Saturday, June 2, 2018

Flexing and ski angle changes during arcs.

On slalom skis, the body reaction to ski angle changes and leg angles have to be immediate.  Personally, I add the upper body changes also like new CA for the next arc, after the new edges are established. 

By this, I mean lower body "flexed leg tipping",  this occurs first then, you can see that CA is applied as the outside leg lengthens. There is so much happening right in the transition that any mis-timing or delay in either flexing/tipping or CA, loses the optimal arc. 

This is why when I hear USSA and US Ski Team development coaches constantly telling kids to move thier hips up and forward I have to cringe. No one in the top seed in the world does what the US Development coaches are telling our kids.

You can see this on the world cup. You also have to take into account the boot set up. For example, as your boot set-up gets softer, you need more counteracting to keep the lower leg straighter through the apex. As I you notice in my own videos, if my set up is softer I have to counteract further.  This is due to the adjustments with the cuff. Moving the cuffs away from my leg reduces weird ankle and leg angles, but can soften the edge development feel. 

At this point, when I see this set up on video, I made the sole canting "stronger" to compensate for the cuff movement. We have figured this out from years of testing with at least 50 ski racers. I definitely realize when watching video during filming sessions that when the setup is softer than what I want, you are at the point where the last bit of control is done with sole canting.

What you are pointing out here is the mystery of what brings skiing to the next or highest level.

When a ski racers is at the apex, especially the best skiers on their best runs, soften the outside leg by bending and while the pressure is reduced increase the tipping angles. This can be done without loss of speed or carving angles. In fact, doing this increases carving angles and tightens the radius under the gate. To many observers, this movement looks like it is done by adding femur rotation. Not so!

Few observers are even aware that this is happening, because few skiers can create this timing consistently. The softening or bending of the leg outside leg (during the arc) allows a controlled momentary pressure reduction. For that instant, it gives you access to further tipping ability, giving you higher angles.

The skis, therefore, react to the angle change and tighten the radius. If you look at my skiing over the years, you can see I do this in short turns where I'm arcing tight radius turns. If the skier doesn't apply this technique, they have to wait for the ski sidecut to create the bottom "C" of the arc, which doesn't create as energetic or as precise a line to the next gate. You can see that in my article on my Blog, where I compare Hirscher to the other his two other competitors. 

Keeping the outside leg long or stretched through the bottom "C" of the arc is slow. So now I can get to answering your question directly. Your CA doesn't need to increase at this point if you have the right amount established and have a you ski tails carving and holding.

However, you do have to hold your countered hip strongly at the release or your hips will tend to square up and drag the upper body with it. This is really obvious in GS turns. When you apply this approach, keep a long leg you will have to Immediately, flex and then push off to start flexing again to begin the release. In effect a double release. Making the tansition very weak, and very slow.

These are a highly integrated and coordinated movement patterns, very hard to teach, it's  intuitive to some.

There are skiers that have this ability without realizing they use it. Reilly MacGlasin has it and he didn't know how he did it. When I began coaching him,  I brought this to light for him. I have written about this movement sparingly because it's a really high-end movement understanding, and everything else needs to be right before you can have someone even attempt it. This is so difficult to isolate for someone because it all happens in such a short time frame and there is so much high energy, high angles, and high forces needed to accomplish it. It's very difficult to duplicate slowly in exercises. The closest exercise I've been able to use to re-create the experience is the 'Power Release', from the "Essentials of Skiing" book. 

As a side note, you can't do this if you are trying to go too straight at the gates. The reason is this method has to begin as a round, high C arc, so that the finish can be set up properly. I've known about this technique for decades because I realized I used it. People who analyzed my skiing couldn't explain how I got so much energy and a tightening arc out of the bottom of my turns. They also always remarked that I don't look rushed or didn't ever have to hit my edges hard at the bottom, yet my race times were always fast.

It's a technique worth learning.

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