Monday, December 30, 2013

Comparison between Shiffrin and Schild in the same turn.

Schild is already arcing, hips and body lined up with edge.
                                    Shiffrin's weight is on her inside ski, wide stance.

                                             Same Turn above the gate, in transition.
             Schild narrow stance, already released old turn and ski, standing on uphill, little toe edge ski. She is still holding her CA from the previous arc. She has already transferred her balance to the new ski, for the next turn.

Siffrin in the same turn, almost exactly the same place, wide feet,  pushed her new outside ski away to exit the turn. Caught in wide stance with balance between skis.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How does Maries Schild do it? The best slalom skier to have ever lived.

It's easy to say, as they do on Universal Sports telecasts, "she brings it", she has the "energy", she  makes "no mistakes". But there is so much more to it. Those are skiing  clich├ęs  but don't describe how she does it. For a more in-depth look at almost perfect slalom technique of Maries Schild read below:
Upper Body compliments her feet.
Schild's upper body Counter-acting is stronger and her Counter-balance, not only better, but earlier in the arc, than the rest. She has mastered and uses all of the "Essentials of Skiing", in every turn. Most of the field only has some of the Essentials, and rarely use all the Essentials in the same turn.

In the last 30 turns, in the 2nd run, Schild beat the field that ran before her by 1 second to the bottom. She has yet to ski "all out" in two runs. If she does get back to being able to do it, she will begin winning slaloms by more than 1.5 seconds. This is how dominant she was before her injury. She also beat Shiffrin by 1.1 seconds in that run to take the win. 

Lower Body sets it up: Schild has emphatic outside ski retraction and flexing at the release of every turn, in other words, she pulls her leg into a strong flexing action when she releases the ski, and transfers to the other ski, while it is still on the little toe edge and is still that inside ski.

This is so obvious, but few coaches know how she achieves it. This is worth 1/50 of a second on every turn. Schild also has the narrowest stance and holds the inside ski and boot close even in the turn, this allows her to manage her inside ski tipping and pull back. She keeps the inside ski lighter for longer in a turn, than any of the others. The others except for her sister Bernadette, and Zettel, all use the inside ski to lean into. Even Shiffrin, her stance falls away (feet get too wide horizontally) and she ends up on the inside at the falline, this takes much of her rebound energy and edge hold away, out of the release.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ted Ligety and Marcel Hirscher

Since the beginning of it's development, in 1997, my teaching system PMTS, based on world cup racing, and described in my first book, "Anyone can be an Expert Skier", has focused on new techniques. I'm referring to new techniques that have evolved and are used by world cup skiers for the past 17 years or more, but are rarely realized. Every book and video I have produced 8 in total, has developed the focus of inside ski tipping and inside knee flexing. This PMTS movement series with use of the inside of the body, begins at the release of a turn and continues all the way to the end. The Austrians have developed this further in their racers than most other nations.  

Hirscher has more emphasis on inside leg flexing and tipping. He really holds his inside foot back. He holds it longer and stronger than the rest. The angle toward downhill, of the inside leg is incredible. You can only achieve this if your focus for the releasing movements are on tipping of your new inside ski,  foot, and bending of the inside leg. In other words, get it out of the way. 
 Ted is more old school, Big toe edge dominant in this engagement.
Two of the best three GS skiers show differences in movements for turn engagement.

Many will say this is no big deal, as with the slip I mentioned in the previous article, no big deal either,  however, 1/000 of a second is 2 tenths, in a 2 minute, 30seconds two run GS. Add a slip at the bottom of the arc from squaring up, at the release, and you have 4 tenths in a hurry.

Direct comparison, Hirscher to Ligety

Because Ligety and Hirscher have different body types, there will be slight differences in the way they need to release, engage and transition between turns. These are the three areas of ski turns to focus on when comparing skiers. What movements do they use to release, to transition and to engage the skis? Their  upper body to the lower body alignment relationships in these critical parts of  turns however, should stay similar.
It goes without saying that you have to know if this is an anomaly or are these movements more than 40% repeated in a race run. These two comparisons here are consistent with most turns for each skier.
 This is just prior to release or the finish of the arc, note the differences in upper body. Ted is squared up, Hirscher is still counter acted. Ted lost his outside ski.
This is the same turn, same spot, Hirscher knocked his gate down, the camera zoom are slightly different, otherwise it's the same spot on the course.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hirscher uses techniques usually seen by Ligety, He out Ligetyed Mr GS.

