An article in the April 7, 2015 edition of Ski Racing makes a shocking admission, There’s no set formula or timetable for ski racing success. According to author, Jim Taylor, it doesn’t matter how talented a racer is, how fit they are or how hard they work, there is no guarantee they will ever succeed. Taylor concedes:
And, the really bad news is that those results that you devote so much time and effort to achieving may never materialize – that is the inherent risk of giving your heart and soul to ski racing.
While it is shocking that no formula exists for ski racing success, it should come as no surprise. Raw talent is only one aspect of a ski racing winning formula. Like any competitive program, ski racing doesn’t exist to develop raw talent. It exists to determine who the best overall ski racer is, all things considered. And with rare exceptions, ski coaching doesn’t exist to create a synergy of the components that make up a winning ski racer/equipment formula. Coaching is more like a filter where training and running gates ultimately determines which racer has the strongest combination of factors needed to win. In this respect, coaches are more like talent scouts than developers of raw talent.
The process is simple. Run racers down a course and see who’s the fastest. It is the shortest and most economical path to the podium. The problem with an unsophisticated approach like this is that the best athlete doesn’t necessarily win. The winner is usually the least compromised athlete. In this format, there is no incentive to develop raw talent.
Although athletic ability is important, athletic ability in itself, it is not enough. Ski equipment, but especially the ski boot, can make or break a ski racer by enabling or disabling performance potential. Even if a ski racer finds the right combination early in their career, history has demonstrated that seemingly insignificant changes can quickly relegate an emerging champion to oblivion.
Have trust. Despite the lack of any formula, Taylor advises racers to have trust and “believe in every aspect of your ski racing including your natural ability, effort, coach, equipment, and program.” Why? With no guarantee of success, there is no good reason any ski racer would do this. It is not that a winning formula in ski racing is not possible. It is. And it is relatively simple. It involves the coordination and integration of the various factors.
Where to start?
The human system with an emphasis on movement science and the application Newton’s Third Law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
A strong stance and the ability to move precisely from one ski to another is the foundation of a successful ski racing winning formula. On firm pistes, it involves the ability of a racer to balance external torques and precisely align the resultant force R and the load W (R-W) emanating from COM on the same force vector in opposition to SRF in two bisecting planes; the saggital plane (front to back) and frontal plane (across the body). The point centre cross-hair where the opposing forces align is called the centre of pressure (COP). Without the ability to create and maintain a precise alignment of the forces of R-W and SFR, athletic prowess and strength and conditioning are irrelevant.
In a series of future posts, I will describe the conditions under which opposing torques can be balanced in 3 planes.