Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Compare stance width


                                                      H.H. 8 weeks after hip replacement
                 Stance width is a case of functional alignment and balance, not style or coaching.
Coaching someone to a narrower stance is possible, however, it will require a new level
                              of balance and probably an alignment adjustment. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Transition in Skiing is the most confusing.

Changing from one turn to the next is called the transition. It is really changing your edge angles from one side of the skis to the other. This is the most difficult part of skiing to grasp and to do correctly. It is also when "done right" is the key to expert skiing. 

Here in this series of photos, I am releasing the edge angles from the previous turn to the new set of angles for the next turn.
    In the previous photo the outside leg is longer.

Notice the ski tip lifts and the leg retracts the ski from the snow. 

                                                                                  Lead the transit with the new inside leg tipping first.

                                      The descriptions:

               The photo above:  Finish the turn with more tipping to create Tipping and edge change Momentum. The upper body should be counteracted and holding the counteracting in transition.

The yellow arrow demonstrates: Tip lift with the ankle and knee, flexing or bending or shortening the leg. This means to relax the muscles to release and bring the knee toward the chest. This is indicated by the ski tip lift. Notice how the uphill arm stays forward, the chest still points toward the lifting ski boot. Relaxing the legs causes un-tipping or flattening of the skis. Putting the transition is in play.
The upper body has not changed direction as the skis came onto the new edges. The skis have tipped into and toward the falline making a natural uncoiling possible. Now the counteracting movements for the next turn can begin.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The slalom technique that makes for fast skiing.

                          This article is developing, comments and analysis just hours away.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The complete Boot fitting and Alignment experience.

                                 This is not your grandfather's boot fitting experience

"If you don't get your boots set up to maximize your movement ability, you'll be making the same old turns again this season."

Ski and leg angles created with a relaxed body and great balance are the goals.

Harb Ski Systems over the last 26 years has evolved the foot fitting and leg alignment process to the complete, most refined procedure with proven, exceptional results. Are we better than what others try to do? No, we just do alignment and fitting differently.  We are the only ones in the ski industry using a system of measuring and developing skiing movements that can be matched to boot enhancement. 

Cuff alignment must be properly established before sole angles are determined.

Harb Ski Company President, Harald Harb as a National and International level ski coach started boot alignment in 1979. This led him and his professional staff to integrate skiing movements with boot alignment. Based on the skier's ability to achieve the correct angles, Harb Ski Systems developed a repeatable, proven process resulting in preferred optimized outcomes for any kind of leg structure. 

No two legs, ankles or feet are the same. The alignment system must be able to address all the different variations.

The term "Boot Fitting" is misleading and may vary dramatically from one quote "Expert" boot fitter to another. Boot fitters by-enlarge aren't on the slopes to see their results. This is another area where Harb Ski Systems specializes. 95 percent of all skiers coming through the alignment and fitting process at Harb Ski Systems have been evaluated and fine tuned on snow while skiing. The Evolution of the Harb Alignment process is strongly based on a skiers ability to improve their movements.

Harald says, "I knew for the beginning that the end result came from the need of refined skiing movements. Without a repeatable systematic indoor measuring process and a fool proof on-snow confirmation, evaluated by the same people who are doing the indoor measurements, you are shooting in the dark."

Two totally different sets of legs require totally different set ups.

This skier has a poor set up. For this to work the cuffs need extra adjustment range. We have the adjustment hardware fabricated and we retrofit them to the boots, to accommodate many different leg shapes.

How do we know this? With the Harb Ski Systems process, the coach is the alignment specialist. The coach on the hill makes the determination as to what alignment would help racers or recreational skiers create the movements most needed for success. Harb ski Systems used ski racing as the test bed because there is no guessing with racers. The clock doesn't lie. This process helped many racers ascend to result levels they had never achieved prior to using Harb Skier Alignment methods.

Question: Do you want your alignment and fitting done by a shop guy who has never seen you ski and doesn't know what you need, or buy a coach with experience coaching and developing World Cup skiers?

