Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

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Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby WNYSkier » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:29 pm

Hi All,

I’m posting this at Harald’s suggestion. This is a chronology of pm’s between Harald and myself as he helped me develop my GS technique. Harald thought it would provide an example of how a student’s technique evolves through continuous iterations of successive approximation, analysis and feedback between the coach and student.

When I put the chronology together I was surprised to see how my interpretation and understanding of the movements changed as my technique evolved.

But first, a disclaimer: I basically patched the pm’s together in Word and then pasted the entire mess into a single post. Hopefully the spirit and intent are still intact!

Here it is:

1. Current GS technique
Sent at: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:03 pm
by WNYSkier

Hi Harald,

Just a gentle reminder that I’ve been anticipating your analysis of the modern GS turn in the “World Cup Tech Update” thread. I realize that you are busy preparing for your next camp, but time for quality skiing is running short here in western NY, and I’d love to be able to apply some of your insights to my own skiing!

I’ve been one of those “lurkers” out there on the PMTS forum for about a year, looking in to see what people are talking about. Funny thing is, I’ve never spent more than about 15 minutes on Epic as it was immediately apparent that they were wildly off base in almost anything that was being discussed, PMTS is the only forum (other than occasional trips over the SR forum) that I read. Why waste my time on the other sites?

Thanks for your time and consideration,
Mark

2. Re: Current GS technique
Sent at: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:21 pm
by h.harb

I’d love to be able to apply some of your insights to my own skiing!


I'd be glad to help in any way.

HH

3. Re: Current GS technique
Sent at: Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:09 pm
by WNYSkier

Hi Harald,

Here is my technical question: What are the WC athletes doing in transition and high C in GS turns? My biggest problem in my own GS skiing right now is inconsistent turn shape. The turns are always clean, but the turn shape is not consistent. It is often a nice "c" shape, but getting the high engagement right and have it lead into more of a "<" shape so that I get direction above and into the fall line is where I'm inconsistent. When I get it I rocket through the middle and bottom of the turn, really on the gas. I have experimented with timing of release and holding CB/CA through transition, 2 foot pull back, etc. What works (I think) is holding CB/CA through release with 2 foot pull back. Where is gets muddy is the engagement: It seems that if I try to put in very much CA it actually makes it difficult to tip and be balanced, being close to square (but still very slightly CA) seems to promote more tipping and CB. When I get the engagement balanced I can be patient, and then increase tipping when I want and really rip into the fall line. But, then I feel I'm playing catch up with my CA. Does this make sense? Yes, I'm going to get a good video camera for next year....

Thanks,
Mark

4. Re: Current GS technique
Sent at: Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:04 pm
by h.harb

It seems that if I try to put in very much CA it actually makes it difficult to tip and be balanced, being close to square (but still very slightly CA) seems to promote more tipping and CB.


You are right on track with everything you posted, GS has always been a game of patience, even on the shaped skis, and maybe more so. The main thing is you can’t commit to pressure in the High C phase. You have to stay flexed or light on the skis as you tip them. Committing too early to CA does cause some pressure as it lengthens the outside leg engaging the ski.

If you look at Norway's Aksel Lund Svindel you’ll see how he floats through that part of the arc, but his skis change direction by tipping action, to where he wants to apply pressure. In GS you it's best to begin extending the outside leg just before the falline, not too much before or your body will be over committed and you won‘t be able to adjust. Tipping the skis while staying in balance over the skis and setting up your body for the eventual management of pressure is the focus for the upper third of the arc.

http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/2006-2007-B/slides/bode-bc-2006-gs-1.html
Notice how Bode doesn't apply pressure until just before the gate, he's floating into position.

Of course, timing of tipping and where the skis travel is important, but that will come more easily after you manage your application of tipping and floating. When you see the racers releasing early and drifting, rather than engaging they are actually preparing for the eventuality of pressuring the ski. This is the obvious madness to the method. The same applies to carving the High C, but it’s not as obvious that’s what is happening, because it looks like the skis are fully engaged and pressured, they are not.

http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/2006-2007-B/slides/raich-aare-2006-gs-2.html
Here Benni has three frames where he is just floating between the two gates, tipping to direct his skis, in the second turn. Of course he is preparing his body alignment with proper counter B and counter A, complimenting his ski tipping, for the engagement that will come.

You don’t need pressure high up in the arc. Once racers realize this and have the confidence to hold back, they can ace the rest of the arc, it’s easy from there on.

