Monday, November 20, 2017

When is the ski boot is a liability for a ski racer?

Getting a boot set up on world cup skiers, is not as easy at it may first appear. The best skiers are in very stiff boots, and they dictate how you will stand on your skis. If the angles are not correct relative to the leg and ankle, adaptive movements are required to overcome the mis-alignment.

How is the correct set up achieved? The process starts with a complete analysis of the foot and ankle. Also, a fitting evaluation is incredibly important, especially for how the ankle and foot sit in the boot.  Next is analysis of how the boot cuff acts on the leg. This is measured statically standing and can also be done dynamically indoors on an angled slant board. The last but not least part of the set up is the boot sole canting angle. 

All of these steps leads to a functional alignment of the leg, boot and ski. This helps the skier move the body optimally to align with the forces working on the body.  When one part of this process isn't right, adaptive movements become part of the skier's technique. 

The top racers on the World Cup are great athletes and they can adapt to a compromised boot set up. Although to the regular viewers the skier maybe skiing fine, the ski actually isn't doing the job it could with the right set up, therefore, it affects speed down the course.

The lines or arrows demonstrate the mis-alignment, those lines should be more parallel and in line with each other. The ankle/boot is leaning or positioned outboard relative to the angles the skier would want to produce. Although the ski is bend at this instant in the sequence, this cannot and it will not, be held, or sustained. The ski will let go because the forces are not in line with the boot. The forces are too strong for the boot to be holding the ski/ski on edge. Notice how far the skier is leaning, this is adaptive, when the boot can't get to the angles needed the skier adapts by creating less ideal angles with other parts of the body or movements, that they feel can help. With this set up the ankle is locked out of the most necessary movement a skier at this level should be able to create.
Above the gate the angles are not developed yet with the lower body, the legs are stiff, not moving to create angles. All the weight is on the inside ski.

The blue arrow points to a de-cambered ski, which has no pressure on it. The red bent arrow shows what the ski should be doing, bending into an arc. All of the body is balancing on the inside ski, not ideal for this phase of the turn. The upper body is leaning away from the forces under the foot, rather than toward them. When the ankle is blocked and the cuff too strong this is a common look, at all levels of racing.

The untrained eye will except this as the best one can do in a tough turn on very hard snow. However if you compare this to the same skier in the same type of turn in previous boot set ups, there is a huge difference. You can visit other posts here on this Blog, to see the differences for this skier's technique.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The previous post featured "Greg" here he is: Carving a Steep Pitch!

Comments about Harb Ski Systems Alignment Manual and Video, by expert skiers!

Hi Harald, 

I’d like to commend both you and Diana on another excellent production with the newly released Alignment – On Snow Assessment Video. This new video, combined with the Alignment Technician Course Manual is an impressive body of work, and the only one like it in the industry. The very detailed, clear, concise visual cues you have linked to diagnosable alignment issues based on experience across thousands of skiers is the only example that is this thorough and complete that exists—certainly the only one that is so easy to obtain and access. The video should be required viewing for any serious race coach or instructor—along with Essentials and the Alignment Manual. 

As you know, I’ve been studying PMTS for over ten years. During that time I have coached college racers, adult racers, been part of a ski school and still pick up the occasional junior racer or expert skier as a student in order to help them rebuild their skiing with solid fundamentals. I am however, primarily a weekend skier—with my day job being in banking strategy. Despite limited snow time over the past ten years my understanding of skiing and boot setup, and thus my coaching ability, have reached very high levels thanks largely to the body of work that you and Diana have created. With that, my skiing has reached an extremely high level, and it keeps getting better. 



For a look at the Alignment Manual and videos Greg is referring to, they are on these pages on my web site!

Mikaela Shiffrin struggles! Ski boot set can make you or break you,!!!

If you compare these photos of Marlis Schild and Mikaela Shffrin when she had a reasonable boot set up, you can see many similarities. 

