Monday, December 31, 2012

Technique as good as anyone on the World Cup, at times!

Julia Mancuso is an enigma!

 At times she skis perfectly, and beautifully. This turn is an example. Perfectly balanced on the outside ski, the inside half of her body is leading and the inside arm and hand are ahead.

However too often we see this, losing the turn and losts of speed, having to regroup. World Cup skiing isn't easy, but you have no adverseries in these situations except the course and the gates. Everyone has the same opponent, but maybe the biggest opposition is in your own mind. Julia is as gifted a skier that has ever skied, she has won at every level, but not as often as her talent would merit.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Compare Women World Cup GS, Anna Fenninger takes the win

I was asked to remove the comparison photos by the photographer Mitch Gunn, so I did. Sorry! 

One  of these women World Cup GS skiers is compromised.
-Outside knee touching inside ski boot. Except in 1 photo.

Julie Mancuso's boot set up is off. Can you pick out Julie based on this? This explains her intermittent results and her inconsistency. Here is why she is having trouble. The boot set up is too strong, she is what we call, "over powered" or "over canted". If you use the knee as a reference. (this is only to demonstrate alignment to the non trained eye, there is much more to this assessment) Her out side knee is the only one of the group that points to the outside of the arc or turn. All the others have the knee pointed inward or down toward the inside boot. Julie, also has the least  boot angle to the snow, of the group.

This is a simple fix, but neither the coaches nor the boot techs notice it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ligety Slalom, why it's not working!

Ted ligety's slalom at Modonna

Watching Ted Ligety in the Madonna Di Campiglio slalom, he is starting to get the right idea, (he tried to keep his feet closer together and it worked for awhile in the first run and beginning of the second run) but he's still a ways off. He needs to continue to focus on this to catch up to the top 5 guys. 

 He has a tendency to back off the front of the ski too early in the arc, by dropping his hips. This causes him to spread his feet, because he has to step out, or scissor his feet, to get into the next arc. This type of movement and skiing is too slow, especially when the top guys are rebounding, and using the spring from the bend ski to release with energy. Energy allows you to be early for the next turn, which is what is really hurting Ted, he's not getting enough energy from the ski.

When you watch the slalom video runs again, focus on their feet. Watch how disciplined Hirscher and Neureuther are with the inside foot and holding the inside foot from stepping out (they hold it back so it doesn't slip forward or seperate). This keeps the hips moving forward during the arc, and loads up the front of the ski. This gives the ski rebound energy,  because it's bending. When Ted backs off and squats his hips; his skis go straighter and stop arcing. This makes him late, resulting in turns that don't finish and don't have energy at the release. It's exactly the opposite of what he does so well in GS. In GS, Ted stays forward and he rebounds out of the arc with energy that the others are not matching yet.

When you compare this position to Hirscher or Neureuther in this part of the arc, they are totally different, which tells the whole story. Ted is stepping out of the arc, and rotating his upper body into the arc. This is a frequent occurrence for him. He's not holding his CA at the end of the arc, therefore he has to step and roatate into the turn. His hips are already too square to his skis. 

This is the other issue with Ted's slalom, his feet seperate too early in the arc, and he therefore ends up on his inside ski and leaning.

I did notice an improvement in Ted's use of his feet over the last slalom, so it's possible they are working on the right stuff. It's not that big a issue to change, but if the "movements" that create the right changes are not addressed correctly or developed with the right understanding, immediatly, this could go on for a few more races and possibly the season.

What the Universal Sports guys miss!

One of the things that is annoying about Lewis's commentary on Universal Sports (he was never much of a slalom skier) is he keeps saying that Hirscher is jumping out of the turns. This is absolutely the wrong message to send to young racers. Hirscher is retracting his legs, and doing it so fast, and has so much rebound, it looks like he leaves the ground at times to get forward. He isn't jumping, however he's retracting or sucking up his legs.

During this phase, he changes edges (very quickly) while his skis are light. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hirscher story: Why is he winning!

             Marcel Hirscher skis a more advanaced Slalom Technique than his competitors.

After releasing his skis from the previous turn, Hirscher has so much energy and momentum from that release, he can use this momentum to tip his feet downhill "upside down" without falling inside. 

The key to his success and the same goes for Ted ligety in GS, is his total collapse of the inside leg and the relaxation of the inner half of his body. Compare to the next photo 1/8 of a second later.
The inside leg and ski are very light; therefore easy to tip toward the outside edge of that new inside ski. We call this the little toe edge side of the inside ski.
Modern skiing is about using and preparing the inside of the body correctly, rather than the old focus of previous eras on the outside leg and ski. Continuing with the inside theme, which is the most importnat part of the body to focus on to acheive angles, Hirscher flexes the inside leg to remove any pressure. He does so to allow his hips to drop further inside. (Below photo)
Also going along with the inside theme is his inside arm and hand, which he pushes forward like an outrigger, to stay ahead of his hip. This is in contrast to Felix Neureuther, who often reaches down and misses the forward push, His hand often goes back and causes unwanted rotation of the body. 