I did a little GS training on the new skis and my instincts were too aggressive. I was going much straighter than the rest. This comes from my straight ski racing days. Hermann Gollner, an old coaching colleague told me I needed to back off and round it out more. After I did; I could find the (line?) and tighten to a shorter radius High C; but I had to delay much more than I used to on the straighter skis. Delay doesn’t mean a big round arc, it can be a very tight line, but it has to be round.

I hope this helps.

5. GS advice feedback
Sent at: Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:39 pm
by WNYSkier

Hi Harald,

Thanks again for the reply. I had a chance to read it through this morning before heading out to the slopes. On the drive I digested most of what you said and tried to visualize the movement patterns in my skiing. Once on hill it took some time to integrate it into my skiing.

The biggest things I found were that I needed to back up my release and transition timing. I was holding everything to the last minute and then moving right through to a solid engagement, much like a slalom turn. By backing up the release to earlier in the traverse I made room for some time to let the skis “float”, well, more like ride along on the new edges with very little pressure. I kept the pressure off by slowing down the release to manage the energy and then kept flexed after pulling the feet back while square. During this phase the skis were slightly tipped and gently pulling into the new turn. When I decided to tip actively into the new turn the result was dramatic loading and an incredibly tight arc.

My timing was somewhat erratic with the new pattern, but when it was right it was very effective. I’ll have a chance to work on it more tomorrow as we are having a bit of a second winter here in NY.

A note about equipment: I’m 5’9”, 170, excellent shape. I’m on the Atomic FIS gear, Ti 130, Women’s 183/24m ski. I’ve been riding the men’s 190 (and liking it more and more). Now I understand how a 27m ski can be made to lay down those tight arcs. The length and 27m sidecut allow you to be really patient at the top of the turn while floating in (I don’t like that word, I think it’s more like riding the edges with very little angle) and then tipping into the turn and ripping it. Anyway, I found that I was able to load up the 183 on hard snow to the point where the front was stalling consistently in the turn. The end result is that I’m going to need to get something longer for next season!

Oh, a final question about boot alignment as it relates to the movement pattern: I’m aligned on center (mold mark), but had added ½ degree to put me outside earlier in the season (yes, I used duct tape). I kept it because I could tip more easily and had more bite in the forebody of the ski. With the new movement pattern I’m thinking that I might want to be aligned back to center to allow for a bit more float at the top of the turn. Any thoughts?

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and insights. If I tried to have this conversation with most anyone else I would probably end up with a blank stare.

Cheers,
Mark

6. Re:GS advice feedback
Sent at: Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:16 pm
by h.harb

Being outside slightly is where most racers like to ski GS skis; it gives them more edge before falling inside with the knee.

7. Re: GS advice feedback
Sent at: Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:55 pm
by WNYSkier

Thanks Harald,

I'll leave the boots as they are. There's a lot of varying opinions on boot set up these days, most of it wrong......

I take it that my GS timing and turn shape observations make sense to you? Any other suggestions before I give it another shot tomorrow?

Cheers,
Mark

8. Re: GS advice feedback
Sent at: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:22 pm
by h.harb

It sounds right give yourself a few days to settle in on the new ideas.

9. Re: GS advice feedback
Sent at: Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:54 pm
by WNYSkier

Hi Harald,

OK, I went back at the GS transition again on Sunday and managed to ski myself out of the ballpark. Basically I over-coached myself. Drove home and thought about it, analyzed what I felt and the results, then re-read your pm, again, and again. Listened to what you were saying and went back at it this morning (took ½ day from work to ski with my daughter).

I think I was close before, but then tried to change too many things that didn’t need changing. But most important was this line from your pm: “Tipping the skis while staying in balance over the skis and setting up your body for the eventual management of pressure is the focus for the upper third of the arc.”

The trick was simply giving me the time to transition to neutral and to establish a tip and (most important) counter balance in the high c. Once balance was established I could tip in and really tighten the arc with control. Balancing in the high c is easier said than done on GS skis, it’s tough! It’s also tricky to get the timing right on when to build the tipping to tighten the arc.

My original error was waiting too long to release or releasing too quickly, my upper body then uncoiled into a CA, the skis were instantly on the new edges and worst of all is that I would be inclined into the new turn. Sometimes I would pull off a really nice tight arc, but that’s more luck than technique.

