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Websters defines the verb “train” as follows:  a) to form by instruction, discipline, or drill b) to teach so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient.

A myth has slowly grown in our community, and likely in many competition oriented clubs, that our athletes are not training if they aren’t in the gates. My goal here is to KILL THAT MYTH DEADER THAN DEAD!

Every skill an athlete needs to apply to get faster has to be achievable OUTSIDE of the gates. A set course adds a level of challenge that they are ultimately building towards, but introducing new, sometimes counterintuitive skill in a race course adds complexities of its own that may overwhelm an athletes ability to even attempt, let alone adequately acquire a new skill.

The photo in the slider is a perfect example. Yesterday, our juniors were working on edging up. None of them were able to edge up like Elisabeth Goergl is doing in that photo, not just in the course, but ANYWHERE. In order to do it in the gates, they have to learn it in a less complicated environment first, and then apply it to the gates.

When I taught my son to drive, I took him to a newly laid out subdivision with few houses and very little traffic. I didn’t turn over the keys and turn him lose on the highway or in downtown Medford. The same went for snow driving. We went up to the high lakes into a large, remote parking area and learned what it feels like when a car looses control. Skills are best learned outside of the high pressure context they will ultimately be used in.

Powder skiing is the ultimate myth that needs to be busted. Powder skiing places a high price on balance, finesse and fine motor skills. Anytime an athlete is skiing in the powder, they are becoming better athletes and thus better racers.

So why do we feel this way about “training”? It’s simple, most of us, me included, are laypeople, and not ski coaches. Our minds are programmed to complete stories in the absence of information. It makes more sense to run with the “they didn’t train” story than “I’m sure the coach had something in mind, but I don’t know what it was.”

We are very fortunate, and have been for quite some time, to have a knowledgable, caring coaching staff. When our athletes are on the mountain, with a coach or even free skiing the trees or powder on their own, they are training as long as they are doing it mindfully with careful attention to the process. That is up to each individual athlete and doesn’t matter whether they are in the gates, doing drills, skiing powder or at home contemplating the ways they can strengthen their mental game.

 

THE MYTH IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE NEW CONCEPT OF “TRAINING”!

 

Mike Hoyt

MARA Parent Coach