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.


Unknown said...

Could you please elaborate on what (in your opinion) are the possible factors / parameters of her boots that could have affected her skiing in a negative way?

Unknown said...

Great catch, I changed boots this year as well and it has taken 10 days on snow to get the chanting right so I can tip the skis correctly and gain the edge angles I am looking for.
She looks frozen in positions and not fluid in the transition, in essence she is stuck. Hopefully she will figure it out. She is to good to let an equipment issue spoil her season!

Harald Harb said...

Yes, the possibilities that can go wrong on any world cup racer's boots. First, in Mikaela's case, the cuff was too strong, which means it is too far toward the shin. This makes the boot difficult to tip on edge and when it goes on edge it's very hard to control the angle (it also goes on edge late) and it eventually drops the knee too far to the inside. This has a hugely detrimental affect on releasing the ski, because you have to get the knee back out of the angle that was created. It takes to long and it makes you late for the next gate.