Saturday, December 17, 2016

Woes for Shiffrin in GS continue.

What is really concerning is not only the lack of confidence Shiffrin has in her GS skiing, and her frustration, but what are the consequences of this kind of position? 

 It can't work with a set like this with the boots. This is almost exactly the set up Fanara had going for him. This is a highly precarious position for the knee! Click on the individual photos for a better look! You can do the comparison to Fenninger Veith below?

It's going to take more than some plastic canting strips, the boot needs to be reconfigured, meaning the medial sidewall needs to be modified to allow some foot eversion, , the cuffs need to be aligned properly and then the base or bottom of the boot needs to be set up.

She is doing her best to get the ski on edge and bring the knee somewhere under her body, but it's not working. She can't roll or tip the ski over due to the resistance.

Anna's set up lets her get her hips to move inside close to the snow, while adjusting her ankles and feet to tune the ski angles. 

Little changes regardless of what part of the arc she is in,  she is balanced and her skeleton is perfectly aligned to the forces. No adapting necessary.

Add caption

Shiffrin Suffers through bad boots!

 The Michaela Shiffrin boot story.

The boots are so over powered, her edges are either on or off, she can't keep the tipping progrssive, that is why she is hurrying. The Cuffs of her Atomic boots and lower structure of the boot lock up her feet. She doing everthing from and with her adductors, no finesse.
The ski is flat at the most critical part of the arc?????
The knee is outboard, hip leaning away, so the ski can slide.
Sliding without commitment to angles?
Here Shiffrin gets the hip angulation the only kind available, but it's fleeting and often she doesn't have time to develop this. It's not ideal because it requires huge commitment and it very difficult at these speeds and on this surface to get in and out of this angle.

In this turn, she was able to drive the knee using her adductor muscles. "Explanation below!"
Another turn, she had to skid into, not putting the ski on edge progressively above the arc.

Again, here is a moment maybe 1/100 of a second where she was able to push the knee in to get some grip, but this is so fleeting she can't depend on it. And if she forces it at the wrong time, it's very dangerous. This is a highly vulnerable position for GS skiing.

First, before we all go crazy with these descriptions and reactions about Mikaela Shiffrin's trouble's on the GS course, you have to use accurate terminology. When describing or analyzing ski technique you have to be accurate about the forces in play. and you have to know the difference between, when the forces are reduced due to a skier's actions on purpose; or from where the skis are pointed relative to the falline.

As was often repeated, inaccurate terminology in the written analysis can mislead the actual causes of the problems trying to be shown. 

"Accuracy of movement and biomechanics must be logical." 

From the photos and from others doing analysis there is much confusion and misinterpretation by the so called experts, even racers themselves.

One description included these words.
"She can't release the hip", was often the terminology used. The hip doesn't release, there is no mechanism in the hip to release a ski. It has to come from the base, which is the ski edge and then the leg. 

You have to give up grip to release the CG or CM, which, I think is what the author was trying to convey.

Once you begin to focus on the actions of the ski edges, how they are angled or tipped, you can do movement analysis of the upper body's compensations. John Teague (ex-FIS racer) has the right approach, he is describing the problems at the bottom of the kinetic chain, which results in the upper body adaptive requirements. 

In Mikaela's's case, she has very little confidence in her GS skiing, which is obvious to everyone. She is skidding, sikvoting, and very late with angles. Because her boots are built to place her feet, ankles and cuffs out board. We call this supinated or inverted in medical terms. 

It's very difficult to get the ski progressively on edge with this situation. Her ankles and feet are basically blocked or locked out of eversion, (moving toward or getting the ski or boot on to the big toe edge side. This is very difficult or almost impossible to do with this set up, which means she has to use adductors muscles on the medial side of her leg, to drive the knee and ski on edge. 

She does this in combination with leaning and skivoting  because without the skids, the edges would be uncontrollable, and harsh. "like a highly railed ski" However, once she gets to a certain point under the gate she can lever over the outside ski, with her knee drive, using the adductors to create edge angles and grip. But this only happens temporarily.

