet back to keep them under you so that your position is forward at the initiation of the control phase of the turn. --Olle Larsson.

"You're not bent over at the waist, it's more like there's a curve through your back and down through your glutes just like you would sit on a road bike. It's got to be obvious that forward can't be just shin pressure..it's got to be the hands and chest as well." --Richard Malmros (SkiRacer55) "Sharpening the Saw"


(All of which leaves me with no good excuse for NOT getting forward at turn initiation)

SfDean.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Mike View Post
I love flush drills. Freeskiing I love to do ankle roll drills, where the goal is to make as many direction changes as possible by just rolling the ankles. Not complete turns, but just direction changes on a relatively gentle run (you will gain speed). Maintaining body alignment is extremely important, as is focusing solely on the ankles.
Yes--I think some of my problems with this drill were that (1) I ski with too much independent leg action rather than a simultaneous knee roll/ankle roll; (2) I need to ski this drill (and flushes generally in slalom) with a narrower stance; (3) I don't have much slalom experience, and I've never really practiced this drill before. I need to practice it a lot more; and (4) I'm a little concerned also that part of it may be (sigh) that my boots are too comfortable and two notches softer than stiffer racing boots that would be more laterally responsive. I specifically got boots a few years ago (Lange Comp 100s) that were a couple of notches more flexible and had more forward flex than a stiffer higher performance racing boot (Lange Comp 120s) and after multiple sandings/grindings and years of packing them out, I've finally gotten them to stop hurting. I'm a bit reluctant to upgrade to a new torture device just to go through the grinding/foot pain nightmare all over again.
post #14 of 14
I often do ankle rolls will my boots unfastened, so I think the Comp 100s will suffice.

Perhaps if you concentrate on the inside ankle rolling instead of trying to do both, you'll have better results. This isn't a knee angulation drill- you are rolling the ankles. You still will have a short leg and long leg (if that works for you), and will have to move the COM laterally.
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