Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mistakes are from ski coaches, not kids.

 Many observers would like to say that skiers or racers aren't skilled or don't have it when they stop progressing and lose their edge. It's called "Plateauing"! A not so nice word for, "You have stopped getting better and everyone is passing you."

The original color photos were removed, to protect the the individuals. These skiers are in an extra ordinary wide stance, weight on both skis,leaning into the turn and never bending the ski, a sure formula for stagnation and pleateauing.

Leaning on the side cut of a ski isn't bending it. 
The blame for this should not be with the kids, it's with the coaching. Here are some common technical deficiencies that should have been cleared up well before the kids even got to this level, at this age.

 Stance too wide, lost balance on the outside ski, using the inside ski to support the turn. This makes for a grinding turn with half the weight on the inside ski. Cause? Developing a stance that is too wide to keep the skier in balance. This kid's skis are wider than most world cup racers' stances and with about a fraction of the compared hip size.
 Leaning in and trying to push off the outside ski.  This should be an easy technical deficiency to correct at a young age. It comes from a lack of upper body awareness and discipline. The combination of upper body rotation and leaning forces the skier to step off the ski prematurely. This habit will continue and get worst, causing  "Plateauing",  before the skier has reached their potential.
This is typical of coaching; not paying attention to basic balance. This skier is squared up, which means body rotation occurred. The inside ski is forward and weighted, balance is lost, or probably never achieved. 

The examples above are not special, they occur in every race program. the coaches know that something is wrong and they start to give up on these kids. They have little or no remedies for these problems and therefore concentrate more on the kids that are racing faster, not necessarily skiing better. Racing faster at this age, is not a sign of a possible child protégé, it's just a sign of more natural, better instincts. All of the kids in these photos have a much higher potential level then they are demonstrating here or that they will ever achieve, skiing the way they are. The sorry state of affairs in ski racing is, this is far too common and it's a results of poor coach's education..

Friday, December 26, 2014

Something old, something new, but still classy and classic.

Counter Acting with the proper pole use!!
Rarely seen on the slopes, rarely taught or coached correctly.
                                          What PMTS Skier Learn from the get go!!

                                 Get it right and it makes all the difference on terrain and in slalom.
Hold your counter acting, don't give it up!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

World Cup GS comparison.

In my analysis of skiing technique in the US, the weakest area in American coaching and development;  is Upper Body discipline, the Europeans have it, we don't.  Namely: Counter-acting and Counter-balance. It's almost like coaches don't know what it is and don't know how to coach it.

Now that things have evened out on the World Cup to some extent with ski design and construction, after the change over to 35 meter skis in 2012, a skier's technique is starting to show up as the difference between winning and 10th place, that is where the biggest difference exists. And that is the way it should be.

The skis used to be a big factor, Ted had a big advantage the first 2 years after the change over to 35 meter skis. Head GS skis bent better, they held better and were easier to get into the arc. Atomic has improved to the point now where Hirscher doesn't have to throw them side-ways and jump on the ski to get it to arc in GS.

 Shoulder and hips are counter acted in most of Hirscher's arcs. this can be risky as it requires strong outside ski balance, hip counter and shoulder counter balance. Lots of anticipation and trust getting into these highly counter acting angles. For one thing you have to trust that the ski will hold once you get there and that is a serious commitment.
With Ted's technique we see more upper body rotation toward the turn and far less counter balance of the upper body. This maybe acceptable in bigger turns, on perfect snow, but doesn't work so well in shorter, rounder turns. And it definitely doesn't work well on rough courses with bouncing skis.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mikaela Shiffrin battles more than the race course. This is my take.

Mikaela has not been in the results column the way anyone expected. Her finishes of late are surprising to everyone, especially when you compare her results to last season. Many reasons have been give by the "experts" for her drop in results.  The "experts" gave many reasons for her drop, they said, "she wasn't ready for the level of speed, she under rated her competition, she wasn't competition ready, she wasn't charging hard enough, she's nervous, she's holding back and it's all in her head, she is skiing too casually." Actually it's none of these, it's very simple, her boot set up isn't working. 

At first I didn't pay very close attention because I was so busy with my own company and our skiers, we ran 5 camps this fall. I figured Mikaela would come around. Then I watched the Are races more closely and it because obvious. She was working harder then I have ever seen her work on skis, just to stay in the course. She was using all of her skill and ability (which is considerable) just to place and stay in the top 10. Basically she was skiing with adaptive techniques and movements to overcome a poor boot set up. A boot set up that put her totally out of sorts. These are new boots from Atomic and they are just not working like her previous ones.
 It's very clear that her ankle is not rolling over, it's keeping the ski too flat and keeping her from tipping the boot on edge. To compensate she has to extend, lean and stand on her inside ski. This is not Mikaela's skiing.
 Here she is stepping off her left leg, which used to be her better side and better turn finish. This stepping is slow and energy sapping. It was constantly plaguing her, making her later and later in slalom race courses.
Here again she is compensating for the fact that she can't roll her boots on edge with this set up. Leaning away from the stance foot because she has a hard time tipping it over and finding the edge angles she used to get with her old boots.