A few differences that look minor to many, but added up over a whole race it's 4 tenths of a second.
First thing, in this course, Hirscher's line was tighter, closer to the gates. His arcs were round,
but shorter, shorter than both Ligety and Pinterault.

(above Photo) Hirscher Carving above the gate, what Ted is known for in his best GS races.

Hirscher has this amazing ability and part of technique which neither Pinterault or Ligety use to the same extent, and that is his upper body control and discipline. Hirscher holds his countered relationship to the skis longer after the gate, he actually increases it. This reduces his movements  needed in transition, therefore he can relax and have more time to set up the new arc.


Here you see Pinterault dropping that inside arm behind his hips, his upper body is therefore square to the skis, and he is still pushing off his lower ski, and the upper ski is already flat. In contrast, Hirscher rarely steps over to a new flat outside ski. Hirscher rides the "Little Toe Edge", while it's still at a high edge angle out of the arc. He stays "Counteracted" with his torso to the skis. This rotation doesn't happen in every turn for Pinterault, but it is an often enough occurrence in key turns to have an effect, for the edge engagement for the next turn.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hirscher above the rest at Alta Badia, Why?

After I posted comments on Facebook about the World Cup Giant Slalom at Alta Badia,  it becomes really obvious after reading the responses,  that many viewers have difficulty looking at and seeing what  world cup skiers are really doing. So in an attempt to educate viewers I'm posting World Cup Skiing analysis here.
 Here Hirscher is in the very difficult part of the course where many others made mistakes. He also had a great save here, but he started the turn perfectly.

Look at the key reference points in his skiing that makes him the best skier in the world.
1. Upper body counter acting
2. Inside shoulder forward
3. Inside foot and ski tipped, to the same angle as the outside foot and ski.
4. Upper body is Counter balanced and turned away from the gate.
5. Inside foot it pulled back under his hips and outside knee is touching the inside boot.

Only a few skiers manage this kind of skiing, this is the exception, not the norm. The below photo from  Alta Badia shows the same characteristics.

When analyzing skiing you have to look at what the best skiers are doing differently than the rest and how they are evolving skiing beyond the normal; if you want to stay ahead of the game. Most coaches don't see the next level and don't look deep enough into the biomechanics.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bode Miller using classic PMTS style counter balance.

Bode no longer so wild, more Classic!!!

Bode is on fire, with his upper body and inside arm up, forward and high, this is classic PMTS technique we teach.

He is also is flexing and tipping the inside ski and leg to get angles and keep the ski light. This action of the inside leg moves all his weight (Cg) and balance to the outside ski .

Skiing at this level, is no longer about pushing and driving the outside knee and ski; it's about moving the pressure to the outside ski by creating the angles with the inside leg and inside of the body. Totally opposite of what is being coached.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mikaela Shiffrin has picked up her game from last season. Impressive for someone going from 18 to 19 years old.

The two big factors that Hirscher and Shiff have over the field is inside foot management. Most racers at any level, don't pay attention to this crucial inside foot, boot and leg dynamic. Notice on all the photos on my Blog;  there is one thing represented, and only the best 2 or 3 skiers in the world demonstrate it.

Which is, inside foot and the inside leg leading the movements into and in a turn. Notice that the top skiers don't have to reach to make contact with the snow with the inside hand. They get their angles by performing differently. They create the angles needed with the whole body with inside leg flexing and inside boot tipping. If you dig deeper into this Blog you will see this occurring over and over. 

Shiff has improved in these areas. She keeps the inside foot back and under the outside knee by pulling back on that boot. She tips and bends the inside leg out of the way to allow her body to drop to the inside. This creates huge ski and body angles. Therefore: her upper body doesn't need to lean or rotate. That's another special set of movements she has learned and improved on. She is therefore stronger skeletally, which is bad news for her rivals. 

In slalom this has also improved, so she's even a better slalom skier than last season. She could win the overall this year. Riech is strong in all events like Tina Mase was last year, but she isn't going to win enough points in GS and slalom. If Shiffrin does what she shows now, and continues to build on it,  she will win GS and Slalom races, like Hirscher, to win the overall without speed events.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Does anyone still want to argue for skiing square to the skis????

