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.

http://www.pmts.org/pmtsforum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1785#p17205

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!

http://harbskisysems.blogspot.com/2015/08/gross-could-be-best-slalom-skier-in-2016.html

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.






Tactics:

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. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

My new knee by ConforMIS!





Why the ski "Tip" lift is important, for all skiing levels?

The biggest change in the body while skiing and making turns happens during the transition from one set of edges to the other.


Why is the lifting of the tip so prevalent with expert skiers? Were they taught to do it this way. In most cases no.They evolve this movement because it's more efficient, they discover it works and they keep using it. 

                                           What does lifting the tip do?

Simply, it engages a different and correct set of muscles that activates a stable hip transition. Most skiers don't recognize that there is a profound hip transition as well as a ski edge change and a CG transition for every turn. The hips slide over from one side to the other in transition to align the body for the forces coming up in the new turn. This involves setting up the proper counter acting and counter balancing movements. Some will ask what are counter acting and counter balancing movements? They are explained in my book, "The Essentials of Skiing".  Books and DVDs about these topics are available on my web site; www.Harbski.com
The tip lifting movement,  also stops the skis from shooting forward, critical for all junior racers who end up in the back seat. the movement comes from the tibialis anterior muscle on the front of the shin. and engages several other key mid body and torso muscles that hold the upper body over the skis during transition. This happen through the engagement of the kinetic chain.

 But "How" is this accomplished? And why is the "tip lift"  part of this             important phase of skiing?

Shiffrin



Top swiss slalom skier. Counter acting and lifting the tip.




Lifting the old stance ski has been around as long as great skiing have been around. 
In this photo you see Harald Harb's old outside or stance ski being lifted at the tip, while the tail of the ski is still on the snow.  2013 video!

Marcel Hirscher best skier in the world for the last 6 years lifts the ski tip to release the stance ski.



Ozz National demo Team one of the best skiing teams in the world,  releasing the old stance ski by retraction and tip lifting.



Stefano  Gross, italian National Team, one of the best slalom skiers in the world ski tip lifted to enter the turn.

Gross balance transfer by retraction and tip lift.



                                                    After the tip lift?

After the tips lift and the skis are coming to the new edges the skiers will convert this into a tip down ski tail up or level ski relationship. This demonstrates a profound ability that only a few of the very top skiers have. This is called foot pull back in PMTS, we have been teaching and coaching this for decades. We knew early on that extending was slow and extending the hips forward was not what was happening with the top ski racers. They pull the feet or a foot back, causing the tip to lift.. The tip lifting starts this process and prepares everything above the ankles,  in the kinetic chain to prepare for achieving  fore/aft balance properly and quickly.


Harald Harb tip lift to release in a 2013 video.


The expert skier has a releasing process with three distinct steps: bending, flexing relaxing and or retracting the old stance or outside ski leg, is step one. This causes a weight or balance transfer to the uphill or little toe edged ski. With an expert skier this begins the crossing of the body toward angles for the new turn. With an intermediate skier, because they generate less forces due to smaller or lesser angles, tipping the newly released ski (toward its little toe edge) is an important additional movement. Even in world cup skiing the skiers are trying to tip the newly released ski onto it's little toe edge, before the outside ski comes to the edge. This is accompanied by pulling and tipping that ski in closer to the newly developed stance ski. This gives the skier a more focused concentrated body alignment over the outside ski as they develop the increasing drop into the arc with their body.

If you are watching world cup skiing on TV, it is very easy to see who will be fast,  and it is not from more aggression like the commentators like to endlessly tell us. It's who is the best ski bender of the group. How do you become the best ski bender? Two ways, feet closer when developing the new angles above the gate and developing bigger angles faster. Faster angles are developed by faster retraction (flexing or bending) of the old stance leg. The faster the angles are developed the sooner the release out of the arc is accomplished. A real speed killer is pushing on the ski. Pushing on the ski either at the end of the arc or during the arc, stops the tipping movement that increase angles. This is where it gets to be all about timing the point of most pressure. If your pressure comes too early you have to release and set again. or commonly known as double edge set or late edge set.

This is why it's very frustrating to listen to the TV commentary, they have it backward, the skiers are "NOT"  trying to get early pressure, they are trying to get early angles, so they can time when they get the most pressure to the exact right point in the arc.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Basic Cuff Alignment

For some reason cuff alignment has gone nuts. Years ago the basic most rudimentary understanding was put the leg in the middle of both sides of the top cuff of the boot. 

The "left"  boot would normally be considered close to what you want to begin with. The footbeds should be in the boot, to stand on. When the cuff is touching the leg or pushing against the inside of the legs also called the medial side, that is called "cuff strong" or over powered.  The problem with over powering the leg with the cuff, is it pre-loads the big toe edge or inside edge of the ski, even in a straight run. If you try this from a straight run, both skis flat, and lift one foot/boot/ or ski off the snow; the ski immediately rails or you fall to the outside. So to balance and stay in a straight run on one leg, you have to push your leg, rotate the femur, inward which looks like you are pushing the knee against the over strong cuff or in toward the other leg. In fact that is exactly what happens. This makes the ski rail. and the upper body has to compensate as a result.

