March 18, 2009: The Not-So-Dreadful Slalom

Norquay, Canada – Today’s slalom training went surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would! (Okay it went really well.) I tested a different board that I now know I will buy, and it was like night and day from my old board. I could actually turn the thing! And it was so easy to ride and tracked well and actually rode with you and not against you. (Hard to imagine but there are some boards that make you really work to get it to where you want to go.)

We trained duels again but we each had a qualifying timed run in the course. I was fortunate enough to go first meaning I had a pristine, untouched course with no ruts – a racer’s dream! And I had a really good run. The steep section was clean and I didn’t lose speed transitioning into the flats. The middle section was straight and tight and I wiggled my way through it gaining speed. I did make a mistake coming out of that section into the more turny rollers because I was carrying a lot of speed and going very straight, but after a couple of scrubbed gates I got back into rhythm and finished well. My coach said I was moving well especially in the steeps, but my erratic arm movement was throwing me off a bit. But overall a good run.

The rest of my runs were good. I started going too straight (bad habit) which makes it difficult in a round rutted course. So I focused on rounding out my line and also keeping a quiet upper body. One of the coaches mentioned that my arms were flying all over the place and throwing off my balance, and I should focus on keeping them driving forward so all my energy goes down the course instead of up in the air, out to the left, over to the right, etc. I did that for my last two runs of the day and I did feel more grounded and my last run was one of my faster times.

So now I don’t not like slalom anymore! It was actually a really fun day of training, especially the ‘wiggle’ part where you really had to change edges fast to make the gates. That first run felt like my back-in-the-day slalom races when I was racing slalom well. The quick but effortless wiggle from one gate to the next gave me the feeling of flying, the very feeling which made me fall in love with the sport 10 years ago. It was a magnificent, albeit rare, feeling that reminded me again why I do this.

Lessons to practice: Rounder line and quiet upper body

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