or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › what makes one skier "better" than the rest?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

what makes one skier "better" than the rest?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
AT THE WORLD CUP LEVEL, they all know how to ski, they all have tech support, they all train year-round, they all run the same gates, etc.
so WHY does someone rise above? what makes, for example, someone like maier so dominant? for that matter, what moves a skier "suddenly" up into the top-flight category? what keeps a lot of skiers at the second-tier level?
is it mental? less fear? i am not a racer or a technical ski type, but i do with my untrained eye notice how someone like maier attacks the course while others seem to react to it. he seems the least likely to leave his tuck, etc.
one would think THAT'S the key; a kind of willfulness, a refusal to give in. i don't know. thoughts?
(maier is only an obvious example. i could point to rahlves, ghedina, tomba, others, including the women. he just seems so obviously on top RIGHT NOW.)
post #2 of 30
Hey Ryan,
Great post.
I'm not a racer or experienced in that on the slopes but in other sports I do compete in a lot has to do with mental state at the time of the competition and how well you maintain it over a period of time. The great competitors keep that mental edge over many events and the flash in the pan people have a day or 2 that everything just comes together. (like those days that everything goes or feels just right)
The 2 sports I did/do compete in are archery, and bowling. On any given day I might rise to the top but for the most part I was able to keep the competition in sight.
If you talk to people that compete in martial arts, it's all mental. For the most part, the competition is over before the first contact is made.

Oh Yeah, Table tennis too. talk about needing fast eye/hand/body coordination. On a good day you could almost anticipate your opponent's moves/shots. on some days you couldn't put that ball over the net to save your life.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited May 18, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 30
My personal opintion is something that dchan hit on "...maintain it over a period of time.

I think it's all about consistancy. As humans, we are not perfect, but with some training, we can all make a truly great turn once in a while. You know... "I was properly balanced for three turns, then I lost it". The great ones are the ones who lose it less often. Golf is an easy analogy because of the way score is kept. If you hit every shot perfectly, you would end up with a birdie on every hole (and some eagles). Hit every shot good (but not perfect) and you'll par every hole. Screw up one shot per hole (one of every 5 shots you take), and all of the sudden you're an 18 hadicap. My wife asked me why Tiger Woods is as good as he is. The answer is because he's more consistant. They can all hit great shots. Tiger just does it more often.

However, in competition, that's not a finite answer. Look at Darron Rhalves Super G win. He took it because he was just as consistant as the other "best" skiers that day, but he was also able to recover (or maintain it) on that one, nasty, rutted gate. Does that make him better or luckier? There is always some luck thrown in. In golf, the ball make take a great bounce or a nasty one. That's luck. I think Maier is better because he is more consistant. But others are close enough to his ability, that with some luck, they can beat him. Now, the question is, what makes him more consistant? I think his strength and power may help his consistancy because it makes it easier for him to make fine adjustments and recoveries from bad luck.

Great question. It's nice to be back on a real topic. Thanks.
post #4 of 30
You might be avoiding the skis better than 103% but you gotta check out Tominators upgrade/update of the SCHUSS system.
post #5 of 30
I saw it, and got a few good laughs out of it!
post #6 of 30
Thanks DChan, but seriously: They all have great determination, technique, conditioning, etc., so I'd explain consistent success by combining Pierre's innate eye/body coordination idea with DChan's mental aspect, which I would describe as a superior ability to focus/concentrate absolutely exclusively on the task at hand.
post #7 of 30

I expected that to say "Thanks, I'll be here through Thurday."
post #8 of 30
Good point about the focus part.
One of the things we used to do for training is try to distract each other, talking, blowing in each others hair, making loud noises... when you learn to shut out all other stimuli the senses become razor sharp. In Archery, and bowling we usually don't have the officials to tell everyone to be quiet (unless you are at the pro level of bowling and there is only one person bowling at a time)
Recently I was watching a cheezy kung fu movie where the star was trying to learn to fight but had poor concentration so the master, while the student was practicing, would throw food or other silly things at him. One of the things he threw later in the movie was a knife to prove his point. the Student caught it and continued his practice like nothing happened.
post #9 of 30
Hmm, is a competitive skier better that other skiers?

In the venue of competition, sure. A lot of skiing is not a competition, it's more like snow dancing.

And there are interesting competitions for "other" reasons... like powder 8's

And I have heard about some very interesting contests in Japan, that sound a lot like the judging is more like figure skating, or gymnastics.

And now, we get into STYLE...

