November 21, 2006

Rhythm changes...

Today's course was set to teach us how to handle rhythm changes. It was a longer course, all of the full poles and all of the stubbies and included one new rhythm change device, an under gate, plus the flush and hairpin from yesterday. We had two flushes, the first was just before a pitch change so we needed to be careful, and take a slightly slower line on the exit gate from the flush so that we could handle the increased pitch and increased turnyness of the following section. The second flush was near the end and was on a flatter section, the idea being that we should try and take it as straight and fast as possible. The hairpin moved the course over a fraction and separated one pattern of gates from another. The under gate (a sequence of two gates that both led the same way so that the first gate could be used to force you to take a particular line through the second gate...) did likewise, though Blair told us that he'd never seen an under gate used to introduce an easier section, it was only ever to introduce harder sections...

We slid and inspected the course and then went off to do some drills to practice the moves needed to ski the course. After the drills we skied the course once to see how it felt and then some video was taken so that we could see how we skied it before it developed ruts and ice. The first run was good, we all enjoyed the course and managed to stay in and take a reasonable line. The rhythm changes were very noticeable and the gates that introduced them all had their own special tricks required to ski them quickly. Once we'd skied the course again we slid it again and focused on techniques that we'd require to ski the various complicated sections at speed, we then practiced these in isolation... After that we did a couple more runs to practice what we'd been told. The complex thing is that the course deteriorates each time you ski it, we had snow today in the morning (and later in the afternoon) and so ruts developed and we also scraped through to the ice, this meant that the next time down, after the other four had skied the course, it would always be slightly different...

After lunch Blair changed the course a bit and mixed the stubbies in with the big poles, the idea being that we'd be able to get a feel for a section on stubbies and then take that 'braver' style into the big poles; it seems that we'd been skiing the stubbies with a closer line than the big poles even though we were taking the bug poles better than yesterday... We planned to video this new course but the weather closed in and the visibility vanished so we just skied it and Blair stood at the bottom and gave us feedback. It was interesting to find that the nicely polished icy gates were by far my best gates, the conditions being reliable, the snowier or more rutted ones tended to behave differently each run. However, one of the flushes was very icy and that tended to be where I'd get slightly back and then need a couple of gates to recover. The good news is that I can now really feel when things are right, and I can recover from when things are wrong within a gate or two... As the day progressed I was getting more and more forward body movement through the gates, setting me up nicely for the next gate...

The video session went better than I expected. Today the video looked better than I expected it to, the video run was very early on and my later runs felt better but it was a pretty good run. I'll try and get hold of the footage and post it online...

This slalom stuff is pretty addictive...


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Posted by Len at November 21, 2006 04:54 PM | Categories: R21 - Race training , Season 2 - Ski Days
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