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Masters SL

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
After a little encouragement from others, I've decided to give Masters racing a shot. My experience thus far has been a fun, but not overly challenging, intramural league and a few NASTAR races many years back. Obviously, I'm going to be at a serious disadvantagewhen faced with a larger/faster/steeper hill, more technical courses, and much better competition. Since NASTAR and coin-op racing isn't available at Alyeska, I thought Masters would give me a better education than anything short of a lot of one-on-one race coaching. I'm in this for the fun and the challenge, since I'm quite sure I don't have the skills or burning desire to excel, much less the physique. However, I'd rather not look like a complete idiot.

The Masters schedule at Alyeska is broken up into alternating GS and SL races. I don't have a problem with the relatively open format of GS that would make it unenjoyable, but slalom is another story. Since the vast majority of my experience has been with relatively slow/open GS courses, the seeming endless forest of slalom poles and quick turns are intimidating to say the least.

I ran a short 10 pole practice course the other day and blew out at the third or fourth gate each time. The course setter was admitted it was a little tight, but obviously my technique was the driving factor. I was unconsiously trying to make carved round turns on my 185s, and failing for obvious reasons. The result was a defensive skid that made me later and later until I blew out. That's what it felt like, and the tracks (skids) seem to tell the same story. Making the slide-edge-slide-edge turns on the open slope in that size seems to be easy enough, but throw a few poles at my face and I get defensive (wonder why?). The obvious, path of least resistance answer is to avoid SL and concentrate on GS, but I would really like to learn the more technical racing disciplines.

What I'd like to know is how coaches introduce their students to slalom gates. There has to be some method to slowly building up confidence in the gates while introducing good technique. As I understand it, as the newbie I'll be the last one running the gates before they reset them, so I feel like I could try anything without feeling like I'm screwing up the course for the good racers. I also have a fairly good relationship with the management at my home hill, so I could probably get their permission to set up practice drills on the hill to improve my skills. All I need (other than ability) is a starting point and some suggestions.

By the way, my dual-role (GS and SL) race skis are 180cm '01 Atomic 9.18s, and I'm 5'11" and about 190 lbs. Obviously, these skis fill neither the mega-short turn or speed elements of the two disciplines, but I feel technique is way more than a hinderence than equipment at this point.

Thanks for any help you can give me. After some initial success and some respectable placings on the race course (small fish, smaller pond), I'm ready to challenge myself.
post #2 of 14
Intro to SL first requires a solid carved short radius turn. Start training SL by setting with red/blue feather dusters (yup, like you use around the house, plastic handle, about $1 each, easy to carry and stick in soft snow, hard snow may need a short poker or drill to set). Set about 12m duster to duster with a 3m offset out of the falline. Learn to carve an arc with the feet around each duster while the head/body stays on a straighter line inside the dusters. This is a pre-requisit to cros-blocking which requires the hip to be inside the gate base to be benificial. Shorten dimensions to 10m/2m. Measure a typical set (by ski lengths) at a race to get an idea of what to set to train.

Set a 3-duster flush at 6m, then two 12m/3m offsets, then another 3/6m flush, repeat this sequence several times. This teaches the transitions (gear shifts) from open gates into vertical combos and back to open. Note, learn to keep CM/body to entry/exit side of each flush, when you transition to full gates you will want to learn to use the same hand (Rt or Lft) all through a flush to allow you to keep body on short path side. Set courses diagonal courses to the falline so you can ski side hill situations. Consecutive hairpins (two gates in falline 6m apart) 10m apart create diagonal "alleys" with rhythm changes and teach that the bottom turn of a vert-combo (flush/hairpin) is a round turn and frequently a fall-away (where you might lean in).

Free ski making QUALITY turns. In a race course performance situation you will revert to and expose your worst habits at the core of your comfort zone. Precision free skiing can help to make your worst turn a good solid one. Time lost by scruffy turns is tough to make up. Everyone is trying to step on the gas, but he who brakes the least, usually wins.

