Guest Blog Post by Brandon Dyksterhouse, former Head Coach US Women’s Ski Team
I often get asked the question, “what is the best thing I can do to improve my ski racing?” My response is always the same, “MAKE EVERY TURN COUNT!”
Unlike soccer or basketball, our sport is weather dependent and has a significant cost associated with each training session. Parents are shocked when I break down the cost per-minute for a day of training. A typical day consists of 6 – 10 runs in a course, meaning an athlete has less than ten minutes in gates to make meaningful change.
What if I told you that I could make each run in gates significantly more valuable and expedite your athlete’s improvement? Until recently, it has been incredibly challenging to quantify change. Sure, most teams have an optical timer, but that doesn’t allow an athlete or a coach to see the granularity required to make data-driven change.
What do I mean by data-driven change? Coaches often give technical or tactical instruction with the hopes of positively impacting the total run time. In the sport of alpine ski racing, our objective is clear, the fastest athlete from start to finish wins. What is not so clear is how to implement change based on snow conditions, course set, changes in terrain, and line variations. Thankfully, new technology such as alpine ski timing system is giving coaches and athletes an unprecedented insight into the metrics that actually make an athlete faster.
Protern.io is the culmination of years of testing with the world’s elite resulting in the most comprehensive analysis tool on the market. I used to fancy myself as one of the most tech-savvy coaches on the circuit, often spending countless hours analyzing every turn of every run in search of that hidden hundredth of a second.
After my first season coaching Mikaela Shiffrin, I deconstructed every GS race run to learn how she could improve from 3rd in the world in 2015 to ultimately standing on top of the podium the following season. What I learned through countless hours of still-frame analysis, side-by-side comparison and downloading every split from the FIS.com website, was that Mikaela’s turns were already the best in the world but she was losing a couple of tenths on every break-over in the terrain.
I don’t bring this up to criticize the world’s best. I do want to raise a point that in 2020 we now have the technology to do this type of analysis instantly.
What I love about Protern.io, unlike it’s competitors on the market, is that you don’t need a data scientist to interpret the data. Want to add a split? Do it virtually on your phone or tablet. Curious about entry and exit speed out of hairpin? Coaches can access instantaneously on the app. Are you a single coach privately training a group of athletes and don’t want or have the capacity to carry a timer? No problem. Do it all on the app from your smartphone.
The product really shines when you start to chunk the data into “quantriqs”. It is easy to know who is fastest on the run with conventional timing, but here we can see where the fastest (or anyone else) can implement meaningful change. The athlete compare feature allows any coach and athlete to instantly see the section(s) where time is gained or lost and the corresponding tactical approach that resulted in the time difference.
The biggest challenge in ski coaching is that it is incredibly difficult to validate the feedback coaches give to athletes. With Protern.io, coaches provide instruction confirmed by data to make meaningful changes. I would argue that Protern.io is equally important in improving a coach’s coaching as it is in improving an athlete’s skiing.
Clearly, I think the product is a winner, and I have been waiting for what seems like a lifetime for this technology to emerge. Luckily for you and your athletes, it is now available. Make the most of 2021 and beyond. Contact me today to learn how Protern.io can help you have your best season ever.
Look forward to seeing everyone on the slopes!