Course setting - gaining experience

It is a daunting moment to stand at the top of a slope with a group of your peers and a bundle or two of red and blue gates ready to be inserted into the matting, or snow. Where you place the poles has a strong bearing on how the trainees and racers, depending on the situation will enjoy the next few hours. Set the course too tight and the mutterings are audible; set the course too easy and the mutterings regarding it being no challenge are just as grumpy. Getting the mix right whether it be for a training session or a race, no matter the level, is an art.

It is with this in mind that over the last two years Snowsport England in conjunction with Paul Telling from Evolution and Simon Bannister from Aldershot Race Club, amongst others, have run a series of day courses around the country to provide those interested with more experience and knowledge in how to set a course.

With sixteen on the recent course held at Welwyn Garden City comprising a mix of male and female, old hands in terms of coaches as well as rising talents from the GB National Team, all were looking to gain experience, learn how to set properly and interestingly, learning how to coach with the view to improving their ski racing.

Telling explained that, whilst the course was not pass or fail, the aim was that the last course each candidate set that day would be better than the first course they set.

With various different types of courses explained from training courses to entry level races and up to GBR and National Championship races, the first part of the day is very much theory based in the classroom before going out onto the slope and putting the theory to practice in small groups. There is an emphasis on yours peers on the course helping to evaluate the courses you set.

From simple corridor exercises to building up to more advanced courses, both Bannister and Telling were keen to instil into the attendees that the challenge in setting a course, no matter the level of the course being set, was wanting the person skiing the course to feel that they want to do more. Fun is the name of the game and what excites people and encourages people into keep going back.

There is a high degree of emphasis on the course about safety. The setter has the responsibility of not only the direction the course takes but also the safety of the equipment being used. Both of the course leaders were keen to highlight the need to make sure that gates were fit for purpose in terms of the spring and also that the top of the gate was not going to cause an injury.

Course setting is an art and setting a good course for the conditions and ability comes from experience, should the setter have a niggling feel about a gate, setters are encouraged to go back up the course and change something, they should not be afraid to tweak a course as they are setting it.

While these courses are not a pass / fail type of course, the course did give a lot of valuable insights and experience to those wanting to learn. Some on the course this time were more hands on, others more nervous in setting courses. All were encouraged to take the steps into course setting with advice and encouragement freely available.

This was a fun day with plenty of knowledge available, plenty of interest and a huge amount of enjoyment to be had!

With SSE and senior coaches in discussions to make the Course Setters Course a module of the UKCP level 1, and further development taking place for the content of the UKCP2 & 3 courses, it seems like there are more opportunities than ever before for young British coaches to develop.

If you are interested in attending a future Course Setters Course please contact Ryan Grewcock with information on your local slope

All pictures Copyright Racer Ready. All rights reserved

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