The process:

The shop evaluation, and work on the boots takes 1.5-3 hours, depending on how much needs to be done. The alignment assessment takes ~20 minutes. If we need to make custom footbeds, that takes ~40 minutes. 

Adjusting the boot cuffs can be a few minutes or up to an hour (if we need to retrofit a lot of hardware to get more range of travel). Under-boot alignment takes ~30 minutes. 

When making an appointment, please let us know the make, size and model of your boots so that we have an idea of what modifications are possible.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Skiing with a new Hip.

This is a photo from my 3rd day on snow with a new hip

                                4th day on snow left hip is new.

As with a new knee you never know what is going to happen on snow. You have to do your best to set up the boots with the new joint because the geometry is all changed. The hip stem angle is different and the stem length increases by 4mm. Doesn't sound like much but with all the muscles traumatized from surgery and not really firing it's a real adventure out there.

My first day out was at 7.5 weeks, the next at 8.5 and the last photos in red pants 10 weeks out.

      4 days after the above photos, below are the ones from today, November 25.

                       Still doing some fine tuning on my cuffs.

My boot tuning is almost set. Without the proper set-up I would not be able to tip the skis to these angles. Without our precise alignment system in play, I'd be fighting my own body and my skis. Now after skiing 3 days, it's a matter of only a few slight adjustments with the cuff, maybe 1/8 of a turn on the adjustments. The left replacement hip and right knee replacement are feeling almost completely normal, but I am not putting the full load on it yet.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Perfect at 14!

Do I know this skier? No. 

However, she shows everything we teach in the PMTS ski system. How does she accomplish this? With natural super talent, you achieve this kind of skiing with little or no coaching. Can it be coached and taught? Yes, but the way to coach this type of skiing is mostly undeveloped by mainstream coaching. Mainstream coaching is mired in contradiction and in controversial PSIA ski instructor methods. In fact, the US Ski Team has adopted ski instructor methods for the USSA coaches system. 

Therefore it has many conflicting approaches that are directly opposite of how this skier performs. 

If you look at all the movements that a skier needs to achieve this perfect relationship of the body to skis; you can identify the "Essentials of Skiing". In the photo, you can also identify the "Check Points" in action developed by Harb Ski Systems.

I'll point out a few of the "Check Points" of efficient and world cup skiing here that this skier uses demonstrated by this photo:
  1. Counterbalance
  2. Counteracting
  3. Vertical foot separation
  4. Inside leg flexing and tipping
These are all PMTS Direct Parallel "Essentials" that Harb Ski Systems teaches. We offer instruction services for these "Essentials" with our books, videos, and Ski Camps.

Friday, July 26, 2019

US Ski Team's "Deep Dive". Downward Slide!

               Stagnation with high salaries for top executives, therefore nothing changes!

Again, the same thing over and over, the US Ski Team's response: it says it's addressing these deficiencies. They have had 5 years with the present administration in place to do something. They had all kinds of meeting with coaches and experienced people in the industry contributing ideas and programs. Very little was implemented and not much was accomplished. The downward slide started prior to the present management, granted. The present management knew there were major issues, 5 years ago. Yet, they have not changed course, in fact, they are adding to the problems, based on results.

Link to article:


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Three types of advanced short turns!

These three different types of turns are pointed out here to give skiers an insiders view of how professional skiers change their approach to achieve and apply versatility.

Bullet Proof Short Turn. This is a tight forced lower radius arc, and with a transition without a traverse. Great warm up and tight spot one groomer width turn.

A more rounded developed arc, with an obvious flexing retraction of the legs. If you want to be secure on steeps and great for speed control.

A quick rebound turns, not really creating a round arc. These are high energy turns for a short burst or two, not an all day type of skiing short turn.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ski Industry is messing up skiers!

