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Notes from Camp...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I attended a summer ski racing camp at Alyeska a couple weeks ago, and I was suprised and very pleased with hom much I learned and was able to apply within that six day period. While not a hyper-focused and intense racing program compared to some others I've heard of, it fit what I was looking for. The coach for the Masters participants, Mike Prado, was extremely patient and flexible when it came to different abilities and capabilities.

The first day we worked exclusively on balance, both on the outside and inside ski. The second and third day we added stance to the drills, primarily working on keeping countered, square, forward, and using a wider stance. The fourth day we started small stubby GS drills, while reinforcing the previously mentioned drills. The fifth day we started GS gates, and the sixth we moved into SL gates.

This seems to be a logical and efficient progression, which gels with what I've read. I know it worked for me. The snow coverage wasn't the best, so they were salting like crazy to hold the snow on the hill. This led to very hard and irregular bumps in the gates, which would have thrown me a lot more if we hadn't drilled on balance and stance so much.

The highlights for me were:
A quick private lesson from Megan Gerety. The fifth day my legs were stiff and I was struggling my way down on the first run trying to loosen up for the day. Megan skied up, introduced herself, and gave me a couple focus points that took my attention away from the pain. The tips were something I could definitely apply, and getting warmed up saved the rest of the day for me. Many thanks to Megan for taking pity on the poor, deluded hacker.

Widening my stance. While I wasn't a complete boot-banger, my stance would narrow considerably at the top of the turn, making edge changes and effective weight shift inefficient. Something to work on...

Meeting Tommy Moe. Tommy and Megan were kind enough to show up for the last part of the camp and ski with us. Made the whole experience kind of special to have the hometown ski heroes show up.

Brian Burnett ski tuning clinic. If for no other reason than to reign in the gadget freak in me. A solid tuning clinic from a guy who has all of the neato gadgets at his disposal, but only uses a few select ones. A good reminder to me that skis don't win races, skiers do.

I fell more than a few times (more than anyone else), but I was able to come away with a lesson from each fall that I could work on later. By the end of the week I wasn't skiing anywhere near perfectly, but I could diagnose what I was doing wrong by focusing on a few small concepts. Next year when these lessons are internalized to some degree, I'll be back for the next round.

Worth the money? You bet. Plus, I got to ski in June after the resort had closed. Best money I've ever spent on my skiing.
post #2 of 10

Do you think you'll forget much of what you learned between now and when you get back to the snow?
post #3 of 10
Thanks for the report, Mike. Sounds like a great experience! In many ways, it is a similar progression and similar-sounding program to what we used to do (and they still do) at Keystone's Mahre Training Center. We used gates not so much to develop racing technique, but as drills to develop good, basic timing, movements, and tactics for ALL skiing. We too focused on balance and stance at first, then added gate drills, GS gates, and finally Slalom, through the 5-day course. (The 3-day course compressed the same stuff into a more intense condensed version.) The participation of World Cup stars adds a little touch of magic!

Thanks again!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
The second or third day one of the guys in my group suggested writing down all of the drills (with goals and focuses for each) along with impressions of how each affected my skiing. Since my memory is pretty short, I started my journal that night and tried to record everything from the first couple days.

I learned pretty quickly that I could only focus on one thing each run while I was in the gates. Any more and I started to get late at the gates, which reinforced braking or other bad habits. As it was, I found that taking an exaggerated round line (not the fastest, I admit) in the gates allowed me to stay slow enough so that survival skiing wsn't my focus.

The progression was slowed considerably this year by poor snow coverage. We spent less time in gates because the snow wouldn't hold them up until a considerable amount of salt was spread. Those of us in the Masters group decided that the added time out of the gates was well spent, and we'll be requesting the same pace next year.

The low point:
Video. We videotaped a GS run so that Mike could show us what we were doing. Excellent tool, and one that I learned a lot from. The downside was that it was my misfortune to follow Megan on the tape. She was watching it with us, and commented on how ragged she looked. Ragged? If that's ragged skiing, I must be participating in some other sport. She was an excellent physical model for us (cute, too ), and it helped our coach point out proper stance points for each of us to work on. However, that damn tape is brutally honest, especially in slow-motion. Now I need to convince the wife that a video camera is a required piece of skiing equipment...
post #5 of 10
I'm curious because I want to do a ski camp in April, and someone objected that it is a cruelty to subject people to great lessons at the end of the season, only to have them forget over the summer so much of what they learned and could have reinforced through practice if it was earlier in the season.

I used to go to the Snowbird Race Camp, held in late May-early June, in the 80s. Maybe it was because someone told me around that time that "You learn to ski in summer and you learn to swim in winter," but I found what I learned stuck through the inactive months and came back when I got back on skis.

I'll be interested to know how lasting your changes are next season, just to prove 'em wrong.

I also enjoyed your report and was glad that the experience was a great success for you despite marginal conditions. I think keeping a journal is a smart way to cover your investment, and I applaud the practice of figuring out "what happened?" with the falls.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
The timing was more up to the camp organizers than me. I was seriously considering Mt Hood in August until fellow Alyeska Masters told me about the Alyeska Ski Club race camp at the end of season banquet. I like being on familiar ground when I'm learning new things, and this camp really fit the bill.

With that said, I think that a Summer camp might be the way to go. The drills they taught me will be foremost in my mind when I get back on skis in November, so hopefully it will be easier to break old habits and start new ones. A few of the people in the camp suggested I go with them to Michel Pratt's camp in November, so we'll see if I can't squeeze that one in there as well. Watch out Bode...

You're right, though, it is painful to have all of this new information and not have an outlet. I'm wearing out the wheels on my rollerblades.
post #7 of 10
Phil and Steve Mahre had a standard little speech that they used to give to wrap up the camps. One of the highlights was that when they were racing, they said, at the end of each season they would write down briefly what they liked about their skiing, and what they were working on. They said that those notes were invaluable when they resumed training, helping them get right back where they left off.

Good advice, from two of the best who ever lived!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #8 of 10
Coached with Sparky Anderson who organized that camp. I passed on your positive feedback.
At Gilboa journal writing is something we start the first evening and is part of each athlete's final evaluation.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
I was wondering where Sparky went. Dropped him an e-mail a couple weeks after the camp. Those guys definitely worked their tails off to salvage what snow remained and put on a productive camp. I think it was.

[ July 22, 2002, 02:02 PM: Message edited by: Alaska Mike ]
post #10 of 10
Sparky likes his sufing(as do most of the Gilboa staff). That's one of the reasons he likes to come. I guess when he gets back he's going sailing in the Greek Island(courtesy of his brother(in-law?).
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