Sunday, December 21, 2014

World Cup GS comparison.

In my analysis of skiing technique in the US, the weakest area in American coaching and development;  is Upper Body discipline, the Europeans have it, we don't.  Namely: Counter-acting and Counter-balance. It's almost like coaches don't know what it is and don't know how to coach it.

Now that things have evened out on the World Cup to some extent with ski design and construction, after the change over to 35 meter skis in 2012, a skier's technique is starting to show up as the difference between winning and 10th place, that is where the biggest difference exists. And that is the way it should be.

The skis used to be a big factor, Ted had a big advantage the first 2 years after the change over to 35 meter skis. Head GS skis bent better, they held better and were easier to get into the arc. Atomic has improved to the point now where Hirscher doesn't have to throw them side-ways and jump on the ski to get it to arc in GS.

 Shoulder and hips are counter acted in most of Hirscher's arcs. this can be risky as it requires strong outside ski balance, hip counter and shoulder counter balance. Lots of anticipation and trust getting into these highly counter acting angles. For one thing you have to trust that the ski will hold once you get there and that is a serious commitment.
With Ted's technique we see more upper body rotation toward the turn and far less counter balance of the upper body. This maybe acceptable in bigger turns, on perfect snow, but doesn't work so well in shorter, rounder turns. And it definitely doesn't work well on rough courses with bouncing skis.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mikaela Shiffrin battles more than the race course. This is my take.

Mikaela has not been in the results column the way anyone expected. Her finishes of late are surprising to everyone, especially when you compare her results to last season. Many reasons have been give by the "experts" for her drop in results.  The "experts" gave many reasons for her drop, they said, "she wasn't ready for the level of speed, she under rated her competition, she wasn't competition ready, she wasn't charging hard enough, she's nervous, she's holding back and it's all in her head, she is skiing too casually." Actually it's none of these, it's very simple, her boot set up isn't working. 

At first I didn't pay very close attention because I was so busy with my own company and our skiers, we ran 5 camps this fall. I figured Mikaela would come around. Then I watched the Are races more closely and it because obvious. She was working harder then I have ever seen her work on skis, just to stay in the course. She was using all of her skill and ability (which is considerable) just to place and stay in the top 10. Basically she was skiing with adaptive techniques and movements to overcome a poor boot set up. A boot set up that put her totally out of sorts. These are new boots from Atomic and they are just not working like her previous ones.
 It's very clear that her ankle is not rolling over, it's keeping the ski too flat and keeping her from tipping the boot on edge. To compensate she has to extend, lean and stand on her inside ski. This is not Mikaela's skiing.
 Here she is stepping off her left leg, which used to be her better side and better turn finish. This stepping is slow and energy sapping. It was constantly plaguing her, making her later and later in slalom race courses.
Here again she is compensating for the fact that she can't roll her boots on edge with this set up. Leaning away from the stance foot because she has a hard time tipping it over and finding the edge angles she used to get with her old boots.

Simple solution? Go back to the old boots that you were winning races with.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Learning Counter-acting like the best in the world, is a necessity for developing racers.

Mikaela Shiffrin (below): 

Here are two of the best slalom skiers of our time. Upper body level and hips counter acted. From here you can do anything, change balance to the uphill ski edge like Mikaela is doing or continuing to carve an arc to load the ski like Marlis Schild
Below William is practicing the exercise that achieves what these world cup skiers are doing.

For a complete  "pedagogical" (step by step movements building for a prescribed outcome)  to counter-acting awareness for kids and racers; check this web page for a downloadable videos.

Clearly here Mikaela shows inside hand and shoulder discipline, while holding her hips counter-acted for the edge and balance transfer.

Marlis Schild

For slalom everyone needs to block the pole, however so few do it without losing edge hold. reaching for the pole causes lose of energy and ski rebound. Not how Marlis keeps her hips and inside arm strong while ready to block the pole. This is not a natural movement it requires training exercises and learning.

This is William practicing one of the exercises that will develop upper body and hip relationships that these world cup skiers are using.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tiger Shaw begins to make the right moves!

Tiger Shaw sees the right changes need to be made. No reason to go back and fix blame for why the current system is in place, it's broken, many of us have known it for years, but there has been no communication with the upper office before this. Tiger has changed this. Much still needs doing however, a new "rewashed" coaches education and development program must be instituted, coaches have little or no concept of teaching movement relationships for world cup skiing. Yes, they have many concepts, but concepts don't relate to kids understanding how to move or create movements that work. Basic Pedagogy is still a gross misunderstanding amongst coaches in the USA and delivering it is even worst. PSIA is not the solution either, it only serves to demonstrate how weak coaches understanding is, if USSA education has had to resort to using PSIA as a technical base. You don't have to look farther than the product PSIA produces amongst its students and instructors. These are not world class movements or skiers. You don't have to be a world class athlete to learn correct skiing movements. Development in itself requires that young athletes are taught correct skiing movements. This doesn't mean complicated approaches, it means efficient and straight forward capabilities. I applaud the direction Tiger is out lining, but it's the work behind the scenes that needs the most attention, and that is not "yet" in place. Much more work and changes need to be made. I think Tiger is headed in the direction to make those changes as well. One example of how movements for a slalom pole tap can be developed. This is the correct movement that eliminates rotation and leaning. Rotation and leaning are rampant in this country with development skiers. For the last 5 weeks observing all clubs in the country at A-Basin and Copper, 90 percent of all racers I observed are rotating and leaning, while free skiing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

10 to 13 year old ski racers, with superior skiing and mature technical development, Are Fast!

