Davies Dryslope Diary: Regional fun!

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Racing at the Snowsport South race at Snowtrax! Photo: Tracey Clarkson

By Peter Davies

About me

For number of years now I have been ski instructing and coaching. It’s satisfying to watch someone learn at least one new thing whilst you’re doing a lesson or session.

I was part of the Martin Bell ski camp coaching team for couple of years when it was down in Southampton.Martin Bell is one of the most successful GB alpine skiers of all time, so it was a great honour to work along side him. During this time, I learnt how to plan a whole session as well as keeping kids enthusiastic about their skiing and sport in general.

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Martin awarding me a medal at the Southampton Club National 2010 Photo:Ella Slater

Martin lives in the US and has a daughter who is doing really well on the alpine race scene; so he couldn’t commit to running the camp anymore. His friend and ex team mate Spenser Pession decided to take on the camp from Martin.

Spenser asked the original team to help run the camp and we were all more than happy to join in. It’s been two years now since we’ve launched it under a different name. It’s one of the few camps that has the right balance of skiing and fitness. We’re really lucky that we have a ski slope, running track and lots of playing fields to our disposal too.

As well as skiing, we do fitness tests throughout the week, cross-country, rollerblading and swimming. We don’t run the kids to the ground but we do put them through their paces. Our aim is to improve every attendee in at least one area of his or her skiing and fitness during the week.

The camp this year is from the 1-5th August 2016. For five days skiing it’s £185 and £370 if the attendee wants to stay in accommodation. Spenser is an ex Olympic skier for Great Britain and as a child he won the Topolino (unofficial junior world championships) in giant slalom.

To book or find out more email: spession@blueyonder.co.uk.

The ‘lingo’

Individual dual slalom or head-to-heads

Two courses are set identically parallel to each other. After a start official or starting mechanism has indicated to go both racers have are vying to cross their finish line first.

Team dual slalom

It’s the same as an individual dual slalom but with 4-7 people involved on each course, depending on different race rules. It’s a relay format, so once on person crosses the finish line the next person in the starting area can go.

False start

When a racer goes before the the word “go” or starting mechanism.

28th May 2016: Snowsport South race, Snowtrax, Christchurch

Regional races are the entry level to ski racing in the UK. In my opinion, Snowsport South races are probably the most exciting races to go to in the country. The format of the individual timed runs are the fastest run of three. After that you race three individual dual slalom races. The opponents you race in the head-to-heads are based on the individual timed runs. Finally to top off the day, there are team dual slaloms split into Club teams and scratch teams.

This was the second snowsport South race I’ve attended this season but this one is unique. We were racing on a slope called Snowtrax that has a surface called Proslope. Normally we ski on dendex but this slope in Christchurch is the only one in the UK to use Proslope. Instead of having hexagonal holes, Prolope has filled in holes and the plastic bristles are slightly shorter.

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Dendex left, Proslope right

It’s a fantastic surface for beginners and freestyle but isn’t great for racing. The main reason it’s not great for racing is that you can’t easily change the course very easily. This means that once the course is set it’ll be there for a good few months.

Unfortunately, the courses that are normally set are very straight and don’t have many big offset turns. Straight courses are fine as a one off because they can bring confidence and aggression to your skiing, but it doesn’t help with improving your fundamental turning technique. It’s great to have variety on the race calendar but I wouldn’t want this surface to spread to other slopes I love.

Run 1

At Snowsport South races everybody is allowed to ski the course in practice, so there are no surprises when it comes to the main race.

Snowtrax has ramp like my homeslope Aldershot but it isn’t as long and steep. As I said before the course was very straight, so it was important to attack and push the whole way down the course.

The start list is done in ascending age order . I’m now in the male senior category, which is third to last category. It’s scary to think I began racing in under 12 category but I am now one of the older racers to be competing.

The surface doesn’t have much grip compared to dendex and it’s very hard to plant your pole to push. So every movement has to have a light touch. Best way to describe skiing on Proslope is that I feel like I’m skiing on eggshells.

On my first run I misplaced my push, which meant I lost valuable time at the top of the course. I scrappily took on the rest of the course. My time was the fifth fastest so far overall and I was leading my age group. I knew that I still had some areas to improve on going into the second run.

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Full attack was needed on this course! Photo: Tracey Clarkson

Run 2 

I had a lot better push into the first gate this time. Yet again, I chose aggression over style to get myself over the line. I bumped myself up a place overall and I was still leading my age group. I felt I could still cut my time down even more going into the third run.

Run 3

This time I took a different tactic at the top of the course. I wanted to skate as soon as I pulled myself through the starting wand. A big adjustment like this wasn’t a good idea. My timing was off and I really had to battle my way down to make up for loss of power at the top the course. My time was slower and I dropped down a place overall and I also finished joint first in my age group.

Head-to-heads

We had an electronic starting system, which meant there couldn’t be any human error for calling false starts. I like it when there’s a proper starting system because there’s no case for an argument on starts.

One course (the red one in this instance) was much slower than the other, which meant you had to have a good start and push twice as hard.

I managed to win all my races including the one on the slower course. I felt my starts were good and I was feeling confident going into the team races.

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Facial expressions are priceless! Photo: Tracey Clarkson

Team event

After the individual timed runs I was selected to race in the Aldershot A team along with three other teammates . All our team members finished in the top ten, which meant we were the top ranked team. There was an odd number of teams, so we were given an automatic place in the semi final.

Once the first round of races had finished we were drawn against Bromley. They had just beaten our B team so it was important we restored team pride. Despite being on the slower side we won comfortably and had a place in the final.

In the final we had to race Chatham. We beat Chatham at the last Snowsport South race but we were drawn on the slower course for this final. After our first two racers we had slight lead, but it was close race once the last racers were coming down the course. Our final member (who’d won the overall!) put in a great shift at the top of the course, which meant Chatham’s last racer had pressure to attack for the line.

Luckily for us their last racer straddled one of the final turns – this meant we won the race! I’m sure we’ll have more exciting races against Chatham as the season goes on.

Reflection

I was happy with my skiing in every event and I thought I adjusted to the surface well. I would’ve liked to have been slightly faster on the individual timed runs, but it’s a bit of a lottery on a straight course.

Some racers I know skip the regional races but I think the more experienced racers can be a good example for those just starting the sport. Younger racers can look up to the faster racers and learn a lot. It’s also a nice change from the tough courses and serious set up at National races.

If you’re looking to start ski racing I highly recommend doing Snowsport South race because it’s a friendly atmosphere with a great amount of skiing.

Results: Snowsport South Snowtrax

My next races are at Southampton for the next Snowsport South race and club national on June 4-5.

Davies dryslope diary: Ups and downs

Sport Documentaries you should watch

Things we’ve learnt from the 2015/16 Alpine ski season

How to stop that end of ski season feeling

Davies Dryslope Diary: Skiing, sun and a butt slide

Davies Dryslope Diary: Intro & start to the season

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2 comments

  1. We’ve never been skiing before but would love to. Looks great fun! 🙂
    http://lilinhaangel.com/

  2. I’ve never been skiing, but must admit I’m not even tempted to be honest.

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