Simple solution? Go back to the old boots that you were winning races with.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Learning Counter-acting like the best in the world, is a necessity for developing racers.

Mikaela Shiffrin (below): 

Here are two of the best slalom skiers of our time. Upper body level and hips counter acted. From here you can do anything, change balance to the uphill ski edge like Mikaela is doing or continuing to carve an arc to load the ski like Marlis Schild
Below William is practicing the exercise that achieves what these world cup skiers are doing.

For a complete  "pedagogical" (step by step movements building for a prescribed outcome)  to counter-acting awareness for kids and racers; check this web page for a downloadable videos.

Clearly here Mikaela shows inside hand and shoulder discipline, while holding her hips counter-acted for the edge and balance transfer.

Marlis Schild

For slalom everyone needs to block the pole, however so few do it without losing edge hold. reaching for the pole causes lose of energy and ski rebound. Not how Marlis keeps her hips and inside arm strong while ready to block the pole. This is not a natural movement it requires training exercises and learning.

This is William practicing one of the exercises that will develop upper body and hip relationships that these world cup skiers are using.

Friday, November 14, 2014

10 to 13 year old ski racers, with superior skiing and mature technical development, Are Fast!

There are some notions and beliefs around US Ski Coaching,  that young racers who ski too well and have learned good technique; are never going to be successful fast racers, because they are over techniqued. 

Sometimes I have to just shake my head in wonder at the belief systems that prevail in skiing.

The notion that good technique makes you a slow skier is not only absurd, but it's an attempt to remove the responsibility of good coaching from the coach's back.  

When proper technique is coached and developed a young racer doesn't have to dwell on his skiing he can relax and ski fast without thinking. The individual and his personality traits bring the fire in the belly on race day. And if you don't have that fire naturally, you probably won't make it whether or not you have good or undeveloped technique.  It's the determination and motivation that makes a skier aggressive and an attacking racer, not diminished in the slightest by his ability to ski well.

 In fact, it's the opposite, the better you ski the more confidence you have to ski fast, not the other way around. Sometimes in the US we have strange ideas about what develops success.
In Austria all the racers learn to ski well and then they develop into champions, and they all  "amazingly" have the same good technique. Are they over techniques? Maybe they are but they are still fast.

Below are three very fast racers with exemplary technique. When taught correctly and without technical overload or jargon, skiers don't slow down to ski well in a course; they rely on the instincts trained into their skiing movements. 

In these photo you see skiers with world cup skiing. Outside ski, skeletal alignment to the forces and excellent balance.

 These skiers developed these basics through exercises skiing outside of gates. This requires focus concentration and discipline. This is often not something everyone has or brings, many skiers have to learn how to focus just as they have to learn different techniques.

(Below photo) This is 10 year old Zack, he's highly focused and loves exercises that he uses to  develop his skiing by training outside of gates.

A highly skilled skier always looks like they have world cup technique, doesn't matter what age.

Sometimes you have a wild and loose skier who needs to be gradually reigned in to develop enough technical ability, yet not lose that free spirited edge. Ever skier and personality is different and coaches need to realize you don't treat all racers the same way. The skier below is a free spirit, yet he now has the ski technique to also stay in the courses while skiing fast and free.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Proper coaching results in excellent racers.

This racer is 13 years old, has been taught "How" to get to this relationship to his skis. This involves using correct movements into and out of the turns to accomplish a photo like this. These are world cup skiing techniques and body movements and angled relationships.  These types of movements are not taught by USSA education to coaches or by coaches using USSA training. This is a totally different system, much like what the Austrians use to create the best skiers in the world.

If what I stated above is the case, what are the key differences from what you see here and what is in USSA Coaches Education. The first glaring difference, if you listen and compare to USSA coaches education, USSA coaches education has no clearly outlined, "descriptions of the movements" or "how" to create the right movements to become top level racers. Yes, sure there are "concepts", but concepts don't teach coaches how to coach or racers how to move their bodies.

Second, there are glaring portions of a ski turn missing from the overall understanding of skiing in USSA coaches education.  For example: the transition, going from one turn to the next, is not described, no movements are appropriated to this most important aspect of skiing. The transition (between gates) in racing, is the part of the turn that has the most body changes, largest body movements and where American skiers most often have trouble, yet no mentions of this phase, in the skiing pyramid, hierarchy, for slalom. Also the transition sets you up for the next turn. If you listen to the  Sasha Rearick, US Head Men's Coach,  in his presentations, there no mention of a transition. No mentions of it's importance, how it's done, what movements are involved or how to set it up.

