Thursday, June 19, 2014

US Ski Team is not the answer to domestic coaching and development.

Whenever there seems to be a drought or a crisis looming in US ski racing everyone starts to point fingers. Tiger Shaw basically said, " There is not much talent in the pipeline."

Sasha Rearick, Head US team coach,  "“We’ve fallen off the mark in the technical disciplines, slalom and GS, without a doubt."
US Ski Team coaches have finally realized what I've been saying for the last 15 years. However, do they have the "technical coaching skills", to raise the level properly or quickly?It's too late for the 16 years olds, you have to start with the 8 year olds or 10 year olds, in their home programs. This isn't anything the US Ski Team can solve, it needs to be done at the entry levels. By the time it gets to the US Ski Team level, it's too late.

More details in this Ski Racing article,  however this is a public relations article it has little content or offers no real solutions.

I'll make these statements not because I want to damage USSA coaching, but the reality is this. I've observed domestic racing for 35 years. The US national coaches association is where the trouble is, it's not the kids.. And USSA should not try to blame the US domestic coaches. USSA has the power to dictate what and how skiing is coached in this country, but it has failed. Now even a branch of USSA, the Ski Team, recognizes this.

It's easy to identify the problems,  they are obvious, at least to me. These problems go right to the top racers in the US, look at Ligety's slalom? Technically it's terrible and he's been working on it for the last three years, without change, that's a coaching issue. This has been documented in detail on this Blog. 

It's another thing to know what to do about your overall skiing problems. Where is the solution? USSA needs to totally revamp the coaches association and start to educate coaches, starting with biomechanics and movement fundamentals. But it's not getting done, because human nature is, not built to look internally. 
And the changes needed,  will never happen with PSIA as the driving force for, US coaching and athlete development, that should depend on elite world class skiing knowledge. PSIA isn't designed to for this, they don't develop athletes,  and doesn't have the credentials to coach elite racers or train US coaches. That's like asking your lawn mower mechanic to build you a Ferrari racing engine. PSIA is a ski instructor organization, it's strength is to give tune-ups to recreational skiers.

Do US ski team coaches have the skills, time and influence to make it happen? Can they make happen what they have identified as problems in US development? 

Is a one time spring ski camp the beginning of a national development resurgence? Even if the coaches did have the perfect program at this camp, is it a development solution or a PR attempt. The problems for US skiing go much deeper and require much more attention.  This has been substantiated (not that I needed this confirmation) to me by numerous coaches who attended the national forums at Park City this spring.
US skiing is in world of hurt, there is at the moment very little going on in the pipeline behind the present team, sorry.
This may sound negative, but it's not, you have to identify the problems to be able to fix them. I'm not against US Skiing, but I am very critical of the way it's been managed.

Tiger Shaw has his hands full, and not just with this issue. It's not going to be solved with a few camps and a Press release, it will take a mini revolution within the US Coaching and Education.