Coach's Edge - Feedback from December 3rd Ski Trip to Sunday River

Post date: Dec 4, 2016 10:11:01 PM

Thanks to all who made the trip to SR this past Saturday.

The conditions were tough, but we had two groups of athletes, one group of 6, another group of 9, which made for a total of 15, not bad for first outing and challenging conditions. The “death cookies” and variable conditions made it challenging to work on “feel”, and made it tempting to fall back into old muscle-memory defensive skiing. However, getting the boots on, clicking in, and working out those ski thighs is priceless at this time of year.

As you know, we are having a “pre-season” of three (3) Saturdays, so this coming Saturday, the 10th, is our next outing. I will not be available as I am out of state, but Coach Tara will be leading the charge. The following week, the 17th, I will be back and look forward to another productive day.

The younger athletes who skied with me learned about the French word “couloir”, and how to ski a steep, narrow, gully while maintain control. Sometimes you have to learn how to ski slowly before you learn to ski fast. Pole touches were foremost on the agenda.

So that everyone has fair warning, my plan is to require perfect pole touches from all members of the club by mid-January. Athletes have a full month to master this key skill. An athlete who hasn’t mastered pole touch by mid-January will be asked to continue free skiing and doing pole touch drills until he/she has mastered said skill before going into gates. That’s fair notice. An athlete shouldn’t be in gates if they don’t have mastery of basic fundamentals. It’s counterproductive.

Looking towards the Christmas/New Year school break, I’d like to have a Vacation Camp. I’m not sure what that will look like, but possibly three nights in a row, a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, just 90 minutes each night, to build on skills, in preparation for our Regular training season, that starts Jan. 2. Stay tuned. But as a race club we must train over vacation break. Our advantage is because we are local, we can practice “guerilla training”; we can get on the hill, work hard for 90 minutes, and be done before anyone really misses us.

As I’ve said repeatedly over the years, there are always some things you can control as a club, and some things you can’t. If you’re a large weekend program at a big mountain you can’t avoid the inefficiencies and time-wasting that comes with being big. If you are at a mountain where the owner is less than enthusiastic about gates, you have to fight for hill space. We have a “moderate” size mountain. But the flip side is we can do lots of runs. And no matter how big, or small, the mountain, we can always have big, positive, attitude. Wouldn’t it be nice to be known as the race team from a small mountain but with a big heart?

As I watched the World Cup women last week, I saw athletes who had dedicated themselves to working through adversity. They have all been injured, some multiple times. I believe Resi Stiegler has had 8 seasons when she was injured. But at 31 years old she is still pursuing that dream of being the best. Meanwhile at 21 Michaela Shiffrin is trying to become a 4-event skier at a world class level. She is flying all over the world and having to manage her diet, her rest, her equipment, and work on her ski skills in 4 disciplines. It is not all about photo shoots. Mostly it is about hard work. Watch closely the youtube of Shiffrin at Killington before her second run and you can see her heart almost jumping out of her chest. She is a bundle of nerves. But her hard work paid off and despite a couple mistakes she won the race. We have to look within ourselves for inner strength and it is only there if we have brought positive attitude and hard work to the hill every single time we show up to train.

The ski season is upon us. Let’s be the best we can be.

Coach Allan