The ski industry has no idea what they are doing to skiers when it comes to bindings, and when it comes to heel to toe angles. And skiers have no idea what to ask for and what the different bindings will do to their skiing. Even a set up slightly off your needs will make your skiing struggle. For example, "Elan's" version of the Head Tyrolia bindings SLR, that Elan uses and they are branded as an Elan, has a 0-ramp angle. The PRD Tyrolia on a Head Super Shape Speed comes with a 6-degree ramp angle. The Super Lite Rail is made mostly for women's skis. For some women, this is an impossible fore/aft balance situation. Models of Marker have a -3mm heel to toe ramp angle, on a short boot which most women use, this set up is almost impossible to ski. This measures out to be about a 16-degree "toe high" angle. This makes no sense what-so-ever. In our alignment and skier evaluation process we try to correct or direct people toward the right set up for their personal needs. Every skier is different, every person is different. Every leg length to torso relationship requires a properly selected ramp angle. In most ski shops, you will have to ask the salesperson. I'll guarantee they will have no idea about the ramp angle of the binding. The ski industry doesn't have any of this figured out for the benefit of the consumer. Why and how do we know about these things at Harb Ski Systems? Because we ski with almost everyone we sell skis, boots, and bindings to; we see the issues on the slope, then we fix the problem. We are working on producing some videos for this topic to come out on YouTube. Look for it on my Harald Harb channel, next fall. Hopefully, through these efforts skiers can have a better idea of how to select their best set up.

The attitude of the ski industry is so antiquated for example, this is the response: "This works for our best-sponsored skiers and testers and our world cup skiers, so it has to be right for you." That is such bullshit and we prove it every day at our alignment center and in our ski camps that this way of developing a product is wrong.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mueller Report

Monday, April 8, 2019

Keeping up your skiing year after year!

Comparing my skiing from one year to the next gives me an idea if it is still on the right track.

November 2018

March 2019

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Victor Muffet Jeandet shows Harb Techniques!

If you are still coaching or teaching PSIA extension or pushing off or a wide stance with pivoting, you had better look at what is really happening on the world cup by the best.

PMTS Direct Parallel has been documented in books, videos, and DVDs for 22 years. 

                                       PMTS is the coaching of Harb Systems. 

Here it is demonstrated by one of the top world cup skiers in his freeskiing.

 In the photos above Victor Muffet-Jeandet increases his counteracting and counterbalance.

Below notice the release of the big toe edge ski first! This is demonstrated by an "O" frame knee position.

 The above photos show "flexing retraction" and "pull back" of the foot all in two photos. Jeandet holds his counteracting while releasing his legs and ski angles.

Compare the lifting of the stance foot and flexing of that leg. 

In the below photos the tail of the ski is obviously lifted more than the tip. This confirms that he is pulling the free foot back, which moves the hips forward before he arrives at the falline. 

                                                   No extension is used or necessary.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A treatise for skiing at the highest levels.

            Learn to use Muscles and Movements from top-level World Cup Skiers

The previous Post (one article below) in which I demonstrate the differences between world cup skiers prompted me to offer a more complete explanation as to what is happening in detail. The best racers have figured this out, the less efficient show more rotation and leaning, without the effective coiling shown by the best. 

Perfect preparation for a release, Hirscher with a coiled body holds his counteracting until the critical moment.

The energy that Helps with Release and Transition
There is an extraordinary reaction in athletic activities due to the response of a muscle to stretching. This reaction exists in all sports where a muscle is stretched beyond its resting length. In certain sports, such as golf and track and field, the reaction is known and exploited, while in skiing the influence of the muscle reaction has not been recognized.

Releasing the Tension in a Stretched Muscle
When a muscle is stretched beyond its resting length it creates tension within the muscle. When released from its stretch, just like a spring, the muscle will pull back to its original length, without an active effort to contract that muscle. You can use this recoil or release of tension on its own, to create some movement without active effort, or you can use it to augment your effort — after the moment of stretch, the muscle can contract more strongly than without the pre-stretch.

In the body, there are many opposing muscle sets in which one can be used to pre-stretch the other. Think, for example, of counterbalancing. If you contract the muscles on the right side of the torso, pulling the right ribs toward the right hip, then the left side of the torso will be stretched. In order to release the tension developed in the left side, one must only relax the right side. If you alternate the counterbalancing movements rhythmically from side to side, then each time that you relax one side, you get the spring effect on the other side of the torso that will start to pull you in the new, desired direction.