Another glaring omission, is boot, foot and ski tipping, how to tip a ski on edge, which ski to tip,  how to un-tip the skis and what movements are involved.

Mr. Rearick tells coaches in presentations that he will not tell them "how" to coach, or how to teach, or what to coach, they should use their imaginations. US coaches have been using their imaginations for decades, how is that working? Yet, the US ski team still complains that there are no talents in the development pipeline. How is it that the Head Coach of the Men's US Team after berating the US domestic coaches for not developing enough world cup skiing talents, can end the presentations with no help? He goes on to say he isn't going to tell them how they should coach, so how does he expect to get from domestic programs what he needs on the world cup. Does anyone else see a total disengagement of responsibility from a national team coach as an educator? If he isn't going to educate coaches, why is he presenting?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pure example of missed boot set up. It's not working here either.

The article is a filled with incorrect approaches to boot set up.. The poor and misguiding information is coming out of Ski Racing these days is astounding, sensationalism reporting, without references, or facts. I was there when Warner put his back out in training at Loveland. I had checked his alignment on our stand at our shop numerous times. It was completely due to his "mis- alignment" of his boots, and he wouldn't listen to reason about his over canting. He over canted himself and he got hurt because of it, this was on his Dodge boots. Warner has little understanding of his or anyone else's alignment for that matter.
I don't know why Ski Racing Magazine can't write about proper correct alignment information, it is available. It would be much more helpful if Ski Racing wrote about alignment that is actually relevant to skiers, and at the same time is accurate?????? Perpetuating confusion about alignment doesn't serve the ski industry and can actually hurt people.

Anyone following this advice from Warner's article is putting themselves in serious jeopardy and the possibility of a serious knee injury. Warner should be ashamed of this article and his ignorance of proper boot fitting and alignment.

Warner's solution to tip his cuff toward his leg, it doesn't work the way he intended. It makes the boot highly over reactive to any terrain, ruts or chatters in a course. It also pre-loads the boot enough that any slight tipping force toward the new edge is over done and right after that the boot and ski drop excessively inside, so much so that the ski can't possible hold an edge. Although this may feel like you get tremendous grip when free skiing, in a racing situation it actually loads the ski early and quickly and makes for a very hard hit when it achieves early hold and is quick to the edge, and these quick re-loads shocks end up in the knee and lower back as the shock travels into the body.
A very dangerous situation.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Skier and Racer Alignment, it's not art, it's science.

Here are some examples of skiers 13 years old, with good alignment. There are 6 different skiers here, how lucky I am to have 6 different skiers with perfect alignment????? 

People think this is normal, they are all naturally talented and perfectly aligned. I have coached this group for 6 years and everyone of them has some adjustments under their boots. Every time they change boots we have to find the new optimal set up. This is done by on snow analysis and indoor measurements. Indoors to keep track of the norms, outdoors to test the skiers movements and ski angles. We sometimes change the alignment after each run, to test what works best. 
Every leg here is lined up perfectly with the forces. There is no undue stress on the knees or joints when alignment is correct. Skiing can be rough on the joints. At this age you would never realize it. One of my goals as a coach is to reduce as close to eliminating any opportunity for injury with every possible technical innovation. Alignment is one of those that is always addressed in our training.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How the body changes with higher angles.

High Angles
Comparing subtle differences in how refinements can help your skiing. This is high level skiing, intermediate skiers may think this is nit-picking , however all of this applies even at the learning levels. And remember we never stop learning, wherever your level is now.

The most obvious difference to me is the outside arm, which effects the counter-acting, counter-balance slightly, and the angular momentum of the body. In the end, I think it affects the amount of adjustment you have to make at transition. If some don't see it, look at where the bottom of the ski pole is (the pointed end) in the different frames on the outside arm.

                                                                      Free Skiing (below photo)
                                                                   High Angles
The difference between free skiing and high angle skiing is inside leg bending or flexing and relaxation of the mid body to allow the hips to drop inside. Of course you have to feel like your skis are really hooked up to let go, and get down this far.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Ski Better, Learn faster, Find Success and know what you are doing, with PMTS tutorials.

Everyone wants to ski better, or eliminate your wedge in all ski situations, or link those turns smoothy. It's now available, not just tips that last for 5 minutes, true complete step by step video tutorials by the pros who are expert teachers, that invented "Direct Parallel",  "Anyone can be an Expert Skier" and the "Essentials of Skiing". Check out this page.
Ski better learn more, find success! Click on this link below:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Get my Blog updates in your E-Mail.

This feature is cool, just enter your e-mail, it will not be used for anything else, no spam, mainly because I don't know how. Just kidding, it's private. The only thing that will happen is you will get a notice of new posts whenever I put them here, immediately. 