Problem with this, it's like a light switch, on, fully on or off. And once she goes for the "ON" knee drive, the knee drives excessively to an "A" frame", a highly vulnerable situation, because all the load comes at once. This feels horrible and it hurts, that is why she is so tentative, she doesn't trust it. 

And as some have already mentioned, it's very difficult to release an "A frame" that is the only thing holding the arc. My 25 cents! The sad part, the techs and the coaches either don't see it,  or don't have a solution.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mikaela Shiffrin, to Tessa Worley!

The comparison here is "mostly" for the right leg both are affected but the right side boot set up is worst . On the left leg boot set up they are both more functional but still off the mark, for body alignment to the forces. However, in the right leg set up Mikaela Shiffrin, is compensating on every turn, with a stiff outside leg, less grip and more skidding. This relates to hundreds and maybe tenths of seconds per course sections.

Shiffrin in Pink!

Tessa is in Grey, and it's easy to notice the difference in boot set up between the two.  Tessa has a more bent leg with the knee slightly more angled toward teh slope and the inside boot. Shiffrin has a straighter leg, with the knee separated from the inside boot.
These photos are only "examples" of concentrated study and slow motion and stop action study, there is a definite pattern here that I have pointed out since the beginning of the season. 

 You can see there is a much closer body and ski angle on the left foot side comparison between the two skiers, which both use better. Although Tessa's right boot set up is obviously superior.

 Here again the boot tipped out, the knee is not ideal, it's a delayed engagement, however it shows the angles of the leg and boot don't match.

A fraction later, knee still out, and the leg straight. All of the arcing, craving comes late, after the gate, which has consequences for the next turn. It's these little adjustments like this, that can make it or break it for a podium, a win or a 6th place.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Coaches and Campers for the Short Turn Camp last week.

Fanara higher in the same run where he injured his knee.

With these contrived body positions in these photos, it demonstrates that loads to his knee must be reduced, because of the poor alignment, the boot forces the skier, to deal with the loading skiing forces in a weird and dangerous way.  This is weird skiing by anyone's book. If you don't recognize this, you probably should not be coaching athletes. 

These types of reactions can temporarily reduce the bad affects of poor boot alignment, but the consequences later in the arc or in the next turn can't be over come. These positions and the angle of the ski will cause may different unwanted actions from the ski. Fanara's knee could have blown out, on any of theses turns. These are two different turns on his right leg, the same right knee he injured later down the hill in this race, without even falling.

Not one of these photos shows a functional knee in relationship or a strong position loaded and lined up with the forces of the turn. He has used two different adaptive techniques to back off the ski, one is dumping his hip inside, to reduce pressure, the other is leaning away from the ski, to reduce pressure. 
Here he has to lean away from the ski, because it would otherwise overload and go straight. Or blow out his knee, a skier can sense when the forces are going to be damaging. 

This is the only photo where his knee is actually in line with the forces. However, no ski racer wants to get in this position. And now,  much of his weight has been loaded onto the inside ski. 

Here is another attempt at getting angles without pressuring the ski, notice how his right knee never comes bent or under his body. This shows a total lack of control for building edge angles with his feet and boots. 
Even if Hirscher's alignment on this leg is less than ideal, he has the power and strength to get it lined up with the forces and on edge. The knee is slightly tipped in and over, this allows his upper body to line up with the ski edge.

In both of these photos, the skiers can control the ski angle with the feet, ankles and leg. The upper body is lined up and supporting the ski angle. Big contrast to the Fanara situation.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Winter workout days.

Trying to stay strong and workout during the winter while skiing 20 to 25 days a month is tough. You can easily over do it and get sick, which really throws the whole thing out the window. 

Chin up sets to keep the lats going for climbing, even if you don't need them for skiing.

Warm-up squat routine, after that 3 sets and a lunge series and a run up the mountain.

Bicepts curls, I hate them but they support the shoulders so it's necessary.

Mikaela Shiffrin struggles with her Atomic boot set up. The boots hold her back!

