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personal training drills/focus

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This season was my first season racing, and while I was quite pleased with my results given that I have only been through the gates maybe 50 times so far, there is obviously still a lot of room for improvement.  However, the race season is very short and practices are already over and my local mountain does not have a race department, so there are no other local gate training opportunities.  There are still a few more weeks left to the season, so I am looking for some ways to improve my racing on my own.  I currently try to keep in mind the things that the coaches were telling me over the season, but am having a hard time sticking to them without the gates as a constant reminder that I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Any suggestions?
post #2 of 10
You get better outside the gates, not in the gates.  Go work on your free skiing in two ways:

- Just ski, everything and anything.  It's the best teacher. 

- Ski and work consciously on skills.  I'm not talking about skills that are race-specific, just about the skills you need to carve a clean turn and carry speed.  I'm not going to get into a ton of details; if you haven't seen it yet, I'd highly recommend the USSA Skills DVD as a starting point...

post #3 of 10
Read Ultimate Skiing by Ron LeMaster.  You'll be glad you did.  Assuming you're on piste, the problems you have racing you also have free skiing (except maybe tactical stuff).  Once you're comfortable with gates, there shouldn't be much difference between aggressive piste free skiing and being in the gates IMO.
post #4 of 10
Again I resort to EpicSki heresy when faced with the "no race program at my mountain" situation:
Pick up Harald Harb's Essentials of Skiing or one of his other books. While Harald and the PMTS faithful can be a bit dogmatic at time, and I don't always agree with them, the principals put forth are race-training based (Harald was a high-level racer and race coach) and will make you cleaner and faster in the gates. It's very progression oriented, just like you would get in just about any race camp.
 
Not for everyone, but it's worth a look.
 
I'll also echo the lots of miles suggestion. Just thinking about skiing isn't enough.
post #5 of 10
Just to echo what mjp and Mike said, LeMaster's and Harb's books are great volumes of knowledge for technique.

And I also agree with the "just ski everything" approach as well.  One of my best years racing early season DH and SG featured nearly zero days of gate training before the races: tons of powder had blanketed the Wasatch, so we racers skied a lot of bowls, glades, chutes and such and we all did well because the instincts honed in such extremes helped in the gates.

That said, looking back at the books, some folks learn visually: they can process what is said in a well-written description or shown in a photo montage and apply it to biomechanical processes like skiing.  I'm a visual learner, and books/pictures have often helped me understand new developments in technique.  While visualization isn't a cure-all for skiing improvement, it is definitely a piece of the puzzle that shouldn't be ignored.

Good luck!
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am still trying to get at least 4 or 5 days per week on the hill to ski the limited terrain (350'vt, maybe 30 bumps, and 2 groomers.  I always try to make things a little more interesting as well, by setting turn number/run goal, one ski, one ski bumps, etc.  However, I feel that my main weakness when put into the gates is timing and rhythm.  When free skiing you take turns as you feel the terrain and your current state of balance dictates.  If that means you wait an extra .1 sec, so be it, no one else will notice, your line will basically be the same, but if you do that same thing in a SL course, you can end up substantially late.  I have tried to force myself to make some nearly impossible high number of turns to try to force myself to keep to a predetermined rhythm, but I can never seem to replicate the feeling of "if I dont turn NOW I will miss the gate 2 gates down the hill."  I am finding it difficult to make myself think several turns ahead with an exact line in mind when just skiing groomers.  Any suggestions on how to force myself into a specific turn sequence on the fly?  Obviously this is related to free skiing technique, but it is hard to simulate the urgency encountered in a course.

 


Edited by smoth - 3/2/10 at 10:16am
post #7 of 10
Don't worry about it, just ski.  Timing and tactics aren't exclusive to gates, but it usually is a transition to go from good free skiing to gates.  If your free skiing is solid, the transition is minimal.  However, if your free skiing is weak, you'll never make a clean transition.  Just keep skiing...



Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth View Post

I am still trying to get at least 4 or 5 days per week on the hill to ski the limited terrain (350'vt, maybe 30 bumps, and 2 groomers.  I always try to make things a little more interesting as well, by setting turn number/run goal, one ski, one ski bumps, etc.  However, I feel that my main weakness when put into the gates is timing and rhythm.  When free skiing you take turns as you feel the terrain and your current state of balance dictates.  If that means you wait an extra .1 sec, so be it, no one else will notice, your line will basically be the same, but if you do that same thing in a SL course, you can end up substantially late.  I have tried to force myself to make some nearly impossible high number of turns to try to force myself to keep to a predetermined rhythm, but I can never seem to replicate the feeling of "if I dont turn NOW I will miss the gate 2 gates down the hill."  I am finding it difficult to make myself think several turns ahead with an exact line in mind when just skiing groomers.  Any suggestions on how to force myself into a specific turn sequence on the fly?  Obviously this is related to free skiing technique, but it is hard to simulate the urgency encountered in a course.