Hirscher before the boot changes that are influencing his once perfect technique.

This is the first in a series I will publish, about boots and their influence on world cup skiing and individuals. In the following photos, over the last 4 years of Marcel Hirscher's skiing; they show high angles and great carving around the gate.  In everyone of these photos and many more during his previous boots era, and set ups, his boot and lower leg are lined up perpendicular to his ski. And he is able to create excellent counter balancing with his upper body, in everyone one of these photos.

If you study these photos and compare  them to the last photo in the series; I posted below, you will notice the contrast. The boot and leg and ski are no longer at right angles.

This is a very simple demonstration. I have added more recent turns from this season's races that demonstrate the exact same thing that appears in the last photo,.  I also evolve this discussion on boots, biomechanics and their effect on a world cup skier.

I demonstrate what and how over cuff strong boots, which many are, affect all racers even juniors. Many boots don't have cuff adjustments, and some that do, don't have enough adjustability.


When everything is lined up perfectly skiing looks like this.


This is about as extreme as it gets for angles, yet with this previous set up, which was correct, he didn't have problems with the release or the engagement, everything was naturally aligned and his body had no unusual contortions, it has now.

Again alignment and skeletal alignment making the forces run beautifully through his body.

When Hirscher's boots were right, he had a slight knee angulation that transmitted grip and power to the ski.




It is clear in the photo below from the last race, that the lower leg is not lined up at the same angles as in all the other photos posted above. This affects Hirscher's ability to use his best technique. This isn't happening in one turn, it's an every race and almost every  (right turn, left foot) turn phenomenon. He is losing in some races by very small margins., in spite of all his adaptive gyrations. This boot problem if corrected properly would go a long way to making that issue go away.
Hirscher is all wound up with conflicting body movements, and these are necessary to adapt to the poor boot set up. He is also making many double turns on his left foot, causing huge time losses. He recovers fortunately with his right foot turn. The two are totally different turns, from on side to the other. This is the other clue that it's a boot problem.

On the left foot turns, going right, when the courses are further off set, Hirscher is having to delay the ski angle until he can get his body in the right place to avoid an overly strong edge set and to avoid the ski from railing. This is costing him a few hundies on every turn, that adds up to many tenths in a 60 gate slalom.

Here are some other examples from other runs and races, showing his mis-alignment. He has to make many adjustments and contortions he never used to make 2 to 3 years ago with the other boot models.

When you see this, it is not knocked kneed,  boot bottom alignment, it is a cuff problem. It's a delayed release, caused from an extreme knee drive,  the resistance from the over powered position of the cuff,  causes and creates extreme knee drive and knee angulation, releasing from this situation causes this delay. Never used to see Hirscher having to contend with this before. 


The boot cuff is too strong toward the inside of the leg which causes a late release, and this extreme releasing problem shown in the photo, can result. If you read my Blog,  notice the similarity between his shin angle and that in the posts I put up about Mikaela's boot problems. Both are in Atomic boots.
 
Here is an example where Hirscher with his feel and genius is feathering the ski out away from his body to delay the angle and pressure. Because the wrong cuff angle,  he can't bring up the angle early, which then causes late hits and harsh edge sets. He often now, on the really round turns can't slice the arc, he double edges on most of those turns.

With his older boots, say 3 years ago, you never saw these situations happening with Hirscher, he was the example of perfect skeletal alignment to the ski edges.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mark Engel 2nd after first run of Zagreb world cup slalom.

Here is Mark training with us at Mt Hood.

Mark beat Marcel Hirscher in the first run.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Mikaela Shiffrin has big turnaround in GS due to boot changes.

If you have been following my previous Blog posts below on this page; about the Shiffrin boot issues, you can see here some changes have been made that have improved the situation. With the changes which were so obviously needed she becomes functional. She is much closer to the set up of last season. Also, she is using the older cuffs on these boots. However now compare the left turn on the right foot turns, to previous posts about the alignment on this Blog. It's much better, yet it's still not ideal. It's good enough for Shiffrin to work with. Before this change she was fighting to survive. 
In this photos if you focus on the angles of her right leg you can still see she doesn't trust the boot and has to feather and skid it into place before she can trust the angles. A well trained eye can see see she is rotating her hips to help with the arc, (obvious when you watch the video in slow motion) once the ski is far enough away and the leg straight she is able to bring the ski to higher angles and come back to a hip counter action movement. As in the next photo.
A much better situation than the set up before Christmas.






What is amazing is that the whole staff, US Team, Atomic Technical staff and even her mother can't see when things are totally off. And I mean so off she could injurer herself by trying to race in these boots. After all, Hirscher broke an ankle trying to push an Atomic Boot on edge about 7 years ago.

And further on that line of thinking, Mikaela doesn't seem to feel the difference when it's wrong. She thinks she can brut force the ski to do what she wants. But the results and times prove she can not.