Thursday, January 22, 2015

Difference between squaring up and counter-acting.

How is it that at this level of skiing that basic fundamental movement principles are still not addressed by US Ski Team coaches.

What do I think?? I think David Chodunsky can and should have been a top 5 slalom skier. This is a common outcome on his right turn, left leg. It means 1/2 his turns he is either recovering or losing time. This is worth at least a second a run not to mention consistency.

David has been on the ski team for years and no one has been able to address this issue, let alone see it.

Doug Lewis used this photo on Universal sports, to show how far David was from the gate. That isn't the issue, the issue is why?
What happens when you can't or don't know you need to create counter acting in your skiing?
1. Your outside hip swings out, so you skid.
2. Your ski tail doesn't hold.
3. Your weight ends up on the inside ski.
4. Your stance gets too wide.
5. You lean into the turn.

This all happens if you don't have just one of the 5 "Essentials of Skiing", not working for you. In this example, it's the counter-acting Essential.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When trying to achieve world class skiing, "early pressure" on the ski is the wrong message.

When you watch Universal Sports skiing broadcasts, Doug Lewis is constantly repeating the wrong and the same message about what is happening. His redundant messages about what the skiers are doing and how they do it, are wrong. I'm not saying Doug is a bad guy, he's just misguided. He just doesn't understand technical skiing. Coaches, parents, USSA and racers need to understand what is really happening.

Let's have a look at the favorite message presented on the Universal Sports skiing coverage and that is.
                                                                 "Early Pressure"

What needs to be early in a turn, isn't pressure. What is happening and what the best skiers in the world are doing in these photos is creating early tipping angles, that is what is needed. Tipping the skis to early angles is what is happening, not early pressure.  Don't think this is semantics "early pressure" and "early angles",  are totally different.

Here in this photo, there is no pressure on the skis, but look at the fantastic angles from the best skier in the world. This is above the gate.

Now this is where the pressure comes back into the body from the skis on edge, from gravity, not from forcing or pushing to achieve early pressure..Frame A, 3

Frame B,1
Above: Here is the same example with the "right" turn. No early pressure, but definitely here are early angles.

Frame B,2
"Above", Pressure is now achieved due to early angles, not early pressure.

Many of the things the ski commentators on Universal Sports say about the skiing is wrong and misguided. I know these incorrect messages are going out to our young skiers and coaches. The damage will take forever to reverse, if it ever happens. Many will think this is just another attempt to attack, the talking heads. It's not about the talking heads, it's about the future of US skiing and the efforts put into it by our athletes. We are moving backward, with this kind of commentary.

Some baffun on Facebook already posted that because these were, "still pictures" that they didn't have merit and that early pressure is the right way. Case in point, because USSA isn't doing it's job of properly educating coaches, with facts and biomechanics, you can have cranks like Doug Lewis dictating and  perpetuating bad skiing information. US skiing is on the wrong road on many different levels and this observer isn't seeing the corrections to the course of the ship happening.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Slalom Skiing with a narrow stance is not only fast, but wins the day.

These are clips of Gross in the least 10 turns on the steepest section of the Adelboden slalom.
Doug Lewis says: "He needs to widen his stance on the steep."

Really Doug, it's one thing to make incorrect statements about technique, it's totally another to have bad eyesight. Gross doesn't widen his stance, if it does get wider, it's in vertical distance not horizontal distance. A coach should know the difference and how to achieve the correct relationship.

 This world cup winner has a narrower stance than most kids under 14 that I see in racing programs. Under 14 year olds usually have much narrower hips than a world cup racer like Gross. So who is telling kids to widen their stance, beyond what world cup skiers are using, it's from USSA coaches and PSIA coaching.
Will someone please tell Doug lewis that skiing at this level or any level in technical events isn't about getting early pressure or about your "style". Pressure in skiing is totally dependent on achieving angles. Achieving angles is about and comes from tipping your boots and skis on edge. This is more efficient when done while bent or flexed, because when you are bent or flexed you stay on the snow and you have greater range of motion in your legs to achieve higher angles. With angles and tipping of the legs, pressure is developed. Maybe someone can pass this on to Doug, so he can get a better idea of skiing biomechanics and what racers are actually trying to achieve.

Skiing powder

Myths and Misconceptions abound relating to powder skiing.

Like: You have to sit back, you have to push yourself out of the turn, you have to swing your upper body, these are only a few.

In reality, if you learn to manage your ski to ski pressure as needed, which is constantly changing, you will already be 50% more successful. I try to begin my new turn, by finding outside ski balance, with my skis close together. Once I find my balance; I can go 70/30 distribution. But if you try to be 50/50 all the time or 90/10 all the time, it will never happen. You need to be constantly adjusting, always.

Bottom line if you are losing your outside ski balance or one footed outside ski skiing on groomers, it will get worst in powder. Again, you can take this statement to the bank. 
Harald says: "Your skiing never gets better as the conditions get more difficult." 

