There's a reason most great downhillers are old, or at least experienced. World Cup downhill courses are surveyed and set exactly the same year after year. Experience pays a huge dividend as the competitors seek the perfect line. These two minute races are normally decided by hundredths of a second. We're trying to catalogue and retain all of Scott's downhill experience as he gains it.
Ever since Scott was little I'd have him run his favorite races through his head and visualize himself in action. It was a useful tool to help him develop the mental skills needed for race preparation, while also increasing his "familiarity" with the regional venues. As time went on, he learned to "rerun" certain frames until he got the turn or move perfectly. Then we progressed to him rehearsing the race against a stop watch to see how close his visual run was to an actual race he'd already completed. Mental training and preparation are essential to success in any sport.
Two years ago we started watching World Cup footage of downhills Scott would someday race. This was helpful his first time down the tracks at Alyeska, AK and Lake Louise, AB, but a video doesn't tell the whole story. So, starting with the Lake Louise World Cup track last year, we began the process of "charting" downhill courses on paper. Scott has a ten page (taped together end-to-end) chart of Lake Louise with footnotes of everything he learned last year. Our plan is to update it and add detail every year he races there. Likewise, he may be forerunning the Birds of Prey World Cup Dec 3rd, so we have just prepared a full length chart of that course, with all of the key jumps and turns labelled. Although Scott ran the bottom 2/3 of the course numerous times in 2007 during the National Development Speed Camp, we aren't going to add any of his notes until he's done a full course inspection this year.
So last night we watched Darren Rahlves' analysis of Birds of Prey on video as step one for next week. We also watched the entire "Thin Line" video to create the mood. I've dusted off our Lake Louise notes for Scott to study on the airplane to Canada immediately after the Birds of Prey. Hopefully my anal tendencies and Scott's focused preparation will pay dividends against the clock.
It never ends...