Team Powderhorn
Notes from the Head Coach
November 17, 2007
In This Newsletter
The Team
Registration for Team Powderhorn November 15 is now closed. The numbers:
  • 27 Athletes (or fewer)
  • 6 Training Partners
  • 18 Coaches
  • 7 Apprentice Coaches
  • 2 Base Volunteers
  1. Bethune, John
  2. Black, Joanne
  3. Gunderson, Marge
  4. Gunderson, Steve
  5. Iovanni, Donna
  6. Iovanni, Felix
  7. Jensen, Ron
  8. Jensen, Valentina
  9. Kendrick, Trish
  10. Loucks, Brad
  11. Loucks, Marlene
  12. Maser-Jones, Lori
  13. Miller, Christine
  14. Luebke, Larry
  15. Oviatt, Levi
  16. Senatore, Adrienne
  17. Smith, Joyce
  18. Wiesiolek, Martin
  Apprentice Coaches:
  1. Black, Moriah
  2. Dix, Stacie
  3. Giove, Blake
  4. Hampton, Rain
  5. Luebke, Judy
  6. Sullivan, Paul
  7. Wright, Chris
Base Volunteers:
  1. Giove, Tammy
  2. McKinney, John
Required Orientation and Training Sessions
Check out the calendar of events at and explore. All new training events will be posted online by Tuesday, Nov 20.

Our staff at CDA has been working incredibly hard to come up with training structure, tools for the continued education, and clear standards for all volunteers. The briefings, volunteer-instructor training progressions, and continued-education clinics and incentives deserve a big applause.

All clinics are designed around PSIA/AASI standards and educational materials and will not only help you improve your teaching and skiing skills, they will also prepare you for PSIA/AASI events.

Please do attend all required and elective orientations and clinics because the value behind continued education is priceless for us. Our briefings, clinics and orientations are new and your input on the content and presentation would be appreciated. You have the expertise in many areas of the adaptive ski and snowboard lessons. Share it!
Ski and Snowboard Racing. Coaching Strategies: Keeping It Simple.
[ attached is a PDF version of this article ]

I would like to present you with my program theme that I hope will reflect the evolution and refinements of Team Powderhorn. Before I could define and write out our season and session goals I had to have a better definition of our race program. Briefly, here are some of my conclusions:
  • We teach* ski and snowboard racing.
  • Good racers come from great skiers so we have to teach* at least those ski skills that are critical in support of the racing skills.
  • Competition is a measure of the effectiveness of the training program.
  • Team Powderhorn participants want to win competitions.
  • Participants get to be athletes by doing athletic things.
* - I don't think that the word "teach" accurately reflects our role in athlete development and training process. We create situations and environment from which our athletes learn. I wish there was a way to say that we "learn them to..." instead of "teach them to..." but you get the point. The term "coach" is more appropriate so I will use it in place of "teach."

In short: winning races and skiing fast is the outcome we coach to.
  • A perfect turn will not win the race (but it may help).
  • A terrible turn will not lose the race (but it won't help).
Below is the outline of an approach that I would like the Team Powderhorn coaches to adopt for their session and season goals. We will discuss this in a group when we meet soon.


Evaluate the following to help you develop the best training session plan for the particular athlete:
  • Is the level of cognitive functioning appropriate for chronological age? Remember to address the athlete in a manner suitable to chronological age.
  • Can the athlete hear, understand, and answer your questions?
  • What is the athlete's emotional state: motivated, confident, timid, anxious, eager, elated, reserved, or patient?
  • Is the athlete easily distracted? Lack of concentration and reduced attention span are characteristic of some disabilities.
  • Can the athlete easily process information, follow directions, and stay focused?
  • What are the athlete's long-term goals and goals for the day? Motivation is key to developing the training session plan for the day and for the future.


  • Determine cause and effect framed by the desired outcome.
  • What factors are preventing the athlete from achieving the desired outcome?
  • Which single focus or approach will address as many causes as possible?
  • We base our coaching on finding a single focus which provide the athlete with the maximum benefit.
  • We look at the next 5 minutes and the next 5 years.


The outcome doesn't care about our soap boxes and opinions. There are many ways to get down the race course or down the mountain. We want to promote effective and safe skiing and racing, which may vary from the textbook technique and tactics.
  • We don't want to win arguments, we want to win races.
  • We work to be empirical so we can learn from our errors and duplicate our successes.


  • MOVEMENTS (movement patterns)
    • timing and placement
    • terrain/snow
    • dealing with mistakes
    • confidence/ability to relax
    • course inspection


What the ski is doing in the snow?
  • we base our mechanics on how we want the ski to perform in the snow
  • pressure high in the turn
  • balanced stance
  • ability to access range of motion and act/react as required
  • ability to use edging skills without excluding access to rotary skills
We frequently rely on these themes:
  • balance is #1
  • lead change concept (strong inside half)
  • vision (movements follow vision)
  • progressive movements
  • timing
Athlete that owns the necessary movements will perform the same at all speeds.


