This continued dialogue on the USSA coaching topic, is in response to a question from a former Junior National Champion and Dartmouth racer, who read my article.
His question included a list of skiers that he thought were the ones using correct fundamentals and solid technique.
You have the right skiers listed, I would have to include Fenninger, and Tomba of course. However, you have to be careful with what you are picking out for viewing from them and what you point out as their base technique; as opposed to the performance technique you see when they are under pressure of the race course.
Coaches often see the wrong movements as the movements they need to coach. If you keep in mind, the ideal movements by a skier in a race course, a ski racer rarely performs them to perfection, however tries to stay as close to the ideal, or perfection as possible.In this case, when technique erodes from the "the ideal" it may not be so obvious any longer, in that phase of the course, and the actions of the racer can easily become convoluted and misunderstood by an observer.
The coach, needs to understand what is the ideal and how much the racer deviated from ideal. This understanding has to be established well before the coach becomes a national development or US Team coach. This is what is missing in the USSA picture. I see coaches out there coaching the mistakes or less than perfect movements that result from misinterpreting a top skier's movements. Often presenting and coaching movements world class racers make to recover while under pressure. Coaches too often present actions or positions or the movements or reactions, in effect what racers are trying to avoid.
The other major issue in US ski coaching is the lack of discipline and emphasis to the Essential Movements. Sloppy skiing is rarely reversed or corrected. if you know what you are looking for you can see it in junior racers skiing around any mountain in Colorado right now.
The best skiers in the world know what they want to achieve and work hard to stay within that range, but often the techniques or body control breaks down and that's called technical mistakes.
As a coach, you have to be able to differentiate between the mistakes or eroded from "Ideal" moves. The racers making a series of turns with less than ideal movements are often interpreted as "the way to ski," and ideal movements the racer is actually trying to achieve and continue to make, not recognized.
The quickness, and fight for balance required, with the forces and reactions needed, at the top world cup level, can rarely be controlled perfectly; therefore inevitably errors happen.
In effect there maybe two or three techniques we have to describe, understand and differentiate. The three can be classified as the the following : The ideal, the eroded and the breakdown. If coaches understood this important distinction; we would be a lot closer to building skiers with a solid foundation.
However in my view and what I see going on, on the mountain, the coaches are a long way from understanding the correct technique, let alone degrees of correct or incorrect technique.
There is a big assumption here on my part, and I have to point it out. It is paramount that you have to have a very strong core technical foundation before you can differentiate between the three resultant techniques that are demonstrated in every race. USSA training, coaching and racer skiing demonstrates clearly this important aspect of coaching does not exist in their repertoire.
Hope this makes sense?Harald