Tuesday, April 24, 2007

At the National Ski Academy!!

We are HERE! We made it! I have a LOT to blog about, but here is just todays info... I promise to catch up as soon as I can!

Today was amazing. It was our elective day, so we got to choose the clinic we wanted to ski in. It was So hard to pick! Scotty McGee was here doing a telemark clinic, and, since Mike had decreed that I shall now be a Nord, I was sorely tempted to learn from the best. However, now I have a reason to drive down to Jackson Hole and visit him, so I decided to pass for the day.

Other choices were steeps and bumps, crud and powder, and carving, among others. I decided to go with carving, because I figured that just chasing Josh down the hill and trying to look like him isn’t working, and just tipping the skis isn’t working, so maybe I should take a class! You can’t carve if you can’t ski!

Andy Docken was our clinician (I ended up in the “I kind of know how to carve, but I need to work on it” group). I’m not going to go through the whole clinic (It was four hours long, and as Andy said, we basically covered the whole Alpine Technical Manual).

Here are the things I had been working on, or that people had been asking of me:

1. Get to your edges early.
2. Stay on your edges.
3. Stay in the front seat.
4. Move your core in the direction of your next turn.
5. Keep moving (no camping).

When I combined these ideas previously, I was hucking to my new set of edges as early as I could, and in my mind, that meant going all the way to a hard edge, and then riding it around. “Just tip it, and ride it around.”

It had NOT occurred to me that the angle of tip can be a progressive movement, as well as the flex and extension in the body being a progressive movement, or the fore/aft can be progressive.

I have had a couple of people tell me to be more patient in my turns, but I felt like they were asking me to stay on a flat ski, and I was getting this huge, ugly, out of control traverse in my turns. I didn’t understand why I didn’t have control, and then, I would look for control and end up going back to getting to my edges “earlier” wich, in my mind, also meant “harder”.


Here is how Andy fixed it in one fell swoop:

The skis, when they are flat on the snow, are at 0. Tip them just a hair, that is 1. One more degree of tip, that is 2. Higher still, that is 3, and that is just before the apex of the turn (That last bit is me, not Andy, but that’s when I felt it). Ride this just through the apex, and then begin de-edging… 2….1…0… and now we are in the transition.

Interestingly, this is a lesson that I also had to learn in tennis. I like the forehand down the line shot. I like it because it clears the net by three inches, it is powerful, strong, driving and true. I like to try to take the cover off the ball when doing it.

Getting an accurate shot down the line DOES take athleticism and power. BUT, like in carving, not all the engines are burning full fuel, open throttle all the time. Do that, and you loose accuracy, touch, directionality, control and your temper.

The TRUE elite athlete is patient. It takes discipline to be patient. It takes more discipline to wait for your shot, to roll the skis just enough, to listen to the feedback of the ball/snow/skis/body than it does to train hard to be able to hit the ball hard. Holding back often times takes more training than going balls to the wall all the time.

Lesson learned. Again. Andy took the “pop” out of my turn, and in turn, gave me about 150% more control than I had before. The turns link, they flow, I am not chasing my skis down, trying to get back in the front seat because I was hucked to the back of my skis at the bottom of the turn BECAUSE I was over steering BECAUSE I was throwing to my “most extreme” edges in an effort to get there early, and the skis were taking off without me!


Carving takes touch.

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