Race Training in Verbier

Race Training in Verbier

Race training for kids with Sammy Goodlass


Sammy is an enthusiastic and incredibly talented Ski Instructor. If you are looking to get into ski racing with Altitude Ski School, Sammy is your man. He also happens to be a fairly handy racer himself.


I caught up with him recently to chat about getting kids into ski racing.

So Sammy, how good a skier do you need to be to join?


The main thing is to be confident and you will enjoy your introduction to ski racing. Ski racing is best introduced to a skier who can stay balanced over the outside ski whilst it is on an edge. Have an effective posture and balance and feel confident at higher speeds. If you are still unsure you can always take a lesson early in the season with one of our instructors to be clearer.


And do you wear normal ski clothes?


Normal ski clothes are great. However, helmets are compulsory. Don’t worry about slalom hand guards, chin and shin guards, this can all be added to your basket as you progress.


Do you need special skis?


Skis are important but don’t feel like to ski around gates you need to be on the stiffest skis. Also slalom, GS and the other speed disciplines have independent regulations however don’t worry about this. The main thing is you have a ski that works for you. That being said you should be skiing on at least a piste performance ski with a sandwiched side cut.


What age can you start?


I feel the need to say adults should never feel too old to start ski racing. For any parents who see their children skiing around the gates, have a go yourself and you will love it!


Personally I have seen our ski school do such a great job introducing skiing, snowboarding and the mountain to the younger ages. I feel this is integral to a child’s progression and a huge advantage. I would put the age around 7 or 8, this allows for the youngest (3-7) age to learn the basics, become confident and learn to love skiing.  (This excludes fun runs around gates etc). Anyone older than 7, it then goes back to their ability and confidence.



What does a typical day race training consist of?


A lot of fun! We base our sessions with safety and fun still paramount as any ski lesson does. Then it gets slightly different, with an effective warm up that links directly to the training session that day. We use off and on ski warm up drills and activities to get us physically and mentally prepared for the day.


Here is what a normal plan would be after that:


  • technical ski
  • individual focused piste performance and feedback
  • break, hydrate and a small nibble for five minutes.
  • course inspection (learning about the training course set)
  • two runs down the course to replicate a slalom or GS race
  • lunch 45 min – 1 hr.
  • more training runs through the course, giving coaches the chance to video and also relay feedback.
  • out of course ski (maybe even the jumps park!) It’s important we ski! Often people spend too long in the gates, it’s important to get a blend of skills, so using jumps, bumps, powder, ice, and who knows maybe even the touch of artificial snow is really good for anyone’s skiing!


In your experience, what are some of the benefits of race training for kids?


Ski racing is like any other sport, it brings children together, and other fantastic life lessons that other sports bring, such as punctuality, defeat and courage. However, I believe it’s also unlike any other sport. Ski racing for me brought a job, lifestyle, maybe even girlfriend (we would have to ask her.) But it also gave me so much more.


I started ski racing in Sheffield at quite a young age, before this I used to go on holidays to Italy. When I started ski racing it was only ever for fun, I don’t remember one of my results until I was 14. However, in the bigger picture, I was a healthy child, who because of skiing would be active twenty-four hours a day if I could. I remember we once skied the metre decent of the Iger, at Sheffield ski village counting laps (one two miss a few, maybe). It also taught me to go for it. When I got it wrong it hurt, but I got back up and tried again and again because I knew I could get it right. Then I started ski racing on snow as well and it hurt less to fall. Even better!


I remember my first alpine ski racing trip to Tignes France, on the glacier, up a train that goes through the mountain starting near a lake. Just seeing that, standing with friends, some my same age, some younger and some older, and who knows what towns most of them came from, but we all had the same interest. In just one day of training I can look back and say I did,

– math (counting gates, metres between, times of runs)

– Geography/navigation (the coaches would expect us to know the runs near by, lifts etc)

– technology, looking after my equipment was a must!


All of this and I wasn’t even at secondary school yet.


Could you give us your most memorable moment from learning to race as a youngster?


One lesson I do remember was before a race in Norway when I was fifteen. I spoke to a Norwegian lady on the lift who explained that if I had time I could join her on a two minute walk I’d see an amazing view. I had a race in about 20 minutes and it was -20. I decided to go. Over the next rise was a field full of deer, all playing around and the few hours of the Norway sun in the background. The image is still so clear, but then I learnt to just stand in silence, and take in everything around me and realise how lucky I was to be a part of such an amazing sport.


Written by Killian O’Brien

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