 The forward push accomplishes two things, It creates a counter acting of the upper body and hip; as

well as keeping the hand and arm ahead in case a saving touch on the snow is necessary.

 (Photo above) Hirscher inscreases the lower body and hip angles, by similtanously dropping his hip, flexing the inside leg and tipping his inside boot and leg further to the LTE. At the same time he matches the outside to these movements.

(Photo above) Increased flexing of the inside leg, while increasing counter balancing of the upper body completes the radius. The flexing or bending increase of the inside leg, causes verticle seperation of the boots rather than a horsiontal seperation. His outside knee is still touching his inside boot.

(Photo above) With the sense that the turn is complete and the pressure is adequate on the outside ski,  the revesre begins to happen for the release to the next turn. The outside leg now flexes and retracts aggressively. The inside arm and hand lead is increased to hold the LTE of the inside ski for transition, by holding counter-acting for the release. Retraction is so fast and aggressive that the old outside ski (stance ski) is lifted.

(Photo above) Now both knees have the same amount of flexing. His action is now however, focused totally on the "old" outside ski and leg, to get them tipped toward the new arc.  This will become the new inside ski and leg and therefore it is the most important aspect of movement to the new arc. Both skis are light and this gives the skier easy lateral movements, as the skis are almost totally unweighted.

(Photo above) This edge change takes about 1/8 of a second. Notice how far apart his knees are relative to his feet. This is becasue he is trying to tip the new inside ski before the outside ski comes to a weighted edge. His ski is light so he can lead tipping with the inside foot which moves the knee inside. Biomechanically this is relevant as it is the inside of the body that dictates how the CG moves to the inside of the new arc. The focus is no longer on the outside of the body and ski, for turn set up, as in old school thinking. If the inside of the body doesn't move out of the way, it blocks the outside from creating angles needed at this level of skiing. Hirscher has this figured out better than anyone.

Notice how he has also moved his new inside arm and hand forward from the previous photo, this is to set up his counter acting and strong inside lead for the next arc.
The dynamics of modern day skiing are based in movements that create angles quickly and efficiently. Many will be unware and confused about this change in skiing, but only these movements will move a skier closer to world class technique. 

Marcel Hirscher, his strength is getting forward on his skis.

This is getting forward on your skis!
Contrary to what Lewis and Purino say on TV or  Universal sports about Hirscher's skiing, he is not skiing on the back of his skis. He only looks like he is back at the "right times" becasue he gets forward so quickly and is there for such a short time, it's hard to see. He is skiing, from the front to the back, and he gets more forward and there faster than any other racer in the world.

He's able to use the back of his skis so well, only becasue he can get forward so fast and so early. Skiing only off the back of the skis, never makes it in World Cup skiing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Skiing the Little Toe Edge.

In the PMTS teaching system it is important that skiers are introduced to tipping and flexing the inside leg. We teach this to intermediate skiers because it works. Tipping the inside leg also raises your level of skiing because you become more efficient at transitions and letting go of the outside ski. 

Here Ted is slightly airborne, and the first ski edge he'll use to balance on when he lands, will be his inside ski, little toe edge. When he lands, his inside ski will create the Super Phantom Move, (riding the LTE) helping to start his transition.

Notice Ted's Arm position, recreational skiers take note, this is rarely seen by skiers on the slopes. It seems to take instruction to get people to hold their arms out to the side. It makes a huge difference in your balance. Racers take note, it's not about keeping or getting your arms forward, that advice just blocks your upper body from contributing to lateral balance. Get your arms wide and to the side, with the inside arm higher and more forward, when you can.

Head Ski Company has the GS skis dialed.

Ted Ligety is skiing better than ever, his technical disciple has improved, yet he has a big advantage with his equipment. Compared to many of the skis his competitors are skiing; his skis hold on the steep, ice, better.
If you watch the racers at the Alta Badia GS race, it's obvious the skis Head is making, are superior.

World Cup skiing getting more classic: Increased Counter Acting with top GS racers.

Of all the Essentials in Skiing
 "Counter Acting" has definitely increased.

Pinturault shows perfect form with his leading inside shoulder, hip and arm.
Felix Neureuther has found a new event with his great 2012 GS skiing.
Hirscher continues his steady skiing with another podium.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

World Cup GS technical comparison, Ted Ligety's weakness starting to show up again.