There are many ways to ski fast. We don't really care how our athletes ski fast as long as they do.
  • Our drills are based on the required outcomes.
  • Movements can be changed to address the individual within our drills.
  • Drills are used to identify weaknesses, train strengths, and try new approaches.
Basic skiing drills are implemented to emphasize fundamental movements and techniques, which are the foundation for effective skiing and ski racing. Initially, drills should be designed that give the athlete the opportunity to practice basic skiing skills with a high probability of success. Progressions within the drills give each skier the chance to improve their technique and balance. Failure to adequately reinforce basic skiing skills will ultimately lead to poor performance. When designing and implementing drills, assess the following areas:

The Goal

The drill goal is specific and quantifiable. The coach should explain and demonstrate the drill in such a way that the athlete has a clear understanding of the desired outcome of the drill.

The Coaching Points

The coaching points are the cues and the feedback that the coach uses to describe the proper movements required for the execution of the specific drill. They should be simple and concise, including kinesthetic feedback when appropriate. Coaching points address the following key elements: body position, vision, direction of travel and the key movement patterns to be performed and focused on during the drill.

The Evaluation

The evaluation of the drill is the most critical component of the exercise. The skier needs to have a clear and precise understanding of their performance relative to the coaching points and criteria for success. Through the evaluation, the coach needs to state in simple terms the types of movement patterns, feelings, and results. This dialogue needs to directly support the drill goal.


Progressions are used to introduce new skills or to fine tune existing skills. A progression can represent a training method that goes from general to specific, from quantity to quality, and from gradual to intense. Not only can progressions be used for introducing new skills but also to increase intensity of existing drills by increasing the slope of the terrain, increase the variability of terrain, and to perform the drills in variable conditions.

Common progressions are created by taking simple drills and adding variables before moving on to a new focus. Drill progressions should be created with individuals or small groups with similar skill sets and goals in mind. Progressions should address weaknesses or strengths that would be complemented by variations of a single drill or similar drills.

Setting Expectations and Challenges

Skiing time is critical to the development of skills and to the overall enjoyment of the sport. When in doubt, the coach should error on the side of less talk and more action. Many beginners to mid level skiers will fatigue quickly because of the high amounts of energy expended by either skiing on one leg, having to get up after falling, etc. Every run is important to improving the skier's skill or skills that are sought for accomplishing that day. Use different drills and focus that complement the desired skill or skills by using suitable terrain for each. Careful selection of appropriate free ski drills, snow conditions and terrain, allow the athlete to learn from doing! Keep feedback concise and to the point, while being positive and instructive. Encourage your athletes to understand the goals and purpose of the drills and progressions to maximize their effectiveness.

What to Say

  • Keep it simple, one concept at a time
  • Keep it concise
  • Use familiar vocabulary and define new terms
  • Relate new concepts to previously learned skills
  • Start by reviewing the last skill practiced
  • Keep feedback objective and relate back to specific movements and outcomes
  • Make complements count-complement specific actions and outcomes
  • Ask the athlete questions to check for understanding and create dialogue
  • Encourage perfection


  • Visual Description-A mirror for the athlete
    • "you were tipping in…you were starting the turn with upper body rotation…you were sitting back"
  • Prescriptive-What the athlete should do to achieve the desired outcome
    • "keep your shoulders level to the snow…stay square to the fall line... drive your hips forward"
  • Instructive-Explaining why and how to achieve the desired outcome
    • "... by raising the inside half of your body… look to the outside of the turn ... flexing your ankles (standing skiers).

Putting it together: Goal Setting

Goals and expectations should be set, reviewed, evaluated and modified regularly. Athletes need long term goals, annual goals, session goals and even daily goals. Goals and timelines depend on the athlete and need to be measurable, realistic, as well as achievable. Setting and acknowledging goals that are too easy may set the athlete up for disappointment. Ski racing and skiing in general is a long-term process that takes time and determination. Setting smaller goals that lead to success will keep the athlete from being discouraged. It is important for the athlete to understand how the drills, progressions, feedback, and coaching they receive ties into their goals.

  • A Managed Athlete Program For Developing Alpine Athlete Competencies 2001. United States Ski and Snowboard Association.
  • Disabled Alpine Ski Fundamentals 2007. U.S. Ski Team.
  • Alpine Ski Fundamentals 2005. U.S. Ski Team.
  • Adaptive Snowsports Instruction 2003. Professional Ski Instructors of America Education Foundation.
Team Powderhorn/TASP Race Development Camp in Telluride
Saturday-Sunday, December 15-16, 2007

Come to Telluride, Colorado to learn how to put on a basic race training day. CDA race coaches and Telluride Adaptive Sports Program have put together a race development camp for adaptive race coaches. We will focus mostly on designing training environment for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Day one: training drills, basic course setup. Day two: focused on intellectual disabilities. This will be a memorable experience.

Suggested price: about $50. Price includes: shared lodging, two-day lift tickets, and training.
Where: Telluride Ski Resort

» Sign-Up Online

Next Week
  • Assignments to Green, Blue, Black, and Really, Really Black Groups
  • Complete schedule (weekly drills and events)
  • More brilliant (or not) thoughts from Martin
These news were brought to you by Martin Wiesiolek, the Head Coach.
Phone: 970-254-0404

If you'd rather not receive e-mails from Team Powderhorn in the future, please reply with the word "Remove" in the subject line or call Martin at 970-254-0404.