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Emotional Days for Alpine Canada Ski Family

Posted by [email protected] on February 24, 2016 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Emotional Days for Alpine Canada’s Ski Family


On January 16th, Jan Hudec ended the 20 year Olympic medal drought for Alpine Canada. The last Canadian Alpine Olympic medal was won by Edi Podivinski at the Lillehamer Olympics in 1994. It took ‘the Panda’ just under a minute and a half to end the drought and become a household name.


Jan Hudec…Jan himself pronounces his last name one of two ways: Hudek, is the way his name has been said by class mates, friends and the ski racing community since Jan was a young boy. His family, Jan senior and his mom Vladi have always used the Czek pronounciation of ‘Hudetz’.


Jan, as Canadians are coming to realize, is an easy going character, generous of spirit and very kind hearted. Always the people pleaser, it was difficult for Jan to determine which way to say his name but two years ago, he settled on ‘Hudetz’. That said, I have since overheard him introduce himself as ‘Hudek”, seems he is also very indecisive!


Jan’s story of resiliency is a good one, it warms our hearts, fills us with the belief that dreams can come true. His community spirit and genuine nature is what gives athletes and his team a good name. As Canadians come to know Jan, they will embrace his kindness, his tenacity and his quirkiness. Yes, ‘Panda’ is quirky, funny, somewhat odd and very likeable. What you see is what you get, how refreshing!


Canadian ski fans have been waiting for the drought to be over, for twenty years and four Olympic Games they have been imagining a Canadian on the Olympic Podium.


The Canadian Alpine Ski Family is a tight knit community, we feel each others successes and failures. We relate to the effort and commitment needed to achieve excellence. We share the joys and the sorrows together.


This ski family watched and cheered as Jan stormed down the mountain. Racing with a broken and sore body, they willed him to succeed and celebrated with him as he crossed the finish line. This ski family of mine felt his excitement and we shared his joy.


On the same day the drought ended, Edi Podivinski received a phone call that his big brother Tom passed away in a tragic ski accident in Montana…


We share his sorrows …


We also lost a father during these Olympic Games, warm hearted Wilf Stemmle passed away February 9th…


My conflicted heart remains full with Olympic Spirit yet it is sad and aching for my ski family.


Sending love from Russia …

by Max Gartner

Two Gold Mettle´┐Ż??s

Posted by [email protected] on February 24, 2016 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Two Gold Mettle’s



The Olympics have always been something special to me, my intrigue with the rings, the flame and of course the athletes, medals and Oh Canada!



This is my eighth Winter Olympic experience, three times as an athlete and this is my fifth working for television as an alpine analyst and commentator. It almost surprises me every four years but the spirit and the feel of the Olympics just never gets old, it always feels like it did when I was a racer.



Working with ‘the great’ Mr. Scott Oake is an experience in itself, but calling the Ladies Olympic Downhill with him two days ago was one of my favorite days in the booth. I am definitely emotionally attached to the Olympic Downhill and the race unfolded so beautifully with a tie for the Gold Medal for the first time in Alpine Olympic History. I could feel so much of what they were going through, it made 22 years ago seem like yesterday…



There is never one recipe for success, or one route to the top. The careers of the two history making Downhill Gold Medalists Tina Maze, Slovenia and Dominique Gisin, Switzerland are perfect examples of the strength in character needed to win.



The great Maze is always a favorite to win. She expects it, every race, every event, all of the time. She has been the best in class since she was a very little girl, broke records after records and is a mega star at home in Slovenia. Maze is technically strong but her mental strength is what sets her apart from others. She manages to harness pressure and use it to her advantage, it makes her better, brings focus to her actions and boosts her confidence. Maze raced a great race and her reaction to crossing the line in a tie was the most emotion she has shared with the media all year. The great Tina Maze seemed very relieved to win the Olympic Downhill.



Dominique Gisin on the other hand was not a favorite, hadn’t stepped on the podium this year. She had to earn her spot within the powerful Swiss team by qualifying in the training runs. Gisin raced with bib 8 and that allowed the world to witness her in the leaders box. She shared her emotions freely, her exuberance and excitement with each passing racer was palpable. Gisin said she had to work so hard, every step was difficult and nothing came easily for her. She was never the best on the team, always had someone she was trying to catch. She had no pressure to win, just desire. No expectation, just will…willingness to believe.



