Saturday, June 16, 2018

Edge change before direction change.

If you want to carve from turn to turn, change your edges before you turn. Notice the tracks left behind they are purely carved. Here I am about to start the next pure carve. I retracted or bend my legs, changes edges with my lower body. Now I'm ready to get the skis into the snow and create more angles.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

The fundamentals are lacking, because Skills Quest by USSA is a failure.

USSA Development

Skills Quest could be a good idea, if they had the right people dsigning the skills. The US coaching staff has no idea what the world cup skiers are doing differently.
The skier above is doing the best she can. However it's not the way to ski. It's not the way the World Cup skiers ski, it's American coaching. The upper body is leaning inside. All the weight is on the inside of the body, the hips are square. Nobody winning on the world cup is skiing with hips square like this. No one on the world cup who is winning has the feet seperated as is the case here. This is not reversable. Once a young skier adapts this posture and position they are doomed.
       World cup overall champion twice, Anna Fenninger Veith, and she is still a world cup contender.
Does anyone in USSA development know why there is a huge difference between the way these two skiers use balance and technique? I'm sure they don't, because in the first photo, the skier is an example of USSA development skiing. This skiing will never acheive the highest levels of World Cup skiing.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Flexing and ski angle changes during arcs.

On slalom skis, the body reaction to ski angle changes and leg angles have to be immediate.  Personally, I add the upper body changes also like new CA for the next arc, after the new edges are established. 

By this, I mean lower body "flexed leg tipping",  this occurs first then, you can see that CA is applied as the outside leg lengthens. There is so much happening right in the transition that any mis-timing or delay in either flexing/tipping or CA, loses the optimal arc. 

This is why when I hear USSA and US Ski Team development coaches constantly telling kids to move thier hips up and forward I have to cringe. No one in the top seed in the world does what the US Development coaches are telling our kids.

You can see this on the world cup. You also have to take into account the boot set up. For example, as your boot set-up gets softer, you need more counteracting to keep the lower leg straighter through the apex. As I you notice in my own videos, if my set up is softer I have to counteract further.  This is due to the adjustments with the cuff. Moving the cuffs away from my leg reduces weird ankle and leg angles, but can soften the edge development feel. 

At this point, when I see this set up on video, I made the sole canting "stronger" to compensate for the cuff movement. We have figured this out from years of testing with at least 50 ski racers. I definitely realize when watching video during filming sessions that when the setup is softer than what I want, you are at the point where the last bit of control is done with sole canting.

What you are pointing out here is the mystery of what brings skiing to the next or highest level.

When a ski racers is at the apex, especially the best skiers on their best runs, soften the outside leg by bending and while the pressure is reduced increase the tipping angles. This can be done without loss of speed or carving angles. In fact, doing this increases carving angles and tightens the radius under the gate. To many observers, this movement looks like it is done by adding femur rotation. Not so!

Few observers are even aware that this is happening, because few skiers can create this timing consistently. The softening or bending of the leg outside leg (during the arc) allows a controlled momentary pressure reduction. For that instant, it gives you access to further tipping ability, giving you higher angles.

The skis, therefore, react to the angle change and tighten the radius. If you look at my skiing over the years, you can see I do this in short turns where I'm arcing tight radius turns. If the skier doesn't apply this technique, they have to wait for the ski sidecut to create the bottom "C" of the arc, which doesn't create as energetic or as precise a line to the next gate. You can see that in my article on my Blog, where I compare Hirscher to the other his two other competitors. 

Keeping the outside leg long or stretched through the bottom "C" of the arc is slow. So now I can get to answering your question directly. Your CA doesn't need to increase at this point if you have the right amount established and have a you ski tails carving and holding.

However, you do have to hold your countered hip strongly at the release or your hips will tend to square up and drag the upper body with it. This is really obvious in GS turns. When you apply this approach, keep a long leg you will have to Immediately, flex and then push off to start flexing again to begin the release. In effect a double release. Making the tansition very weak, and very slow.

