Thursday, April 20, 2017

About Extension: 10 years ago I wrote this on PMTS forum thread.

Here is a link to the 10 year old thread, but I reproduced it here.

The commentators in the US who do the play by play on TV for world cup racing, are constantly telling us, that the racers are late with pressure. "They are not pressuring early in the turn", this is the incorrect understanding about what the racers are actually doing. The comments are  wrong. many of the racers even have their thinking about this wrong. It also sends the wrong message.

In PMTS everything I wrote about reduces or eliminates the need to extend the legs in a way that creates pressure to the snow surface or to the skis. This is an important awareness in one's skiing, but few skiers ever discover it or understand it. Ski instruction obviously doesn't understand the damaging effects of extending and most coaches don't realize what it does to skiers. Sure the leg does get long, but it doesn't get long by pushing on it, it gets long by creating angles properly. Watch the world cup skiers, outside ski, they rarely pound the edge, before the skis are at the apex.

Why are we so adamant about not extending? The answer may not be as obvious as we the insiders of PMTS think. So here is a list of what extending or pushing does to you, for those who are not PMTS aware. At the bottom of this post is a link to a video about extending and how to get the outside leg long, without pushing against the snow.

-Extending disconnects the CG from the skis 
-Extending pushes the CG away from the balancing point 
-Extending eliminates the ability to tip the skis 
-Extending delays the entry to the next turn 
-Extending eliminates the legs from making quick movements 
-Extending or pushing against the snow puts skiers out of balance 
-Extending is tiring 
-Extending interrupts movement to the next turn or downhill 

-Bending makes tipping easier 
-Bending the legs increases tipping range 
-Bending allow for quick edge changes 
-Bending increases terrain absorbing ability 
-Bending keeps you closer to the snow 
-Bending, the inside leg once skis are engaged draws the hip to the snow 
-Bending, the inside leg allows higher tipping and lengthening of the outside leg 
-Bending allows foot pull back 
-Bending allows you to make tighter arcs, shorter turns and therefore gives skiers more control 

When extension is used none of the bending benefits are available. 

So what's the most important Essential, Tipping or Flexing / Bending?.

This video demonstrates tipping and flexing, and shows how extension isn't the answer.

The video below demonstrates a great exercise for increasing you angles with proper building of tipping and transitioning.

PMTS movements with Reilly McGlashan on 28m skis!

Reilly is not only one of the best free skiers in the world, but also a true student of the sport. 
In this series of articles, I'll point out the obvious and the not so obvious movements that make Reilly such an amazing skier to watch.

Early inside foot tipping.

To achieve early inside foot tipping and angles, the proper set up and movements to create early angles, this is dependent on actions achieved just before the previous turn release.  Let's walk through the steps, and point out how this is created, using the "Essentials",  to focus the discussion. Go to heading, "Counter Acting" below.

Different turn, different frame, but identical to the upper photo.

Just prior to the release, notice the hip counter-acted.

Transition, hold the counter-acting so the legs can move under the hips to the new angles without rotation.
A stable counteracted pelvis allows for strong engaging, bending and tipping.

Tipping and flexing into the arc

Counter Acting:

Here you see the results of holding the pelvis stable through transition, with the counter acting from the previous turn changed to the new counter acting for this turn.  
The actual answer to skiing efficiently, it requires movements that occur either at the same time, or in a certain order to produce PMTS quality turns. Flexing, out of the turn, begins and allows the release, which in turn allows for tipping movements that bring the skis flat and also to their new edges. If flexing is the catalyst to releasing, tipping is the action directly following, and creating engagement.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Boot alignment on the world cup

Many women drop out of ski racing after stalling at the top 30.
 One reason for this is their equipment set up, the boots are especially not working for them, as with his skier. The athlete doesn't know it's the boots, the boot rep thinks it's her ski technique, the coach has no idea, he thinks and blames it, " She isn't a good enough athlete." Here is a skier, a perfect example, the top image, outside knee behind the inside knee. That is flat out a boot set up issue.
The reason this is slow and it makes the skier struggle, she can't release the edge, she ends up super wide and stuck in transition. When you see this behavior no amount of coaching or training will fix it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The best run of 2017 1st run SL WC Kranjska Gora

Stefano Gross, Best Slalom Run of the Year! A true thing of beauty!

Two seasons ago I featured Stefano Gross in this blog (you can go back and look)  as a possible Slalom Globe winner. Why? Because he evolved slalom skiing to the new level. It's not Henrik Kristoffersen, not even Hirscher. Earlier Gross Post!

Why did "Gross" get the nod from me as the guy to watch even 2 years ago? Because his technique is the future for slalom winners. I don't mean slalom skiers, there are many of those, I mean slalom winners. 