Marcel Hirscher
 Some may want to call Ted Ligety Mr. GS. But the season is just beginning. As we remember last season, Ted was great on the easier slopes and courses, but when it came back to Europe, Hirscher took over. So what do you call Hirscher, "Mr Super Skier"?  Hirscher not only won the GS crown last season, but the overall World Cup.

He has been on every GS and Slalom podium this season. Technically he is more solid than Ted. Ted is still making mistakes and it's due to his inside foot use and his hips being back behind his skis in many arcs. He continues to be on the verge of Balance failures, which cost him the race in Val d'Isere. Hirscher continues with his perfect, compact body, inside leg lifted and his outside knee right up against the inside boot. This makes the skis carve and fast.
Hirscher's inside foot rarely moves forward in the critical part of the arc. A great aid for keeping all the pressure focused over the center of the outside ski.

Compare the difference between the two skiers here. Ted is on his inside ski and also in the next frame less balanced than Hirscher. Obviously this is one turn out of 50, but this pattern was consistent and  undeniable as the difference between the two throughout the course. 

Ted Ligety compared to Pinturault. Ted more leaned inside and hips further back, as he does in slalom. Ted already too extended for this part of the arc.
With Pinturault you see similar compactness as Hirscher and the hips more forward and more lined up with the outside skis boot.
Pinturault is the more dangerous challenge to Hirscher, he's a more solid technical skier than Ted. My guess is we will see Ted's performance drop as the season continues, like last year,  and these two, Hirscher and Pinurault,  will battle it out for the World Cup..

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Ted is doing better than before.

      If you want some background and perspective go down and read the previous post.
 Here are examples of what Ted is doing that fit right into what we teach in PMTS Direct Parallel.

Counter-acting: His inside hand and shoulder are leading the arc. His torso is counter acting.

Counter balancing: His upper body is laterally balanced reducing inclination.

Flexing and extension: Inside leg totally flexed and bent. Outside leg long and solidly aligned.

Fore/aft: His hips are forward of his boots earlier and higher in the arc, without using an extension or up move of the hips.

Many can see that the outside leg is long, but that's not the issue, the issue is how does one get into this movement pattern. It's not a position! The only way to learn to ski this way is to know what movements are being used to create this kind of skiing. Few know the movements. We teach these movements in our PMTS system.

Ted Ligety's technique explained!

Ted Ligety
Everyone who watches the world cup knows Ted Ligety is dominating GS. The second GS race of the year was closer, under 2 seconds, but still a huge margin.

So what is Ted doing the others are not?

 Well, first he's doing what I have been advocating for years, his stance is much narrower in transition than last year. I saw this happening in his training earlier this season before the WC season started. He then collapses his inside leg more quickly then any of his competitors. This means his inside leg is tipping and flexing really quickly, into the apex or belly of the arc,  which drops his hips to the snow at the precise moment to gain huge angles. These perfectly timed movements engage his skis and create instant pressure and a shorter, stronger radius than the rest of the GS racers.

OK, that said it sounds easy, but if it were everyone would do it. Ted has practiced this for months and has focused on these details. He may not even realize what he is doing, but he has the sense of timing and angle creation that no one else has. Eventually the others will figure it out, but for now he still has the movements that give him the advantage and amazing confidence that his equipment will keep him up when he makes those incredible movements..

Check out his narrow stance, this is as close as I could find a photo, in transition, before pressure is loaded. This is a Super G photo, so notice the difference in stance the last few years. The racers are going to narrow up their stance, even more and use inside ski and leg tipping and flexing more precisely, then before.

Canadian Ski Team in 1970

This is the Team I was on in 1970, I'm third from the left, laughing at Rato's antics. Derek Robbins 2nd from the right, sent it to me. Derek is an Olympian. 
Other team members in this photo, Peter Duncan, Russel Goodman, Rato Barrington, Paul Carson, Doug Woodcock, Aiden Ballantine, Mike Culver, Peter Goodman. Derek Robbins.

World Cup technique for everyone, basics.

Marcel Hirscher
There is so much to be learned from this one photo. What I see and hear all the time from coaches on the slopes: Get your arms forward? Not the right message! Get your arms wide and feel the lateral body relationship to the forces to balance better. Notice how light the skis are on the snow, this is the High C part of the arc, no pressure needed here so the skis are tipped, but light. Tipping and creating angles is the right thing to do in the High C part of an arc.

Old friends from Canadian Ski Team racing days.

Bob Caladine, PMTS accredited instructor, was Canadian Ski Team.
 Bob Caladine, ex-Canadain ski team, from BC, slightly before me, but we raced together when I was a junior.
Jacque Roux, former ski team,  from Montreal, we were in the same ski club, Mt Plante.