Powder is more difficult for most skiers, if you are not skiing in balance or not on the outside ski on groomers. If your stance is wide on groomers, that won't work in powder. If you don't tip and release off your big toe edged ski, first, to release, you won't ski powder well. I can go on and on, but this is all basic PMTS. 

It's definitely not taught this way with Traditional Instruction. They want you to huck your upper body, extend or push off and twist your legs, have fun with that!

I find skiing powder easier, why? Because my balance is on the outside ski and I can keep it there through every arc. Leaning, rotating and sitting, doesn't work in powder, any better than it does on ice.
Great powder skiers have upper body discipline, not rotation,. They get out of a turn by bending or flexing to lighten their skis, not by pushing and extending. They let their knees come up out of the powder at the end of turns to change edges. Skiing powder is not much different then skiing bumps, fundamentally the same movements, get one of these techniques right and you get the other as benefit.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hirscher gets the power!

Many observers including the announcers on Universal Sports TV don't get where the greatness in Hirscher's skiing comes from. Sure they can see he's fast and strong, but so are many others. What does Hirscher have, that the others have less of, or don't have at all.

Notice how his shoulder and chest are turned to the side of the slope, facing his outside ski. 
The first difference in technique that Hirscher brought with him to the world cup was his hip counter-acting. His counteracting is more developed, has a greater range of motion and he holds it longer at the end of the arc and at transition.
 Hirscher's second great strength that gives him earlier angles and power; is his "retraction" at transition, as opposed to extending and pivoting. Hirscher rolls or tips his skis earlier because he flexes his legs in "transition" more often than others from a lower position on the snow, and therefore sets up  new angles quicker. "While others are still skidding, Hirscher is carving!"
Here is a common movement we see in Ted on many turns, he rises or extends much higher than Hirscher in transition, he uses much more pivoting and he stands up longer in transition. This requires time and doesn't develop the, so crucial angles, you need. This amount of extension, puts you much later in the curve around he gate. 

In regard to the commentary on Universal Sports, they don't see technical skiing and mostly when they do comment, it is incorrect, they constantly refer to "Getting early pressure". Skiing at this level isn't about early pressure, it's actually detrimental. What Hirscher does is develop early angles, the pressure comes after the angles are set-up. The upper part of the arc doesn't need,  require or make speed, if you pressure it, it actually slows you down and puts you out of balance.

Technical Evaluation and explanation.

I still don't understand the justification and support for ski-voting or pivoting in the US coaching community. It's slow, it puts your body out of position for the next arc and it disconnects you from the snow. This all takes time and it loses time for the skier who uses it.

The great movement Hirscher has in his skiing is his amount of Counter acting and how long he can hold it and increase it during an arc. This is not taught by PSIA or by USSA. It's actually frowned upon by both organizations . Hirscher takes counteracting to a new level, I have always called it the "Austrian Counter", because the Austrians use it more than any other nation and always have.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mistakes are from ski coaches, not kids.

 Many observers would like to say that skiers or racers aren't skilled or don't have it when they stop progressing and lose their edge. It's called "Plateauing"! A not so nice word for, "You have stopped getting better and everyone is passing you."

The original color photos were removed, to protect the the individuals. These skiers are in an extra ordinary wide stance, weight on both skis,leaning into the turn and never bending the ski, a sure formula for stagnation and pleateauing.

Leaning on the side cut of a ski isn't bending it. 
The blame for this should not be with the kids, it's with the coaching. Here are some common technical deficiencies that should have been cleared up well before the kids even got to this level, at this age.

 Stance too wide, lost balance on the outside ski, using the inside ski to support the turn. This makes for a grinding turn with half the weight on the inside ski. Cause? Developing a stance that is too wide to keep the skier in balance. This kid's skis are wider than most world cup racers' stances and with about a fraction of the compared hip size.
 Leaning in and trying to push off the outside ski.  This should be an easy technical deficiency to correct at a young age. It comes from a lack of upper body awareness and discipline. The combination of upper body rotation and leaning forces the skier to step off the ski prematurely. This habit will continue and get worst, causing  "Plateauing",  before the skier has reached their potential.
This is typical of coaching; not paying attention to basic balance. This skier is squared up, which means body rotation occurred. The inside ski is forward and weighted, balance is lost, or probably never achieved. 

The examples above are not special, they occur in every race program. the coaches know that something is wrong and they start to give up on these kids. They have little or no remedies for these problems and therefore concentrate more on the kids that are racing faster, not necessarily skiing better. Racing faster at this age, is not a sign of a possible child protégé, it's just a sign of more natural, better instincts. All of the kids in these photos have a much higher potential level then they are demonstrating here or that they will ever achieve, skiing the way they are. The sorry state of affairs in ski racing is, this is far too common and it's a results of poor coach's education..

Friday, December 26, 2014

Something old, something new, but still classy and classic.

Counter Acting with the proper pole use!!
Rarely seen on the slopes, rarely taught or coached correctly.
                                          What PMTS Skier Learn from the get go!!

                                 Get it right and it makes all the difference on terrain and in slalom.
Hold your counter acting, don't give it up!!!

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.