I learn best when I’m watching and actually, physically moving and trying out a new task. If you’re teaching me a new song on the guitar, you should let me play it along with you. If you’re teaching me to knit you should put the needles in my hands and have me watch and do it with you. If you’re teaching me to bake a cake you should have me involved in the process. So it makes sense that when my coaches want me to try out a new idea or cement a movement pattern while skiing, they tell me to hop in behind someone who is doing it well.
This is where the Art of Erasing Yourself (and your ego) becomes pretty important. I try and clear my mind, forget about all the other things running through it and simply become someone else for a short period of time. Piece by piece, I erase parts of my body and pretend they are someone else’s. If I’m following someone who’s double pole I really admire, I’ll start down with the ankles, and try and make my joints bend at the exact same time and the same way. Then I’ll move up to the knees, and bend them like I was a carbon copy of whomever I’m following. I’ll match my arm swing, the timing of the core compression, and the follow-through.
This can sometimes be hard as I tend to march to the beat of my own drummer, and I usually have a pretty high tempo. But it can also be a wonderful way to try out something new, to force myself to slow my tempo down and get the movements right. More importantly, it doesn’t always mean that I have to permanently stick with someone else’s style of skiing, only try it out and see if it works for me. If it does, great! If a coach tells me to try skiing behind someone else, it doesn’t mean that I’m doing it wrong, or that the other athletes I’m not following are doing it wrong either. It’s just a way to try out something new!
So, during today’s 4 x 15 min L3 intervals, I skied as much as possible behind Ms. Liz Stephen. She is without a doubt one of the best hill climbers in the world, and in my opinion, one of the best possible people to follow when skating. I really admire her technique and so when it was time to get down to business, I busied myself with the task of becoming Liz’s shadow. I learned so much!
What’s also really great about this style of learning is that when we are doing something that I’m good at, I can take a turn at the front and hopefully give someone else a chance to try a new technique style or tempo. With a team full of skiers who are all specialized in different areas, we have so much to learn from each other! And not just from the other girls…I pick up so much from just watching some of the guys. It’s a pretty fun way to get better with other people.
Speaking of being with other people, camp has been going really well! It’s that point in the camp (1.5 weeks in) where everyone is getting pretty tired and keeping focus is harder than it was on day 1. But this is also where so many gains can be made, as long as we are smart and don’t dig ourselves into a hole too deep to climb back out of! Andy, Erika and I had some fun on our day off, and hit up the Flume to do a little cliff jumping!
We also had a fantastic evening at Annelies Cook’s house last night, and it was a great chance to get out of the center and hang out with friends!