Alex has had a rollercoaster week of race training. Initially, despite a huge fall when warming up on day one, he was dynamic in slalom, then through the bad midweek weather and new snow he just lost confidence in the gates altogether. Skiing out of the gates was always very good and Alex was able to work constructively, but there was a complete blockage emerging in the actual gates – both GS and Slalom. Following yesterday’s technical session things began to return to normal in the gates again today – but perhaps with a deeper understanding.
Delving into the whys and wherefores of a confidence crisis could keep a team of technicians and psychologists fully employed for a lifetime – so we might just bypass all of that here. What’s more important is to just remember how the situation was successfully turned around.
Defensive skiing – around the poles – skidding – creates a vicious circle of problems and negative outcomes, both physically and emotionally.
Slalom, like a stage performance, should promote adrenaline and physical arousal – but we have to make sure the “fight or flight” state leans towards “fight” and assertion. This however also needs a clear technical vision of what to do. It’s all very well going into “fight” mode – but you need to have the skill to fight or you still end up in trouble.
Alex’s technical work over the week on angulation and timing (especially yesterday) was a good starting point – but on it’s own it was not enough to sort out the crisis. With support from this technical development what we needed to do was add the deliberate attacking attitude – but more importantly modify how this was specifically applied in the gates. The aim was to start moving the body (centre of mass) straight downhill the moment the skis were passing the current gate (apex) – not later on above the next gate. It takes half the distance to the next gate just to get out of the existing turn – and you are being slingshot cross to it anyway – so you need to get out of the turn to make sure the body crosses to the inside of the next pole, This is a “translation” motion of the body relative to both the ski at the moment it is initiated and to the slope – specifically downhill. The attacking attitude is needed because (when not understood) it’s a scary thing to do and most people instinctively hold back, become late and skid etc.
Alex was able to achieve all of this and even despite weighing only 30kg was able to easily clear full weight world cup poles like a pro – without reaching, rotation or being distracted. The long poles actually gave him the clearest reference for where to move his centre of mass and to commit to the turn early.