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Ski Life: Ask the Professor, Attack Mode

Fall Line
posted: 12/06/1999

Dear Prof,I am a high school racer who seems to have this problem of not winning. My coach says I have great form, but that I don't attack the course. What do you suggest?
Bobby Jones
sent via e-mail

Ski racing has everything to do with beating the clock¿and almost nothing to do with looking good. Great racers such as Alberto Tomba, Phil Mahre and Ingemar Stenmark sensed when to let the hill provide speed and when to generate speed themselves.

To win you must act rather thanreact. Always think about getting to the gate before it gets to you, anticipating terrain and driving forward with the knees, arms and hips.

The more you look ahead the quicker your feet can move, so look and think three gates ahead. Your turn should be made above (not at) the gate, which means your edge should be engaged and the ski arcing when you are straightuphill from the turning pole. If you're late, you get stuck in ruts and chatter marks and you#'re dead. The more you look ahead the more fluid you will be.

When you inspect the course pay special attention to terrain changes. Plan to be especially aggressive on knolls and in transitions where the hill changes grade. When the run breaks over to a steep, stand up a bit and drive forward fearlessly to keep your skis matched to the hill. Try to preserve (not necessarily generate) speed where it's steep.

Carry speed from the steep to the flat by easing off your edges for the last two or three steep turns. Then work the flat: stepping, skating and taking a very straight line. This is your chance to gain some time.

Inspect the course carefully to see where you need room to control speed or quicken your pace. If you focus on going fast, chances are you will look good. It's never the other way round.
¿The Professor

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