These are a highly integrated and coordinated movement patterns, very hard to teach, it's  intuitive to some.

There are skiers that have this ability without realizing they use it. Reilly MacGlasin has it and he didn't know how he did it. When I began coaching him,  I brought this to light for him. I have written about this movement sparingly because it's a really high-end movement understanding, and everything else needs to be right before you can have someone even attempt it. This is so difficult to isolate for someone because it all happens in such a short time frame and there is so much high energy, high angles, and high forces needed to accomplish it. It's very difficult to duplicate slowly in exercises. The closest exercise I've been able to use to re-create the experience is the 'Power Release', from the "Essentials of Skiing" book. 

As a side note, you can't do this if you are trying to go too straight at the gates. The reason is this method has to begin as a round, high C arc, so that the finish can be set up properly. I've known about this technique for decades because I realized I used it. People who analyzed my skiing couldn't explain how I got so much energy and a tightening arc out of the bottom of my turns. They also always remarked that I don't look rushed or didn't ever have to hit my edges hard at the bottom, yet my race times were always fast.

It's a technique worth learning.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Why are coaches so ineffective?

Why are some coaches so ineffective?

This Letter is in response to Irwin's e-mail.


Some will say they are idiots. 


Hi Irwin,


Interesting topic, here are some thoughts.

I look at the situation and challenges of learning how skiing works from this point of view. What I find lacking when people can't figure out movement or order of movements that create skiing, it is based in the lack of the following understandings:

Self awareness of movement
Lacking visual interpretation of movements (basic movement analysis)
Lack of ability to recognition forces acting on the body, from the slope
No understanding or a misunderstanding of forces acting through the body
Missing the simple mechanics of skis
Never including or relating to how the feel and understanding of balance occurs and when it should happen.
Lack of body movement knowledge: isolating one movement, while creating with another

Finding these things lacking, I don't feel is caused by being an idiot. I'd rather say, it's just not part of the gifts inherently possessed by humans. However, there are exceptions, and those exceptions are reserved for gifted humans in these disciplines. Some are born with and have an inherently complete knowledge of every category I listed above. Obviously helped by some basic education, but after that, it comes to them easily and develops through further investigation and experimentation. 

Most skiers and ski educators don't have these gift, or have not been trained to recognize them; even those high on the instruction food chain in our national organizations such as USSA and PSIA don't get it.

The rest of us have to learn, either by rote memory, repetition, or step by step duplication. However to study and learn these skills there has to be proper instruction and the coriculum has to be well structred and delivered. I have yet to see this kind of education at any level in skiing. 

Most people don't immediately translate even correct, effective movement information, into their bodies. And even if they do, restructuring and delivering these movements for others to learn is a elusive skill that requires a high level of teaching. 

This becomes obvious when you watch hundreds of instructors trying to produce highly effective movement lessons for the masses, that they can't interpret. It's just not happening! Only 1 out of 10 instructors naturally and inherently grasp "to us that have observed" a logical progression. We all know how difficult it is to produce logical, easy to achieve step by step, movement progressions that achieve an effective ski turn. 

If this were not the case, you wouldn't have convoluted ski systems all over the alpine skiing world that actually harm human movement learning, rather then helping. 

The examples I draw on to be able to express these comments come from observation of traditional ski instruction. We know this by observing results from thousands of instructors in the world, that buy into totally ineffective movements for skiers. Irwin, if the theories you describe about idiots were the case, it would mean idiots dominate the ski teaching landscape. Is it legit to call almost 99% of ski instructors idiots, or would it be preferable to categorize them as less gifted or uninterested?

From a survival, practical and physiological point of view, if you don't have the observation skills or you are limited in the rest of the abilities I listed above; you have to invent other methods by which you can interpret the sport, based on limitations you possess. 

An analogy might be, if you didn't understand how to make rubber for bike tires, you might end up with wooden rims. Sure they work and you can ride on wooden tires, but is it the best way? Yes, it's the best way, "for you", if you don't know rubber. Your solution for a wheel to work with materials at hand is solely based on your understanding of what is available to you.

