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JR Race, Start Gate Technique

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the great feedback in the jr race tune thread. It was put to very good use this past weekend. I am trying to give some sort of useful advice to my 9 y/o , about how to best TAKE OFF out of the gate. I know there is (basically) free time to be had in a good start.

I don'y want to fill her head to much. But a few simple thoughts may help.

Thanks
post #2 of 10
post #3 of 10
Spend a few quite minutes at the start gate and just observe. Watch the top dogs!

Take particular note of a few things:

How they "pump" and get ready for the start and E-X-P-L-O-D-E

Very important ... how may times do they skate before they start to ski. Too much skating will slow you down.
post #4 of 10
At 9 years old, I would tell the racer to

- lean forward, but not too far
- push backward as hard as s/he can with the poles
- do one or two more pole pushes before the first gate

We just had a race at our hill, and it was amazing how many kids

- screwed themselves up trying to skate (catching tips, planting poles between the skis)
- pushed open the wand early trying to do some big kick move

And those were the J1's and J2's. I've also seen kids get so preoccupied with their start technique that they forget to look and see where the first gate is.
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richr View Post
At 9 years old, I would tell the racer to

- lean forward, but not too far
- push backward as hard as s/he can with the poles
- do one or two more pole pushes before the first gate
I agree. At this age, even these three things may be already too much to handle.
post #6 of 10
And, of course, ask her coaches. They've probably got a pretty good idea of what technique might work for her. My kids get a huge kick out of doing practice starts pretty much wherever they find something resembling a start ramp. Roads, bumps, etc. give them a whole lot more starts than they would ever get just training and racing.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the thoughts. I agree in not over advising. It will just make it more difficult for her to put the whole sequence together. I think I'm trying to hone in on one thought to give her. Hopefully to get her to have a pop (even if only a little) , instead of the "coast out". Which seams to win out in her mind.

trtaylor57, thanks for the links. For a non racing dad, I had no referance pionts on the actual dynamics of a start. Other than visual interpretations.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by tictoc View Post

trtaylor57, thanks for the links. For a non racing dad, I had no referance pionts on the actual dynamics of a start. Other than visual interpretations.
I have some other, printed materials, no longer available on the web, I can scan and send you. PM me if interested.
post #9 of 10
Learn to turn. Worry about starts later.
post #10 of 10
I remember those days. When she first started, our daughter would coast out of the start, gravity induced, and at times would throw in an extra turn or two before the first gate. I would agree that there are many other things to work on, but I also think that you can make some progress and have this be fun as well.

We never began to think about kick starts at that age. I can remember kids kicking right out of both skis or falling right over, kids blowing apart the timing equipment, and kids being horribly off balance as they left the gate. None of it helped them.

We explained to our kids that being fast out of the gate, but in control, would help their skiing. Used all the analogies like the speeding bullet, etc. The basic skill at that age was to get a good firm grip on the poles {but not a vice grips type that would tighten up the upperbody, rock back with your weight, and then reach out and lever the poles forward, and pull as hard as you could on them when the grips were "pointing forward" and moving ahead of the baskets. Throw your weight forward and pull. Skis never left the ground. A couple good firm pole plants {under control}, and then make sure that you're looking down the hill as you set up for the first gate and you're off!

The kick starts came A LOT later. I've also seen both of my kids skate {or try to} and either buy the farm or come close....even in their J1 years. I think that suggesting that a 9 year old skate to gain speed can create the facial plant even more often! And that is no fun!

As I always say, at these ages, make it fun. If you're up at the start, it's easy to be super encouraging, and say "you had a GREAT start" no matter what, when you catch up at the finish.

Some kids are just more aggressive than others as well. I remember kids screaming, yelling, getting all worked up and exploding out of the gate. I don't think any of those kids were still racing as J2's. Getting too amped up at the start never works.

Sometimes a really tentative start can be an indicator of some overall nervous feelings, and perhaps the need to have a nice hot chocolate and a reassuring conversation to build the confidence. I miss those days, but that tactic works even into their 20's.

As always, ask the coaches, too.

Have fun!
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