Alpine skiing: when doubts and failures settle in the mind

Ups and downs mark the career of an athlete. But when doubt creeps into the mind and sporting failures follow one another, it is not always easy for the skier to get out of the negative spiral. Between the precious support of the family, the contribution of a mental coach or even meditation, everyone has their little tricks to get back on track.

At 28, Marc Rochat is enjoying his best World Cup season with 2 top-10 finishes to his credit, including a 9th place in the Adelboden slalom last Sunday. But before getting close to the summits, the Vaudois experienced many disappointments. His strength: always believing in himself and never giving up.

It’s always easier to give up and in my career I’ve had a lot of tough times. I was able to cling to my guideline, to this confidence in my abilities and my potential. But it’s clear that in these moments, many people tell you: “it’s not worth it anymore, do something else”. But if deep inside you still believe in it, you have to hang on.

We must be proud of what we have accomplished

Daniel Yule suffered mentally during the Covid pandemic. [EPA/Anna Szilagyi - Keystone]

Daniel Yule

During the 2020/2021 season, Daniel Yule also experienced a decline in diet and morale. But in order not to be sucked into a negative spiral, the Valaisan has chosen to put things into perspective and cling to his successes. “When things were not going so well, I still finished 15th in the world. So it helps to take a step back and tell yourself that you are lucky to live from what you love. I have already celebrated great successes in my career so I told myself that if it didn’t come back, I already had a good track record. You have to be proud of what you have accomplished and focus less on the results.

What helped him to climb the slope, it is to“trying to find the pleasure, the joy of being in a team and messing around a little bit“, he smiles. “The covid did not help me find the side pleasures and I kind of got into a vicious circle. Now that the pandemic is behind us, I notice that I have a lot more fun traveling. There is also a lot more friendliness, it’s warmer. These are things that I really appreciate.

If Marc Rochat has always been able to count on the support of his family, – “essential in the life of an athlete “– he also went deep inside to look for personal solutions. “Throughout a career, you learn a lot on your own. It turns out that most of the mental coaches I spoke with brought me tools that I had already learned to use on my own. The mental coach will help to develop them, to improve them, but the substantive work is done alone in his room the day before a race or training. I don’t have a mental coach. I did a lot of meditation, it helps me sleep. I’m a boy who thinks a lot so it’s a key element that I use on a daily basis.”

I haven’t come out of this negative spiral yet

Tanguy Nef is having a difficult season with only one result in the top-30. [Anthony Anex - Keystone]

Tanguy Nef

If Yule and Rochat have managed to climb the slope, this is not yet the case for Tanguy Nef whose only result this season in the World Cup is 19th place in Garmisch in 4 slaloms disputed. “I thought about the last races and I was not confident enough. I did not give myself and allow this confidence, it played tricks on me. In Adelboden, I had a good plan that held up well. I knew what I wanted to do, I knew how to do it but I didn’t believe it 100% and paid a high price.

The Genevan however confides that he is on a positive slope. “It’s improving day by day. For the moment, I haven’t come out of this negative spiral yet, but you have to stay positive, remember the little points that work and keep working and training. With my mental coach, we talk a lot, we dissect and he gives me keys. Regaining confidence goes through a good result but also through race conditions that suit me better.“.

Wengen, Floriane Galaud

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Alpine skiing: when doubts and failures settle in the mind

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