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Back in action.

Whew! The last few weeks have been very hectic. The "real" job has been taking a toll but that should calm down for the month of February with the Olympics. Speaking of which we'll be doing some blogging from Vancouver and trying to bring the behind the scenes stories when we can.

Changes to the blog are our new logo which should be obivous. I'm hoping our videographer gets in town soon so we can start putting up some of our skills progression videos. While it is a bit late for this year working on skills is something that should be done everytime we hit the slopes. Every athlete and coach I know when they get a chance to ski is working on something to improve or trying a new move to see how that affects balance, ski action, speed, entry into the turn, turn finish or just ease of getting down the hill.

Pick one thing to work on and then try each run to apply that "thing". Could be as simple as keeping your hands where you can see them. Dropping hands and letting one hand swing behind the body are very common mistakes which affect how the ski is working. Dropping a hand or letting a hand get behind the plane of your body (move below and behind your field of vision) is one of the most common ways a ski looses edge. The body starts to twist when the hands drop and swing and this "rotation" ends up in the legs, knees and ankles and then the ski edge starts to skid. No skidding!

There is new snow at Vail this past weekend with another 13" on the ground. Reports from Jackson Hole are a recent 30" so seems the storms hitting Utah are either going North to Wyoming and Montana or South to New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We can only hope for a small change in the jet stream and then have some epic spring skiing!

Thanks for checking in and have a blast on the slopes wherever you are.



Basics Win!

Just finished watching the Korbel American Ski Classic from Vail. (May have been taped from last year). The final was between Franz Klammer and Hannes Trinkel. Both Austrian downhillers and both really strong skiers. Klammer ended up winning by five one hundredths of a second.

During the interview after the race they asked Klammer what he did to win. "I just pushed my knee into the front of the ski". "I keep to the basics to win".

That is it. Simple basic technique applied flawlessly. (Hannes did get hung up in the start. I'm sure that bobble cost him :-).

Pressing the knee into the front of the boot and ski tip keeps you forward and starts the ski carving. Think of the edge of the ski as a knife and you want to start the knife cutting tip to tail. This locks the edge into the snow and makes those nice slices in the snow. Also equals control and confidence on any slope.

So practice pressing that knee to the front of the ski!


Buying skis?

I had quite a shock this year. Had to buy skis for the first time in my life. Painful.
I rented a few pair and nothing really did it for me. I've been skiing on a pair of Nordica 0.0 World Cup GS skis since 2002 and very few skis were measuring up. Of course I did not need to always work that hard to ski. 
Out of the blue I decided to pull the trigger on a pair of Nordica Hot Rod Jet Fuel 186cm. Wow! I love these skis. While they are not as torsionally rigid as the 0.0's that absolutly rock on groomers and ice, I feel like it was worth the expense which I guess is saying something. The Hot Rods sure are nice on powder days and in crud too! 
If you are in the market, or your athletes are, make sure you take the time to test drive before you buy. There really is a big difference in the way a ski works for an individual. Rent for a weekend and go ski the runs and conditions you like and put them through their paces. If you are lucky the shop you rent from will apply some or all of the rental fee towards the new skis. It never hurts to ask.

Tip of the Day: Stay Hydrated

Something that most skiers, including young athletes, never think about is hydration. Drinking plenty of fluids is just as important in winter as it is in summer. In winter it is more difficult to think about drinking fluids, unless it is coffee or hot cocoa, just due to the fact it is winter. Actually in winter the effects of dehydration can become more pronounced and dramatic than in warmer weather. 

Skiers and winter athletes begin to dehydrate the minute they set foot outdoors. If traveling to altitude a double whammy begins with the sudden increase in urine production which is a response to sudden increase in attitude. Athletes can begin to show signs of dehydration very rapidly. From studies done at the University of New Mexico a skier moderately exercising can loose up to 4 pounds of moisture in one hour!

Fatigue can set in when skeirs get dehydrated making it easier to become injured. Also exposure to frost bite increases with dehydration as the body pulls fluids from extremities to the core.

Bottom line, wear a Camelbak and drink often. If you are a coach it is easy to supply hot fluids in a thermos to athletes. We've used Exceed or Gatorade mixed with hot water and put into a 2 or 3 gallon insulated jug that can be placed at the start of a training course. Make sure there are cups next to the jug or have each athlete furnish a "water bottle" they can fill and sip out of. This makes a huge difference in the quality of training and the length of time athletes can stay out working. The sports drink tastes better heated up than water and can help warm the core of the athlete too.

For small kids the little Camelbaks are great. They can be worn over or under a jacket and provide a ready supply of water or diluted juice for them to sip on. Encourage drinking on the chair lift in between runs. 

Hydration is a simple way to give yourself, your athletes or you own child an advantage and an important health benefit.


Use the site to coach yourself.

ASC (Alpine Ski Coach) is being set up so you can coach yourself. Or use the skills, drills and general ramblings to work with athletes. Keep it Super Simple (KISS) is the watchword of the site and all the skills are presented one at a time. When out skiing pick a skill in a progression and try it for an entire run or two. Then take a couple of free runs and see if the skill can work in free skiing. Go back to a run of skill work and back to free skiing. You or your athletes can play all day at this. The important thing is to work on a skill until it begins to FEEL right to the athlete (or skier if you are working on your skiing) and affects the result of the turn or run.

We are going to reorganize the site a smidgen this week to make it easier to navigate to find tips, skills and drills and such so please let us know if it is working!