The line of force in a ski turn has to go through the center of the knee from the ski edge under the foot to the Center of mass of the body. If this is off by 1 degree it can make the skier struggle. The line of force in these turns and skiing is almost perfect. 
                                Here is a sequence of Mikaela Shiffrin in the same turn below. The line of force in these photos and skiing is so far off the knee center; Mikaela can't get early angles and doesn't develop balance on the ski.
Above the gate she can't develop angles, she has to skid into position. Here the boot set up is too strong in all respects. This can be caused by two things in the boot and two outside the boot.
Same turn, she skids the skis into a place when she can't slam the door, or get something to make the ski hold or turn. She has no angles yet, and no balance on the ski. She will have to drive the ski to an edge at the last second. I call this "slamming the door", or ski on edge. It dangerous to ski this way, because all the loads happen at once, the forces will act violently and sometimes uncontrollably. It's a dangerous set up. It's testament to how great an athlete Mikaela is to be able to pull off runs in the top three skiing this way.

In this photo below, she "Slams the ski",  to an angle, but has to lean away because it's still too aggressive, and  the ski still doesn't hold, it's still skidding. Her knee is driven into the turn hard, yet this doesn't yield good results. No carving, no arcs, just a horrid skid.

Below is a photo of how her alignment was, when it was working, when she had the correct boots and a reasonable set up. Completely different! Mikaela didn't unlearn or forget how to ski, she is adapting to a bad boot set up on every turn. This is costing her seconds a run. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

When Shiffrin doesn't or can't ski like Shiffrin.

Having had some history with the Shiffrin boot set up, I didn't know what to expect in the first slalom race. My sense and expectations weren't good based on the Soelden race in GS. Of course this happened last season in GS as well. What I saw immediately was the amount of spray off Shiffrin's right ski compared to her left. Now that can be due to the course set or the slope's side hill angle, however, this is constant with the photos here, as well as, the whole way down the course. The spray of snow off her ski was predominantly downhill, which is a sure sign the ski is being pushed to an edge rather than rolled onto an edge, big difference. Usually this results in late to poor edge hold in the turn.

In the turn below which actually is a double or triple turn, because the pressure is built and released and then recreated, at least 2 times. The release to the next turn, is also very late compared to what she can do,  when her boots are set up more appropriately. Again I repeat, this was consistent throughout the whole run in the off-set turns, and also showed in the first run, which Shiffrin narrowly won. 

In this first photo she is leaning away from the ski, this is evident because the ski is not bent and her leg is straight without weight on the ski. This is the end of the first  lose of a pressure phase. 

 This second photo shows her trying to get the ski to hold, or bite,  by driving the knee. She had to make her stance wide to get this, which causes her balance to move inside, losing precious edge hold. Her usual ability to slice the snow with a clean carve is not there. This is also an attempt to make the second pressure loading movement. She actually had to push her leg straight first, which only serves to put the brakes on and causes a skid. Understanding this, tells you it's adaptive movements she is making to overcome the unnatural edge angle, the boots are forcing on her skiing. This is not "Shiffrin" skiing.

In this last photo, she is well past the gate. Here she is still working hard for edge hold, while standing on 2 feet, with very little ski bend. Without a single carving arc turn, which she is capable of, and is her usual approach with a loaded ski, this is a  2 or three load turn. This results in much slower and much more physically taxing skiing, because it feels like you can't stance solid on the edge and you can't get out of the arc.

Two seasons ago Shiffrin had a bad start in the early slaloms. It was boot related. Here is a skier that is usually winning slalom races by 1/2 to a hull second. Sure some of her competitors are catching up to her and skiing stronger, however that's why it's even more important the boots be completely set up right, and done perfectly. They aren't there yet.

Compare this to the above positions and alignment!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Dialing in a boot set up for maximal performance.

Diana Rogers has her left boot very close to optimal.

After three days of cuff adjustments, canting angle and making ankle room it's close. 
Here is the top of the arc!

The finish of the arc, consistency of turns and angles, edge feel and hold, ski slicing the snow, and release rebound are all parts of skiing we take into consideration when we fine tune a boot set up. 

 Consistency from run to run and turn to turn starts to get dialed in.
 Here I'm on my second day testing, not happy with the body adjustment I have to make for the boot and ski to work.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Skiing is about creating angles!

If you aren't creating angles, if you are not putting the ski on an angle, you are missing the fun.

Skiing with Diana Rogers she is dressed all in blue, great skier!

Diana Rogers, PMTS Examiner and Demo Team
Diana is a great racer, demonstrator and PMTS coach.

Harald Harb, PMTS Examiner and Demo Team

                                                               Diana Rogers ripping turns

                                         H.H. Getting the boots and the body lined up.