I'd like to thank all the coaches who have texted me and supported what they have learned from these posts. Most have acknowledged their learning of alignment and what can result from poor setups. 

Mikaela Shiffrin the best slalom skier in the world since Marlis Schild,  is struggling with her boot set up.  I know there are many skiers and coaches who want to see what is happening with Mikaela, this is just the beginning, more about this to come.
Typical example from many turns and views on her right foot. The boot angle is out relative to her knee and leg. She is also leaning away form the ski she wants to engage. Prior to this photo she was skidding across the slope, basically waiting until she could be more safe creating the holding angles for the ski she needs to arc below the gate. This is very defensive skiing. 

Here we see the same situation all the weight on the inside ski, upper body leaning and rotating. The boot shaft is still upright compared to where it should be. This set up is all wrong, three things require modification, boot cuff angle, interior changes to the boot wall, the boot has her foot and ankle totally locked up. 

The left foot turn is not much better but, this is more of an under the boot canting issue.

Leaning away from the ski shows a definite lack of trust in what that ski will do,  hold too much or skid, possibly hook up way to hard.

Even below the gate on almost every right foot turn, and the camera angles were not ideal for  many turns to demonstrate what she was having to do to make the gates. She was jacked over, skidding, leaning, rotating. This is not her skiing this is adapting to a bad boot set up.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

USSA development is in real trouble, continued.

This continued dialogue on the USSA coaching topic, is in response to a question from a former Junior National Champion and Dartmouth racer, who read my article.

His question included a list of skiers that he thought were the ones using correct fundamentals and solid technique.

Harald's response:
You have the right skiers listed, I would have to include Fenninger, and Tomba of course.  However, you have to be careful with what you are picking out for viewing from them and what you point out as their base technique; as opposed to the performance technique you see when they are under pressure of the race course. 
Coaches often see the wrong movements as the movements they need to coach. If you keep in mind, the ideal movements by a skier in a race course, a ski racer rarely performs them to perfection, however tries to stay as close to the ideal, or perfection as possible. 

In this case, when technique erodes from the "the ideal" it may not be so obvious any longer, in that phase of the course, and the actions of the racer can easily become convoluted and misunderstood by an observer.
The coach, needs to understand what is the ideal and how much the racer deviated from ideal. This understanding has to be established well before the coach becomes a national development or US Team coach. This is what is missing in the USSA picture.  I see coaches out there coaching the mistakes or less than perfect movements that result from misinterpreting a top skier's movements. Often presenting and coaching movements world class racers make to recover while under pressure. Coaches too often present actions or positions or the movements or reactions, in effect what racers are trying to avoid.

The other major issue in US ski coaching is the lack of discipline and emphasis to the Essential Movements. Sloppy skiing is rarely reversed or corrected. if you know what you are looking for you can see it in junior racers skiing around any mountain in Colorado right now. 

The best skiers in the world know what they want to achieve and work hard to stay within that range, but often the techniques or body control breaks down and that's called technical mistakes.
As a coach, you have to be able to differentiate between the mistakes or eroded from "Ideal" moves. The racers making a series of turns with less than ideal movements are often interpreted as "the way to ski," and ideal movements the racer is actually trying to achieve and continue to make, not recognized. 
The quickness, and fight for balance required, with the forces and reactions needed, at the top world cup level, can rarely be controlled perfectly; therefore inevitably errors happen.

In effect there maybe two or three techniques we have to describe, understand and differentiate. The three can be classified as the the following : The ideal, the eroded and the breakdown. If coaches understood this important distinction; we would be a lot closer to building skiers with a solid foundation.
However in my view and what I see going on, on the mountain, the coaches are a long way from understanding the correct technique, let alone degrees of correct or incorrect technique.
There is a big assumption here on my part, and I have to point it out.  It is paramount that you have to have a very strong core technical foundation before you can differentiate between the three resultant techniques that are demonstrated in every race.  USSA training, coaching and racer skiing demonstrates clearly this important aspect of coaching does not exist in their repertoire.