Learning it all on your own is tough without feedback to build quality habits/tactics. Joining a race club that trains together or getting private coaching would help as well.
Good luck...
post #3 of 14
I usually start kids on SL with a corridor. Set it 2-3 M wide and 10M downhill. About 8 to 10 cone, dusters, dots, whatever(not poles) I then have them straight sideslip each direction down the middle. Next they do a couple runs of pivotslips with double pole plants. Next they make turns inside with emphasis on double pole plants down the hill. Finally they ski around the marks still emphasising pole plants. Sometimes I use old bike tires on leashes for pole plant targets. After this becomes grooved, I add tall poles. The emphasis stays on looking ahead for the plant target. This way a natural clear develops and they get used to having their head in the middle right from the start.
My theory is this: The turn your in is history, the one coming up is committed,the only one you can change is the next one.
When a racer "clears" a pole they stop themselves in the "past". I concetrate on hands up and into the "future". Once the pattern is grooved the pole clears as a result of the preparation for the pole plant.
I've been having pretty good luck with this for several years now. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help. I've been looking for a race coach that could work with me at my home area, but haven't had much luck yet. The big reason for joining Masters is to get quality feedback and practice on a decent course. However, I realize running gates once a week or so won't help me make steady progress. The drills you suggest are going to be incorporated into my routine, and I'd rather lug around something small like a few feather dusters than a bunch of slalom poles. Thanks for the measurememnts as well, since I was unsure of where to start.
post #5 of 14
The kids at our hill would nab your feather dusters. But, I had been thinking about using a squirt bottle with some concentrated food coloring ....... as long as it was in a remote area on the side of the trail it might last for a few runs.
post #6 of 14
Just don't use red. I did once for pole plant targets and management had a fit. Seems the customers thought it was blood. :
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Feather Dusters are a lot cheaper than 24" practice poles (I think they run about $15). I'll have to check out the local WalMart for more cheap pole ideas. Maybe 12" of pipe insulation (painted or taped the right color) around a short spike would work. You definitely got me thinking in a different direction, which is what I needed. While all of that neat stuff Reliable Racing has on their website is probably very good, I guess you can get the same end result by playing McGuyver.

I was thinking about using a piece of rope marked with the different intervals to measure gate spacing until I get used to eyeballing it.

Maybe I'll pass on the slalom this weekend and practice a little at my usual, non-threatening hill. I can always pick up the GS the next week to use as an introduction.

Thanks again.
post #8 of 14

You don't need to use anything but the pipe insulation. Just wrap it with colored duct tape. You will need a drill or spike of some kind to make holes to set the mini-pole in.
One of the nice things about these is that you can ski right over them without getting tripped-up. They will last a long time and are light and easy to carry.

When wrapping them it takes about one glass of wine per three mini-poles. When you get to the point of one pole per glass of wine its time to stop wrapping or drinking.

post #9 of 14
Tichys have some brush hair things that are really cool. I know they have a site but I can't find it. I'm probably going to see them this weekend at Indianhead. I'll ask and get back to you.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Do I need to alternate between red and white wine when wrapping the poles, switching when I change from red to blue tape? Since I don't particularly like drinking wine, can I substitute beers of various types? Or can my wife serve as the designated drinker and when she starts dancing on tables can be the sign to stop wrapping? Just curious. I wasn't aware of all of the regulations that go into slalom.
post #11 of 14
Is this why some people say they are pole-axed when they are drunk?

If you need a hand, let me know.

post #12 of 14

Beer should work fine but I don't know what the expected output per glass ratio should be (one sips wine and drinks beer), let me know what you work out and what kind of beer goes best with each color pole and I'll notify FIS.

post #13 of 14
Just had a thought, if you're drinking beer, rather than putting in poles as markers for turning around, why not use the by-product of beer drinking.
Hey presto, yellow snow holes for skiing round (well nobody wants to ski over them!)

post #14 of 14
Sounds like an Irish solution to me.
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