L’importance de la course en ski alpin

©Gary Yee (garyphoto.ca)

The importance of racing in alpine skiing

Skiers have been training in gates without participating in a race for more than a year now. It’s time to start the competitions, because motivation is dwindling, bit by bit. It’s not necessarily the less engaged who give up, but rather the promising athletes who don’t find a reason to keep going.

I can already hear the reply: “Yes, but at least you’re skiing…you should be happy….” That’s how we were feeling last season. But not anymore.

A young person who decides to compete does so for the following reasons:

  • To transcend their own perceived capabilities;
  • To compare themselves to others;
  • To be part of a group with a common goal; • For the dream of reaching the highest levels;
  • Because it’s fun.

If he or she doesn’t find what they’re looking for, they no longer have the motivation to continue in their sport. In an article published on sciencedirect.com, authors N. Gillett and R.J Vallerand, both psychologists, maintain the following: “An unmotivated individual is not able to relate their behaviour to the consequences associated with it. Also, unmotivated athletes see no reason to continue to practice the activity in which they are engaged.”

Going through a course of gates only makes sense if we can measure ourselves against others. Even when race simulation is the goal of our training session (time, bib…), we cannot successfully reproduce the mental environment equivalent to that of the race.

Competition brings elements of excitement: increasing adrenaline levels, the focus on a goal and the feeling of personal accomplishment when the event is over. Whether we win or not, whether we’ve experienced a success or a defeat, competition brings emotions that can’t be created artificially. Whether the objective of the competition is to finish first in the classification or to be among the top 30, the race also allows participants to establish measurable goals.

I know lots of alpine competition skiers who have later become very good managers, physicians, lawyers, company directors…. They have managed to take advantage of the elements of discipline, rigour, self-determination and mental preparation acquired thanks to racing.

It goes without saying that not all skiers find what suits them. Not everyone considers speed to be exciting; likes getting up before sunrise to go train in the cold; accepts spending at least an hour every evening preparing their skis for the following day; is crazy enough to chase fresh snow off-piste after powder days; enjoys putting themselves under stress during the competitions.

But for more than 3,000 racers in Quebec, it’s the story of their lives. And most important of all, let’s not forget that competition and comparing oneself to others remains the basic element in practising a sport.


More from this author by clicking on his picture below.

Jocelyn Huot


Jocelyn Huot30 Posts

Entraineur Chef du Club de ski Mont-Tremblant Entraineur Niveau 4 certifié FESC / PNCE Niveau 3 de l'Alliance des moniteurs de ski du Canada Formateur pour Alpine Canada depuis 2007 Head coach of the Mont-Tremblant Ski Club Leve 4 FESC/PNCE – certified coach, Level 3 CSIA/AMSC – certified instructor


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