Marcel Hirscher in GS, like all the top racers he uses Counter Acting with his hips and torso, to stabilize the upper body and keep from creating any rotation. Rotation squares up the torso and loses the back of the ski. Rotation also makes a skier use upper body movements to start the next turn, this is much slower and throws you out of balance.
For recreational skiers, add more counteracting to your skiing and hold a better edge. Few skiers can ski with a square hip, it's a much weaker "position". Counter acting requires a movement to achieve it. Square is a position. PMTS skiing relies on teaching movements not positions.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Alexi Pintauralt, Best Skiers Inside foot Check Point

Everything I've written about ski technique, beginning with the, "Anyone can be an Expert Skier 1" book, is in this photo of modern world cup technique. Let's review:

1. Inside foot pulled back, and ski is lifted or light.
2. Starting with the leading arm the upper body and torso held in counter acted relationship.
3. Outside knee to inside boot proximity.

It's simple to point out these key reference points for skiing the right movements. However learning to get here, requires the right movements. That is where PMTS really shines, it tells you and explains exactly how to get to this type of skiing.

If you had been following PMTS 10 years ago and using PMTS movements, you would  have been 10 years ahead of what is happening now.

Monday, October 28, 2013

In the last throes of fall training. On the "Deflator-Mouse"!

This is the move to the dihedral exit to the chains.

It's still the bat route; therefore the name, based on the Austrian word for bat. You can look it up on "Mountain Projects", search "Dumont region" under, "Deflator-Mouse".

Great weekend for climbing, finished up and red pointed my fall projects. Also working on two 5-12+ climbs Richard Wright has put up in the same area.
Above, top of climb on the upper crux.
You have to get into that crack in the dihedral up from my right hand. Getting over the bulge involves stemming your foot way out to the left wall. — 

Richard has done so much work these last two summers, putting up about 15+ climbs. Great to have him coming up our way.

                            Above, making the move onto the bulge, this is the hardest part.
You take one step up and you are hanging from your fingertips, the left foot has to go to the dark crack on the left wall and the right foot up to the knee, The next left hand hold is under the black triangle, it a dead point move, you make and you're good. You miss it and you're "off the wall". — at Mill Creek Cr

This is a week earlier drilling holes in the rock for bolts and hangers.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Austrians ski PMTS technique

Often coaches forget to compare the similairities because the key elements of skiing are hidden. In our PMTS techniques we have identified these key elements as the "Essentials of Skiing". Let's look at the similarities of these two skiers. Here I'll point out the Essentials that are similar for  world class skiers that are not seen in struggling skiers.

Here Anna Fenninger, a World Champion demonstrates perfect technique and balance. Here are the key points that turn out to be similar in both these skiers.
1. Inside leg and ski tipped equally to outside ski and leg.
2.  Inside knee bent and outside leg is straighter.
3. Upper body is counter balanced to lower body
4. Upper body facing toward outside of the turn, inside arm, hand and shoulder leading.
5. Even at these angles, shoulders are level.

Here Harald Harb demonstrates similar technique, possiblly not skiing as fast and skiing a more shaped ski, however the body and it's relationship to the turn and skis, is almost identical. Is this a coincidence or a fluke, no it's achieved by using designated learned movements.  I achieve this skiing by using the Essentials of Skiing from the PMTS approach.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You can learn this turn and gain control of your skiing, with PMTS!

His upper body is facing toward his downhill ski boot, his hips are doing the same. 
He quickly retracts or flexes his stance leg, keeps his upper body the same but his legs are releasing.
He is on his new edges, but light on his skis, his legs are on the downhill side of the skis, the skis have made almost no direction change, this is key.
 In every Essential of skiing there are many components of movement, in this series by Hirscher we see "Counter Acting", which is being held with his upper body and hips during the release.

We also see he is flexing his outside leg in Fig. 1, to flatten the ski, this constitutes a PMTS "Flexing Release", taught in the system and it is one of the Essentials of skiing.

In the last photo you see the tipping of the new inside ski and boot and the leg that follows. This creates the "knees apart", look and delays the on set of the new outside edge, until after the body has crossed the skis and is lined up with the forces of the turn. This is another one of the Essentials of skiing,  Inside leg "Tipping", in this case.

