Chemmy Alcott Jan 2021 4 min read 667 views
I am stronger than my peers.
I can lift more weight. I have faster agility. I am more co-ordinated. I have higher levels of flexibility.
However, I wasn’t winning every race.
Being physically the best in the world off the snow WILL 100% give you confidence that you have prepared the best that you can. It WILL help you recover from mistakes you make on your skis quicker. It WILL help you load the skis with more pressure. It WILL help you power out the start more efficiently.
Will it guarantee that you will win? Absolutely not. But combined with a higher skill level, the feeling to let your skis run and a solid technique it will give you an edge.
I remember being really inspired in 2000 by a sports documentary called Gold Rush following the Team GB coxed four as they embarked on their mission to win rowing gold at the Sydney Olympics. They were incredibly physically strong. Their team bond was remarkable. But what left the biggest impression on me was their ability to perform physically until their bodies couldn’t handle it - vomiting and even passing out through exhaustion. The harder they worked the more guaranteed they were to win gold. (And so, they did!).
Skiing is not like that. There are far more external factors, variations and uncontrollable elements. We rarely ski on the same surface twice. Every course is different - in terms of terrain, length and course set. So yes, you need to bring your highest level of physical prowess, but it is what you do with that strength, how and when you implement it that counts for more.
One of my best world cup results was when I was at my weakest. I got food poisoning and was up all night. I made a brave call to race despite the fact I felt like rock bottom. I vividly remember pushing pathetically out the start and not being able to push as hard against the ski as I wanted through the first few gates. I thought I would be really slow. When I crossed that finish line and saw 11th, I was really surprised, but watching the video back I saw that I had been really efficient, using the natural terrain to create speed and flow. I didn’t have the power to push against the ski at the end of the turn (against gravity and my biggest technical flaw) so I just released the ski.
Obviously, this is far from ideal, but it highlighted the importance of understanding the science of sport and how to use my strength and speed for me, as opposed to against me.
The data collection to improve our physical strength is huge. We undertake monthly bike step up tests with fingers or ears pierced to take lactic acid measurements from the blood droplets. This gives us our heart rate levels to use daily for recovery and interval sessions on the bike. We had strength, maximum one rep tests - I remember my PB for the deadlift was 162kg. I even had a force mat I travelled with, on which I had a daily morning wake up test to gauge my fatigue and therefore adapt the days training ahead. We had an 8-minute heart rate assessment on wake up where for the first four minutes we lay down then stood up for the later four. The time it took for the raised second heart rate to return to base level was also used to gauge fatigue.
To summarise, in sport being in the best physical condition doesn’t win you races, but it certainly helps a lot and gives you that slight advantage on the start line. To achieve this physical peak, it is imperative you use data, without data you don’t know for certain whether you are moving towards or away from your physical peak. This is no different from business where without utilising data and having it all in one place you won’t know whether you are moving closer or further away from your end goal. One way to help know whether your business is moving in the right direction is to utilise our product Stratiam®, which gives you control of all your data in one place and gives you a 360 degree view of your IT infrastructure.