Pre-competition visualization is critical to peak performance. Learning to develop the skill of seeing the finish line and harnessing the tastes, touches, sounds and ambiance of that moment is just as important as harnessing the elements of the specific act that gets one to the finish line. Whether it is a sprint on a bicycle or a perfect section of turns on alpine skis, holding the sensation of the finish line in the distance as an attainable goal can be essential training far from the competitive season or facing a daunting new challenge. For example when climbing on a bicycle, the pace may be very difficult at first but if one focuses on the sensations of turning the final bend and seeing the summit, only to know that the finish line is indeed within reach then the act of turning the pedals over for the next 40 minutes is no longer an insurmountable dilemma rather it's just something that is going to happen.
This weekend the crazy world of alpine ski racing descended upon the infamous Kitzbuhel course in Austria. Despite extremely challenging conditions on the most feared slope on the calendar, the world witnessed some amazing skiing most notably by Hirscher (who won the slalom outright) and Eric Guay (who scored the first podium for a Canadian in the Downhill in many many years). Hirscher attacked the slalom course absolutely, leaving nothing out on the course. As a spectator it is quite clear that he believed 100% that no matter what position he placed himself in, that his reflexes would carry him through to the finish line. Eric also skied extremely aggressive but on a course that was especially hard and icy this year, it may have been difficult to see for the untrained eye. Eric's big moment came when he attacked the final traverse with the perfect combination of proactive movement and reactive grace, pulling him up the time sheets and away from the other racers. Many racers were on-par going into that final 20 second section but only the podium winners aced it, gaining time in excess of 3-4 tenths. I've embedded the videos below, a great display of the balance between a proactive plan of attack, ruthless determination to cross the finish line and the courage to call upon reflex when needed.
Although I don't have video, Mike Janyk also continued his recent return to form with a 14th place on Sunday which is great to see. When I rode with Mike this summer in Whistler, we talking about how difficult it can be to achieve a peak personal performance each weekend. After some troubles gaining momentum early in his season, I'm super stoked to see Mike back in there. Check it out, pretty amazing stuff. An entire library of videos is available here: link. Also...check out this awesome video series from the BC Alpine ski team as they challenge for a spot on Canada's national team. Recently the team enjoyed a big win in Europe so check it out, these guys are bloody good at what they do. Created by BC team head coach Brandon Dyksterhouse: Get Rich or Die Trying (Episodes 1-8)
Erik's 2nd place (note his exceptional line on the tranverse section at the bottom)
Hirscher's amazing slalom victory (wins the 2nd run and the race outright)