One conclusion could be, sure idiots all, except for a few gifted and interested. However, I would rather take the road that tells me; everyone can learn from the gifted if they are motivated to learn. Then you would be able to say, idiots are the ones that don't want to investigate and learn from the best performers. That is, if those performers have figured out how to convey movements, to achieve the best performances.

Fun topic,

HH

Saturday, May 12, 2018

US Racer Development by USSA on the wrong track again.

USSA and PSIA junior development


The most recent efforts by the US Ski Team, PSIA and USSA were demonstrated in a video I received following a Spring US Development camp. Many different approaches were used with exercises and maneuvers demonstrated and explained by the coaches.  Again management at USSA and the US Ski Team have failed to realize that doing the same thing over and over without results has a definition. 

I reviewed most of the video clips from the latest USSA Develop program.  Here is the take away from what I saw, and some of my beginning thoughts. There are so many glaring errors in this system of technical skiing training, it is difficult to point them out in one post. 


The individuals involved 

The newly appointed US Ski Team Development Director is Sasha Rearick. Rearick was men's head coach for approximately 10 years? Four years ago Rearick, stated that he and his team were going to focus on creating and developing the best slalom in the world,  in other words, a total focus on the slalom team. Now we have no slalom skiers in the top 30 in the world. My take on this is if he wasn't successful with our top racers in the US, why would you put that person in charge of the next generation of possible US skiers? I don't understand what Executive Director, Tiger Shaw is doing, nothing he has done makes sense.

 From the technical perspective watching the videos is very frustrating, this Development Program Camp is like a clown show on snow.  One of the worst pieces of coaching I've seen in years.

Just one example, in the video, they are still coaching juniors to move up and forward to achieve and understand dynamic fore-aft balance. This is a ski instructor method of skiing derived form ski school and also used by PSIA, They are still using this 35-year old mistake in ski coaching; the "moving up and forward" approach, to getting the hips ahead of the feet. 

The best world cup skiers have not been using this method for the last 20 years. It's slow, it makes you late for the next gate and it fails to build the correct angles and balance. That's just not what the best skiers on the world cup are doing. So the consequences of this coaching are actually a detriment to US Development skiers. Yet USSA, PSIA and the coaches surrounding US development are still coaching it. This is highly frustrating and confusing for anyone with the knowledge of world-class skiing techniques.

Another area of total misunderstanding by US coaching is the "Transition" changing the body from one turn to the next. After observing the videos it is astounding that there is little or no movement information or examples given to the athletes about how to release using the lower body. Good lower body releasing and engagement is totally dependent on counter-acting the hip and is in proper balance at the point of releasing pressure and angles. World class releasing is dependant on the relationship of the hips to the skis at the end of the arc, especially with slow speed exercise training. There is no reference to this movement in this coaching. In fact, the coaching that is given eliminates the ability for a skier to perform movements that are being used by the best racers in the world.

What is being taught, extending and moving the hips forward is in conflict biomechanically with lower body releasing and tipping to engage. You can not angle the skis for a new arc while pushing your hip up and forward. Releasing is a combination of integrated movements with leg bending and ski unweighting. There is no connection offered by this group of coaches regarding these essential movements. There is no given structured logical way for these "Essential" movements to be developed, based on what I saw in these videos. Basically, these approaches used in this session are a bunch of random, unconnected, antiquated exercises done incorrectly. Unfortunately, this is what I've come to expect from USSA and US Ski Coaches Ass.

 In these sessions, there was some emphasis given to hip dumping. The reference to "Hip Dumping" discussed is correct and true. It's an epidemic in US skiing development racers. One major reason for this problem is that young kids, (8 to12)  in our programs ski on 9-meter slalom skis, which turn no matter how incorrectly you ski or how poor your technique is or how you move. Therefore the kids can get away with poor technique and failed approaches, while the skis still make it around the corner. however, this stops once they grow and need to use longer skis with less sidecut. The kids aren't prepared for this eventuality from the technical movement development offered in USSA or PSIA.

