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Understanding the skier’s goals


Goal Setting For Skiers

Following last month’s article about focusing on overcoming our limitations, this month we take a look at a single skier and see what we can do as coaches to help the skier.

We need to look at the skier and search equally as hard for the plus points as well as the weak points. Then we must try to understand the skier’s intentions.

This skier was part of the 2013 ES Academy. At the time, he was a Level 2. Level 3 was not really his goal, but he was passionate about improving all parts of his skiing, from piste performance to powder skiing. He is an extremely fit and strong skier with incredible stamina. He is using Slalom race skis in all clips and has been skiing since childhood.

There are 3 different sections: long turns on groomed piste (red run), powder bumps (black run), and short turns on groomed piste (red run).

Goal Setting For Skiers

Please watch the video and – without over analysing or coming up with specific feedback – prepare some thoughts.


Jozef lost his left leg below the knee in an traffic accident around Easter of 2009. With incredible determination, Jozef was skiing again the same year. He uses a carbon prosthetic specially made for him and adapted for his ski binding. He trained with ES Academy during the 2012-13 ski season. As his coach, I can’t remember a single time he used his carbon leg as an excuse. He is determined to use technology in the best possible way and to use it to reach his goals. Unfortunately, skiing has taken a back seat at the moment as his professional cycling career progresses…

If we look at Jozef’s short turns on the groomed run, we see that the tail of the ski washes and skids at the end of the arc sometimes; this slows him down and compromises the arc and flow at the start of the next turn. As a result, it is hard for him to create an early grip against the snow before the fall line. The grip comes late after the fall line and becomes more of a break. This happens primarily, but not solely, on the ski with the carbon foot.

We must ask ourselves, why…? He is sometimes caught with the “foot” behind the mass. This makes him a little forward, causing the tail to move more than the tip. In the turns where he is centred, you can see the difference and easily see the reaction and deflection he gets across the hill. Not surprisingly, his better turns tend to be on his foot rather than his prosthetic.

As a coach, we need to work with the skier to understand the goal (grip, deflection, speed) and then work out how to develop. In this case, we might have to look at the prosthetic as well as the skier’s technique, and specifically at the angle between the prosthetic and the ski. The stiffness of the carbon is important too. It’s not a simple fix. But also just asking this skier to make the fore/aft adjustments by altering the stance can create beneficial results.

As coaches and instructors, we must first understand the goals and then understand the limiting factors before we can find development strategies. It is a process and one that should not be rushed. To really improve a skier, there are no short cuts. It takes time and experience and a collaboration between skier and coach/instructor.

Find the right coach with us, European Snowsport. We are looking to recruit 10 members for the ES Academy this season; this is a working and training program that is only open to qualified ski instructors. Although it is worth pointing out that lack of experience is not necessarily a negative of the right candidate. CLICK HERE for more details.

P.S Jozef is a bit of an inspiration. follow him here…

At European Snowsport, we have a specialist adaptive skiing program: click here for details.