Thursday, January 22, 2015

Difference between squaring up and counter-acting.

How is it that at this level of skiing that basic fundamental movement principles are still not addressed by US Ski Team coaches.

What do I think?? I think David Chodunsky can and should have been a top 5 slalom skier. This is a common outcome on his right turn, left leg. It means 1/2 his turns he is either recovering or losing time. This is worth at least a second a run not to mention consistency.

David has been on the ski team for years and no one has been able to address this issue, let alone see it.

Doug Lewis used this photo on Universal sports, to show how far David was from the gate. That isn't the issue, the issue is why?
What happens when you can't or don't know you need to create counter acting in your skiing?
1. Your outside hip swings out, so you skid.
2. Your ski tail doesn't hold.
3. Your weight ends up on the inside ski.
4. Your stance gets too wide.
5. You lean into the turn.

This all happens if you don't have just one of the 5 "Essentials of Skiing", not working for you. In this example, it's the counter-acting Essential.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When trying to achieve world class skiing, "early pressure" on the ski is the wrong message.

When you watch Universal Sports skiing broadcasts, Doug Lewis is constantly repeating the wrong and the same message about what is happening. His redundant messages about what the skiers are doing and how they do it, are wrong. I'm not saying Doug is a bad guy, he's just misguided. He just doesn't understand technical skiing. Coaches, parents, USSA and racers need to understand what is really happening.

Let's have a look at the favorite message presented on the Universal Sports skiing coverage and that is.
                                                                 "Early Pressure"

What needs to be early in a turn, isn't pressure. What is happening and what the best skiers in the world are doing in these photos is creating early tipping angles, that is what is needed. Tipping the skis to early angles is what is happening, not early pressure.  Don't think this is semantics "early pressure" and "early angles",  are totally different.

Here in this photo, there is no pressure on the skis, but look at the fantastic angles from the best skier in the world. This is above the gate.

Now this is where the pressure comes back into the body from the skis on edge, from gravity, not from forcing or pushing to achieve early pressure..Frame A, 3

Frame B,1
Above: Here is the same example with the "right" turn. No early pressure, but definitely here are early angles.

Frame B,2
"Above", Pressure is now achieved due to early angles, not early pressure.

Many of the things the ski commentators on Universal Sports say about the skiing is wrong and misguided. I know these incorrect messages are going out to our young skiers and coaches. The damage will take forever to reverse, if it ever happens. Many will think this is just another attempt to attack, the talking heads. It's not about the talking heads, it's about the future of US skiing and the efforts put into it by our athletes. We are moving backward, with this kind of commentary.

Some baffun on Facebook already posted that because these were, "still pictures" that they didn't have merit and that early pressure is the right way. Case in point, because USSA isn't doing it's job of properly educating coaches, with facts and biomechanics, you can have cranks like Doug Lewis dictating and  perpetuating bad skiing information. US skiing is on the wrong road on many different levels and this observer isn't seeing the corrections to the course of the ship happening.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Slalom Skiing with a narrow stance is not only fast, but wins the day.

These are clips of Gross in the least 10 turns on the steepest section of the Adelboden slalom.
Doug Lewis says: "He needs to widen his stance on the steep."

Really Doug, it's one thing to make incorrect statements about technique, it's totally another to have bad eyesight. Gross doesn't widen his stance, if it does get wider, it's in vertical distance not horizontal distance. A coach should know the difference and how to achieve the correct relationship.

 This world cup winner has a narrower stance than most kids under 14 that I see in racing programs. Under 14 year olds usually have much narrower hips than a world cup racer like Gross. So who is telling kids to widen their stance, beyond what world cup skiers are using, it's from USSA coaches and PSIA coaching.
Will someone please tell Doug lewis that skiing at this level or any level in technical events isn't about getting early pressure or about your "style". Pressure in skiing is totally dependent on achieving angles. Achieving angles is about and comes from tipping your boots and skis on edge. This is more efficient when done while bent or flexed, because when you are bent or flexed you stay on the snow and you have greater range of motion in your legs to achieve higher angles. With angles and tipping of the legs, pressure is developed. Maybe someone can pass this on to Doug, so he can get a better idea of skiing biomechanics and what racers are actually trying to achieve.

