Ski team coaches must manage teams first, racers second (letter)
Dear editor: In response to the article by Chris Freud (“As season ends, U.S. Ski Team faces depth issue,” Saturday, March 24), ski teams tend to have just a few standout racers. But while each country fields a ski team, ski racing is still an individual sport. The racers that rise to the top tend to be very single-minded and very focused on their goals. This takes dedication and the right kind of support and training. The intensity rivals, Peyton Manning who was legendary for analyzing every detail.
An essential part of any athlete’s success is the quality of the information they can access. Mikaela and her mom reportedly pour over video of the races to find even the slightest details that might yield hundredths of a second.
The dilemma is that coaches need to manage the teams first and the racers second. The coaches also need to understand the technique and the equipment at the highest level. It is not clear that in past years the technique was really well understood. The technique does evolve. Ted Ligety had success when he found some adjustments sooner than his competition.
One of the questionable areas of U.S. coaching philosophy is that ski racers should be “skiers,” as well as racers. That is, skiing recreationally is necessary to becoming a great racer. The reality is that racing on skis, like other specific sports, is not about recreation. Nor is platform diving or weightlifting or discus.
Buck Hill in Minnesota was the beginning of careers for several top racers. This is a small hill that focuses entirely on racing. The coaching is good and the competition is intense. The skiers learn excellent fundamentals. There is plenty of time after racing careers are over to continue skiing recreationally.
It might be good for Chris to interview Lindsay and Mikaela about how to design a program for more success.