So when the kids get to the levels and age demonstrated in this video they have never learned how to use the lower body and tipping movements to create angles. Instead, they lean, drop the hip and rotate. These are all poor movements and deadly if you are competing against Europeans.  In my view. These coaches have not figured out the connections relating to movements and technique used by world-class skiers; especially not for slow speed exercises and learning. Relating slow speed exercises to world cup skiing requires a complete understanding of the vital sequences between releasing turns and ski engaging movements, which these coaches do not demonstrate in these video clips. 


Other comments:

1. The explanations for what is to be done are extremely poor and confusing and no reasons are given for them, or for why the exercise is important. This is a motivation killer.

2. The coaches use or give mostly negative advice. Example: They yell out, "No up movement". instead of advising the skiers to stay flexed or increase flexing and tipping movements. Another motivation killer. 

3. The biomechanical approaches offered in the videos are mostly incorrect and poorly demonstrated. Poor relationships are given between what the roles are between upper and lower body.

4. The level of "motivational coaching" is extremely poor, no enthusiasm for the movement efforts. The exercises have to make sense to the athletes, this was never approached, from what I observed.

5. I don't see any athlete here walking away from these sessions with anything they will use in practice or race training.

There are so many flaws in this coaching approach it's again a wasted effort, while in many ways also detrimental, in my view. 

There are so many better opportunities for a more professional approach to coaching.
In the programs of coaching and teaching my company runs, none of these USSA and PSIA coaches is qualified to teach.

Every one of my coaches is trained to have the skills to point out better exercises and give much higher level feedback with motivational responses than what is demonstrated in the USSA video. These coaches need to get some "real" coaching training. The USSA coaches can benefit tremendously from training in "Motivational Coaching" and biomechanical understanding of skiing movements, and how skiing movements integrate and connect from one phase of a turn to the next. None of this was in their coaching repertoire demonstrated in the video.

I'll watch more of this and will offer more detailed in-depth strategies for what can be done correctly. I will point out what can be done instead of what I'm seeing here. I am not surprised that our development kids go nowhere beyond the junior ranks and USSA levels, this only continues to confirm what a pitiful effort USSA puts out. It's not a surprise therefore that we are not competitive as a team in any discipline at the international level.

Many are trying to point out that the failure of the US Ski Team is due to the lack of funding for the athletes. I disagree, it is primarily due to the lack of coaches education, training, and certification. Sure we have huge and great facilities in Park City that have cost members an arm and leg, yet these structures don't produce world-class skiing. Good coaching and a solid development programs do.  Is it therefore surprising that there is a proliferation of independent and individual coaching outside of the USSA umbrella in the US?


Sorry about the negativity of this evaluation, I'd was hoping for better. On a positive note, in my next Blog Post, I'll write up a program that is more accurate and much more directed to the needs of US skiing and development.
Below is a link to the topic of this article.
--https://usskiandsnowboard.org/news/new-national-development-group-hits-mountain

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Saturday, March 24, 2018

2nd in the "Skiing System Comparison". Transitions.

           The Transition comes from a great Release! 


For many skiers, this is where the trouble begins the way the release is structured. However, when the transition is approached with "certain movements", success and balance are achieved. Here again, we will compare between a PSIA Demo Team skier and a PMTS demonstrator.

(below photo The PMTS skier flexes and retracts the stance leg, and while doing so lifts the ski tip to free the leg and ski from the snow. This allows a transition movement.  This movement also changes the balance from the previous outside ski on the big toe edge to the new stance ski on the little toe edge. Now the free ski can begin tipping before the new stance ski. This creates a transition with parallel skis and parallel leg shafts.

Here is the result of this transition, a balanced stance on the new outside ski and a transition where the little toe edge is tipping and the big toe edge ski is already engaged, high in the arc and before the falline.




