Last day for Alex to try to gain consistency in his slalom – so no pressure! Adding to the situation was the fact that we only had a half day and visibility was variable . The visibility didn’t seem to affect Alex but it did affect filming. Alex had a battle on his hands to overcome the distraction of being hit by the poles. Simple exposure to the poles turns this into a “non issue” over time – lots of time! Alex had to try his best to focus on technique and to allow that to help quieten down the pole interference just through more appropriate skiing.
Severe problems were generated by Alex attempting to apply the tricks he has learned from skiing stubby poles on plastic. He would launch at the first pole as close as possible and try to knock it over with his ski boot. That might work on a moderate slope on plastic with little stubbies – but here it just knocked Alex over instead. This nonsense leads to a strategy of taking a straight line to the pole followed by a braking skid when it is all way too fast. This is not skiing.
Working on his turns out of the poles Alex had to be prodded into finishing his turns on the steeps. When he actually did this his turns looked great.
Feet Forward Technique
Alex had worked on the skating during the turns and was asked to bring this into the slalom. Before starting slalom he had several runs of GS to work on the feelings with longer turns where there is more time to react. In slalom he was not able to apply any of this so we took the skating a bit further. Without wasting any time on detailed explanations I just told Alex to push both of his feet forwards through the ends of the turns and on across the hill as his Centre of Mass entered the new turn. Alex understood this straight away and was able to apply it – making his ability to stay in the course far stronger. The idea was to get him to pull the uphill ski onto its inside edge (we practised pulling) early instead of just waiting and then suddenly stivoting/braking sideways. This technique is essential for Alex in slalom if he wants to stay in the course. His shortest skis were used too for the greatest force feedback and carving potential for short turns.
Alex was guarding himself from the poles by raising his hands up high – but as Gerard Bonnevie pointed out this was contributing to him being pushed back. The main things that Alex then had to work on were then pushing the feet through the turn and keeping the hands down to about chest level.
Although Alex was still strongly affected by the poles he manged to work on all of the above issues to ensure a solid, stable performance by the end of the session. Even if he doesn’t get the chance to practise more before his next race on snow he can work on visualising all of this. Watching the video will help to stimulate the muscle memory and keep things fresh in his head. Mental practise is often just as good as physical practise itself. My advice is to avoid the plastic meantime. Ski on snow or instead use inline skates – with lots of body armour.
The reality is that slalom on this steepness is very hard – so Alex has coped remarkably well and made real progress in a very short time span. His attitude is excellent and he is very motivated – but he needs to control his frustration and disappointment when things get tough and channel all his energy in the right direction. When there is a mistake there is a learning opportunity – best not to waste it on negative reactions. When pulled up on this issue occasionally Alex remembered his own real motivation and just got back to work each time. Good job!