Need Needell? of my day job. To land an airplane well, it, too, is
Thank you for not always publishing opinions of the peripheral vision input that provides similar
Greg Needell. Greg’s early articles about cours- information — the judgment of how high you are,
es in Europe were informative and interesting, your sink rate, perspective, visual cues for speed
but too often lately they are conjecture and sec- and subsequent judgment processed to execute
ond-guessing of working coaches. As time pass- “fine” muscle control inputs to touch down prop-es he gets more removed from what is going on erly. When learning to fly different type and size
with the team besides hearsay. I’m sure Greg is planes, or particularly when one first learns to
a nice guy but he seems to like “to stir the pot.” fly, overcoming a natural urge to look “down and
More suited to a forums page. close” while landing causes the pilot to “round
Bob Skinner out” or level too high over the surface, drift, etc.
— not good. If you instead casually gaze farther
Go Canada out and in front, it allows proper peripheral loca-I’m (always) thoroughly impressed with Ski Rac- tion of the eyes to perceive level-off points at the
ings addition/inclusion of Canadian results, story proper attitude, azimuth and correct speed sense
lines, and even disappointments (that could’ve to commence the touchdown, (or for racing, the
been left out in the space saving process of edit- course setting). This is counterintuitive and takes
ing). It’s so good to see, especially in the article a leap of faith — same as I’ve found with ski rac-and results, the writer defer to the Canadian suc- ing. It appears it’s actually the peripheral vision
cess before getting to U.S. athlete results. What interpretation, not always the direct-ahead fo-a day it was for us hosers, eh!? Five in the flip cal that is calibrating your elevation, speed and
(unheard of for most teams!) and Cousi keeping sink rate in flying/landing (and ski racing). In the
pace to a top-five. I can imagine he had mixed ski racing domain, this ability is also mostly sub-feelings/intentions pushing out of the start after liminal and difficult to verbally teach and has to
seeing three teammates go out in the second. at some point be developed, trusted and then
Attack for a personal podium or make it down meshed with whatever degree of talent we were
for some team points/success. Funny to think I given. Simple awareness of it is the main step,
raced “against” him in Junior Nationals in North- though. At some point one should try to under-ern Ontario in 1996...And the girls running strong stand the concept, but I think you also need to
in St. Moritz bodes well for a strong tech season just let it happen for it to work, which is a bit of
all around. Keep up the great work, SR. Loving a contradiction. The irony I’ve found is it seems
the iPhone app too! if you try to take this concept and make it too
ecskiing (via skiracing.com) conscious or too mechanical, the “magic” of the
brain’s peripheral interpretation and subsequent
How Ski Racing is Like Landing an Airplane proper judgment signal to the motor functions
Some thoughts on Dean Tonkin’s interesting re- seem to then become very elusive.
marks on vision and ski racing (SVT) in the Nov. Wes McKechnie
25 issue of Ski Racing. As I progress in ski rac- Flight Operations Manager
ing, I find many interesting correlations to part Boeing Flying Association, Seattle, Wash.
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