Saturday, February 21, 2015

How Anna Fenninger wins GS.

In my last post I described how Mikaela Shiffrin used her flexing and increased tipping movements to win the slalom at the World Championships. Mikaela has of course all the rest of the package as well, but the lower body relaxation to acquire more angles is what made her runs stand out.

In the case of Anna Fenninger, who won, not only the World Championship GS, but also the recent  GS race in Maribor, she often uses and has refined the "weighted release".

What exactly is the "Weighted Release"?

I named it and referred to it, 18 years ago in my first video, "Anyone can be an Expert Skier", "The Von GrĂ¼nigen Turn". The Von GrĂ¼nigen turn is named after the great GS racer; who stayed on the outside ski and transitioned without changing weight to the new outside ski. The outside ski was weightless in the top 1/3 of the arc and often the first 1/2 of the turn. All the best, know how to use this release and transition, to get their "Center of Mass", into the turn faster. In fact, it is a purposeful, "late pressure" technique. 

Below in these video clips, we can see how Anna Fenninger uses the weighted release.

Here Anna has not yet transferred here weight or balance to the new outside ski, the top 1/3 of the turn is done.



Here we see how see is in the middle of her transition, but has not yet, and isn't attempting to pressure the new ski. This is a typical late pressuring move or technique.



Again the same release to the right turn.


The next two photo clips below, are from the same turn. Here Anna shows the true mastery of the weighted release. She is patient and lets her body totally cross her skis to line up, to deal with the forces of the arc, when they came. Trying to get early pressure would slow the skier, because of the increased friction of the pressured ski to the snow.

Here Anna has no pressure on the outside ski. Hirscher often uses this same movement even in slalom. It is therefore completely incorrect to say that early pressure is what world cup racers are missing. They know how to get early pressure, but don't want it unless absolutely necessary, because it's slow. The more accurate way of describing world cup skiing is to describe this part of the arc as trying to achieve "early angles", not early pressure. The whole idea is to get your body aligned to the "inevitable forces built at the lower 1/3 of the arc..



Another weighted released lower on the course.


The Weighted Release technique! How to learn it and when to use it.


In the "PMTS Ski System", by Harb Ski Systems,  we describe three releases, the one footed, or "Phantom Move" release, the Two Footed, and the Weighted Release. We don't include extension or pushing out of the turn as a form of releasing, (it's the most common and damaging) because that isn't a release;  it's further engagement and pressure on the outside ski. The push off, is the slowest and most energy zapping release. The weighted release is the most efficient release, but requires the most balance and also perfect timing.

How do you teach a weighted release and when? I teach the weighted release to juniors who have excellent outside ski balance and already use a two footed release, which we also teach to juniors.

In a weighted release, the outside ski remains weightless in the top 1/3 of the arc. All the best, know how to use this release and transition. And the goal is to get their "Center of Mass", into the turn without losing speed in the transition. 

In fact, it is a purposeful, late pressure technique. To begin, you must be perfectly balanced and carving on the outside ski at the completion of your arc. You begin the release when you are under the turning poles and have the ski and body loaded and angled. 

Contrary to changing or moving to the new ski, (there is no effort made to do so in this release) you flex and bend the stance leg  (the one over the out side ski)  and let your body move toward and over the stance ski, as in the photo clips. You continue this transition until the stance ski becomes the new inside ski. In these situations you begin the top of the arc on this inside ski. 

This transition at racing GS speeds and forces, requires strong eccentric muscle control. Since the weighted release keeps the weight and absorbing ability in transition on the standing leg of the previous arc. It's not an easy technique to perfect. Once the transition is achieved and the body has the correct angles, it's simply a matter of reaching or stretching the outside leg to touch down on the snow. 


8 comments:

joan said...

It will be great to ask Fenninger's coach about this movements.

borgia said...

Question - The weighted release seems to be a move that is in stark contrast to a flexing pinkie toe transition. I can see how both promote early tipping vs. early pressure, and the center of gravity dropping down the fall-line - just curious if one is preferred.

Gustav said...

This post sheds lots of light for me. Thank you for this and all the others.

J.G.

Hiroshi Asada said...

The "weighted release" also makes sense in terms of geometry and physics view points. When two skis traveling parallel are to turn (say to your left), the right ski (the outside-of-your-turn ski) has to travel longer distance than the left. You remember how to calculate the circumference of a circle? Assuming two skis are curving with the same center of a circle, the outside arch is longer. Therefore, technically, by using the outside ski, you travel longer distance. With the Weighted Release (imagine the left turn), the first 1/3 of each turn is done by the right (old outside) ski until the left (new outside) ski takes over. This in effect delay the engagement of the new outside/stance ski, i.e., shorten the time traveling with outside skis. In other words, you spend more time with inside skis, i.e., you are traveling shorter distance. The difference in distance is small, but when you are talking about World class skiers making multiple turns, it could make a bid difference -- potentially win or lose. So, I think, with the Weighted Release, one can ski shorter "inside" path than others who use two-footed release.

Hiroshi Asada said...

The "weighted release" also makes sense in terms of geometry and physics view points. When two skis traveling parallel are to turn (say to your left), the right ski (the outside-of-your-turn ski) has to travel longer distance than the left. You remember how to calculate the circumference of a circle? Assuming two skis are curving with the same center of a circle, the outside arch is longer. Therefore, technically, by using the outside ski, you travel longer distance. With the Weighted Release (imagine the left turn), the first 1/3 of each turn is done by the right (old outside) ski until the left (new outside) ski takes over. This in effect delay the engagement of the new outside/stance ski, i.e., shorten the time traveling with outside skis. In other words, you spend more time with inside skis, i.e., you are traveling shorter distance. The difference in distance is small, but when you are talking about World class skiers making multiple turns, it could make a bid difference -- potentially win or lose. So, I think, with the Weighted Release, one can ski shorter "inside" path than others who use two-footed release.

Hiroshi Asada said...

The "weighted release" also makes sense in terms of geometry and physics view points. When two skis traveling parallel are to turn (say to your left), the right ski (the outside-of-your-turn ski) has to travel longer distance than the left. You remember how to calculate the circumference of a circle? Assuming two skis are curving with the same center of a circle, the outside arch is longer. Therefore, technically, by using the outside ski, you travel longer distance. With the Weighted Release (imagine the left turn), the first 1/3 of each turn is done by the right (old outside) ski until the left (new outside) ski takes over. This in effect delay the engagement of the new outside/stance ski, i.e., shorten the time traveling with outside skis. In other words, you spend more time with inside skis, i.e., you are traveling shorter distance. The difference in distance is small, but when you are talking about World class skiers making multiple turns, it could make a bid difference -- potentially win or lose. So, I think, with the Weighted Release, one can ski shorter "inside" path than others who use two-footed release.

Hiroshi Asada said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert Berliner said...

Harold,

Love this analysis. Can you break down the differences between the "weighted release" and the old school "stem christy" for establishing the direction for the new outside ski?