New Hampshire Snow Sports

New Tools for Racers

The U.S. Ski Team is on a roll these days, and not just with racing results. For the first time in history, the USST is developing an integrated education program within its own four walls. The exciting news is that the team has produced a cd-rom that we can all use to learn the same things that U.S. Ski Team members are learning! Here are some just some of the ideas presented in the cd:

  1. The U.S. Ski Team’s bottom-line philosophy is to develop great skiers first, then great racers. How many of you can dig perfectly arced “trenches” with your high-tech carving skis? We see that many of you are really good at this! Now, how many of you can arc those same turns in all kinds of terrain? That’s what the team wants to see — athletes who can ski any terrain in total balance and control.
  2. The emphasis is on simplicity! There are five areas of ski fundamentals presented: basic skiing; pole plant; carving turns and transitions; gliding; and jumping. At Mt. Hood, Oregon, this summer, top athletes and coaches met to go through this system of learning. They spent 50 percent of their time on the lower flats of the Palmer Snowfield, learning total control and balance by doing the drills in this easier terrain. This may seem like a funny thing coming from a team that says it wants kids to be great skiers first! Don’t you get to be a great skier by hanging it out at Mach-2 and ripping up everything in sight? Interesting things happen when athletes slow down and work on the right mechanics. “Sarah Schleper continues to work on her turn transitions. Bode has improved his pole plant. Erik Schlopy has become a master of fundamentals,” says Finn Gundersen, director of alpine education for USST. “The bottom line is that it’s very difficult to correct skiing technique in gates or in terrain that’s too challenging, especially for younger skiers. The USST athletes all get a great feeling of accomplishment from their continuing work on fundamentals.”
  3. The drill teaches the skill, not the coach! The drills presented on the CD are designed with this truth in mind: Doing brings understanding. The goals of the drills in the five areas are to teach: — Parallel turns with rhythm, control and balance; — Correct single- and double-pole mechanics, and timing and use of pole plants in parallel turns; —Linked, carved, dynamic turns at the appropriate place in the fall line, with snow contact. The team is big on where the turn is on the hill, and in relation to the gate and the fall line. They also talk a lot about snow contact, pressure distribution and balance through angulation; — Correct pressure distribution, line and aerodynamics through snow contact, subtle movements, shallow turns, immediate time and video feedback, and aerodynamic positions; — Movements to maintain balance over jumps and terrain changes, through learning skills for approach, take-off, flight, landing, snow contact and press jumping.

The CD includes another section on methodology adapted from the world-renowned Australian sport system that underscores the importance of a continuous cycle of evaluation, planning and implementation within any program.

Future CD’s are planned on conditioning, nutrition, mental preparation and advanced skiing fundamentals. A DVD featuring the World Cup winning runs from 2003 will be available soon. You can go online at to find ordering information.

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