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Bode Miller USA




Speed Skiing, no room for error @ 80mph.


D Rahlves

Visit The Ski Exchange in Cambridge.



Phil Johnson has been a skier for over 25 years and has skied in over 130 ski resorts around the world, has taught skiing, raced, and is a qualified ski technician with Race Factory experience.

Aldous Huxley once said, “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” Sport psychologists consistently preach the virtues of self-awareness, reflection, and learning from your experiences. Researchers in sport psychology have spent considerable time investigating the relationship between cognitive (worrying thoughts about performance) and somatic (feelings of tension, restlessness or nausea) anxiety and performance. Therefore, there is plenty of evidence to support and explain the self-fulfilling prophecy. Anxiety effects our ability to produce efficient movement patterns and perform skilfully by impairing timing, reaction time, and decision making. It may also hamper concentration by causing attentional narrowing whereby the athlete loses awareness of important environmental information or muscular feedback. (Timson 2006)

Sports psychology plays an important role in helping skiers to be more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and feelings immediately prior to and during racing. Identifying your preferred performance state (physical and emotional) is the first step. Creating a repeatable yet flexible plan of how you will get into your preferred state is the second step. There is no single formula for a creating plans because we all experience different thoughts and emotions of varying intensity in response to similar situations. Plans must be individual. They may include relaxation techniques, positive thought control, visualisation, goal setting, and a game plan (e.g. the desired racing line and key reference points).
Skiers have long been a model of good practice in mental preparation for athletes from other sports. However, coaches and support teams are increasingly recognising the impact that they can have on a skier’s confidence and in minimising potentially harmful anxiety.

Lastly, it is also important that coaches and support staff learn to monitor and control their own nerves and anxiety. Athletes can easily observe signs of anxiety in those closest to them. This can exaggerate or even change their own thoughts and feelings for better or worse. Many of the same techniques used to help athletes cope effectively can also be applied to support teams. Sport psychology has an important role to play in helping entire support teams cope effectively with the pressures of competition and perform to their best.”

Marilyn King was training for the 1980 Olympics when she was involved in a car accident which resulted in a back injury that left her bedridden for months. During her recovery, she spent hours using mental training techniques, watching films of Pentathlon, and visualizing herself competing. Although she was unable to train physically, her mental training helped her to place second at the 1980 Olympic trials.

When you use imagery, your brain is making a mental blueprint of your movements which helps those movements become more familiar and automatic. Imagery can be used to learn and refine skills, gain confidence, increase concentration, and help you to refocus and prepare for challenges.

"I have learned to appreciate the importance of mental training for ski racing. I can not train as hard or as often as some of my competitors. This has lead me to hone the mental skills required to focus on the process, not the outcome." Kay Ptashne,

Far West Masters Racer