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Why Europeans do so well in downhill skiing

July 23rd, 2009

I’ve figured it out, why it is that Europeans do so well in downhill skiing events.

First of all, when you are outside of the city, Europe has two speeds. Very slow (tractors lazily pulling trailers of hay down country roads) or very fast (especially on the autobahns if you’re in a sedan, or down twisting mountain roads if you’re in Spandex or cloaked in leather atop a performance motorcycle).

Secondly, the traffic signals in most European countries have this neat feature: When the signal is red, it goes to yellow before going to green. This is warn you that it’s now time to engage the clutch so when the signal turns green, you are ready to go and not sitting there fumbling with the gear shift.  But developing the skill of getting out of the gate the very  moment the light turns green pays off on the competitive slopes as well. (And unlike in Las Vegas where you are more likely to be killed by someone running a red light, in Europe you are more likely to be T-boned by someone anticipating the green, so people really really really do slow down when the light goes from green to yellow.)

And here is the third reason why Europeans do so well in downhill skiing. This is not obvious but now I am convinced it is the most effective training tool: the traffic roundabout.  When you enter the roundabout, you lean to the right, and  then as you continue the turn you lean to the left, and as you take your exit you lean again to the right. The faster you drive through a roundabout, and learn the cadence of leaning right, left and right, the better you will do in the downhill slalom.

By the way, Europeans do very poorly in downhill skiing if they approach the slalom gate from the left and their first move is to lean left to go into the gate, versus to the right. They are fighting every instinct in their body when their first lean is to the left. This is a symptom of spending too much of their lives in roundabouts.

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