Hope this makes sense?


When Training goes wrong, Understanding the Psoas Muscle

In my view, in training athletes, ski by coaches, too much emphasis is put into doing squats with heavy weights, rather than understanding the connections of the body. The lack of connection, weakens everything, so it doesn't matter how many squats you can do or how strong your hamstrings are. Lack of connections doesn't allow you to maximize their full potential anyway.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

USSA Development in real trouble! Poor skiing in racer development, and it's getting worse.

My yearly USSA Update:

And every year I see the same things, only they are getting worse, not better. As you know this isn't the first time I have brought this up as a topic of conversation.

I have no good news from watching the PSIA Crew (Demo Team, Examiners and DCLs, no difference between there skiing these days, it's all sad) skiing at A-Basin the last two days. Even less good news about how the junior racers are skiing, which is exactly like PSIA except a little faster and higher edge angle. So what are the similarities? Full upper body rotation, arm swing to compliment it and leaning away from an engaging ski, losing all the pressure as the arc continues. Oh yes, the PSIA crew has less angle and skids out of the arc, due to the lack of edge angle, using rotate instead. 

I'm afraid I have to tell everyone, that Warren Witherell was wrong. The racers no longer have a different way of skiing. So watching US Junior Racers, is no longer, "How the Racers's Ski" at least not like the best racers. USSA development and coaching are directly to blame and responsible for this in my opinion, and the facts support that.. The racers ski just like the PSIA gang, so do their coaches. 

Do we have a Development problem, Houston? 

Yes and it's coming directly from USSA and PSIA. We have nothing coming up in the ranks for the US Ski Team, no matter what the commentators say. Since when was there a second Slalom and GS skier regularly qualifying in slalom and GS on the women's side, to the obvious "one" we a very lucky to have? 

On the men's side it's little better, the chance of future prospects, we are still hanging onto Ligety. It's been almost 5 years since Bode, and no one before or after. I wonder what the brain trust in the Park City "Castle" is thinking about when they look at this situation? Is it, "We sure hope the cross country and snowboard team can pull us through???"

Typical of USSA development skiing. a wide unbalanced stance, rotated, and  leaning.

No answers coming out of Park city, they aren't even asking the questions, so don't look for any changes in the near future. 

If you follow my Blog or posts on Facebook, you will notice that I do comment, and point out that there are small pockets of good coaching in the USA. However these are the exception not the norm. These programs are usually dissociated from USSA coaching norms and techniques.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Comments by participants of the Harb Alignment and Boot Tech Course!

Ski boot alignment training and foot balance. Ski Tech Training.

This week of October 23rd to 30th is our annual ski boot fitting, Shop technician and alignment camp. Newly minted boot techs come out of the camp with the whole program. They have measured, done biomechanics assessments, evaluated the results, made footbeds, done in boot adjustments for cuff location and completed sole canting.

 There are many shops that say they do alignment, but rarely is that a complete evaluation with on the snow proof of results. We at Harb Ski Systems have done over 10,000 evaluations and assessments with on snow confirmation. There is no other group in the world that has such a complete system of training or evaluation as we have developed over the last 25 years.

Every participant measures, does a biomechananical assessment that is taught to them by our training. 
Everyone learns to mold and carve out a high level footbed, hands on learning,  is the best teacher..

On snow confirmation and analysis is a super important part of the education and learning process. If you don't understand what the collation is between in the shop accommodation and on snow result you can easily be far off the mark.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When you structure your coaching for high standards!

                                              You get great results!

Great balance can only be achieved by practicing "great balance"!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Climbing season was excellent this summer.

Finding the top of a long climb at 10,00ft.
 I climbed 2 to 3 days a week this summer. Some of the high lights were finding new climbs at our home crag in Dumont. This is my first summer climbing on a new knee.

Start on the easy climbs

First indoor training and preparation on our indoor climbing wall.
On the face of the pitch

Getting ready to send!

Red Pointing an 11b

Happy smiles at the top of 4 hard pitches.

Diana, Doing the job at Rifle.