Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's a wrap...

After waiting a few days to decompress, I'm ready to close out the 2010-11 blog season. This has been an interesting year in many regards.

Scott learned alot about people this year -- I'm not sure the lessons learned on the US Ski Team are significantly different than those learned in the workplace. He met good people, bad people, hard working people, lazy people, creative people, people with no imagination, egotistical people, open minded people, qualified and unqualified people, sage mentors and immature people. Perhaps the intensity of the environment and the pressure to meet personal goals turn up the heat, but the ingredients in the cake are all the same. Scott survived, but not without a few scars. In the long run, he'll be better prepared next year.

Scott stayed strong and injury free, which is an accomplishment in this business. He didn't just ride the benefits of the many years he's spent in the gym working out. He carried weights and slant boards on the road and worked out on his own every night. I believe he broke the mold and finished the season stronger than he started. He added 10 lbs of muscle to his frame and is now back in the gym for several hours a day looking for more.

After a difficult start his skiing has changed for the better. He worked hard on a concept his coaches presented early last year. He seemed to be getting it, but his timing was off which messed up his line at the gates. He had what a baseball batter would call a slump for much of the year, and couldn't put together two good runs in a row. His confidence suffered, further exascerbating the problem. However, towards the end of the season things started coming together and he became consistent again. He still needs to fine tune the timing, but the essential elements are in place. Most importantly, he is confident in his skiing and ready to get back to work.

Scott developed mental strength this year on several fronts. He endured adversity within the team, yet stayed focused on the task at hand. I won't say that was a complete success, as he's still fighting the morale battle right now, but he's getting a handle on things. He also had his first, bonafide, downhill scare in February. It took a while for him to acknowledge it, then it took a while to get over it. However, as evidenced by his performance at the final speed series, he seems to be back in form. Scott's ability to narrow his focus and manage his arousal levels at the start line continued to improve. Not that this was ever a problem area, but he experimented with new methods for different situations and learned alot.

Although Scott didn't achieve many of the performance and outcome goals he set for himself, he still skied well enough to requalify for the US Ski Team next year. In fact, he was one of only three Juniors (Age 15-19) to meet USST objective criteria for selection. This takes alot of pressure off the first training camp in May, which will double as a tryout for the other 15 men attending. Scott feels poised for a huge season next winter and plans to eclipse the goals he set for himself this year. I truly believe he can.

On a personal note this has been a great season. Aside from spending another year with my son, my limited role on the hill and on the tuning bench allowed me to invite Joy along for several trips. She joined us at Lake Louise, BC, in Austria and Italy, at Whistler BC, in Wenatchee, Wa and Bend, OR. Those times with her took the sting out of 200 days on the road.

We also had some real quality time with family. Scott's older brother Jonathan came to Europe for a week and travelled with me through Austria and Germany. He later joined us at Winter Park, CO for the US Alpine Championships. Scott's older sister Adrienne flew to Mount Bachelor, OR for the final speed series and for the first time watched her brother race. My nephew Eric and his family drove up to Winter Park for three days to cheer Scott on. And finally, my sister plus my niece Denise and her family rented a house with us in Whistler for the week. We had great hikes, snowball fights and times on the slopes, where I had the pleasure of teaching their children, Ryan and Lauren, how to ski. My only regret was not getting an opportunity to explore the mountain with Denise's husband, Mark. Denise is also the person who designed this great web site and keeps it up to date; thanks so much.

The financial burden of ski racing is huge, and we received so much help from friends and family. Thanks to you all. In addition to direct financial support, we enjoyed the benefits of cost cutting, a home environment and friendship by staying at the homes of JJ and Laura Johns, Kent and Heather Christian, Karin and Tod Wehse, Jack and Melanie Kern, and Katie and Matt Dolan.

It's been a good year, but my final one on the road with Scott. He will turn 18 years old this summer and doesn't need me around any more. I'll return to coaching younger kids on our race team and maybe bring a few more up to the US team. I'll keep posting this blog based upon reports from Scott and my experiences coaching younger athletes. I suspect there's fertile ground in comparing what we do at the lower levels of racing with the National level.

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