I was at home in the family room watching the men’s giant slalom World Cup races at Beaver Creek this Sunday. What fun!! I didn’t even mind the spoilers from Facebook giving out the run results. (You know who you are.)
While I WISH I had been in Beaver Creek, I was thankful for the FABULOUS camera angles this year! Usually they’re flat and don’t show either speed or strategy very well. We just get a few side views, and the usual start and finish shots. This was a rare treat. We saw line, tactics, speed and some really dynamic skiing.
It was the Ted and Bode show and what a show it was! Ted executed amazing angles and specific rotations with lightning fast transitions to the new pressured edge. He has an eagle-eye on the fall line throughout the turn and tremendous confidence in execution!
Bode showed us his signature style, with new-found strength and his awesome competitive fire. (I did not realize how much I missed this from Bode, but I am so happy to see it again!) I don’t know if I ever remember Bode’s feet moving so quickly between turns.
There are some extreme differences between the two men in their choice of line and tactics, and some vital similarities. They both seek a clean edge and have an innate feel that defies chattering. They hold onto speed at all cost, and even their mistakes are fast. Good stuff.
Every time I watch this level of ski racing, I’m reminded of the incredible training environment that only elite teammates and tough competition provides. This may be hard for some coaches to grasp, but a team’s structure and coaching staff can only create an environment that allows athletes to excel and be self-motivated.
This is a tricky endeavor and there is no good user’s manual for the coaches. It has nothing to do with telling an athlete how to train. Here is a hard truth – there is no better coach than an athlete studying who’s beating them! Learning to absorb the reality (fast or slow) of racing with the clock, understanding the importance of feel, using video effectively, understanding aggression and building confidence – that’s how the elite athlete gets better. The best athletes are sensitive to poor performance and LOVE to win.
Put Ted and Bode in a room together, add multiple screens, video, GPS data from timed runs and let them discuss what they were feeling and thinking while training and racing. Now, imagine being a fly on the wall in that room. This kind of dynamic learning isn’t coming from the outside. These guys have their own internal engines, the drive to win and the mature emotional intelligence to get the job done.
Take a moment to think about the years of racing and training history Bode has to draw on. He’s seen every type of race preparation you can imagine, and he still finds ways to be faster. Most importantly, he’s not afraid of mistakes and, because of this, is constantly testing his limits and learning.
Ted’s really smart. He is a sponge and incredibly confident of his current, elite abilities. He will double down on the specific tactics that define him as the best in the world. We are going to have a lot of fun this World Cup and Olympic season watching these two great competitors!
Note: I owe a big THANK YOU to the best teammate I ever had, Eva Twardokens. Thinking about how we respected each other and coached ourselves, helped me revisit the feeling of a team podium as I watched the Beaver Creek giant slalom. As a fellow competitor, she pushed me harder than any coach could. As my friend, she inspired me in some tough times. I don’t think I would have achieved what I did without Eva, as both a friend and competitor. We inspired each other, competed hard and watched each other in training and racing. This was a coaching environment we built for ourselves and resulted in the best years of our racing careers. Thanks Eva!