Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mikaela Shiffrin, Technical analysis.

Does Mikaela have what it takes to become a dominant slalom skier, like Maries Schild?
Here we see a strong finish to a fall-away turn. Strong flexed inside leg, the ski tipped to a high angle. Upper body counter balanced and very strong, inside hand leading. All good discipline.

This is  a great release, similar to what you see with Hirscher. She holds her CA (counter acting) while flexing the legs, to transition to the new edges. This is critical, holding the upper body in place and sucking up the legs, to get to the new edges. This holds the energy in the body until the last second, before it's released and pops or explodes her to the new edges. Without this energy and perfectly timed release skiers have to push themselves into the next turn, that's just too slow.

This photo although in the other direction, is just after the transition, where the energy is released. Notice how she kept her upper body still Counter acted  from the previous turn,  she holds her CA until the skis are on their new edges. She is still unweighted, yet tipping into the new edges here. Her next move is to begin leading with the inside hand and increasing the tipping angles.

This is where there is still progress to be made. At times she gets her feet too far apart and almost gets stuck. Mikaela has such good upper body discipline that even when she gets off balance, and her feet are too separated, like here, she almost loses the outside ski, but she still pulls off a turn.

Below is an example of where her feet, get too separated and her new inside ski will be 
a problem to get set up for the turn.


Her strengths are her strong upper body discipline, which means, strong counter acting and counter balance. She also has amazing touch for how much pressure she applies and when she applies it. She has a great inside leg pull back and flexing, but often it's at the last second. She absorbs and uses pressure extremely well, almost snaking between turns especially on the flats, which makes her transitions really smooth and gives her early angles.

So where are the areas of improvement or concern? Her technique is not as refined as Schild. She still makes mistakes, but recovers, very well. What are the mistakes? At the gate as she nears the bottom of her turns, her inside ski moves forward and separates too early, in many cases this splits her pressure and energy. On her right turn, left leg, she often sets up and pressures late, causing her to step out of the turn late, rather than releasing out, by flexing and retracting. (example of what happens in the above photo)

Where is the discipline lacking, it's the inside foot. It wanders around and sometimes shows not enough tipping or after the pull back, it's not held back under her body to finish the arc.

I hope she is able to work on these refinements, so she can get her technique as clean and consistent as Schild's technique. If she can clean up these errors, she could have a run of races like Schild, 5 or 6 slalom wins  in a row.


bibou said...

very nice read and learning from this. This is very good stuff. I have to ask: have all coaches this summer up to speed with this inside foot discipline thing ?
once again, very nice read.

DDearborn said...


Great analysis. Now that Shiffrin has answered your question and firmly established herself at the top of the women's standings and already one of the greatest women skiers ever, I would be interested on your thoughts regarding how her technique has progressed over the last 4 years. And perhaps a word on why she is clearly having problems going into the Olympics in Korea. I am wondering if it is in fact related to a problem or distraction off the snow? Thanks.