World Cup Tech Update

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World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:24 pm

Why is it that coaches can't see what's really happening with World Cup Ski racing?
After watching another WC slalom, (Zagreb) it becomes more obvious yet, but still the forums and coaches on forums, especially the “want to be recognized” as race coaches crowd, have skiing all backward. I know I'm making a broad statement, but when someone brings me something that's actually right; I'll acknowledge it. Ligety is the only one I've read who told it like it is. ( Present company exluded of course)


Examples of what is happening in the races this season makes it clear.
The racers who are off the snow the most, and pivoting their ski tails, which means they are disconnected from the snow, have the most difficultly going fast and staying in the course. Simple, that's it, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see this, but they don't.

Just as I never bought into the wide stance through the years when all these guys, especially Epic, Ron LeMaster, Ollie LArson, the Gorilla Turn guy, the US coaches Association and PSIA (they still do) were espousing wide stance and two footed weighting, I said no! that’s wrong.

Now that all the racers are in a narrow stance, lifting the old stance ski and on one foot; and picking up or lifting old stance ski, "a la Phantom Move", all this was also wrong according to these geniuses. Epic and Ron and the rest, don’t tell anyone how they had it wrong for ten years, they talk about their new and next wrong interpretation of WC racing, which is what they think the WC skiers are doing lately, they call it “pivoting“. Remember when pivoting was bad? It still is, but they don't know that because they never skied on a world cup course. If you are pivoting on a World Cup course you are immdiately dead!!

This is just as wrong or worst, than the wide stance, two footed weighting idea and era.. (ten years of it at least) .

They watch the same racers as I do, but they see the racers pivoting on every turn. I see the racers trying to stop pivoting and trying to keep the skis on the snow, with as early an edge engagement as possible. Sure, when you are going that fast and you get such strong rebounds and you get late, you sometimes improvise, adapt and make mistakes. When a racer ends up late, he is too close to the next gate, headed at the wrong angle to carve into the new arc, so they have to hack a turn, which does look like a pivot and then a skid results. Over on Epic they think this is the latest WC technique, keep at it boys, you'll really help your skiing and racers with that approach. . Sorry, you are wrong again, now will it take another ten years before they realize they are wrong this time. If you have never skied at this level you shouldn’t invent and analyze WC skiing, as you can’t possibly get it right, they prove it time and time again.

After Ron got shut down by Ligety for his article on pivoting and skidding, he comes out with the next article playing it safe and using the tried and proven approaches for once. All of a sudden Ron is writing, weighting and edging the ski early and letting the Cg cross. Wow, maybe he's reading our forum or maybe Ligety coached him and told him to write the right stuff .


The Swedes are also pathetic, the coaching is pathetic. If I had a junior team with their mistakes; I’d be ashamed. The arm flailing and body rotation makes ballet skiing of the 70ies look controlled. It’s very sad as they have very good athletes, but their technique, fundamentals and style are totally undisciplined. After the first run of the last slalom there were five Austrians in the top ten. They all basically look the same, they are obviously coached correctly. They have disciplined upper bodies, controlled arm positions and lower body foot engagement. Rarely does a hand touch the ground, rarely do they ride the tails and rarely is one arm in front of the other. These guys are old. Benni is almost 30, so is Matt, Schoenfelder and Herbst.

Bode is skiing like the Swedes, or I think they are trying to copy him, and guess what; they've got it. When you want to copy a WC skier, why not copy one that makes it to the finish in slalom in the top ten every so often at least.

Ligety is great, his alignment is soft, but he’s such a great athlete he can make it in spit of his boot set up handicap. Ligety should be the best slalom skier, but the boot guys and the coaches don’t see what’s wrong.

