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The mind/body approach to tough GS

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
So there you are, the king of carving outside of gates, and a NASTAR god. Then you find yourself in real Masters GS races. First several gates are great, then come the steep pitches with hard side to side turns, rutted to death by the time they get to your bib number. You feel your technique slowly go to hell as you get later and later for each gate. In come the skids, down goes the speed, etc. How does one maintain mental edge when things get really tough in a GS race? What mental/technical cues, visual activities, turn intitiation tips/attitude, etc. help to keep a good line when things get fast and furious in GS?
post #2 of 22
Train yourself to always be spotting your line at least three turns ahead of where you are at any given point on the race course.
post #3 of 22
You have to change your tactics to suit the ruts. Finish your turns more to enter the rut where it begins on top. One racer described going from rut to rut as "stepping over a log"
Looking ahead(usually 2 to sight the line of the course)is important because it takes your mind out of the way and lets your body deal with the rut.
Also be sure to turn more before the drop off so you have enough "direction" on the gate after the drop.
post #4 of 22
Attitude is almost everything, line actually is everthing! Don't give it up your line! Trust and obey the line and you create an opportunity to ski your cleanest (fastest) turns. Scrimp the line and you have to muscle, tussle and wrestle your way home.

On steep side to side turns, be rounder one turn before entering the steep section. Set up your line to complete more (3/4) of your direction change above the gate so that you come back under it aimed high for the next turns initiation point. I call these "side door" turns. You will want to allow enough room at gate for your body so pass without a big "duck" move that will disrupt your feet/ski's grip (crush'm on the flats). Retract and tip inside ski so your stance can progressivly widen thru the arc as your angles increase (no leaning in, please!). Roll your feet/skis up on edge stronger, and longer, to keep line high, then change edges quicker (early or passive release straightens out the line too much). Change edges with an aggressive "down and across" snap-roll, aiming your body diagonally forward to just outside next gate. Excessive up and over the top on steeps will leave you floating disconected from the snow on flat skis for way too long a distance, even a pure lateral move extends you away from a steep slope.

It is better to enter steep section slower and rounder, ski well and then carry energy by gassing it out onto the flats than to come in too fast, jam, jam and crawl across them. Ski smart. You can either keep your run alive or lose it on the steeps. Give yourself a change to win when it is time to go arc2arc the flats.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 28, 2002 01:20 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Arcmeister ]</font>
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Great stuff, Bears. More! More!
post #6 of 22
Sounds like you are trying to ski too straight. Think of the first gate on the pitch as you're rythem setter for the rest of the course. If you run the first gate super straight you'll be late for every other gate until you hit the flats again.

I always tell my racers that I want them to come out wide at the top of the turn and cut across the hill under the gate. I tell them I want them to feel like they are making a complete traverse and heading for the woods after the gate.

That and make sure too keep your long leg through out the turn. It's hard to suck up the ruts with no room for suspension in your legs.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 28, 2002 01:46 PM: Message edited 1 time, by MattW ]</font>
post #7 of 22
Take all the technical advice given by these guys to heart, they're spot on.

I'll offer you somewhat more esoteric, but equally important advice. As stated above, line is everything. You could be the most technically sound and super-fit skier on the planet, but if your line is incorrect your skills become far less useful. It's like a sniper rifle which isn't sighted correctly. To ski the right line you must first learn the right line. Make the most of your inspection time of the course. Visualize yourself making the run, every turn, every drop-off, every flat section. Pretend you're watching a movie of your run, and don't stop watching it until you have completed it. Instead of making a few free-skiing runs with your buddies before the start, take that time to picture your upcoming effort. If you have never done this before it will be difficult for you to actually visualize the entire run. Once you have completely focused on what lies ahead, I promise that you'll forget about those pre-race nerves.

One other thing. You mentioned in your post that sometimes the "skids" come. Realize that the skid or whatever mistake, was probably set up a few turn earlier. When analyzing a run it's often helpful to work backwards to see where it went wrong. Work on correcting the issues that lead to the mistake, not so much the mistake itself.

-Dr. +mike+; dispensing pychological skiing advice since...this post [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Excellent replies. Thank you. Mike your point about athleticism is well taken. Strength has to serve technique and tactics or it is wasted. In my past life I was an All-American shot putter and discus thrower, Olympic-style weightlifter, sprinter, and a good speed skater and canoe racer, and ski racing is BY FAR the most difficult sport to perform well. I still feel like such a novice. No wonder kids start this stuff at 5, not 35!
post #9 of 22
Now I'll throw you a curve ball....

I said above, "line is everything". I'll add especially when you learn to read it well enough to ignore it. So I'll share a strategy tidbit: Never be early at the last gate when you can avoid it. I look to see if the course setter left an opportunity to run the last few gates on a late, ever later line, so as to barely make the finish line carrying max speed on what is usually the flattest section of the course. I used this tactic in a GS race on Sunday and the gang at the finish was saying "wow, you were getting so late you were lucky to make the last gate" (I was!). Then they wondered how I'd managed to post the fastest overall time on that run, beating all the Elite class young guns (20-30 years younger than me) and win my Masters class by almost 2 Seconds with such a "bad line". My GS is solid so I'm usually in the top 2-4 overall but haven't won a run outright in a while (I'm 53), so it was extra fun to tag one with a strategem that worked out.

