Writing notes is a must do for all dedicated skiers. No matter if you live life out of a three event bag (as Ron Goodman would say) or if you grab a ski set every now and then after a day of work, it is practically impossible to remember all the results, feelings, tips, and conditions you experience in one season. Becoming a better skier involves a continuous process of learning in which every step counts towards improvement. Unfortunately, those sets in which everything flows and you just ski at the max of your potential are very poor learning experiences, even though extremely rewarding. Similarly, those sets in which you cannot even run your opener tend to deliver little new knowledge or helpful feelings. This being said, the vast majority of skiing sets falls in between these two extremes, and it is precisely in those sets that you will find the bricks to build up your progression.
First of all, I would like to make clear that note taking is a personal aspect of your skiing. You are writing your journal exclusively for yourself. My point will be more clear as we disentangle how note taking works and why it is important. Anyway, I believe it is so important of an aspect that I preferred to make it clear from the start. You can enhance this privacy by keeping a pen-and-paper journal, which I highly recommend. I have tried and reviewed some computer software designed to take sport notes, but bits and bytes avoid the genuine feeling of closeness necessary in this exercise.
Another point I think it should be stressed is that there should not be any time constraints in writing a journal. Again, it is your journal, so you decide when you write. Some people like to write notes after every set, some people twice a week, etc. I suggest to write whenever you need to. Considering the routine of a professional slalomer, some days can be filled with up to three sets, whereas other days are those where the ski stays on the rack. Sometimes it makes sense to write at the end of every set, especially if each set on a given day had something new that needs to be recorded. This can be eventful stuff such as “I ran 35off for the first time!!!” to apparently nonsensical happenings such as “Jim did not shorten the rope, so I skied 28off thinking it was 32off.” In this last case, you could argue “what’s the point? Couldn’t you just say ‘back-to-back 28off’?” Actually, a random event such as Jim’s mistake will bring back memories about your set, including things you forgot to write or, even better, things that are hard to put in words.
Also, use mnemonics and acronyms. Maybe, you ski at Lake Frank behind a yellow MasterCraft 197 every now and then, and you like a B1 Zero Off settings behind that boat. LF-MC197-B1 could be a synthetic and personal solution, as long as you can remember what that means in three months or more. Again, your diary is yours, so write on it in a way that allows you to get to abbreviate things you write multiple times. Pen and paper gives you the opportunity to use symbols as well, another great advantage.
The person riding for you usually is your immediate source of information about your set. Note down what he or she said about your set, possibly with the right words it was said. Then, comment on whether the tips and suggestions were helpful. Also, make sure to compare the content of the tips with your own personal beliefs about technical aspects of your event. Such exercise will give you a better perspective on what you were told during your set and on your beliefs about technique.
Finally, make sure to note down every tournament you ski in. Here the rules are a bit different than practice note taking. Since tournament ski sets are drastically less in number than practice ski sets throughout the season, there is always something to learn. If you fell on your first trick twice in a tournament, you cannot simply hang on to the chance factor. Write down all the variable of the tournament (technical, environmental, and emotional) and try to figure out what happened. Chances are that you might not start with the same trick at the next tournament, but at least you will know what happened and, if possible, you will be able to improve that variable.
Matteo is a graduating senior in psychology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A passionate skier since the early teens, he is a slalom skier with passion and dedication in both competition and promotion. Matteo is highly addicted to coffee, HO Syndicate products and sentences finishing with three dots.
Matteo is sponsored by HO Sports and Freestyler Braiding.
Follow him on twitter @Luzztwitt