There are many misunderstandings in ski teaching and coaching technique. What is astounding, is that the really talented skiers get around the poor advice and let their natural instincts take over. However, even after these athletes have success with movements that are different from what the coaches suggested, many coaches justify the difference with tailored explanations that on the surface look reasonable, however with further investigate and proof, they end up completely incorrect. This is why it's so difficult to become a good skier with the instruction that is generally available. Unfortunately there are not many approaches that lead to skiing correctly that is why if you stick to the program of PMTS and learn to move with the "Essentials of Skiing, you won't have get confused.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting your feet behind your butt in skiing all mountain terrain.

Rarely do you see skiers committing to the "High C" transition in all mountain skiing. This movement can make a huge difference in how much energy you expend and how much control you achieve.                     
 Here is a transition well before the falline, the skis and body are engaged to the new arc. The release retraction movement from the previous turn was energetic, that is why the skis are not yet in the snow; however the body is ready for the new turn well before the falline. We call this the up-side-down position.
Here the turn is engaged and the tips headed straight down the falline already arcing a turn. This gives you an early engagement and lots of time with the skis in the carving phase of the turn, which means control and direction are easily achieved.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why skiing isn't growing?

Many think it's the cost of the first time lesson that holds people back. However the obstacles are enormous and they go much deeper and further than cost. Without seeing and addressing the obstacles first, the ski industry will never solve it's most daunting challenge, retaining skiers.

Let's begin this discussion with the first time ski experience:

It's not the price or availability of the first time experience that's the deterrent. There are plenty of first timers coming out for lessons, it's "retention" of those first time participants that's the issue. Even the ski industry's own reports show, it's about the effective lesson not happening. If 1.5 first timers out of 10, ever return to the sport, it has to do with what is being taught and whether or not it was fun enough to pay the big next step price, which is: skis, boots, travel, ski clothes, seasons passes, or lift tickets, a minimum $2000 entry level  package. Skiing is a commitment and you have to sacrifice and dedicate yourself before it becomes fun. This means by normal standards, it requires at least three or four lessons to become reasonably proficient. Most first timers experience results only in a one time lesson that didn't work. The ski instruction industry has to look internally, for solutions, resort marketing departments can't keep producing the way they have, while the results aren't forth coming from the lessons.

I will provide examples of the challenges and solutions in forth coming installments.

Here is the response from the Vice President of Mountain Services at Welch Village, Ski Resort near Minnesota.  

"This is exactly why we no longer use traditional teaching methods (PSIA via ATS) because they are ineffective when compared to PMTS Direct Parallel. PSIA is a national organization that attempts to offer a cookie cutter solution to a widely diverse group of instructors, guests, demographics, and business models. It's a potluck approach that lacks a logical system for learning. Yes, price, marketing, communication, social media are all factors. But at the end of the day, the system of teaching guests how to use their "shaped" skis in a clear and guest-centered way is what brings people back. In my opinion, you don't convert someone for life my teaching them how to wedge down a hill with shaped skis."  Peter Zotalis

Stay tuned, More coming!!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A flexing release "Like the world Cup Skiers use"!

Few skiers have the expert ability to change edges this quickly. Why do I mention this? Because if you are fascinated by powder, bumps or carving type skiing, this is the only way to become not only proficient, but more than adequate. Why is it not already in your skiing? This is due to the methods by which you learned and you have probably never changed. 

Teaching skiing and learning skiing that is taught does not get you to the expert level of skiing. That is why there are so few expert skiers. Here is an example of a flexing release, this is what we teach from the beginning level, in the Harb Ski Systems, PMTS, "direct parallel" method. Want to become an expert skier?  Get on board. It's easy to do, read, view and practice the PMTS Direct Parallel System. Available through Harb Ski Systems Ski camps and Welch Village, Ski School in Minneapolis, Minn.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Versatility of Teaching and Learning methods in PMTS create success!

Weighted Release and Von Gruenegen Turns:

With the same movements, yet different timing and pressure adjustments make your skiing perfect for every situation.