Skiing powder

Myths and Misconceptions abound relating to powder skiing.

Like: You have to sit back, you have to push yourself out of the turn, you have to swing your upper body, these are only a few.

In reality, if you learn to manage your ski to ski pressure as needed, which is constantly changing, you will already be 50% more successful. I try to begin my new turn, by finding outside ski balance, with my skis close together. Once I find my balance; I can go 70/30 distribution. But if you try to be 50/50 all the time or 90/10 all the time, it will never happen. You need to be constantly adjusting, always.

Bottom line if you are losing your outside ski balance or one footed outside ski skiing on groomers, it will get worst in powder. Again, you can take this statement to the bank. 
Harald says: "Your skiing never gets better as the conditions get more difficult." 

Powder is more difficult for most skiers, if you are not skiing in balance or not on the outside ski on groomers. If your stance is wide on groomers, that won't work in powder. If you don't tip and release off your big toe edged ski, first, to release, you won't ski powder well. I can go on and on, but this is all basic PMTS. 

It's definitely not taught this way with Traditional Instruction. They want you to huck your upper body, extend or push off and twist your legs, have fun with that!

I find skiing powder easier, why? Because my balance is on the outside ski and I can keep it there through every arc. Leaning, rotating and sitting, doesn't work in powder, any better than it does on ice.
Great powder skiers have upper body discipline, not rotation,. They get out of a turn by bending or flexing to lighten their skis, not by pushing and extending. They let their knees come up out of the powder at the end of turns to change edges. Skiing powder is not much different then skiing bumps, fundamentally the same movements, get one of these techniques right and you get the other as benefit.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hirscher gets the power!

Many observers including the announcers on Universal Sports TV don't get where the greatness in Hirscher's skiing comes from. Sure they can see he's fast and strong, but so are many others. What does Hirscher have, that the others have less of, or don't have at all.

Notice how his shoulder and chest are turned to the side of the slope, facing his outside ski. 
The first difference in technique that Hirscher brought with him to the world cup was his hip counter-acting. His counteracting is more developed, has a greater range of motion and he holds it longer at the end of the arc and at transition.
 Hirscher's second great strength that gives him earlier angles and power; is his "retraction" at transition, as opposed to extending and pivoting. Hirscher rolls or tips his skis earlier because he flexes his legs in "transition" more often than others,and achieves a closer adn lower position on the snow, and therefore sets up  new angles quicker. "While others are still skidding, Hirscher is carving!"
Here is a common movement we see with Ted Ligety on many turns, he rises or extends much higher than Hirscher in transition, he uses much more pivoting and he stands up longer in transition. This requires time and doesn't develop the, so crucial angles, you need. He creates skid. This amount of extension, puts you much later in the curve around the gate. It also requires that you hit the edges harder.

In regard to the commentary on Universal Sports, they don't see technical skiing and mostly when they do comment, it is incorrect, they constantly refer to "Getting early pressure". Skiing at this level isn't about early pressure, it's actually detrimental. What Hirscher does is develop early angles,  pressure comes and builds after the angles are set-up. The upper part of the arc doesn't need,  require or make speed, if you pressure the ski, it actually slows you down and puts you out of balance.

Technical Evaluation and explanation.

I still don't understand the justification and support for ski-voting or pivoting in the US coaching community. It's slow, it puts your body out of position for the next arc and it disconnects you from the snow. This all takes time and it loses time for the skier who uses it.

The great movement Hirscher has in his skiing is his amount of Counter acting and how long he can hold it and increase it during an arc. This is not taught by PSIA or by USSA. It's actually frowned upon by both organizations . Hirscher takes counteracting to a new level, I have always called it the "Austrian Counter", because the Austrians use it more than any other nation and always have.