Yes, the Olympics still intrigue me. The rings, the flame, the athletes, the medals and of course, OH CANADA!

by Max Gartner

Olympic Downhill ... Just Imagine

Posted by [email protected] on February 24, 2016 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Olympic Downhill - Just Imagine

Let’s try a little imaginary game.


Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself driving a car 100 to 120 Km per hour …


Now think about the road you were driving on, it was a nicely paved double lane freeway on a beautiful sunny day wasn’t it?


Let’s try it again, close your eyes and imagine yourself driving that same high speed and road but this time it is -10c outside and the road has a thick layer of snow and ice covering it, remember to keep your speed up…well that wasn’t quite the same was it?


Just for fun, let’s do this one more time. This time, when you close your eyes, picture yourself behind the wheel on an icy, winding, narrow, bumpy logging road …

How fast did you get up to? Anywhere close to 100km/h? On that winding road, travelling at 60km/h feels pretty reckless, dangerous and somewhat crazy doesn’t it?


Well, in a nutshell, racing downhill feels a lot like driving that icy road at 120km/h. It can feel reckless, dangerous and crazy, yet somehow it also feels exhilarating, thrilling and powerful. The fear can be daunting and the anxiety overwhelming. Doubt is paralyzing and indecision, crippling. Yet when a downhiller kicks out of the start gate, facing an icy, turny, bumpy course, the challenge is liberating.


It’s true that a downhiller’s instinct to go fast may be natural but developing a World Class speed racer takes time. Ongoing technical work is to be expected in all sports but all racers spend a great deal of time on the other elements of high performance. Tactics have to be developed and minds need to be nurtured. To handle the speeds and danger of racing downhill, mental fortitude is a must.

The two Olympic downhill courses for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics have been designed to test the ability and mettle of every racer. The tracks are very much like the icy, bumpy and winding logging road but with a few extra jumps and dark shadows. The technical skill required to handle the rolling terrain and icy turns is clear but the mental character of the athletes will be tested even more. The ability to block out all distractions and doubt is a must. There is absolutely no room for fear of failure. Belief is mandatory and trust, essential.

Olympic Dreams are inspired by little treasured moments of excellence. Belief in the dream comes from hard work…and a little imagination!



What World Cup Ski Racing can learn from Professional Golf Events

Posted by [email protected] on February 24, 2016 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

What World Cup Ski Racing can learn from Professional Golf Events

At first glance, they’re two sports that seem like they couldn’t be any more different. One is about pushing the limits of speed on snow, while the other is a test of precision and skill set against the lush tapestry of greens and fairways.


But having recently had the opportunity to witness professional golf tournaments from the behind the scenes after what feels like a lifetime of standing on the side of the ski hill, I think there’s a lot that ski racing could learn from golf.


One thing that stands out to me is the interaction between amateur golfers and pros. ProAm events are a key ingredient of professional golf tournaments. During these events amateur golfers and sponsors have a chance — for a significant price — to play a round of golf with a pro. Charity is one of the big winners thanks to this format. However, the biggest winner is golf. Having the chance to interact with a pro for five hours, getting tips on their golf game and learning about the pro’s story can create a lasting bond. Those amateurs will follow the pro golfer’s career for a long time. Sometimes these events can even lead to sponsorship opportunities for the players.


Contrast this with a World Cup ski race. There’s no chance for the recreational skier to spend a significant amount of time with the athletes, who are kept away from most interactions with recreational skiers and fans by their coaches so they can concentrate on racing. Granted, what the skiers are doing in downhill racing asks for total focus and carries significant risk of injury. However, well before the racing and the official training sessions start there is time to fit in an event that allows for an interaction similar to a ProAm.


Downhill racers require tremendous courage and skill to perform in the “original” extreme sport. They race down a mountain at over 120 kilometers an hour in a skin suit, their face hidden in a helmet. They race through the finish line, take off their skis and leave the finish area shortly thereafter. But they also have strong and interesting personalities, amazing stories of overcoming fear, injuries and other challenges. People need to get to know them — not only the very few top skiers that get some TV time, but all of them.

It’s about time World Cup ski racing looked in the mirror and came up with changes that could make the sport more attractive and showcase its stars in a much better way. The competition for sponsorship dollars is tight and even within snow sports the less regulated extreme sports that are gaining popularity are more inclusive, bursting onto the scene with GoPro footage and significant social media buzz.