 PMTS ways, which are based on moving with most efficiency, are not derived from any one person's skiing or one movement. Expert instructors use and teach movements and build on movements that create balance, and actions that create natural reactions. An efficient skiing system is built on the easiest ways to learn naturally how to mastery these principles through movement:
 - Move your lower body, build the kinetic chain
 - Move to stay in balance
 - Define and expand your edge awareness
 - Use ski design, in a gravity environment


In this process, a skier has to develop knowledge and familiarity with and for all four edges of the skis. A skier at some point in their development must be able to stand in balance on any edge at any time. A skier must be able to stand on both edges and vary the pressure on either edge or ski from one foot to the other to maintain balance and create movements to benefit every situation. Much of this is intuitive in naturally gifted skiers, but it can be learned and taught to skiers who come to the sport later in life.

 Example: If at the beginning of a turn I lean into the turn and pressure the inside ski with sixty percent of my balance and pressure, I will probably be over committed. As the turn develops I can readjust to balance needs and the forces as the radius changes. As the turn progresses I can come back to dominant balance on the outside ski and even become ninety percent pressured on that ski. I can even come back to one hundred percent of my weight on the outside ski at the most demanding part of the turn, to hold and carve an edge. This ability develops over decades of skiing. The sense of where the body and CG are relative to the skis is second nature. What do you call this, balance and anticipation of where balance should be and what you should do to achieve it? PMTS has evolved to include development of these abilities with varies exercise for intermediates and advanced skiers alike. I'm constantly being pressed to write a new book; much of it will be devoted to these developments.

Movements for weighted release transition:

 If I can finish a turn with balance and an angulated body with ninety percent of my pressure on the stance ski, I have many options, I can stay on the outside ski, bend, flex or collapse the stance leg and allow my Center of Gravity to travel into the new turn center, while still balancing on the old stance ski, which changes edges and becomes the inside ski. At this point, I can extend the outside leg and gain stance on it while I retract the inside leg. This makes and re-establishes my balance and stance leg, the outside ski. This is a weighted release or Von Gruenegen Turn, depending on how much force or speed is involved. The release of the stance leg snaps the body into the next turn. The skis come very quickly off their edges during this phase. If the skier has strength enough to hold the body over the releasing old stance leg, while bending the stance leg the whole body will pendulum over the lower stance leg and become inclined for the new turn. If this is done quickly and the old stance leg stays the stance leg during the transition and the beginning of the turn, you have a weighted release or Von Greunegen.

 Phantom Move transition:

 I can also change the release to transfer balance to the new ski and little toe edge, before the edge change. This involves keeping contact and tipping at the end of the turn. The little toe edge of the inside ski must be tipped onto it's little toe out side edge. This is the inside ski and the edge of this ski is in the snow. The boot or foot on this ski must be back almost even with the outside ski (minimal lead of inside ski) , or balance will be difficult to achieve for the transition and beginning of the new turn. Flex/bend the stance leg, quickly, to make it collapse or become shorter. This action transfers pressure and balance momentarily to the up hill little toe edge. I say momentarily because this ski, which is now on the little toe edge, the newly weighted ski, will transition to its big toe edge side almost immediately. If I keep retracting the old stance leg, it will eventually become completely un-pressured. The options of turn entry using slight pressure variations from one foot to the other, with these movements are virtually limitless.

 Balance First:

 In an efficient skiing system the student is introduced to many of these options only after they have practiced and achieved one footed balance with skiing exercises, comprised of standing on single edges. This type of skiing and ski teaching offers the student a true sense of what is required to evolve as a skier. The student soon realizes that balance and some strength to support balance is necessary.

 This approach to "Balance First" also gives the expert well trained instructor many opportunities to evaluate a student's alignment and ski boot performance. If you are skiing with an instructor who doesn't do this, and your motivation is to become a better skier, you might do better by asking for an instructor with alignment training. Without such a coach you can struggle for a long time without results.

Alignment evaluation with instruction can change your skiing immediately. Instructors who still think they are effective without alignment understanding and its ability to transform skiers are limiting their upside opportunities regarding satisfying clients. If an instructor is not motivated to provide the best product and get with the training that produces the best product, he will only be successful when he has excellent students, with perfect alignment. That leaves me out. I am relating this based on the standards we set and follow at Harb Ski Systems. Regular ski instruction has not identified needs for this level of instruction. Maybe they believe there are not enough skiers who want or deserve this level of competence. Many instructors tell me about their ski schools that have bus loads of students with 1 hour lessons. Just measure the failed opportunities to turn everyone of these kids into skiers. It normally 1.5 out of 10. That is dismal!