There are some notions and beliefs around US Ski Coaching,  that young racers who ski too well and have learned good technique; are never going to be successful fast racers, because they are over techniqued. 

Sometimes I have to just shake my head in wonder at the belief systems that prevail in skiing.

The notion that good technique makes you a slow skier is not only absurd, but it's an attempt to remove the responsibility of good coaching from the coach's back.  

When proper technique is coached and developed a young racer doesn't have to dwell on his skiing he can relax and ski fast without thinking. The individual and his personality traits bring the fire in the belly on race day. And if you don't have that fire naturally, you probably won't make it whether or not you have good or undeveloped technique.  It's the determination and motivation that makes a skier aggressive and an attacking racer, not diminished in the slightest by his ability to ski well.

 In fact, it's the opposite, the better you ski the more confidence you have to ski fast, not the other way around. Sometimes in the US we have strange ideas about what develops success.
In Austria all the racers learn to ski well and then they develop into champions, and they all  "amazingly" have the same good technique. Are they over techniques? Maybe they are but they are still fast.

Below are three very fast racers with exemplary technique. When taught correctly and without technical overload or jargon, skiers don't slow down to ski well in a course; they rely on the instincts trained into their skiing movements. 

In these photo you see skiers with world cup skiing. Outside ski, skeletal alignment to the forces and excellent balance.

 These skiers developed these basics through exercises skiing outside of gates. This requires focus concentration and discipline. This is often not something everyone has or brings, many skiers have to learn how to focus just as they have to learn different techniques.

(Below photo) This is 10 year old Zack, he's highly focused and loves exercises that he uses to  develop his skiing by training outside of gates.

A highly skilled skier always looks like they have world cup technique, doesn't matter what age.

Sometimes you have a wild and loose skier who needs to be gradually reigned in to develop enough technical ability, yet not lose that free spirited edge. Ever skier and personality is different and coaches need to realize you don't treat all racers the same way. The skier below is a free spirit, yet he now has the ski technique to also stay in the courses while skiing fast and free.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Proper coaching results in excellent racers.

This racer is 13 years old, has been taught "How" to get to this relationship to his skis. This involves using correct movements into and out of the turns to accomplish a photo like this. These are world cup skiing techniques and body movements and angled relationships.  These types of movements are not taught by USSA education to coaches or by coaches using USSA training. This is a totally different system, much like what the Austrians use to create the best skiers in the world.

If what I stated above is the case, what are the key differences from what you see here and what is in USSA Coaches Education. The first glaring difference, if you listen and compare to USSA coaches education, USSA coaches education has no clearly outlined, "descriptions of the movements" or "how" to create the right movements to become top level racers. Yes, sure there are "concepts", but concepts don't teach coaches how to coach or racers how to move their bodies.

Second, there are glaring portions of a ski turn missing from the overall understanding of skiing in USSA coaches education.  For example: the transition, going from one turn to the next, is not described, no movements are appropriated to this most important aspect of skiing. The transition (between gates) in racing, is the part of the turn that has the most body changes, largest body movements and where American skiers most often have trouble, yet no mentions of this phase, in the skiing pyramid, hierarchy, for slalom. Also the transition sets you up for the next turn. If you listen to the  Sasha Rearick, US Head Men's Coach,  in his presentations, there no mention of a transition. No mentions of it's importance, how it's done, what movements are involved or how to set it up.

Another glaring omission, is boot, foot and ski tipping, how to tip a ski on edge, which ski to tip,  how to un-tip the skis and what movements are involved.

Mr. Rearick tells coaches in presentations that he will not tell them "how" to coach, or how to teach, or what to coach, they should use their imaginations. US coaches have been using their imaginations for decades, how is that working? Yet, the US ski team still complains that there are no talents in the development pipeline. How is it that the Head Coach of the Men's US Team after berating the US domestic coaches for not developing enough world cup skiing talents, can end the presentations with no help? He goes on to say he isn't going to tell them how they should coach, so how does he expect to get from domestic programs what he needs on the world cup. Does anyone else see a total disengagement of responsibility from a national team coach as an educator? If he isn't going to educate coaches, why is he presenting?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's clearly not working in this photo either Warner.

The article is a filled with incorrect approaches to boot set up.. The poor and misguiding information is coming out of Ski Racing these days is astounding, sensationalism reporting, without references, or facts. I was there when Warner put his back out in training at Loveland. I had checked his alignment on our stand at our shop numerous times. It was completely due to his "mis- alignment" of his boots, and he wouldn't listen to reason about his over canting. He over canted himself and he got hurt because of it, this was on his Dodge boots. Warner has little understanding of his or anyone else's alignment for that matter.
I don't know why Ski Racing Magazine can't write about proper correct alignment information, it is available. It would be much more helpful if Ski Racing wrote about alignment that is actually relevant to skiers, and at the same time is accurate?????? Perpetuating confusion about alignment doesn't serve the ski industry and can actually hurt people.

Anyone following this advice from Warner's article is putting themselves in serious jeopardy and the possibility of a serious knee injury. Warner should be ashamed of this article and his ignorance of proper boot fitting and alignment.

Warner's solution to tip his cuff toward his leg, it doesn't work the way he intended. It makes the boot highly over reactive to any terrain, ruts or chatters in a course. It also pre-loads the boot enough that any slight tipping force toward the new edge is over done and right after that the boot and ski drop excessively inside, so much so that the ski can't possible hold an edge. Although this may feel like you get tremendous grip when free skiing, in a racing situation it actually unloads the ski and makes for a very hard hit when it re-loads, and these quick re-loads shocks end up in the knee and lower back as the shock travels into the body.
A very dangerous situation.