In contrast, we see the PSIA method where the uphill ski is flat and the tail of the ski is pushed uphill as in a Wedge Christie. Also, there is no energy from the previous stance ski to help transition or releasing due to the squaring of the hips. There is no evident balance transfer to the new ski from these movements. The skier is virtually stuck between his skis.


In the next frame below, we see the big toe edge engagement at the top of the arc, and no angles with the body going to the downhill side of both skis. Notice the knees are together and feet apart, demonstrating no balance is created for the new turn on the new ski, yet. There is also no little toe edge tipping to establish angles at the top of the arc.

This methodology is a result of the leg steering principles held so dearly by the PSIA system.
 In contrast, the PMTS System uses no leg steering, instead preferring to get the skis on an angle by tipping the feet and counteracting the hips and using the arms, hands, and torso as the external cues for this to be accomplished.
.

In the photo below (PMTS System) it's obvious what the two different systems produce. These are not happenstance or anomalies, the photos you see here in comparison are based on movement differences taught by two separate and totally different teaching systems. 
Below we see the PMTS method with the free foot tipping toward the new little toe edge, before either ski changes direction.

The result here is very obvious,  early angles, balance and both skis parallel on their
 new edges for the arc.


When you get the hang of PMTS there is no stopping you. (below photo) These are the movements used by world cup skiers. Notice that below is a complete edge and body change from one side to the other,  without a direction change of the skis, that is an expert skier using the best movements.

Differences in ski technique between PSIA and PMTS!



PMTS Skiing

In the below photo, the Essentials of PMTS skiing are obvious. Hip and upper body counteracting are set to the same degree. The inside arm and shoulder continue to counteract. This means they move forward and stay high (level) to keep strong counterbalance. The inside leg flexes and tips to the angles desired, while the outside leg is skeletally strong and stacked with the hip.






The differences aren't subtle and they originate from the approach to skiing and therefore the differences in the photo body position.

                                                                       PSIA Sking
Here a PSIA Demo Team skier shows a totally different approach and body alignment. The upper body shoulders and arms are in conflict with the hip. The shoulders are rotating and the inside arm is dropping and back. The hip is dumping inside. The outside knee is driven hard toward the inside leg. This is very weak skeletally alignment wise and will eventually wear on the knees. The difference in head position tells the complete story between the two skiers. The PMTS skier's head is lined up with the counteracting body, while the PSIA skier's head is turning with the body, creating part of the rotating result and also following the body rotation.







This skier also shows an extreme "A Frame" on the left knee, which is a weak alignment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Quick Tip! Upper body relative to flexing to release.

One of my athletes holding his counter-acting.
PMTS Counter-acting is a function of the hips and upper body. The poles and arms are clear indicators as to how well it's done or how easy it is to lose counter-acting.

In this case, the practice of pole and hand use is helping the skier to prepare for a perfect release. Also, notice how the inside foot is back, this makes the transition to the new stance ski easy and quick. If you read my previous article it explains how the transition is created.


In both photos the inisde hand and ski pole tips are forward and ahead of the inisde ski boot. The ski pole on the lower side is prepared for a pole tap.  You want to think of the outside leg flexing or bending moving toward your chest whcih should be facing the outisde ski boot.

Marcel Hircher is the master of counter-acting and holding it at the release.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The transition of PMTS Skiing.


Angles at the Apex of the arc.


The angles of the skis increase through tipping and bending of the inside leg. The upper body's roll is to counter-act the rotation created by strong edge angles, and quick sharp turn radi.


The outside leg has already begun to flex or bend to increase lower body angles, while the upper body come back to the falline.



Now the transitions begins in earnest as the outside leg retracts and the upper body moves toward the falline.

The knees are sucked up to the chest and the skis come flat to the snow.

The momentum of the releasing movements and gravity combine to make the edge change. The feet and legs relax to allow for this movement. The feet and legs still aid in the process managing the speed of the transition.


Tipping to the new angles with the legs requires that the upper body stays as verticle as possible helping with counter balance. 
 Balance is establsihed on the outside ski, increased angles of the skis is facilitated by inisde leg flexing and foot pull back.


