The eyes have it: Andrea Fischbacher seems to
have her visual faculties in order while training on
the Hintertux Glacier this month.
side or outside of skiing, inspired
by his intense, passionate commitment to excellence, his great
appreciation of a balanced life
and his obvious pleasure in good
company and a good meal.
Simeon F. “Sim” Thomas
Goodbye to Georges Joubert, 1923-2010
Georges Joubert was a true ski pioneer and not just in the development of technique, but also in the development of training
methods and equipment. For example, in association with Jean
Vuarnet, he confirmed — if he did not indeed establish — the importance of summer on-snow training. Additionally, from the early
to mid 1960s, he collaborated with the boot maker Le Trappeur
to incorporate wedges and shims for custom-canting the boots of
Grenoble University Club racers. With ski pole and binding manufacturer Ramy, he developed canted poles to relieve pressure on
a flexed wrist and, in 1967, poles configured to fit a racer in the
extreme full tuck with which he hoped to establish a new speed
record. However, even more important than his ski innovations
was Joubert’s influence on a couple of generations of “Gucistes.”
We have followed many paths, personal and professional and in-
Sports Vision Training
The irony in sports vision training
(SVT) is that it is generally overlooked by both coaches and athletes. But winners in ski racing
have most assuredly benefitted
from it, whether SVT is innate or
embedded through training.
For example, Phil Mahre told me
that, in slalom, he encompasses
the entire course by fixing on every gate at eye level. And Alan
Lauba told me that his World Cup DH results improved when his
vision fed back his speed variable when the course came down
to the tree-line altitude. World Cup races in DH often start above
the tree line and Alan’s peripheral SVT was instrumental in his
improvement of both results and stamina.
My “crew of coaches” at Peak Performance Online (PPO) who
are expert in psychological, sociological, and physiological skills
tell me that SVT is a whole lot more than the visual acuity of
reading the bottom line of an eye chart. It’s about reading the
course from the start to the finish line, and getting to the top of
the results chart.
The additional visual faculties that come into play are dynamic
vision, visual memory, eye movement, visual anticipation, central
peripheral awareness, vision reaction time (the hand and foot are
quicker than the eye), and more — the entire visual system and
its affect on the neurological sequencing of organs, muscles and
The visual parameters are:
1. Those that pertain to the sensory system;
2. Those that concern the motor system, and;
3. Those that are involved in mental process or visual concentra-
According to PPO, all three systems must be highly in tune for
optimum performance in any sport. If one of them is out of synch
during competition, it can affect the others. No matter how physi-
cally fit an athlete is, if SVT has been neglected the concentra-
tion factor and interplay of the parameters will negatively impact
the performance. Or keep the athlete on a so-so-plateau.
Signs for a coach to consider on a racer’s SVT fitness are in-
consistent performance, performance not up to potential, perfor-
mance that deteriorates over time (I believe that the intensity
factor of an alpine event can turn a slalom into a marathon), and
performance that deteriorates under mental or physical stress.
Of the PPO list of sports vision training tools, I suggest that
coaches and athletes in alpine ski racing work on drills in dy-
namic vision, spatial location and peripheral awareness.
Remember: just as do other parts of the body, the eyes use
muscles. All muscles use up caloric energy that can lead to fa-
Therefore, it is critical to keep the head still and move the eyes
minimally — let them just do the job they are designed to do. SVT
will conserve energy and enhance performance … and reward
coaches and athletes both intrinsically and extrinsically.
Go fast & have fun!
Dean “Coach Deanski” Tonkin