Pro Article: Where’s Your Focus?

Emma Carrick-Anderson 4xOlympic Skier and Snoworks Race Director talks about the importance of a clear mind and a simple focus.

Can you stand in the start gate with a clear mind, a clear and simple focus of exactly what you will do after exploding out of the gate or does your mind fleet constantly from one focus to another? If it’s the latter, then you will continue to struggle and be frustrated.

When I was racing I had a simple focus which of course changed at various times throughout my career but it was always simple. I would write that simple focus on the back of my gloves so when I stepped into that start hut it was the only thing on my mind.  This may surprise you but the word on my gloves was never a technical word but more a way of getting me into the right frame of mind so id use words like ‘attack’, ‘feel’ or ‘smooth’.

I am continuously surprised by the amount of skiers who when asked what their focus is, come out with a long list of things. Is it any wonder they lose the line, forget the important sections in the course and ski like mechanical robots unable to adjust and adapt to the constantly changing course setting and conditions. When racing down a slalom or giant slalom course (as with skiing bumps and variables) we need to be free to adapt and move so thoughts like move hips over, keep knees apart, stand up, sink down, first/second/third phase of the turn will completely inhibit our ability to make adjustments and will force us to be static and ski robotically.

What connects us to the mountain? What enables us to speed up or slow down? Of course our edges do so lets get the focus right down there where it matters. At times you will be thrown into the air but by keeping the focus on your ski edges you can land softly by placing them down rather than landing with a heavy edge check. With a tight gate approaching all I have to do is adjust the edge angle so the ski can steer a tighter arc. If I am late and need to cut the top of the turn off, I need to be light on the edge and pivot slightly so the ski can drift sideways until I have the desired line when I engage the edge and it carves the end of the turn.

The best bit about keeping your focus on your edges is that its simple and fun and allows us all to develop the skills required to be fast, excellent skiers but also allows us to be individuals. We are all physically completely different which is what makes skiing such a great sport. Unlike other sports where size is of the essence where unless you are a particular height/weight you will not succeed, great skiers and racers come in all different shapes and sizes. Don’t try to fit into a mould, instead develop skills and learn to be creative with your edges-your body will automatically do the right things to create the desired outcome with your skis.

Of course do drills and exercises. Try to develop every possible movement outside of the gates and take your body through its full range of movement. Ski racers and great skiers are constantly thrown into ungainly positions but by staying relaxed and free they are able to move athletically into a more balanced position.

Think of drills and exercises as tools to develop freedom of movement and skill. Like a tennis player practicing a particular shot over and over again. Then that same tennis player will play his match and pull on every movement and skill he ever developed but he will have a clear head allowing him to move freely.

Be creative when you ski and most importantly keep it simple!

Emma will be running Giant Slalom and Slalom training on the Tignes Glacier from 3rd November to 7th December 2012

For details click

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