Bode is the funniest guy on the WC in slalom. He constantly wants Head to make skis for him that are stiffer in the tails. He thinks he nees more support on the back of the skis. How about skiing from the middle of the ski; everyone who makes it down a slalom seems to be able to manage this?? He constantly wants Head to stiffen the back of his boots, so he can lean back farther???? How absurd does this get??? He skis almost exclusively on the back of his equipment. He shoots out of the course with the front of both skis two feet off th esnow in the air. Maybe the back of his equipment is too stiff??? How about working on staying in balance?????? Good tips for Bode and anyone else: are ways to improve balance, keep the hands up, both hands somewhere forward of the hips, would be helpful, pulling the feet back and keeping them back under the hips, at least on the steep sections might also be a good idea.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 3:01 pm

Austrians 1st and 3rd in Zagreb

When you watch the Austrians there is no question they don’t ski like the Swedes or the Americans. Kostelic who was second and Rocca who just got 4th, ski closest to the Austrian technique. Rocca seems to be recovering from his knee injury.

The Americans even Ligety, uses too much leaning and hand dragging for every arc. From a hand dragging lean, you are a long way from a counteracted ending to the turn. You must, if you are going to hold an edge and rebound with leg absorption, be counteracted and have the upper body over the outside ski at the end of the arc. This is very traditional, but still mandatory. The human body, gravity the forces from the turn haven’t changed that much, even though the skis have.

Image
Mario Matt: Shoulders level lifted inside ski.

Image
Matt countered facing toward stance boot

Image
Ligety leaning in, hand on snow.

It’s not always fair to select photos to demonstrate technique, because you can use photos to prove almost anything you want. I choose these photos to compare basic techniques between the Austrians and almost everyone else. Although the Americans and the Swedes are on the opposing, far end of the spectrum, from the Austrians, as far as a technique they use and develop, it’s the wrong end of that scale. The French have some rising stars in Grange and Lizeroux and they seem to be smack in the middle between the three nations in this comparison.

The photos are backed up by consistent movements demonstrated in video runs from all eight World Cup slalom races this season.

Although Matt, Herbst, Schoenfelder and Raich may have a bobble every so often, they more consistently show the skiing in these photos.

Although you can find very exciting photos of Ligety and the rest of the Americans, including Cochrane, who is having his best year, you will find more photos that are consistent with the type of skiing shown in photos of this article, compared to the skiing shown by the Austrians. I don’t even count Bode, as we all know where his technique is.

There is clearly a different approach to the training and coaching the Austrian coaches demand. I don’t understand how a coach can tolerate this leaning and hand on the snow style shown by these racers. It is inconsistent, dangerous and no faster than what the Austrians are doing. The Swedes in particular, although sometimes fast, (for half a run) are all over the place. They never place more than one, sometimes two skiers in the top ten. One of the Austrians, if not 2 are consistently placed in the top 3, with up to four skiers in the top ten.

Usually, results speak for themselves.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 3:24 pm

Image

Although Grange is not as counter balanced in this photo as the Austrians he has his inside hand up. He is in the same spot on the course as Ligety in the previous post. Grange is more upright and closer to the base of the gate. This is a better line and he will require less movement to get to the next edge angle.
This is obviously more efficient and faster.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:26 pm

Image

In a demonstration turn like this without gate blocking, the pieces fit together for proper technique development. Racers need this kind of discipline (out of the race course), to keep it together when travelling at high speed and moving quickly.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby jbotti » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:31 pm

Great stuff Harald. I never looked specifically and hand position in rel;ation to the snow as a tool to help spot incination and leaning in. It 's not surprising that with my tendency to lean in an times (not getting the appropriate level of counterbalance) that I foten find my hand right off the snow. When I loo at pictures or video of my skiing, and always see the lean in when my hadns are next to the snow.

It has been easy for me to be seduced into believing that the highest possible edge angles produce the best skiing (or even the tighest turns for that matter!!). I can see how this would be seducing for a coach as well.
Balance: Essential in skiing and in life!
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:08 pm

Thanks John, Looking forward to a great week.

Image
Here's one without hand in the snow
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:11 pm

Here's skiing into a more Image

extreme counter acted upper body, often seen on the world cup.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:18 pm

Here's one with the hand in the snow a no no!!

Image in the snow a no no!!
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby skinoob » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:45 pm

It's must be a trend from these racers. In the local nastar in my area, I usually see many have intention to move their hand close to snow which is never suggested in any drill in books. Now I know it's bad for balance :wink: .
read book, watch video, do drill !!!
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby JohnMoore » Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:11 am

How does Ivica Kostelic look to you, Harald? He strikes me as having a really smooth style and doesn't seem to need to throw in as many recovery skids as some others (all the turns look fully carved). But I'm far from being an expert observer of such things. He's the skier on the World Cup circuit I'd most like to emulate, though! (I have some way to go :D ).
Last edited by JohnMoore on Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby HeluvaSkier » Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:30 am

h.harb wrote:Here's one with the hand in the snow a no no!!

