Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of England
“I have brought myself by long meditation to the conviction that a human being with a settled goal MUST accomplish it, and that nothing can resist the will which will stake even existence upon its fulfillment.”
HOW DOES A CHAMPION SKI?
By Lane Bowers
When I first started to compete, the most important thing I wanted to learnwas how a champion skied. What was it that a champion did during his ski sets that made him succeed while I practiced just as much and wanted it justas passionately? What I began to realize over a period of time was that themore that I was able to mimic the thoughts and actions of past and currentchampions, the more I was able to produce similar results. What I will dofor you is summarize the information that I have learned that has helped meto become a World Champion.
The best way for you to use this information is to learn how to become anexpert at goal-setting and mimicking. If you will set achievable yetchallenging goals in each of the areas I address in this article, then youwill be on your way to achieving your dreams. In addition, if you learn tomimic other great achievers, then you will learn the turbo route toconquering your goals of becoming a champion. Although I can’t spend muchtime on goal-setting here, let me recommend that you be as specific aspossible in your goal-setting. Write your goals down and include anempowering picture and quote that will dare you to become a champion evertime you see them!
I have outlined a training schedule that helps me immensely. My year oftraining is split up into three separate seasons; off-season, pre-season,and in-season.
The off-season training begins when the tournament season ends and is aminimum of two to three months in which I allow myself to heal mentally andphysically (depending on the climate in which you live, this period could betwice as long due to cold weather). During this time, I try to stay veryactive physically in any way other than skiing. I find it especiallybeneficial to engage in activities that will improve my skiing the followingseason. This chill-down period should include an aerobic and anaerobictraining program. Bicycling, swimming, roller-blading, stair masters, or even cross-country skiing are all excellent activities that will keep yourbody focused for the up-coming season. I have especially become a big style6″>believer in a structured weight training program which should be overseen bya professional. I have my own lifting coach who helps me set strength training goals that are specifically related to my skiing goals. Make sure that your program is a total body program that targets problem areas such as injury prone or weak areas. Be specific with these goals and don’t forget toinclude flexibility exercises.
This off-season training should also include video analysis of the last season, and should also include video input of a champion that you have chosen to mimic. The consistent use of video analysis will give you a greatjump on achieving your skiing goals. The videos from a previous season canalso be used by your lifting coach or partner to help you set strengthtraining goals.
After several months of not skiing, I am stronger, healthier, and more enthusiastic about beginning to ski again. During this next five month period, I begin to increase my skiing quantity while continuing a very rigorous strength and aerobic training schedule. It is during this time that I begin learning any new tricks that I will add into my runs for the competitive season. If you are jumping I do believe that boom and Puppy Paw (similar to shoe-skis) jumping will help improve your jumping form while still keeping the risk level relatively low (please consult a professional to ensure that you are using an effective yet safe program thatwill be best for you).
I use this season to put as much time as possible into “dry-land ” practicing in which I hook a handle up to a door knob or something else andpractice my trick-runs or more difficult tricks. This is a great way toanalyze and improve my form.This pre-season period is when I begin my progressive training program. This involves a high concentration of practices centered on perfecting thebasics (Posture and Glide). By careful analysis of my form I am able to make small almost imperceptible steps of improvement that will progressively build momentum.Although many people have difficulty slowing themselves down to analyzetheir form, I believe this to be a quintessential part of my season’s success and to achieving top rank among the champions!
By training progressively my skiing condition increases at the same rate asthe difficulty of my work-outs. For example, I believe that it would be foolish for me to begin to practice one of my most difficult tricks on oneof my first sessions of the year. This difficult trick does need to bepracticed but I would choose to do it when I feel that I have my condition level at a place where I am confident that my body will be able to do what my mind is telling it to do. Improper training can cause serious injury andwill certainly kill my momentum. The more difficult the workout that I am doing, the more I demand of my mind and body so I strive to train smart. But what do I actually do for one of my progressive workouts? My typicalpre-season workout would be about a twenty five minute ski set which I woulddo about four days a week and would include the following runs:
one run of slow tumble-turns,two to four runs of all front and back toe-holds on both sides of the wake
two to four passes of front and back slalom runs.
several runs of various surface turns on the Puppy Paws.
If I were working on learning a new trick then I would work this on the boomand the Puppy Paws. As this season progresses, I will add some of the surface turns that I had been practicing on the J-skis onto my bare feet. I will start rotating one group of surface turns at a time so that by the end of this season I will have at least touched base with every group of tricks.
By this time I am ready to begin what I call cluster training. This is practicing tricks in similar groups together. These are almost complete trick runs with the emphasis on rhythm and smoothness. No matter what level of skier you are the same principles will apply. If you are practicing tumble turns, then practice them in groups of four(basics and reverses). If you are going to use four two foot 180 degree surface turns then you need to practice all four turns together. Get out of the habit of just practicing your most comfortable tricks. If you are unable to perform a reverse, the pre-season is the time to work on them. You should not be working on tricks that are not going to be part of your trick runs at this time of the year.
The main goal of these practices are to have the handle in your hands at both ends of the pass the majority of the time.The second biggest part of in-season training is what I call the principle of honesty in skiing. This principle is a crucial part of my training and it involves merging the reality of the tournament confines with the loftiness of my goals. It would be nice if my friends and parents were the ones who judged me at tournaments, but this is not reality. I now ask objective questions about my skiing which will shape how I practice. What tricks are being performed in time… for credit? What did I score today if this was atournament? Is my slalom easy for the judges to see and score? What percentage of my jumps am I landing and what distance would I have jumped if I only had three jumps. By trying to think like a judge, and putting myself under tournament pressure I will understand exactly where I am at and where I need to be to meet my goals.
I am now practicing about four to five days a week and performing my trick runs and slalom runs under tournament conditions at least two to three times a week. The rest of the time is spent going over problem areas out of the actual trick runs to build up my confidence. Jumping is now a high priority. I will be taking three to five jumps about three times a week. My video analysis is done on a daily basis with additional input from my coaches.
If you commit to putting your skiing calendar under this training scrutiny,I believe that you and your coach will be able to accomplish more than ever before. Please ski smart and remember to keep skiing in its proper perspective by not neglecting other areas of your life and you will enjoy your skiing career.
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