 The focus should be on the inside foot, and the inisde leg bending. The outside leg followes the tipping of the inisde foot and ski.

The topics that are not covered in this post are still extensive and they are just as important as the retraction and tipping movements that are described. The actions with the upper body for counter acting and pole management are all there. As a teaser notice that the inisde pole never lags behind the boots.  Upper body and pole manaement is a topic for another post and article.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Counter acting and counter balance can be practiced with flexing.

The exercise is on youtube. This is one clip that shows how the poles can tell you if you are counterbalanced "poles are level, and counteracting poles are diagonal relative to the skis.


Shiny side down!

Maybe I should have said, "shiny side down", rather than "black side uphill", for people to undertand early tipping.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Classic slightly over cuffed and over canted alignment!

Notice the space between the knees and the right knee outside the forceline.



Very good effort to increase angles and tipping, however, no leg tipping occurred.  The hip dropped in further and CB increased. All of this is excellent management, however not the ideal result was achieved.
 In the frame above the right boot is further outside than the shin, this is classic cuff too strong against the lag. The boot sole could probably use 1/2 to 1 degree of inward tipping.



In the frame above notice the lifting of the outside hand, compare that to my right hand and arm.

 My transition shows upside down angles in the  High C. Our skis are pointed at in the same direction, however, the ski and body angles are not similar.




Compare the outside leg flex, knee bend, and fore/aft position, I am achieving my more forward balance because of the early upside down angles I created in transition.





Compare the extension movement from the first photo to the lower one.
You can really see it if you focus on the arm and pole lift you create in this phase. This is where the ski tails do go uphill and stay flat. The extension, although not huge interrupts and delays the new angles from developing. PMTS golden rule, "You can't tip your skis if you are extending"!





The last two photos I included to demonstrate the inside leg flexing and tipping needed to create bigger angles. The outside ski, foot, and ankle are also creating matching tipping movements to the inside ski.





A post that will help regular skiers relate to World Cup movements!

I often point out in my analysis of world cup skiers that some hold their hip counteracting, to release, better than others. Marcel Hirscher for example and Stefano Gross are two of the best at this.


The skier below is about to transition, however, there is no release of the stance foot or ski yet. The transfer of balance should be toward the LTE of the uphill ski in this photo. The reason this is difficult for this skier is that the hips have squared up and therefore there can not be a balance transfer to the uphill ski's LTE (little toe edge). You can't hold your balance well on the LTE if you have squared up the hips and are in a rotating hip phase near the end of the turn.


Here in the next photo, we see the outcome. The uphill ski is pushed away to get the turn started. The old stance ski has yet to move toward the LTE.
The formula for correction is easy and straightforward, we teach it to thousands of skiers, and I've written about it in numerous previous posts in this Blog site. In my previous posts, I describe how the world cup skiers do this. Which is, increase the hip counteracting before the releases and hold it while the feet, boots, skis and legs tip to the new direction.


         
      In both photos Hirscher holds his CA so he can transfer to the LTE of the uphill ski. Notice the torso is turned facing toward the next gate, not to the ski tips or side of the slope.




Here we see Stefano Gross performing the perfect PMTS "Super Phantom". After he established his balance on the new ski, and released his old stance ski, he is already starting his CA for the next arc early. The new inside hand and arm are already moving forward to create the CA for the next arc. I don't recommend this CA movement be done this early for recreational skiers. Gross is doing 30mph, and changing angles with high energy and at high speeds, he knows he has to prepare immediately. For regular recreational turns wait until the new inside ski is tipping toward it's LTE to start CA.
Gross balance transfer by retraction and tip lift.




To acheive a dynamic transition create counteracting through the arc and hold it as you let the legs release under your hips. Transfer to the uphill LTE and tip the old stance ski to flat and further to the LTE at the high C point of the arc. Any disturbance of this, like extending the leg or rotating the hip will reduce or eliminate the effiency of the transition.