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What this race coach just taught

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
We met at Logan on the afternoon of 6/22 for an evening flight to Munchen and then, by coach for 2 ½ scenic hours to Hintertux, AUT.

We would ski through 7/3; We took our off day based on weather. Optimally, Four on, one off, four on. 5-1-3 is what it turns out. 5 GS ski days, 3 SL. We skied eight of eight days.

17 youngsters, yob's: 92-99. I skied with the 96 and youngers. JIV-JV. 3 girls, 6 boys. They are all members of our winter club. The skill and ability levels were varied, but quite high. In 08, six of the nine won runs in open state races against their yob. For reference, any given year, the caliber of NH racing at this age is national class.

Settled in to Dengg's lovely Hotel Alpenhof the afternoon of the 23rd. We relaxed into our schedule with a 6:15p dinner, athletes at 7:15 to help ready them and bed by 8:30 – it's 2:30a at home – the babies gotta sleep. Wakeup at 7:15, fantastic breakfasts, Vans to the lifts at 8:15. On snow 9:15a. By the way, each had at least one, if not both parents there for the entire trip.

This is my third summer to Hintertux with this age group. The conditions are tough there at this time of year. Grooming takes place late afternoons – every morning is gnarly, frozen or not, and late morning temps up to 16c turns the snow deep, stiff and nasty. Black glacial ice underneath. Visibility can be it's own challenge. No chemicals allowed. Along with the steep gradients and high traffic, Hintertux will kick your butt. In those surroundings I become very present to what slope, snow and exposure invites. It stretches me as a coach.

Three consecutive gondolas to the glacier. We ski down from elevation 3250m with three different exposures serviced by t-bars and a fixed grip double.. My guess is 220-240m of drop per run. At the day's end you could ski to 2660m and bypass the top gletcher-bus and only have to ride the last two gondolas to the valley at 1500m. For those who know Tux, 7/1 was the last day of skiing to the Tuxer-Fernerhaus.

Camp goal: Skiing nasty snow strongly. This winter on firm, groomed pistes, they will appear much more stable, planted, deliberate, dynamic and confident. More mature, if you will.

What we did: - Knees in front of the shins prior to fall line entry. Maintain direction through the switch. No tail wagging. Strong, stable upper body. Be active to be quiet. Look ahead. Hide the clumps. Tracking accurate skis through all phases of the turn. On SL skis, the focus on timing and use of poles and upper body stability became much more disciplined. Skis tip one way, the body tips the other. A strong pole plant was emphasized for the conditions and steepness. In all speed control drills, an acceleration was to be felt into and through the fall line. Completed turns. None of what we did was easy. They were challenged appropriately. Volume of intensity was closely monitored.

I enjoyed watching them get better. And I caught glimpses of some very strong skiing. Cool. It was tough and they were up for it. We skied 3.5 hrs a day and their little bodies were hashed each day. Attention was quite good. Video each evening. A most improved was named nightly and each of them were deserving of recognition.

I asked them late in the camp if they had been watching others their age on the hill and how they felt the skiers in our group compared. They were pleased.

No injuries. We did no alignment or any type of equipment adjustments. Last winter's gear was used. This was not a gate camp. (They tasted a couple...) They'll get plenty of that.

The energy of the group was fun. Learning to ski well is play. They played hard.
post #2 of 5
Nice, whygimf. I like your expression "no tail wagging"! Also "Be active to be quiet" is a nice paradox. Hide the clumps? Tell me more.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
When 'hiding the clumps', if you watched a skier from the knees up, there would be no appearance of skiing in variable snow. Stable, smooth, linked and patient - free of bobbles, tentativeness, recoveries and defense. Deep attention, present awareness and self-trust are needed for the challenge. Good demos establish the mark.

Separation of edging from flexion/absorption is introduced and necessary.
Absorb/track through the snow variables without changing edge angle. It eliminates a nervousness in ski direction.
post #4 of 5
If I'm not mistaken when you said skis tip one way, body tips the other, you meant angulation rather than inclination. It's good to see some coaches
teaching young racers properly.
post #5 of 5
Nice report, whygimf. Sounds like a productive camp. Not a feel good environment, but very beneficial for taxing, testing and refining the skills. Hide the clumps,,, sounds like an expression you may have made up on the fly. Good one.
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