PMTS Skier Development: The Transition in Skiing

 The transition is the most important part of the ski connection from turn to turn. It involves the biggest body change and movements in skiing. The transition takes you from one side to the other, a complete reversal of body line up. Once you understand this has to happen you can make it successful.  
In PMTS skiing,  the change happens before you enter the new turn and new falline. This is designed to make sure you are in balance and well organized for every new turn. Traditional ski instruction is different , they tell you to steer your legs and stand up, which forces you to struggle through the whole next turn to survive.

                          (below)  Setting up for the last bit of inside leg flexing(bend or shorten)  and tipping (add more angle).

  Now the arc is complete, I start to bend the stance leg (Shorten the outside leg) and transfer balance (weight) to the upper ski.

  The transfer to the LTE, upper ski, this is the "Super Phantom", it's clear that this is happening in this frame.

    (below) Here you see the balance transfer to the uphill ski.                          
     Hold your countered upper body through transition. If you give it up at this point, you will pivot the skis as they come flat to the snow. Pivoting loses the transition and the High C engagement is lost and the tipping can't continue. This is why a steering approach doesn't work to create high level skiing, it kills the transitions.
Release your stance leg to change edges, let both legs change edges, the new LTE, (new inside ski outside edge) for the new turn leads the way to develop new ski angles , not your upper body.
New inside foot pullback should already be happening, don't panic, by twisting your legs or steering.

 Both skis come flat at the same time. The upper body still has not moved, and it's still in the same relationship as it was at the end of the previous turn. If you square up here, you will not be able to get back over your skis without extending.
                             Hirscher uses exactly the same technique in slalom, as this demonstration.

Transition continued

The second part of a Transition is the engagement phase. Many instructors and coaches will say, "He's sitting back on his skis here."  

I'm just flexed from the previous turn. No panic, this will develop into a high "C" arc and a centered stance on my skis by the time I'm at the falline , where I need tip pressure. 

The Upper body still holds the Counter-acting from the previous arc.
I am still flexed, yet still tipping to the new edges. I'm light on my skis not extending no pushing against the snow to get grip. My outside ski has almost no pressure on it. I'm not driving my big toe edge or steering to get big toe edge grip. I'm letting my Cg cross into the next arc instead.

This is the point in the arc where traditional ski teaching totally screws you up. They want you to steer the ski here. All that does is, it keeps you Cg from crossing into the new angles. Steering keeps you hips over the top of your skis, it delays engagement, and doesn't develop angles.

Now my CG is across my skis and my outside leg is getting longer.  Now pressure is beginning to develop on the outside ski, no snow spray yet. My inside arm starts to move forward and down hill, my upper body begins to turn to face the outside of the arc.
Inside ski tipping increases, my inside foot and leg pull and hold my ski back, (from moving forward) my boot toes are lined up almost even throughout this phase. This allows my hips to move down and into the arc.
Below, obvious inside foot and leg tipping increased, still pulling the free foot back. My outside arm is helping to develop the Counter acting, as it prepares for the no-swing pole tap.

I'm centered and over my skis, completely Counter-acted with my hips and shoulders. All this without extension or up movements. Inside foot management and counter-acting develop efficiency and no need for drama. No push-off or wedge ski relationships, knee drive or steering needed. A completely different picture from traditional skiing.

                                           "Different movements create different outcomes."
There are two "Different" ways to ski, the PMTS way, which is the world cup way, or the ski instructor's way, which is the Demo Team skiing you see in the MA on this Blog, which I posted earlier this month.

Important summary note: As you read my last two Blog posts, and study the images, there is a key point in the "engagement phase", of the transition to note. I prefer to call the "High C" point, the "Engagement phase of a transition", because it's not really a new turn yet. This is a critical time and as I have pointed this out to numerous skiers and in numerous publications and videos, "If you square up at the release, you are doomed to pivot your skis in your "engagement phase". Why? 

If you look closely at the images and study the stability of my upper body, you notice that my legs change angles, under my hips, as do my skis and boots, my upper body doesn't move. 

In fact, if it does anything, it makes counter acting become stronger. The legs can release and you can transition more easily when the upper body stays facing the outside ski. 

If the upper body rotates toward the tips, faces the tips and the outside arm swings toward the tips, you can't release the legs. 

This is evident and demonstrated in the post I put up describing the skiing of the 4 Demo Team skiers from different nations. They all square up. And they all step or wedge out of the bottom of the arc. This is unavoidable, if you square up your shoulders at the end or during your arc, and use leg steering in the arc.
It forces the skier to step or wedge out of the arc, because when you rotate, a flexing release can't happen. 

Once you square up your hips and shoulders, the "force vector" changes from linear, to a rotational angular one, at the end or the arc. The rotational movement of squaring, creates angular momentum and reduces the outside ski's rebound and hold. When this happens a push is needed to get out of the turn. Any push at this point messes up the next turn.