¯¯¯/__ SnoKarver snokarver@excite.com
post #10 of 30
"Alot of skiing is not a competition. Its more like snow dancing". Love it! I tend to enjoy Warren Witherall's descriptions in the Athletic Skier, of the different qualities a skier can manifest. IMHO, the best skiers vary their style, mood texture, so in watching them ski a trail, its like listening to different movements of a concerto.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence

<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited May 18, 2001).]</FONT>
post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 

excellent point; you're absolutely right. i used comp as an example only because results ("proof") are more tangible, less subjective. but the posts so far are, of course, bypassing that restriction and moving into the realm of non-comp as well.
post #12 of 30
It's the pants.
post #13 of 30
"Alot of skiing is not a competition - it's more like snow dancing" (SnoKarver).
"The best skiers vary their style, mood, and texture, so in watching them ski a trail, it's like listening to different movements of a concerto" (Lisamarie).

Yes! It's about time someone reminded us of this here! Skiing is NOT a competitive sport - ski RACING is (along with some newer freestyle stuff). Like riding a bike or skating, most people do it just for the fun and beauty of it. To me, skiing is about freedom, exuberance, power and grace, feeling like you're flying, and creative expression. It's re-creation!
post #14 of 30
I saw ryan's post as a question about competitors at the world cup level.
I liked a previous thread about who is the best skier (several months back)
My favorite response is the one on UTAH49's signature.

>>>Like my signature says the Best in world is the one having the most fun.If you are smiling having fun and feeling good about yourself then what else matters?
The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49
post #15 of 30
post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 
that WAS my specific focus, DCHAN, but as threads seem to assume their own life, anyway, wherever it goes is where it goes. and it IS a point well-taken.
post #17 of 30
At the height of his career, Larry Bird was interviewed and the one question that I remember standing out was, "How did you manage to become such a great player... were you gifted with this natural talent as a child?"

Bird's answer was, "No, actually I wasn't any more gifted in sports than anyone else in school. The big difference though was that I put the time in. I'd get down to the court by 5am everyday and get some time in before classes or practice, then after - i'd stay out on the court till 6 or 7 in the evening. Every day. There were more than a few that I practiced with over the years who could have been as good or better than me, but, I was always on the court before they were and they always left before I did. I used to shake my head when they walked off at 3:30, thinking to myself that they just didn't want it badly enough..."

The answer will never change: Practise, Practise, Practise!
post #18 of 30
1)Athletic Smarts-Ability to process visual/ sensory information and pick next move
2)Confidence-Mentalgame & Cockiness sometimes
3)Athletic ability- Strength, coordination, balance, Sprint Endurance (like a 1/4 miler)
5)Love of skiing
post #19 of 30
The pyramid is very narrow at the top - the highest level of talent in any sport. These people all have great athletic ability, eye/hand /foot coordination, strength, conditioning, etc. I think what makes the difference between the best and the rest is as Cheap seats said, practice and hard work, combined with as Nord said, attitude, even cockiness.

Think of some top level athletes who were/are extremely hard workers in practice -Tiger woods, Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, John Elway to mention a few. They did not just rely on their talent. Also had a great winning attitude.

post #20 of 30
I think I can narrow it down to 2 general areas:

1) The right genes (includes natural athletic ability, bone/muscle structure, speed, agility, high pain threshold, etc)
2) Ready to do ANYTHING to be the best (includes hard work, practice, no fear of injury, etc)

If you got the genes but are lazy, forget it. If you "don't have it" (the genes, that is), but are willing to work like a mad man/woman, you will go much farther than the lazy talented sob, but it will be very difficult to be the best.
post #21 of 30
I really like NordtheBarbarian's post. If you have #5, "love of skiing," #1-4 become a greater possibility !<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by wink (edited May 18, 2001).]</FONT>
post #22 of 30
One thing about practice, I feel it must be done correctly or you will probably get negative results especially with an activity like golf.

When I have an off day skiing it is usually because I don't feel well or my energy level is down. My off days in skiing are usually not that bad. Golf is a different story. I have played for a number of years and generally shoot in the mid to high 80s with some rounds in the 70s. On those rare days that I am golfing well the game seems so easy. My thought after a good round is, why can't I play this way most of the time. I am not thinking about anything that I can recall after the round and I don't remember being all that focused.
Golf is the one activity that I have done for many years and can still play like an unskilled beginner.
post #23 of 30
Golf - I play better when I concentrate on where I want the ball to go, not how to get it to go there.