Image in the snow a no no!!


Yeah - definitely a no-no. Not only can it throw off lateral balance if that low inside hand is driving movement of the inside of the body (shoulders/hips), but when you put a hand down at the speeds you travel at in a carve it really can pull (twist) your upper body into the hill very aggressively. The implications or having it hit snow can be pretty severe.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:20 am

HH from a previous post:
When you watch the Austrians there is no question they don’t ski like the Swedes or the Americans. Kostelic who was second and Rocca who just got 4th, ski closest to the Austrian technique. Rocca seems to be recovering from his knee injury.
Image
Ivica is skiing great. I have always liked his skiing. He is very close to the Austrian technique. He never bought into the wide stance two footed skiing. You can see the mature skiers on the World Cup have figured out that all this flashy skiing leads to crashing, but you can still be very fast with solid skiing. Also since the skis are now slightly wider, and the radius has increased slightly, the leaning is not working as easily. In other words you can't get away with as much of it.

Ligety is a very talented solid skier, but his technique is not solid, I like his approach, he attacks even with his soft alignment. His alignment has more to do with his inconsistent results than his actual technique. He is still young, but if he doesn't find speed with solid technique, he will fade away, as the mental part will start to work on his confidence.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby HeluvaSkier » Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:36 am

h.harb wrote:Ligety is a very talented solid skier, but his technique is not solid, I like his approach, he attacks even with his soft alignment.


i think you have explained this elsewhere, but I can't seem to find it. What do you mean by "soft" alignment?
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby h.harb » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:18 am

Gerg,

Here's the reference, I also e-mailed Ted, but I have not heard back. I think I can make Ted the best slalom skier on the world cup. I think if I could work with him for four to six weeks, it has to be on winter hard snow, I can change his skiing so he could win consistently. I think I can also bring Bode's slalom back to where is a top 5 finisher, but talking to Bode is like talking to a brick wall.

Ligety Alignment: By Harald Harb
Ligety is great, his alignment is soft, but he’s such a great athlete he can make it in spite of his poor boot set upor handicap. Ligety should be the best slalom skier, but the boot guys and the coaches don’t see what’s wrong.



Soft alignment means the knee has to rotate too far in before you get resistance from the edges (that’s what they call Knocked Kneed) . An over bow legged skier like Jens Byggmark doesn’t have any knee roll-in, but he gets a hard edge and it cuts immediately instead. There are advantages and disadvantages to either set up, so the best is to be somewhere near neutral; in other words the happy median between too bowed and too knocked kneed.
Compare the two photos, look at the legs and shins!!
ImageImage
MOre often you can see Ligety leaning away from his stance boot, this is a compensation for his alignment. If he were to lean toward it, (which would be stronger counter balance) his knee would drop in too far. This causes the stance ski to get stuck inside, making it very difficult to release the ski. Often, if you watch all of Ligety’s turns, especially on his right leg, you will see his boots get locked and the outside knee shows a strong A-frame . Some A-frame can be evident on many skiers, but not in the same place in the arc where Ligety shows it. You have to know the mechanics to know what shows as knock kneed or bowlegged.

I called Benni Raich’s bowlegged leg set up a year before the Austrians got around (Lange boots) to fixing it. It cost Benni numerous world cup results. Ligety’s alignment is soft, not horrible, but he is compensating. If he didn’t have to compensate, it would be interesting to see his results.
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Re: World Cup Tech Update

Postby HeluvaSkier » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:40 am

Thanks for the quick response. I had heard somewhere that he was running somewhere in the ballpark of 4 degrees of canting toward the outside on his boots - putting him in a very bowlegged stance (IMO). Has be backed off this since switching to Rossi do you think? By the looks of things it seems that he may have... or needs more? I wonder what his natural alignment is in comparison to someone like Benni. I be it is not nearly as good, although there is no reason that can't be improved upon.
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