Saturday, December 12, 2015

Women's World Cup Slalom, lowest overall level in years.

The present era of women's slalom skiers is really weak. Almost the worst I've seen in 40 years of coaching and watching the world cup. 

Here are some of Mikaela Shiffrin's top competitors in action.
 Hansdottter, has never really been a clean skier, and her boot set up is really hurting her performance. She does far too much stepping as a result; her feet get really wide and she gets stuck between, and then can't move out of the back seat. This happens on almost every real rounded turn on the Aspen course.
 Here is Sarka, (above and below)  probably the second best technical skier to Mikaela, yet she also has huge errors trying to hold an edge and stepping off the outside ski.

                                       (Below) One of the Swedes in the same situation.

Again Hansdotter, arms flying every which way, stepping out of  turns and sitting back.

Now compare this (above) to the class of the slalom field (below), she is in a different league technically, Mikaela Shiffrin. She never seems to get into these weird difficult situations.
The days when you would have had a quality field to give Shiffrin some competition, with the likes of  Schild, Zettle and Reisch are gone!

Mikaela's upper body is quiet, which means her feet are working and organized. She uses the free foot to tip and pulls the light inside boot, and ski back in transition, classic centered and angled skiing.


horizonstar said...

Watching Resi Stigler's 18th place run it's easy to see the lack of speed especially on the offset gates. Would you comment on whether it is boot alignment or just technique that is creating her wide stance?

jack is back said...

Harald, who is responsible for MK's technical superiority? In your blogs I notice you don't seem to be a fan of U.S. Ski team coaching. Not trying to be a wise a.., but would like your take on how she became so dominant.
Thx, Jack

Harald Harb said...

Mikaela is a product of Mikaela and her parents, sure everyone wants to take credit. She was already a super star at 9 years old, she had perfect technique. The right environment was provided sure, but she would have been a champion out of any school or any program. The US ski team doesn't make champions the athletes make themselves champions. Fortunately for the US, every 10 years or so, another one pops out of the wood work. The Norwegians have a population of 5 million, the Austrians 7 million, they produce skiers, that become champions, not the occasional champion, who is a natural, like in the US. We see a few, in spite of USSA Coaching and Development programs by the US Ski Team

Unknown said...

Harald, I am a coach at Burke Mountain Academy (Mikaela's alma mater) and I agree with you completely. Her parents started on her fundamental development when she was still a toddler and the focus on fundamentals never wavered. She developed very consistent and unwavering routines in everything she did. She is an excellent soccer player too, and she had routines in soccer that were as focused as her skiing routines. BMA was good for her in many respects and was a great place for her to develop, but I have been saying for years that she was going to be a champion regardless of where she skied or who coached her, because her parents saw and still see to it that she is on track. I believe there is no substitute for early fundamental development. At ski academies such as ours we work hard to develop the athletes as best we can, but many come to us with fundamental flaws. While they can improve and continue to develop, without early fundamentals there will be a limit to what they can ultimately accomplish.

Harald Harb said...

Rolf, great post, I respect the Bruke Program and have the highest regards for it of all the Academies, now. I've know it since I was racing. I knew Warren W. when I was on the Canadian Ski Team. Warren once tried to hire me away from Stratton, in the days when Stratton was a power house, so I know Burke history very well. Thank you for your post. Diana my partner, used to race with Eileen, we have seen Mikaela since she was 3 and are very familiar with her evolution. You are spot on, thank you for your comments.