BE the skis!
post #24 of 30
This is an interesting topic. I feel like ski racing has to be one of the most frustating sports because you can be so close to the best yet be way back. I mean you can be 99.9% as good as the person who wins yet not even finish in the top 3. (60sec race .1% = .06sec)

Desire, will, drive, and determination are a big part of it.

In the '98 Olympics Maier was a heavy favorite. People talked about a possible 4 gold medals. In his first race, the downhill, he had that spectacular crash. He was lucky to have 2 days (3?) off before the super g because of bad weather. Still, here he is a heavy favorite for a medal, 90% of his country watching and he's DNF. This can't feel good.

In the clip I have of the super g race he's coming off a jump and his tips get too high and the wind pushes them waaay up. I saw this in slo mo because I was dubbing it. I was shocked to see how far his tips get up and he grimaces, yells? pulls it out and skis on for the gold. It's truly phenomenal.

It's sheer determination that gets him through that. His tips get so high that if he had had the slightest hesitation or doubt he would've been toast. I mean blink of the eye doubt, he's that close to the edge.
So he must have been just so utterly determined that nothing, absolutely nothing would get in his way. I think you can develop this to a degree through good coaching and experience but there has to be a strong drive to achieve it. Then there's that last little bit beyond that you still need. Does this come from having to prove something somehow? I don't know, but it was that last little bit that saved him.

It's funny to go over to the powdermag forum and hear people go on and on about how "snowlerblades" aren't skis and whoever's on them should get off. Those who hold onto this belief will probably never be great. Elite athletes will do what it takes, so if someone they trust says you need to do x they go do x. Even if it's getting on snowlerblades (gee, that's a tough one!)

The mental aspect is definitely huge.
In an article on Moseley he talks about how in training the year before the Olympics he worked with the sports psychologist. One of the things he did was to write down every thought that came into his head at the start of a run. Then they worked what to think about at the start.

Remember Michael Jordan's last game against the Utah Jazz? There's what 10 seconds? left after a time out. He comes out dribbling the ball just walking up the court, the place is going nuts. He has to make that basket if they're going to win. But I bet he's not thinking he has to score, he's just thinking he will score. Then he does.
post #25 of 30
Cheap Seats quotes Larry Bird, one of US Sportsdom's greatest overachievers:

"...but, I was always on the court before they were and they always left before I did. I used to shake my head when they walked off at 3:30, thinking to myself that they just didn't want it badly enough..."

Then Cheap adds:

"The answer will never change: Practise, Practise, Practise!"

Actually, the key is WANTING it enough to do the practicing. Almost as important is knowing what to practice correctly. Bird had the advantage of seeing the result in the vibrations of the net strings.

Skiers can only sense the result in the feel of effortless ease and flow through a run. Unless they're competing, of course. Then it's who takes the fewest moments to get through the timers. That goal frequently leads to moves we wouldn't ordinarily consider great skiing except that they result in a victory.
post #26 of 30
Interesting thread and something I've thought about before. Here's an odd question/analogy:

Why can't top bowlers shoot a 300 game every time? Now, I'm not a bowler and know very little about the game but it seems rediculous to me that they don't all shoot 300's because it's exactly the same motion and technique each and every shot.

The lane dimensions and slope are accurate to within a millimeter or so. The pins are always the same size and weight. The lane is maintained to precises standards. The ball doesn't change. They don't get fatigued (I'm assuming) as they bowl. So if a bowler can roll a strike ONE time, why can't he do it every time if absolutely nothing has changed?
post #27 of 30

It appears that (minor variation in delivery X distance) would be the answer.

If you moved the pins back a foot there would be fewer 300 games???

I haven't been in a bowling alley in 40 years but........ sounds logical, no?
post #28 of 30
It's how many Coors Lights they've had by the 10th frame.
post #29 of 30
same reason as any other sport. we are human and can't duplicate the same motion perfectly every time. also just the small difference of the way the pins are set down each time can affect the way the pins fall. That's why in pro bowling, the bowlers are allowed to "re-rack" the pins a certain amount of times with no penalty and even more after that with the ruling of the judges. How evenly the lanes are oiled. how dry the air is.. well you get the idea.
post #30 of 30
I listed Athletic ability, Strength and Sprint endurance as something that made a one skier better than another. For example Daron Ralves has a 33.5 inch vertical jump. He can also do 106 40cm box jumps in 90 seconds. Try those tests at home!
Also in the same article It gave a result for a vertical jump/box test where Alberto Tomba clearly bested the average for Italian men ski teamers. Deborah Compangoni beat the average Italian men ski team test result.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › what makes one skier "better" than the rest?