 

post #8 of 10
Agree 100% with the advice. My son is an NCAA racer these days. Last season he was having some problems, and connected with a former coach of his. Very, very experienced and good coach {WC level, and everything else for experience}. His first question was "when was the least time that you free skied for a few hours?" , followed up with "are you making time to do your basic drills?" and lastly "is your training really focused and productive?" {like maybe four full length, full strip runs a session, at maximum}. Turns out that he had barely taken any free skiing runs in a month or more, had done no drills in 2-3 months, and probably wasn't that focused in the training, often just doing laps in a trashed training course.....clearly not to the point of pulling himself out of a training course to perhaps work on some basics. Did about four days of some free skiing and drills, and got dialed back into it pretty quickly.

I'm going to throw out another VERY good, and pretty obscure book. It's Effective Ski Coaching, written by Tom Reynolds. Tom has a tremendous, and long background in the sport. He"s coached guys who have had success at every level of the sport, and coached guys who have gone on to coach at the WC level on down. Tremendous passion for the sport. This is a fairly recent book, and it's good. I have given copies to a number of friends, who have really enjoyed it. Included in that group were two guys who were coaching in Vancouver.

Go to www.ski-race-coach.com  and click on publications.

Tom was the coach at UMaine Farmington, during my college years {back when dinosaurs roamed the earth}. They had an alpine only program that would compete with any NCAA alpine team in it's day. Almost all of his skiers went on to coach, some competed on the pro circuit and on the USST, a couple coached some guy named Bode and Julie Parisien, etc. The book is very basic, very simple, very direct. I'd pick it up, along with Ron's and Harb's. Back in the day, Tom and Warren Witherall were masters of the right foundation and the basics. When I first arrived at BMA to spend a few weeks with WW, he had me canted, then had me doing wedge turns and nothing but clean wedge turns, for at least two days. Drove me crazy, and I think helped a great deal to create the sense of clean carving. Now this is back when my SL skis were straight 207's.

There's no question that good free skiing, making clean turns and developing a better touch on the snow really helps. It always has, and that is one thing that has not changed in the sport for decades. Rare is the great racer who's not a tremendous free skier. I think it may help more than anything, based on your comments. Good luck, and have fun.
post #9 of 10
Smoth,

Just thought of something else that may help. You may have heard of Brandon Dyksterhouse. "Dykster" was a phenomenal ski racer, now an exceptional coach at GMVS. Check out his website, dykster.com, and scroll down to the YouTube clip where he demo's his four basic drills. My kids use these, or something close. IMO, all you need for drills. Take a look.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth View Post

I am still trying to get at least 4 or 5 days per week on the hill to ski the limited terrain (350'vt, maybe 30 bumps, and 2 groomers.  I always try to make things a little more interesting as well, by setting turn number/run goal, one ski, one ski bumps, etc.  However, I feel that my main weakness when put into the gates is timing and rhythm.  When free skiing you take turns as you feel the terrain and your current state of balance dictates.  If that means you wait an extra .1 sec, so be it, no one else will notice, your line will basically be the same, but if you do that same thing in a SL course, you can end up substantially late.  I have tried to force myself to make some nearly impossible high number of turns to try to force myself to keep to a predetermined rhythm, but I can never seem to replicate the feeling of "if I dont turn NOW I will miss the gate 2 gates down the hill."  I am finding it difficult to make myself think several turns ahead with an exact line in mind when just skiing groomers.  Any suggestions on how to force myself into a specific turn sequence on the fly?  Obviously this is related to free skiing technique, but it is hard to simulate the urgency encountered in a course.

 


smoth, I understand your thinking on this, you just can't duplicate the "do it here and now" requirements of a course outside the gates. Don't discount what these guys are telling you though.  Building and honing a broad range of technical skills outside of the gates will enhance your ability to achieve success when you encounter the demands of a course.  You'll still have to find the precise timing and manner of execution when you get back in the gates, but you'll be better equipped to do so.  I speak from many years of coaching experience, dragging kids out of the gates to build their base skills.  My DVD series (see link below) is based on the skill building system I used to develop countless FIS level racers.  
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