Hirscher holds his coiled body until he's ready for a transition.

Managing Actions and Reactions
Many people who participate in sports never get the sense of body movements that are a reaction; they only sense and perform active, premeditated efforts. In our counterbalancing example above, they might sense the effort to crunch one side then the other, without ever being aware of the “spring back” of the torso that results simply from relaxing or decreasing their efforts. There is a different sense of control between active efforts and reactions.

When you release stored energy, you may or may not be able to control the reaction that results once it starts. The key to success is proper preparation. Consider the release from a ski turn: if you are in balance over the skis and ready to tip the feet and counterbalance in the new direction, then an energetic release will create the desired result of High-C angles. If you are leaning back with your arms and torso rotated, then the energy from the release will likely cause you to rotate further and probably fall backward. This completely undesirable reaction is due to poor preparation prior to release. With correct preparation, you can simply relax one or more parts of the body, let the stored energy take you, and know that you will achieve the desired result.

The efficiency of the PMTS Technique
When I developed the PMTS technique, I based it on mechanics and dynamics. My premise was that efficient movements that produce the desired results with the skis would create progress and results for all skiers. In the process of developing and teaching the technique, I have found that effective technique not only makes the skis do what you want for one turn, it also prepares the skis and the body to take advantage of the reactions of one turn for performing the next. These reactions include the energetic rebound of ski equipment and the release of stored energy in muscles under tension. The effective technique produces the desired results in one turn, the reactions that help with linking turns, and the preparedness to unleash these reactions without having to consciously control their outcome.

Diminished Performance from Incorrect Technique
If you are trying to push your body from one arc to the next, you will never experience skiing as it is intended. Skiers are often taught to push their bodies downhill toward an imaginary point, toward the center of the upcoming arc, or simply up and down the slope. This pushing effort, an extension of the new outside or stance leg, is intended to move the body from one side of the skis to the other, and to create body and edge angles. The deliberate extension requires effort, and it outweighs any rebound or release energy that might be available to assist with the turn transition. Indeed, the turn that results from an energetic extension often lacks the sort of rebound energy that I described above.

Your Previous Athletic Experiences May Not Be Helping
Sometimes, previous athletic experiences and movement familiarity may hold us back from experiencing low-effort, high-performance skiing. Virtually all sports and activities require a “push-off” type movement of the leg. This is what we term a concentric contraction of the quadriceps ( the thigh muscle on the front of the upper leg). In a concentric contraction, the muscle shortens as it is tensed. Starting in the schoolyard with running and jumping, we have trained our legs to extend with contraction of the quadriceps muscle. Continue into soccer, football, basketball (run, cut, and jump); track and field (more running and jumping); ice or inline skating (push off hard to skate faster). All these sports train us to push off the ground by extending the leg, the concentric contraction.

Alpine skiing requires different types of muscular contraction, including isometric — the muscle stays the same length while tensed, not straightening or bending the leg — and eccentric
— the muscle lengthens while contracted, causing the leg to bend more. Here are examples of each type of contraction. Imagine that you are holding a heavy box that you need to set down on the floor. Holding the box, slowly squat down toward the floor. This is the eccentric contraction of the quadriceps. When you are partway down to the floor in your squat, stop and hold that position for a moment or two — that’s isometric. Then, stand back up, still holding the box. That’s a concentric contraction.

Even though we are most familiar with the concentric contraction, and we train it most often, having strength, balance, and control in isometric and eccentric contractions of the quadriceps will be more important in skiing. The hamstrings will contract to maintain fore/aft balance while the quads are controlling the extension or the flexing of the leg. What does this imply about cross-training for alpine skiing? Well, vertical jumps and leg extensions are not the most important movements to practice.

