"What can I say to my — insert related person name here — before their race to help them do well? Very simple-talk about anything other than skiing and don't discuss the race.
All the valley racers have some kind of big race coming up in the next two weeks from the NH State Finals to the State Championships, the Meister Downhill, Snow Day for Eastern Slope Ski Club, and the Eastern Championships being held in New York. All of the racers have worked hard all season. They all want to do well and if you want to help them don't talk about skiing or ski racing.
Whether you are a skier or a concert pianist, your practice over months and years develops your skill to a point where the individual movements become a flow with the rhythm, timing and intensity happening without mechanical conscious thought. If the mind starts "thinking" of what to do next, it gets in the way of greatness. On race day, the best thing is to "distract" the conscious with a productive focus, such as looking two to three gates ahead. Let the "unconscious" delivery of proper ski movements deliver the greatness without being distracted. This is "the zone" we hear of when athletes or musicians perform exceptionally well.
So, back to our question of the day. Your mission, as friend or family member, is to remove pressure that is already being felt, and to distract the thoughts of your favorite skier away from the race. Talk about the music on the radio, what you are doing in the summer, anything but the race. Distract that conscious mind from what is coming later in the day, and you will have done all you can to help them succeed.
Remember, best advice of all, take a lesson or attend a race clinic. You'll have a great time and improve your time. Try it.
John Macdonald is a Level III Certified PSIA Instructor and is a Race Team Coach at King Pine Ski Area. You can email questions to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.