Learning from a champion - Effort and Learning

In my previous post I talked, in general about the massive effort that goes into the making of a champion athlete. In this post I will start to break down the process of what is behind the massive effort to get to the very top in the sport of ski racing or for that matter to reach the top in any sport or any endeavor.

However, I would like to offer a caveat and something that I learned during my research project. The required effort to reach the top must come from the individual. To simply stay late after practice because that is what another athlete does is not the way to the top. I will write more on this topic in future posts.

In my 1996 interview of the late Austrian triple gold medalist Toni Sailer, he talked about coaching one of the greatest female racers of all time, Annemarie Moser-Proll. In describing her typical training routine, he shared with me the following anecdote. 

When Annemarie would train, she never left the hill until she achieved a specific goal that she was after. For example, at 4 PM when the typical training day was complete Annemarie’s day was just getting started. She would say, “could you wait for me, I will do one more run.” Then multiple runs later, when it was getting too dark to ski, she would say, “…now I know what it is and what the mistake was…Now I know how to do it.” According to Sailer, “This is training and all of the training runs from 2-4 in the afternoon were just skiing.”

Anyone can train, work hard and get tired, but only a handful approach training with such effort. Finishing every day having learned a new skill or in this case fixing a mistake in technique is the champion’s path to the top. 

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