First and most obvious: Gross has one of the 2 narrowest stances on the World Cup. What does this do for him?
It allows him to be closer to the gate, have less distance to travel, and  keep more pressure on the outside ski.

This makes for a much quicker, explosive transition, change of edges, from foot to foot, turn to turn; however, it has its risks. He explodes out of the arc like no one else, which means he must be able to control that energy and momentum. Most of Gross's inconsistency comes from his explosiveness, which he has not always been able to control. 

The narrow stance also gives him higher inside ski angles relative to anyone else at certain points of the turn. This allows him to tip the skis faster and earlier because the skis are not so far away from each other.  It also keeps his core stronger because he doesn't bend his torso over his skis to set up the arc. This is a stronger, more ergonomic/skeletal body alignment. His narrow stance requires earlier counter balance, so he doesn't fall inside the turn. You will notice Gross rarely steps or lurches to his inside ski before the outside ski is ready to release.


Gross has two types of turns: one is for bigger off set and distance between gates where he has time to use and develop early hip-to-the- ground angles. This isn't necessarily hip closer to ground, it's a more acute angle of the inside leg and ski. A wider stance doesn't allow this because the legs stay more bent. With a skier whose feet are farther apart, the transitions require bigger movements, therefore making him later. This leaves little or no time to develop early angles above the gate.

His second technical tactic, is the shorter and quicker round arc. Here he doesn't stretch out his body above the gate, and he doesn't drop inside as far with his hips (because he has less time). Instead he stays more bent with his legs from one side to the other. This is what I call retracting, or flexing out of the arc and staying flexed while tipping the skis and feet to create a new arc. Bend to release and bend to increase your lower body angles.

Gross is also a master counter-actor! He develops more CA into the apex, and holds his hips countered through the release while building  pressure through tipping and angle development with his feet and skis.

In this run he is able to pull his feet back to allow his CG to move down the hill before he needed pressure on the skis. This is his biggest problem in his regular races through the season. He gets caught back. This is a matter of timing , and in this run, his timing was perfect. His pressure-loading and feet pull-back with his retraction were perfect.

This run at Kranjska Gora is complete skiing genus! No one skis exactly like this. This is the future of slalom winning, not slalom skiing perhaps. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

US men's tech Ski Team doesn't qualify for the World Cup finals in Aspen!

It was more than a rough day for Choudomsky, it was a rough year for the US Men's Ski Team.

No US slalom skiers in the World Cup finals. The coaching staff has to take responsibility and resign or the USSA board of directors needs to make them go away, with the executive staff right behind them. 

There are answers and solutions to these problems, but the US Team doesn't have them, and no one is asking the questions. 

I pointed the problems out to Tiger Shaw, at his request, I came to Park City, 3 years ago. He did nothing. Only excuses are available now. 

Guess what, there are no excuses for this type of dismal performances, only the fact that this US Ski Team coaching and management team is a total failure. 

In addition, many of the skier's on the team have serious boot issues and set up issues that absolutely no one is addressing. That's just one of the problems. Reminds me of the Trump administration! Lots of bluster no performance.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Developing counter-acting while skiing. What is Austrian Counter?

If you truly want to develop counter acting movements in your skiing you have to exaggerate. This type of exaggeration, we call "Austrian Counter." 

Notice in the last three turns of the video below, "slow it down" I really turn my hips to show lots of counter acting. Yet, I never hold or park into that position. counter acting is a movement, not a position when done right.

 Above and below are photos clips from the video below, two different turns, from the same video, yet lost identical.

                                      Austrian Counter


                                                        The Release

The Release the counter you develop is held.

Video Version

Sunday, January 22, 2017

PMTS Harb Ski Systems, "Building an Expert Skier!"

                                 Developing proper Counter Acting

                                             First photo: Up-side down on the slope! 
                         Watch the jacket, zipper line, relative to the ski direction and angle. 

                                                   Above the falline

              Also, look at the top of the skis, to see the angles developing off the base of support,  the "SKIS" which  increase in angle when they show the tops.


                                                  At the Apex of the turn!

 As the angles of the body and skis increase the upper body increases it's counter acting. The upper body looks like it never changes where it's facing, however the skis are making a radical arc and direction change.

                                                  Just at the point of releasing!

 The upper body and hips are increasing, their counter acting, relative to the ski direction changes.
This is what instructors, and ski systems don't understand, they just tell you, or say,  "Face down hill, well that's not it.! Counter acting is a movement that you have to create with the turning or counter acting movements of the hips and torso.

Counter acting, hip flexibility no one talks about.