Fortunately that's not the whole world of skiing. There are over ten million skier visits in Colorado alone every year. High end instruction is a multi million dollar business, so why does it need to? Be better? Why do we stay the same? I find skiers who have plateaued, often they don't realize it isn't due to lack of movement, talent or knowledge, or is it is due to lack of strength in certain muscle groups.

I point out some muscle groups that lack attention, such muscle groups as the hip flexors, especially important, as they keep the torso stable and balanced in one leg balanced skiing, as do the abdominals and erector spinae muscles. These muscles are all involved in the rowing activity that is popular at many gyms. We have seen more success with training this exercise than with solely concentrating on quads and leg muscles. The gluts (muscles of the butt) are part of this equation, and usually the limiting factor for strength needed for great skiing. There is much talk about core strength these days and I'm not sure people really understand it. The core ranges from the upper thigh to the area below the shoulder blades and chest. Both front and back of the body are involved. The core must be able to hold you from collapsing under load. It also makes adjustments to foot balancing activity. If there isn't sufficient strength or range of motion in the core, the upper body can become a liability in a hurry. It will have the tendency to rotate, over flex, lean and become stiff, when it is weak. In addition, if the skier is over weight or out of shape generally, their skiing will plateau at some point sooner, than later. These physical limitations don't exclude people from skiing, but they will exclude skiers from becoming advanced all mountain skiers.

 Body and foot activity:

 If one is to be able to use the weighted release effectively, balance, pressure and increasing edge angles must be actively developed through the turn. Skiers often either give up or cease to actively increase tipping as the turn develops. Without this you can not learn a mechanically correct weighted release, the one that uses the natural forces and energy from the turn and mountain will elude you. Skiers seem too often satisfied by the angles and balance they develop initially and let the turn ride. A sign of a truly expert skier is one that can tighten the radius of the arc at the bottom. This requires mid body relaxation and articulation. (See more on this important topic, in the "Holding on ice" post on the PMTS forum)

As the forces build, the muscle rebound response, which is part of coordinating release timing, needs to be situated and pronounced. I am referring to the stretching and rebound of muscles on the inside of the body (the side inside the turn). This is achieved with angulation and inclination. It corresponds to early instruction in PMTS, the tipping phases, where we say, "Begin tipping at the start of the turn, increase it through the turn and get the most at the end of the turn." This must include the mid and upper body tipping at the higher levels of skiing. Racers can do this a forty miles per hour. At slower speeds intermediates and advanced skiers can learn to do a weighted release by following a progression of little toe edge balance and little toe edge turning. The little toe edge turning and balancing progressions are demonstrated in my Expert 2 video and the PMTS Instructor Manual. Since it sounds like the Weighted Release is a very technical and demanding move, there better be benefits. First, is it worth learning the Weighted Release before you can carve, balance and edge aggressively? Yes, as the confidence of knowing that you can stand on the outside edge in transition is invaluable. This may be a process for many skiers, a process that could take two seasons of dedication on and off the snow.

 I hope this provides some answers to the what, where and why the weighted release is important. Skiing has to be built, the approach fundamentally is systematic, and this doesn't mean it has to be predicable or linear. The teaching topics or tracks can change focus from one corresponding learning track to another, depending on a skier's strengths and weaknesses. It can become very complicated if you don't know where to go with your coaching. Building an expert skier can be very intricate.

 An instructor or coach must be able to read your learning ability and where the weakest link exists. If you continue on a track or development of capabilities to the exclusion of other capabilities and your instructor doesn't recognize they are missing, you will be spending a lot of time headed in the wrong direction. You have to know what you want and the instructor has to be able to tell you how he is going to get you there. Many instructors don't ask what the skier wants, they just go ahead. That is the safe way. Follow the system, do what you are supposed to do for that level of skier. There is a pat lesson for every situation, but it may not be the one you want or need. It is risky for the instructor to ask a skier what they want, because if the coach doesn't have the answers, he will probably be found out. That being said, any movement group whether it be tipping, balancing, bending, one edge balance or railed turns on two skis, requires certain capabilities or abilities. And the coach needs to be able to build a progression for each one and movements that create success for the student.