A race course is a puzzle to be solved using any tactics your experience suggests that your technique will support. He who brakes the least, usually wins. With age you can accrue the wisdom and skill to sometimes overcome youthful exuberance and energy, and keep them guessing.
post #10 of 22
Lots of great advice here. All of it. I'll add to +Mike+'s post about inspection. You need to look for those changes in pitch and check to see where the first couple of gates take you, as you get onto that pitch. The course setter is setting you up to be carrying too much speed onto the pitch. If you take that last gate on the top, flatter section a bit higher than normal, so that you are able to clear the first gate on the pitch high enough to be set up for the next gate, you won't continue the cycle of getting later and later until something has to give.
post #11 of 22
Still at it I see. Are you going to the BSG this weekend?
I'm off to Boyne with my leg in a cast from a car wreck. I never could beat you anyway(I don't think my 5 extra years makes any difference)
post #12 of 22
Sorry to hear about your leg. Skiing is safer than driving I guess. I'm skipp'n BSG, our MMSC series has a GS to make up for one postponed by our record warm & no snow Dec-01.
post #13 of 22
"As stated above, line is everything. You could be the most technically sound and super-fit skier on the planet, but if your line is incorrect your skills become far less useful." +mike+

This statement makes sense, but, I think it's a little backward. I agree, line is very important especialy when one needs to change line due to unforeseen rutts, potholes, ice, etc...I would argue however, that line will come only when technique has been perfected. One will not be able to ski the correct line carring any kind of real speed without proper technique.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 29, 2002 10:37 AM: Message edited 2 times, by CERA F ]</font>
post #14 of 22
Fair enough Cera F, I agree. My language may have been a bit clumsy, but I think you get my point. No matter how good you are, if you are too late or too early a mistake has been made which will only compound itself as the run continues. That error obviously equals more ticks on the clock. Where my statement appears to be inaccurate is in saying that your skills become less useful. Clearly, the more skilled one is, the greater the chance to recover from the error.
post #15 of 22
Yeow TJazz, if you didn't nail it right on the head with your opening description of doing magazine carves under the chairlift, but throw a curve with some ruts and steeps in the course and it all goes out the window.

Now I've been talking to coaches and they've been telling me the usual quiet upper body - don't unweight, but then confusing me with the notion of weighting the uphill ski (the theory is that you get a little weight on the uphill ski, maybe 30/70 and you have more carving ability with the "new" skis). This is accomplished by pulling your uphill, formerly unweighted ski back to closely match the tip of the weighted ski.

Aren't we really talking to the old "float top" , "sting bottom" method that Arcmeister talks about? In an open run when you choose your turns, I get away with this, but in the course as you get late, the "sting bottom" ends up being a chattery skid.

So how do you systematically make the transition away from the "float top/sting bottom" technique? What is step one?

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 30, 2002 08:07 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Sudsysul ]</font>
post #16 of 22
I certainly teach my racers to strive for level tips, primarily early in the turn. If the tips are fairly even when the skis are carving early, common sense dictates that the skis will most likely remain parallel throughout the turn. (Carving and pivoting with parallel skis (no diverging tips) is critical for effective race technique). The more uneven your tips are, the greater the chance is that you will counter, thus putting to much early pressure on the uphill ski. That may in turn alter the carve of both skis. Watch the top World Cup guys, you'll notice that their tips are very close to level in both sl and gs.
post #17 of 22
Avoid the "float/sting" by flexing legs (relax or retract as needed) comming into and thru the edge change to let CM/body cross-over with minimum up-unweighting. Once new edges are engaged, extend legs as body moves inside establishing enough early pressure to carve into the falline, where legs are longest/strongest. Use flexion of legs as needed around and thru finish to manage pressure and to start release of CM to flow thru the next transition. Try to maintain even fairly uniform pressure throughout the turn for max glide & minimun braking. Go arc2arc baby!
post #18 of 22
Right on Arcmeister.
I like to think about shifting pressure to the inside ski's uphill edge for my first "move". It then carves under me uphill and rolls over by itself. At the same time I roll my already lightened downhill ski into the new turn. You can't get any earlier on the new ski than that Also, no up motiom.
Thanks for those "cowboys" back in 88 Rog.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 30, 2002 09:40 AM: Message edited 1 time, by SLATZ ]</font>
post #19 of 22
Developing the ability to balance as well on the little toe/outside edge as on the inside edge is critical to making clean edge changes with smooth pressure transfer. A great trainer for this is to ski garlands (fan from in falline to across falline) on the uphill, little toe edge, and release/tip it over/re-engage by tipping over the air born downhill foot/ski as the uphill balance leg flexes. When you can do these (and the solo weighted downhill foot version) edge to edge with a single clean track you have got a truely high end skill set to make arc2arc transitions with. Patient and persistant perfect practice makes for promising personal podium potential. Phew......

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 30, 2002 09:56 AM: Message edited 2 times, by Arcmeister ]</font>
post #20 of 22
The 8 (or is it 9)"P"s of Performance(oops, another "P")
post #21 of 22

All the technique advice was really good. Way above average for this Forum.
I'll add one thing.
Make your body take a shorter line than your skis. When you are crossing over (snap-rolling), let the body go downhill and project/extend your boots laterally. The skis have to follow the ruts but your body doesn't.
post #22 of 22
The best way to make it through ruts (assuming you've kept a somewhat high line) is to through yourself into your new turn early and be cranking by the time you get to the gate (Where the ruts will be). This, of course, means that you need to keep a high line but at the same time you need to be at full power and max angulation just before you hit the ruts so, if need be, you can back off. really work on throwing your skis uphill between gates and ruts won't bother you so much.
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