To be a great skier you need incredible amount of hip flexibility. To be a very good skier and advanced skier, you need "some" hip flexibility, and counter acting, without it you will suffer. 

Watching the world cup's best skiers shows that these athletes are not only amazingly strong, thick muscled, but very flexible with the hips. More directly, they can twist their hips back away from the direction of the skis. This ability give you stronger edge hold, new turn preparation and "Super Phantom", little toe edge holding ability. 

In everyone of these photos, my skiing shows hips counter acted. And as with the best skiers in the world, you see the same hip to ski relationship. Remember many announcers and instructors get this relationship incorrect. They state it incorrectly as well, and they define it incorrectly. It's not where your hips face relative to the falline or bottom of the mountain, it's where your hips face relative to where your skis are pointed.
Here, Hirscher shows the line across the front of  his hips almost parallel with his skis.

My hips are facing my outside ski boot, not toward the tip of the skis. keep your outside pole tip behind you boots this will greatly help your development of counter acting. 

My left hip is back my pole tip pointed straight downhill chest and shoulders are facing toward my outside ski boot.

Marcel's hips again show extraordinary counter acting. 

Mikaela's hips face toward the right, her skis are pointed left. Her inside hand, pole tip and arm are forward ahead of teh inside hip.

Below, this is not counter acting, this is square, leaning and "A" framed, inside foot weighted, with no tipping. PSIA Demo Team.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Converting a flexing release to forward hips, getting over the skis.

          Gaining and regaining Fore/aft Balance

One of the most mis-understood and frankly incorrect and damaging coaching approaches that continues to exist in USSA and in Canada's version of USSA, is how to achieve re-centering. What is constantly being taught and coached is extending and moving the hips forward. Although the idea may portray what you'd like to see, but that is not what is being done, by the best world cup skiers. These two approaches don't portray what is actually happening in world class skiing. 

The release!

                                                                    The Release

Flexing and retracting the ski and boot from the snow constitutes the release.
Lifting the tip of the ski, creates the correct tension and advantages the kinetic chain with the correct muscles and tension all the way up the body for a "backward" hold or movement of the boots.

Balance change by initiating the lifting and flexing of the previous stance or outside ski is accomplished.

                                                                      Edge Change

Continuing the retraction and changing edge angles of the lifted ski constitutes the change to the new edges. The new outside ski is weighted and balance is established on the new turning ski.

                                                           Inside ski pull back

The inside foot is pulled back creating a lift of the ski tail, or a transition from a back position on the ski to a center weighted ski.

Ski Technique and random thoughts about skiing!

Comparison between Hirscher and  Kristoffersen?

This comparison would have to involve skis and boot brands. In my opinion Atomic skis are stiff and harsh, part of that issue is boot related, however the combination is tough on the racers. Rossingnols don't work well for everyone, but they sure do hit the sweat spot and are much more of a smooth carving boot and ski combination. If you pay attention to the skiers on the different products you begin to see patterns. The patterns influence of different brands of skis and boots influence ski and leg movements and the way they engage lower body angles. You can start to notice similarities between the skiers on the different brands. To do this analysis in a scientific way; I would have to be able to do a biomechanical assessment of each skier's foot and ankle. I would also measure cuff relationships and stationary balancing abilities while standing on an angled platform. It sure would produce some interesting results. We do this type of work every day at our ski shop.

Tip ski lift at the release!

I have never been anti-tip lift, I always saw, or noted that I had it in my skiing, I even wrote about it in 2007.

I started using tip lift for intermediates when I saw too much focus on just lift the back of the ski. Which accomplishes little. I began by telling students the point of lifting was to get a release, but most were not tipping after they lifted the ski. The whole idea of lifting is to get that ski to the LTE. 

So I began to tell our students to keep the ski level rather than just lifting the tail. In doing the exercise of keeping the ski level, from a stationary rehearsal,  I had them compare the difference in the actions of the leg muscles, between just lifting the tail and lifting the tip. 

It became obvious even in a stationary exercise for this comparison, that lifting the tip keeps the ski closer to the ground and it also engaged important hip and torso muscles that helped set up CA and CB, which lifting the tail did not. I began to have the group use just lifting the tip at the  release. Low and behold,  most of their extension went away, and inside ski lead was reduced. Better overall balance and transfer increased. SO I stayed with it.

Biomechanically speaking, the action helps to close the ankle, or Dorsi-flexes the foot, lifts the foot. The tibialis anterior, is the main lifting muscle used to lift the foot, which also helps to invert the foot. In turn, higher in the kinetic chain it engages the hip flexor, (tensor fascia latæ), You can also use it at Starbuck to order a special Lattee, it really confuses the hell out of  them.