In releasing for example, the Super Phantom is on the far end of the releasing spectrum, the Weighted Release is on the other end. In between, is a mixture of weighting options with two footed fifty-fifty smack in the middle. I would not teach one end of the spectrum exclusively to any skiers or for any terrain or skiing surface. That approach limits skier development. As early as possible I introduce balancing on all four edges. The skier then has more abilities to develop turns, movements and intuitive learning. The skier then realizes that not every turn needs the same results with the same emphasis has many more options and can become versatile on their own when just out skiing for fun.

 I am not trying to defend any one method, or instruction approach, but  maybe approaching what  is an most important capability for  students first and then working on the versatility part later, is one way.

In Harb Ski Systems we do not offer a Bump only camp. We offer the All Mountain Camps, which require that a skier be versatile and well rounded.

 The reason for the Weighted Release "stems" from, no pun intended, the need for basic tools to rid skiers of habitual movements. This is also the same in racing gates.

We teach skiers from all over the world, and they come with varied skiing backgrounds and have followed many different systems. One of the dominant less versatile movements that skiers develop through skiing systems is the big toe edge engagement with the universal and pervasive push-off from the old downhill big toe edge. You can eliminate that movement pattern immediately, by teaching a weighted release. The skier no longer depends only on the edge to push if the are taught basic Weighted Releasing. The weighted release involves bending the very leg you finish the turn with, and flattening the very ski you are standing on; so pushing is eliminated and unnecessary. Now the one trick pony is evolved into a functional skier.

 Skiers who are in this state and have learned only this method of movement, are afraid to move the Cg into the turn, so they move it up the hill. This may not be the intent of traditional teaching, but it is what skiers end up with in their skiing. As you all know HArb Ski Systems and PMTS don't teach that way, so we never deal with the problem with PMTS developed skiers, only with skiers who started and dedicated themselves to TTS, which happens to be ninety-nine percent of our clients. A skier that can learn the weighted release can then easily move to the two footed release. Now such a skier has all ends of the spectrum in place. A bump skier without the bending and tipping ability of the weighted release will do what in a panic?A racer that has only this movement will always be slow. He will stem and steer the new outside ski away, because that is the ingrained default movement. If you watch any expert bump skier, racer or crud skier you will see, turns of every variety especially the faster and steeper the situation.

That is the goal of the Weighted Release and of Harb Ski Systems skiing overall.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Drills and exercises to make a technical difference! How does it work and what makes it work?

First and foremost a ski drill or an exercise should be relevant to a specific movement, to the individual's skiing need. Drills should improve a movement the skier doesn't have and it should be designed for the individual specifically. The exercise has to be explained and demonstrated with the precision it deserves. I rarely see drills being prepared and set up in this expert manner.

 Most teams I see on the mountain, all the kids on the team are doing the same drill and most are doing it incorrectly.

It's no wonder kids hate doing ski drills or exercises.

One of the big reasons kids don't like drills is their "History"with doing drills, They know drills rarely do anything for their skiing. Look guys, kids aren't stupid.  Tying the drill or exercise to how it will improve their speed in the race course and how the drill is relevant to what the best world cup skiers are doing, "in their skiing" is important. You have to know how to use one underlying fundamental in all ski coaching and that is knowing how to develop motivation. Yes, that means a motivation not only to do drills, but believe they are beneficial.

It isn't difficult to motivate any young racer for learning an exercise, if the racer knows why he is doing the exercise, how it builds into their skiing, how it will make them faster in the race course. And as a bonus, showing them where and how the best world cup skiers are already using that movement in their racing technique.

A drill should be tied to movement you want to encourage. I see time and again year after year,  all the kids, doing the same silly drills, with little enthusiasm or reasonable outcomes.

A coach needs to be very careful how he sets up drill free skiing or he will demotivate his skiers. He needs to be precise about the quality in which the drill is performed. The accuracy of the drill relative to the movement he wants to develop for the athlete. The athlete needs to be part of the process and also believe it's valuable time spent.  I know few (almost none), coaches who are skilled in all of these areas.
This isn't some psycho-babble from a sport shrink, it's what we do as coaches on the hill, create correct movements.