If we list movements of the legs in order of their importance in skiing, tipping the feet would be first, followed by flexing or bending the legs. Taking it further we’d go to retracting the legs — an active effort to shorten or bend them, not just a passive relaxation — which is used in quick, short turns in bumps, steeps, and slalom racing. This points to the fact that pulling the feet and legs toward the body is more important in skiing than pushing the body away from the feet.

What Efficient Leg Movements do the Skis
If you tip your skis onto the new edges in the upper part of the arc, before the skis turn or travel downhill, and establish solid balance with counterbalancing and continued tipping, you are starting the new arc correctly. The skis’ sidecut will engage in the snow, with the result being an arc that curves into the fall line. Increase the edge angle by flexing (bending) the inside leg and tipping more while staying in balance and riding the skis through the arc. Extend the outside leg enough the stay in contact with the snow and to prepare for the loads through the middle and bottom of the arc. These movements create a great turn. As the arc of the skis brings you back across the hill, relax the outside leg (don’t contract the thigh muscle as hard). When you reduce your resistance to the loads at the bottom of the arc, the outside leg will bend and your body will start to travel downhill, across the skis, and into the new turn arc without any need to push.

The motion of the body out of the old arc, into the new arc, is a reaction to relaxing the old stance leg. It’s a result of the proper preparation throughout the arc. With it comes a certain sense of uncoiling and unfolding from the angles of the old turn. It’s often an unsettling sensation for skiers who haven’t felt it before. Most skiers and instructors never feel this uncoiling because they prepare for and perform their “release” by extending the new outside leg, pushing themselves out of the old turn. This pushing movement completely ignores the stored energy in the arc of the turn; if there was stored energy in their skis and body from the previous arc, it is dissipated without contributing to the start of the new turn.

If you ski with the correct technique, starting the release by relaxing the legs and allowing the legs to bend, you release the stored tension in the muscles and the rebound of the ski. The energy that you stored in your body and skis through the arc is made available to help with the turn transition. Bending the ski through the turn arc — which is produced by using the leg movements described above — is necessary for creating a rebound. Not only will bending the ski tighten the turn arc and assist with speed control, but it also has the desirable effect of making energy available at the release.

Creating Tension in the Muscles
Muscles are stretched, creating stored tension, through several efforts of the PMTS technique. Counterbalancing stretches one side of the torso while the other side is contracted. Counteracting twists the torso, stretching many muscles. Deep flexing of the inside leg stretches the hamstring and gluteus muscles. Most of the muscles subjected to stretching, and thus the stretch response, are on the free-foot side of the body.

If you are skiing with the PMTS technique, then you are either performing this stretching already, or you are on the verge of it. Remember that to produce the stretching response, the muscle has to be stretched beyond its relaxed length. So, your range of motion needs to be sufficient to stretch the muscles. If you are counterbalancing, you can’t just tighten the muscles while the torso remains in line with the legs; you have to tilt the torso enough to stretch the muscles on the free-foot side of the torso. You have to make an angle between your torso and your legs.

Next, in order to derive a benefit from pre-stretching the muscle, you have to release the stretch and contract those muscles right away after stretching — you cannot wait, or the benefit is lost. What does this mean in skiing? You cannot hesitate at release and still benefit from the pre-stretch. At transition, if you flatten your skis and then pause, gathering the confidence to tip further, then you’ve lost that additional impetus, that boost. Overcoming the hesitation, though it may feel like you are giving up control, will require less effort and will put you in the new arc sooner and faster.

When you relax to release from a turn with pre-stretch, at first you might not know what the outcome will be. We can tell you that the result is great, that you’ll go exactly where you want to go, but you’ll develop trust and confidence sooner if you begin on more gradual terrain.

Pre-Stretch in Counterbalancing
To build the correct tension in the free-side muscles using the PMTS technique, after the release, tip, engage, keep flexing the inside leg and extending the outside leg. The energy that you build through the arc, both in the bent ski and the stretched muscles, can be “stored” until the time of release, or it can be slowly dissipated through too-early bending of the stance leg or a late or too-slow release. When you maintain the stored energy until release and then flex to release, your body will start to move across the skis in a beautiful way. If you tip the feet toward the new edges at the same time, you can easily tip all the way to the new edges. This should be performed in a relaxed manner, not rushing or panicking.

