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.

18 comments:

Unknown said...

Great post, Harald. You are right about this. Words matter.

Joan Gómez said...

so you mean create early angles by inclination? after that you have to press the outside ski tip isn't it?

Harald Harb said...

Joan, inclination is leaning the whole body, lower body tipping is what Hirscher is doing here. Initiation is by tipping off the outside ski (big toe edge) and converting this ski toward it's new angle, inside edge (little toe edge.

cranks0 said...

I gently press the outside ski tip early turn too when I'm on a set of skis with a bigger (20>) radius so it bends and creates a tighter effective radius and bites into the snow better when tipped. I don't need to do it with smaller radius skis, at least consciously. Is this "early pressure"?

Tommy Kirchhoff said...

Tipping is affected by adducting the inside hip and abducting the outside hip; it can also come from inclination, but this is much riskier. "Pressure" is a fairly vapid and inane word that only means "dropping the body weight."

Josh Christopherson said...

Really like this post. Artificial and/or manufactured pressure high c kills the turn!

Josh Christopherson said...

Really like this post. Artificial and/or manufactured outside ski pressuring high c kills the rest of the turn!

Josh Christopherson said...

Nice post. Artificial and/or manufactured pressuring of the outside ski high c kills the turn before it has a chance to mature!

Debra Phillis said...

coming for boots in dumont soon. your videos helped this granny, and i'm pleased to say your words, 'you finish the turn with the same foot as you began-release then little toe edge,' was my first eureka moment several years ago.

Eddie Black said...

hi harald, but many instructor tell me to push on the outside ski for arch this ski before the gates(gs) and use the inertia for gain speed is incorrect?

Harald Harb said...

Yes, Eddie, many instructors are wrong.

Unknown said...

Great info Harald, thanks!

Paul Epstein said...

What does early pressure refer to. Or better to ask when is this early pressure supposed to happen? Because from my expience if your skis are off the ground at the beginning of the turn and the track is anything but perfect you will for sure lose your line then pressure after the gate not allowing you to transition at the right time or flow into the next turn. Generally causing the racer to just switch side to side. If you don’t create early pressure or pressure above the gate while the tips are going out you won’t be able to generate as much energy out of the ski.
Posting a picture of Hirsches at the top of one turn doesn’t tell the whole story. I have seen him make many turns when he is pressuring above the gate or early(whenever that is exactly, as far as being too early) you will rarely see Hirsches tossing his skis out and up in the air when it’s bumpy or not very steep. It generally happens when it’s very steep and a fast intense set.
In my opinion showing pictures of Hirscher having his outside ski in the air is sending a very bad message to athletes who don’t know any better. You will see Hirscher pull this move a lot when he is running late and basically steps his ski over in order to get his outside ski roughly back on the right line. This move is something that separates him from a lot of the guys ok the wc. But most of the time he is grounded and is building “early pressure” Doug is not wrong in what he is saying nor is he a crank, whatever that might mean. Pfiati

Unknown said...

Early pressure = Park and ride. Not dynamic ,athletic turns.

J Harman said...

Bingo!

Harald Harb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harald Harb said...
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Harald Harb said...

The best slalom skiers on the World Cup aren't trying to achieve early pressure. Early pressure above the gate is only possible through leg extension and pushing, that drives the ski's edge into the snow. This approach is totally ineffective and also slow in the gates. If you are trying to use this as your technique to run slalom you will be in trouble all the time. No top slalom skier looks for or tries to develop early pressure above the gate, it's the wrong idea. Early pressure is what recreational racers are told to do because the coaches see them skidding, so the coaches try to tell them to get earlier pressure. Which is meaningless. What the coaches want to convey but don't know better is, "get higher edge angles", so that the ski holds in the arc. "Early Pressure" may sound logical, but in reality, it sends you down the wrong path with horrid consequences, and it's driven by misunderstanding. It may initially feel good and give you a sense of edge, but only momentarily, it's slow and it leads to incorrect movements and losing balance. Skiers should not be looking for pressure, to begin with, they should be building angles and letting the pressure develop under the foot. "Let pressure come to you." Any other version will again send you wrong. There is one way to get develop pressure correctly, (Hirscher's way) and that is by movements that build "early angles", with the ski and lower body. The upper third of the arc above the gate should be used to develop early angles so that when you need pressure or edge hold, to create your line, it will be there. Pressure can deceive you and feel right but produces too many wrong movements. For example, it requires an extension that stretches the body disconnecting the skier from the ski, balance is lost with this approach. The article and pictures of Hirscher training in this article serve to demonstrate how no early pressure produces speed and body angles, and how ludicrous this theme of "Early Pressure" is in reality. You may want to re-evaluate what you are seeing watching Hirscher; it's definitely not what was said. Even when Hirscher is not creating a weighted release (as in the photos) and looks like he's in contact, but he is light not digging in his edges above the gate. Those that don't want to study or understand to change their approach are welcome to continue feeding incorrect coaching. I'm not here to convince, I'm posting this material so skiers can understand better how the best technique is developed.