Originally Posted by oldtimer
At the ages of 5-7 it is really very difficult for kids to pressure the front of the boot. What you hope to see is that they get engrained to keep their hands WAY out front from a very young age. Then over several years they evolve (this takes time) from tail gunners to really pressing the front. The point of over exaggerating the hands out front is to facilitate this evolution into pressing down the hill.
Somewhere in the age of 7-8 most of the good skiers will decide that they really want to put it down the hill- at that point the front of the boot will come very naturally for them IF their arms aand upper body are not pinning them on the tails of their skis. When kids make this transition we see a very predictable thing in race results. In the youngest age groups there are typically a group of kids who are not technically all that good who get great results. They often have a real go gettem attitude, have been skiing behind mom/dad fast since the age of 3 and it all comes very naturally. At around the age of 8, some of the kids in the group who many thought of as "sleepers" suddenly come forward and take over the podium. What has changed? The ones who really get it about keeping their hands out front discover a proper turn. Once a kid feels it, the flood gates open up and suddenly they can combine the good feeling of the turn with the confidence of knowing that they can carve on any surface. And voila, the "sleeper" is off and ripping. That kid who was a go-gettem-tiger at 6-7 often hasn't felt any need to get out of the skidded turn and hands down approach (in fact they are often the hardest for us as coaches -- why change what they think is working?)- every year I have one or two who are shattered when they can no longer beat those who used to be 'slow".
Good thread and good points. I can so relate to this...
My 10-yo has missed out some opportunities because her arms were to the sides. (she has other problems too)
For instance, in this past w/e, she forgot to get her arm in front (and pole plant) for SL. She skied it with her hands just like GS. When she found herself late to a gate over a headwall (not hard, just quick) in the second run, she skidded out and had to hike back. Being how strong/quick she is, she could have saved herself easily with little loss if her hands were in front and doing the right thing with the poles. Other than the hands and up to that gate, she had a fabulous run (just 8-10 secs behind the fastest).
Also related to this, in her first run, she got so nervous that she stood up the whole time (esply in the flat) and never had her hands in front of her. Her tails skidded out miserably but still just missed top 10. The point is, IMHO, it has to do with the other point you're making. If a young (or not) skier doesn't have the hand position burnt into him/her, he/her tends to forget (and/or get lazy) when distracted, especially if he/she can still ski well without it. And then, when it comes to a time when it will make a difference, he/she will suffer the consequences.
Ski racing is a lot mental than one thinks. The point is that whether it is natural or not, fostering repetition that is otherwise intuitive is never a bad thing. Nowaday, I think that if the sport came harder for her, she probably would have tried harder with these unnatural drills.