As the feet are tipping from the old to the new edges, the upper body is tilting from the old to the new direction. This is where pre-stretching helps. At release, as the legs are relaxed, so should be the muscles in the stance side of the torso that were responsible for counterbalancing in the old turn. This releases the stretch in the muscles of the free side, making them momentarily “stronger” as they begin the counterbalancing effort for the new set of edges. You can counterbalance sooner and harder with the benefit of pre-stretch, readying you to balance on the new, High-C edges.

The combined results of ski rebound and counterbalancing pre-stretch make for a quicker than usual transition to the new edges. Though this might give you the sense that the hips are leading downhill through the transition, don’t actually push the hips. Once you are on edge, stay balanced and the ski will carve into the High-C part of the new arc. As long as you do not twist or turn the feet, you’ll be fine and you’ll be in control. Keep flexing and tipping to tighten the turn arc.

Pre-Stretch in Counteracting
If you have developed proper and sufficient counteracting movements through the arc of the turn, then the pre-stretch of the opposite set of counteracting muscles will give you a stronger turn transition. This is especially helpful on steep terrain and icy snow.

Once tipping angles are established and the skis are gripping on edge, counteracting movements align the skeleton so that the whole body can support the load of resisting momentum through the arc. Counteracting movements coil the upper body, down to the hips and lower back, relative to the lower body. If you counteract hard enough to stretch the opposing set of muscles, then the relaxation at release will unwrap you quickly from the old angles, and give you a head start into the angles and counteracting movements of the new turn. This works in tandem with the counterbalancing movements of the previous section. The result is a quicker transition, and an earlier arrival at balance on and engagement of the new edges.

Few show this perfect preparation.

Hirscher uncoiling, relaxing releasing his stance leg from holding to retraction.
Relax for Better Performance
As I pointed out earlier, we are accustomed to using and feeling strong extensions of the legs in many sports and activities. When we bring this familiar activity into skiing, though pushing the body away from the feet may feel strong and forceful, extension at the wrong time diminishes the performance of the skis, makes you lose balance, and overall is simply a waste of effort and energy.

When you balance with the skis, rather than pushing away from them, you give the skis a chance to bend and store energy; you get  better grip and a tighter radius in the current turn, and an easier transition to the next. Combine this with counterbalancing and counteracting movements that are strong enough to pre-stretch their opposing muscles, and you’ll get quicker and easier turn transitions than you ever thought, simply by relaxing. You’ll have a new elegance and effectiveness in your skiing, with an economy of effort. that’s a great goal for the coming season.

Written By Harald Harb, President, Harb Ski Systems and PMTS Trainer. Volume 7, Number 1

October 10, 2006, edited, updated in January 2019.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Differences in World Cup Slalom between top men.

If we look at Marcel Hirscher as the benchmark for technical refinement and prowess here is what is remarkable about his skiing.

   He counteracts and counterbalances more often and with more upper body flexibility and with more range of motion beyond the rest.

The double hand block has numerous advantages, but it has one that most observers rarely point out. It doesn't allow the inside hand to reach for the ground. Too many of the top racers use the inside hand reach as a crutch.

In the Parallel city slalom that Hirscher won, many racers used this double block. 

Counteracting and counterbalance!

If you compare Christoffersen there is more upper body rotation and less counterbalance.

Hirscher creates more CA, holds it longer at the point of release than the rest.

The new guy "Clement Noel" has most of Hirscher's technical qualities.

Compare the two, Christoffersen is more stretched out leaning further from his outside ski boot.

Hirscher's upper body is more verticle and his hip less rotated. It doesn't take much, and the consequences are grave if you don't have enough.


Below are extreme opposites, rotation of the upper body by Christoffersen, while Hirscher is strongly counteracting.

                                    More Comparisons

The lines show the angles of counterbalance and body lean.
                            Clement Noel, (below)