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Thread: Improving my start, where to start?

  1. #1

    Improving my start, where to start?

    Just wondering if anyone has any drills, or ideas to help my starts.

    Background, gold handicap skier, ski as much as I can, but isnt all that frequent (other than race league nights). Fairly nimble, but have trouble in the starts.

    I can do a kickstart, albiet not a pretty one, but feel that its not gaining me any time. The kickstart i am refering to feels to me like i get vertical easily, but not forward as much as i'd like, not generating much acceleration out of the start. i have a relatively strong upper body, but no matter what i do I cant seem to utilize the poles to get myself going. I do feel that very steep start gates, where the wand is just over the pitch of the gate, i seem to have better starts in.

    a bit of a rambling i know, but in all the years ive raced, has always been a spot where i leave time on the hill.

    i know practice makes perfect, but i tend to think perfect practice makes perfect. My local race hill should have the start house open this week, hopefully i can get in a few practice starts before the first race...

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    I think we all struggle with our starts. By way of relating what a good NASTAR Ambassador Steve Nyman is (and not to drop a name); Steve gave me a tip that is subtle but helpful. He suggested that I stand in the start to the outside of where the timing wand opens. That way when your boots contact the wand it will take longer (femptoseconds?), for the wand to trip the timing device than if you were close to the hinge. In races decided by hundredths of a second, every little bit helps.

  3. #3
    Senior Member chuckp7600's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Victoria, MN
    I find it tough as well. Best thing is if you can practice where you will race since the starts around here range from falling off a cliff to starts that actually tilt back.

  4. #4
    Senior Member IN.racer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Go to youtube and watch a few world cuppers. Pick one that does a start you like and may be able to copy. Watch it over and over. Consistency is the key. I like Julia Mancuso and I try to do my starts like hers. I like how she raises her left foot and stomps it down when she launches. Her timing is perfect.
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  5. #5
    Administrator patmoore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Ludlow, VT
    I've always struggled with starts. In the early days I tended to jump up rather than forward. Rob Dexter has an explosive start and he usually beats me because of that. Doug Lewis suggested that I simply fall forward and use the upper body strength to pole forward.

    Watch Bode Miller's start in this video. Fast forward it to the 49 second mark.

    "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room"
    "When you're over the hill, you pick up speed!"
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Stockliman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Braintree, MA
    Also note in Pat's video of Bode, the amount of flex in the knees of his skates and the extension/reach that he has with his pole plants. He generates a lot of power and if you ever get a chance to race with AJ at one of the regional or national champs you'll see a similar approach.

  7. #7
    Thanks everybody for the tips, im headed tonight to see if the race start has snow on it tonight for some practice.

    I have always favored the side of the wand furthest from the hinge, but i dont think ive ever capitilized on it...

    I've watched dexter alot and he has a great start. I think in my case, i feel like the difference between a mid-gold handicap and a low gold is my start.

  8. #8
    in watching a few mancuso videos, she starts her kick start further back than I do, effectively staying away from the wand untill she is moving down hill. I typically find myself only a few inches from the wand before i pop up.

    This is an approach that i hadnt considerd.

    about 0:28 it has a really good slow motion start. the rest of the video dosent hurt either...

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Seven Springs
    Of note, I think I do the same as you are describing as of jumping up and not moving forward. What is subtle, and what has been taught to me as well, in Julia's video is that you also want to have a subtle backwards movement of the skis as your body is moving forward and your skis start to match the angle of the slope. So in effect with the skis moving backwards your body is moving forward and your boots or legs trip the wand at the last possible moment - does that make sense?

  10. #10
    It makes sense, and it seems most people with good starts have that same approach.

    I am trying some drills, squat/jumps with poles to gain some muscle memory. I'd like to have time to hit the hill, but its just not happening lately.

    The BOSU ball seems to be quite helpfull, and as far a quad/stabilizing muscle workouts its pretty good. Im sure some squats with my daughter on my back wouldnt hurt either!

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