The freeski team has been training together for their on-snow technical practice since December with Coach Rob DesLauriers, drilling technique and talking strategy. In preparation for the competition season, the team headed to the Utah Olympic Park to train on the ski jumps.
“The idea is just to get them used to taking bigger airs, to understand the feeling of being airborne for a longer amount of time,” DesLauriers explained. The goal was to not only improve technique in landing, but to build confidence and “air sense” with longer flight times and lots of rep’s on the jumps. The Utah Olympic Park is designed as a training ground, allowing athletes to progress from small and easy jumps to steep and intimidating jumps over the course of the day.
In freeski competitions, athletes often take big airs, but the landing is where they fail. Getting comfortable in the air and building confidence in landing technique translates to freeskiing confidence, but also competition success.
Typically, during the first day of competition about 25–50% of competitors fall on the first day, and won’t make the cut to ski the final day. If a skiers doesn’t fall on day one, their chances are much higher of making it to the finals and getting on the podium. Skiing fast and fluidly is key to success, but adding big jumps and tricks is often what puts skiers at the top…but not if they can’t execute the landing.
Of course, the smooth, straight landings are different than what the athletes deal with during a freeski competition, but the understanding of what it feels like to be in the air for a longer time certainly translates. Similarly, being able to practice perfect landings over and over helps to create muscle memory for better execution when the conditions aren’t as ideal.