Relevance of a drill is everything. Individually designed drills for a specific skier, creates motivation and doesn't de-motivate the whole group. You know if you were once a ski racer, and you could easily accomplish a drill the coach picked, you wondered why you had to do the same thing the weaker skiers had to do. Design the drills and free skiing, so that your better skiers are challenged and the weaker ones have success, it's natural.

I hear this often, "My athletes don't like to free ski". Part of the blame has to go to the coach for not demonstrating how free skiing can be fun and beneficial.

An expert coach knows what the weaknesses of his athletes are and he makes sure the athletes, know how to cure their weaknesses.  An expert coach doesn't just go out, free ski, do a few silly drills and never bring up the reasons for the drills the rest of the season.

The drills, if the coach really has a plan have to be performed perfectly, and rehearsed day after day, until the athlete is completely confident he understands and has the movements wanted, down pat. Closing the loop with free ski exercises is not only motivating to the athlete, it establishes a working relationship and faith in the coaching process.

Not everyone is going to be a Bode Miller or Marcel Hirscher, but everyone you are coaching, deserves the chance.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Professional ski racing in 1973

Training, How's that for carving on straight, stiff, GS skis, who says we didn't carve in 1973? So what Ted?

Professional ski racing in 1973. My Teammates on the Kneissel Team, on the left, Werner Bleiner, Silver medalist in GS at the World Championships in 1970 and Manfried Putzer, former Austrian B Team.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Doing one thing and talking about another?

These are clips from an instructional video on You Tube. The instructor in this video  is telling us that to get on an early edge you have to roll the outside ski on edge without standing up or extending up. 
I guess if it's not working for him, how will it work for you?
                                        I won't even mention that this is not a parallel turn transition.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

PMTS Check Point, number 8

Here is the two time Overall World Cup champion, and arguably the best technical skier since the great, Alberto Tomb, demonstrating the Phantom Move.

This begins by lifting the old stance ski and foot off the snow.

Once lifted the ski is tipping toward the little toe edge to increase angles.
As the tipping increases the body angles  increase, weight is totally on the outside ski.

This is a skill that every skier should develop if they want to become experts. The Phantom Move is a copy write and trademark of Harb Ski Systems, invented by Harald Harb.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Check list 10 Little Toe Edge mastery!

A short while ago I received an e-mail from a racer. He was asking about transfer to the LTE. He said a coach told him that it isn't something you should use.  Well, I do advise you learn what it is and how to use it.

Once you release the big toe edge of the stance ski your weight and balance need to go somewhere and this is where it should go. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

PMTS Check number 9, Counter Balanced and Counter Acted,

Shoulders level, torso vertical, outside leg long, inside leg flexed and tipped.
The word "stacked" in skiing is batted about often these days. I don't like words like this because everyone can interpret them differently. And they have different meaning for different people. Effective words are accurate and they say exactly what you want to see done.

Counter acting is reversing the forces that act on your body in an arc. In this case it's counter acting with your hips. To counteract you have to physically make an effort to move your outside hip back.

Counter balance is to keep your upper body from leaning into the turn or toward the gate. To accomplish these tenants of skiing you have to move the inside hip higher and keep it engaged. This makes it look like the pelvis is more level, that's what you want. 

PMTS Check Point number 1

Is the skier balanced on the outside ski? All the way through the turn? Can you hold this inside ski like this, all the way through the arc?
(below) My inside leg flexed and ski lifted, one of the best tests for high level skiing.
Alexis Pinturault (below) has it all, his inside foot management rivals Hirscher and Neureuther. Here his inside ski is light on the snow and just slightly lifted. Perfect!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

PMTS Check points, number 7

Is there a point in every turn where your outside leg is straight, (stretched) and the knee is touching the inside ski boot?

Mistakes: Most skiers stance is too wide, this has been taught for decades by the instructors of traditional methods. If you use a wide stance it really hurts your skiing development. A wide stance  limits lateral movements, it causes two footed weighting and lack of balance.
Achieve your best angles by flexing and tipping the inside leg and keep your inside ski from spreading away from the outside ski. No stepping the inside ski forward or to the side.
Mario Matt, notice how there is almost no weight on his inside ski. His inside boot is pulled back and the shin angle is dramatically forward. This makes for fast slicing arcs.