Let’s get to work and spread the word about the fact that our ski racers are not just incredible athletes, but amazing people with compelling stories to tell. They deserve it!

by Max Gartner

Ski Academies are A Vital Part of Sucess

Posted by [email protected] on February 24, 2016 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Ski Academies are a Vital Part of Success on the Slopes - The Stams Example.

The year was 1966 and the Austrians had suffered through a disastrous World Championships at Portillo, Chile. It was time to make significant changes. A nation that was built on ski tourism needed to be a leader in ski racing, not an also-ran.  The solution was to introduce a new concept: a ski academy that  would house the nation’s most talented young skiers under one roof to combine academic, athletic and ski development. This home base would provide a flexible school system, 18 hours of supervised athletic development each week and great coaching. In other words, a recipe for success on the slopes.  Forty-six years later, athletes from Stams Ski Academy have produced 30 Olympic gold medals, 70 World Championships gold medals and 15 World Cup overall wins. More importantly, Stams has produced many successful people with great careers in sport, medicine, law and other areas. It is a winning model that has been copied so many times in Austria and around the globe in a multitude of sports.  Most of the great Austrian ski racers of the past 30 years came through that system — Benni Raich, Marlies Schild, Stefan Eberharter to name a few, as well as most of Austria’s great ski jumpers. Current Austrian superstars Marcel Hirscher and Anna Fenninger came through a school similar to Stams that is located in the Salzburg region. 

Each academy has a well-established “performance culture” as its foundation. The special ingredient that makes the academy work well is ensuring that the overall stress load on the athletes can be well-managed. An increase in the athletic load is compensated with a decrease in the academic load, and vice versa.  The “whole person” is developed and nurtured.  Another important piece is a ordability and funding. In Stams, the cost per student is 4,000 euros a year for school, training, room and board. This is about 25 percent of the actual cost.

About 75 percent of the cost is subsidized by provincial and federal governments. Needless to say, there’s a lot of competition to get into the school. A three-day entry exam is a well-developed screening of potential.


op academies are an important part of many successful sports systems around the world. The latest example has been the success of the German soccer team at the recent World.

by Max Gartner

Name Them Claim Them Aim Them

Posted by [email protected] on February 24, 2016 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)




As a longtime coach in the performance business, I have always intuitively explored the strengths of the athletes and the people I worked with. It was natural for me to look at the talents and gifts of a person rather than focusing on the weaknesses. I had no scientific information to lean on, just a gut feeling that working on the strengths would increase the performance much faster. My theory: Spending more time giving positive feedback will increase confidence and be very beneficial.


As a ski coach, I tried an experiment where I kept the athletes on easy terrain for a long block of training. This ensured they received plenty of positive feedback, both externally from coaches and internally, in how they felt. This raised their confidence levels. Eventually, I tested the theory, how would they react when I exposed them to a very difficult hill? I was amazed by the results! It was so clear, feeling confident and positive on the easier terrain made every athlete feel they could execute on any mountain, in any conditions. Every athlete performed at a higher level; the experiment worked!



As I sharpened my skills in corporate coaching and personal development, I sought out learning opportunities that aligned with my personal coaching philosophy. I was naturally drawn to the Strengths Based Coaching, by the Gallup Institute. It seemed to line up with my coaching style perfectly. I was not disappointed. I was amazed by the data presented that supports this approach. The quantified ‘real performance improvements’ in business, proves a ‘Positive Strength Base Approach’ works in all areas of performance.



This process of Strength Based Coaching increases performance substantially:


NAME THEM -is the process of discovering your strengths


CLAIM THEM -taking ownership of your talents and strengths


AIM THEM -intentionally pointing them towards your goal


In this journey, the role of the coach is to facilitate the process. To help discover your unique talents, find out how you operate best and create a personalized approach to improve performance.



As a high performance coach, and team leader, I am excited to share this process. There is a great opportunity to expand individual performance. But greater still, is when this process is used to enhance a team’s performance. Teams become stronger, more productive. It creates exceptional teamwork, where people understand each other’s talents and strengths. This enhances the team’s performance culture and is the best opportunity for success.



To discover your strengths and improve your performance, contact:


[email protected]



Max Gartner


High Performance Coach