Alex’s main objective today was to bring the skiing mechanics worked on yesterday into the slalom course. The movement is still a bit fragile in his skiing in general but I also know from working with him that when he understands what he is meant to do and gets a small amount of practice then he is very competent. His crisis up until now was due to a complete lack of appropriate practice.
Alex managed to focus on projecting the centre of mass, down and into the new turn with a strong uphill leg – at least when skiing in the brushes (carrots). He didn’t manage to do this all the time but when told to focus on it he was getting it to work. He still skis too far away from the poles to even mark his shin guards from the hard stubbies – so on the plastic slopes he has not even been trained to take a good line if those guards were used there. The big poles were freaking him out completely initially.
Forest of Poles
Courage is required to project the centre of mass downhill on a steep slope – even more when you are tangling with poles and can be tripped up. When the commitment is there and that outside leg is used strongly then speed becomes your friend. Going slowly doesn’t teach you to make this commitment and it doesn’t teach you correct timing – only either knowing what you must do to actively generate dynamics – or by having your brain surgically removed and relying on Darwinian natural selection - can make fast slalom skiing possible. Fear has to be eliminated regardless – the racer has to want to go faster – not more cautiously. Generating speed makes the skis work better – but if you don’t work the legs correctly and freeze like a rabbit in a car’s headlights – then game over! Part of “training” is learning to move faster than you can think – it’s that fast!
There are other ways to get into a turn and be even on the inside ski – but that comes from how the energy at the end of the previous turn is exploited and we are not yet ready for that here. Alex just needs to focus on his body – getting over that transition zone and generating pressure and grip early by active extension of his outside leg (moving the centre of mass – not the ski). Eliminating body rotation makes this action much faster too. Rotation blocks that fast trajectory over the transition “gap”.
The main psychological battle is about keeping focus – not letting anxiety dominate and distract. Focus stays on the body and so on technique – being focused internally makes you calm.
The only tactical detail we looked at today was for defending from poles in a verticale. You use the same arm that was used for the last turn when you hit the double poles because there is no time to change arms.
Alex was making strong progress and was starting to feel how technique and focus were overcoming the obstacles – but unfortunately the weather turned into a full blown storm and we were unable to complete the session. What is important to take away from this session is that attacking with clear technique brings both speed and security – while being unfocused and backing off lead to disaster.