The Slalom Progression will be slightly different from the other progressions because of the added effect of gate contact. This progression will have two distinct parts. The first part will deal with the line needed to ski slalom effectively, and the second will deal with the contact with the gates. We will employ the same feedback loop that we have used throughout PRS.
The first part of the Slalom Progression is run with stubbies. We will start stubbies with sets of 10 to 15 gates set at a distance of 9 to 12 meters. The first laps that we run will be aided by brushes and/or dye. Our goal is to over exaggerate the line. The turn begins with a quick clean initiation and then a push through the gate where contact is made with the inside knee. The completion of the turn should be finished within 2 meters of the gate (the approx height of a normal gate). A dye line can be a great timing aid to the athlete for completing the turn. The first laps must be kept at slow speeds so that the athlete can process the proper line.
The second part of the Slalom Progression will introduce contact with the full-size slalom gates. The second part will progress with three drills where regular gates will be introduced slowly. Gate contact must be undertaken with the correct technique. Bad habits are killers in slalom. It can take years to undo these habits. You must prune and correct them immediately.
Proper gate contact for Slalom
● Drill A: The coach will begin with a stubbie course and swap in a few regular gates randomly. Racers will get thrown off by the change so it is important to let them get the feel for the gates. It is important to have at least two stubbies before each tall gate. This allows the racer to rest their balance. The athletes should focus on making their left and right as symmetrical as possible. If you have a racer that has on dominant hand, for example, this is the place to begin to address the issue. The training session should finish with a simple stubbie corridor. End the session on a positive note.
● Drill B: This part of the Slalom Progression is the same drill as above, but will be run as the Diamond Hitch drill. The racers here are trying to actively address their bad/weaker side. The stubbies gates provide a reset for the athlete. If the athlete is working on the left turn, then they should ski the right course more often. Receive feedback and continue.
● Drill C: The final drill is all regular SL gates. The courses are still sets of 10-15 gates. Just as above, the feedback and pruning of bad habits is paramount. Be very careful not to let the bad habit described below affect the line.
Bad Slalom Habits
Overreaching: Overreaching is the most common bad habit in Slalom. It can often lead to other problems like an uncontrolled upper body rotation or overactive hands. Racers will attempt to reach across the center line of the body to block the gate. This is a natural instinct as they want to protect themselves. However, it creates a cascading rotational effect that travels from the shoulder, to the hip, to the ski. The result is that the tail of outside ski will lose grip and begin to slide. The slide results in the ski skidding into No Man’s Land. The upper body will rotate and not track the fall line. Repeat this mistake in the next gate and the racer will begin to rotate themselves out of the race course.
Chicken Wings: If the athlete is too young, under-skilled or cautious, they will often reach out to make contact with the gates. This will cause the racer to lose the line and begin to react to the course instead of skiing the course.
Happy Hands: The athlete’s hands are overly active. The overactive movement requires an equal and opposite movement to stay in balance. The resulting moments create an imbalance / balance that disrupts the athlete’s ability to make clean turns.