In the end I put together a series of really nice runs on solid blues, being able to ride and tighten the arcs consistently and carrying good speed through the low c, just what I was looking for. When I got on the blacks, the energy at release was tremendous and it was almost impossible to manage the balance in the high c, as the skis were releasing with so much energy! Any hints on managing transitions and high c balance in those conditions?

Thanks again for all of your help.

Cheers,
Mark

10. Re: GS advice feedback
Sent at: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:05 pm
by h.harb

Flex more!

11. Re: GS advice feedback
Sent at: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:19 pm
by WNYSkier

Harald,

Flex more!
- Will do. Have to wait for the weekend to try.

Cheers,
Mark

12. Re: GS advice feedback
Sent at: Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:51 pm
by WNYSkier

Hi Harald,

Well, the season here in WNY is over, but we had mid-winter conditions until the end so I took the last few weeks and worked on my GS turns and have solidly established my new movement patterns. I am now able to choose when and where I start my GS turn and can easily tighten the radius. A real breakthrough for me! Your insights were spot-on and I want to thank you for the time and effort you have spent working with me, I really appreciate it.

My biggest take-away from your advice is patience at the top of the turn. When I found the patience to let the skis continue to float everything came together – it wasn’t about acting, but NOT acting, and letting the turn come to me, which provided the breakthrough. The rest was simply a matter of applying the essentials: active tipping, sufficient and continuously increasing CA/CB, and keeping the free foot tucked up under the counteracted hip. I also found being patient with the stance leg to be extremely important: I had to let it extend on its own; if I pushed it AT ALL I lost the ability to tighten the arc.

My next challenge is putting it all together consistently on steep pitches – I took your advice to flex more and it works, but at speed with steep terrain it takes a lot of testicular fortitude to release hard and then let the skis float! When I get it right the forces are stunning!

I keep a notebook that covers equipment set-up, technique and tactics and refer to it during the season to refresh my memory and to provide a reference to help develop my skiing. I wanted to attach a little “GS cheat sheet” for you to review and comment on but I didn't see a way using the pm system. Is there an e-mail address I could use to send it to you for feedback?

Cheers,
Mark

13. Re: GS advice feedback
Sent at: Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:14 pm
by h.harb

Thanks Mark, Sounds like things are falling into place.

If you don't mind, could you put up a brief description of how you changed your GS skiing, based on what we talked about on our forum? I always try to get recreational skier to do the same thing in their free skiing, as you did, coming from a racer it will help them to realize how patience and the methods we use to achieve it, really work.

Congratulations,
HH
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M

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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby jbotti » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:44 am

With me spending litlle to no time in gates, I find this conversation fascinating. It actually makes me want to get into some gates. Thanks WNYskier, I really enjoyed this. JB.
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby WNYSkier » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:20 pm

John,

Thanks for the comments. During this period I specifically avoided gates. I wanted to separate “technique” from “tactics”. My goal was to move my GS technique to a new level (with Harald’s help) and firmly establish those movement patterns into my skiing before moving to gates. I spent all of my time refining my movements and timing with repetition. I would start on easy blues at low speed and as I established the changes progress to high blues and then to blacks.

Having said that, I'm really looking forward to laying it out in the course! But that will have to wait until next season....
M

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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby jbotti » Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:53 am

It seems really clear that to improve in gates, you need to stay out of them for a while as you are working on things. I have been strictly forbidden from gates this season by my friend Thor who has done a lot of race coaching. We plan to do a 2-3 day primer working on tactics and other things early next season. I hope to make it to Harald's race camp this summer as well.

Best wishes for your season next year. I'm sure you will see wonderful results. If you get itchy, there is always Chile!!!!
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby HeluvaSkier » Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:58 am

I'm bumping this thread for two reasons... One: it is a really good thread. Two: it was the basis for the evening that I spent skiing with WNYSkier this past Friday. We skied GS for several hours in sub-zero temps that gave us some really great snow to practice this on.

There are several things we noted were necessary to allow the "float" that was discussed above to occur. The biggest however, seems to be timing of proper movements. Harald, in his posts above, talked a lot about the timing of tipping and CA in the turn in order to stay patient in the top of the turn, but still have high-C engagement. We found that once the engagement was accomplished and the top of the turn stayed patient - the the tipping, CA, and CB that followed had to be very deliberate (quick). Another aspect of this that wasn't discussed above in detail was the timing of the release. Despite being patient in the transition, the release still needed to be quick and deliberate. If it wasn't, the energy that had built up in the arc seemed to dissipate - making it more difficult to remain patient in the top of the next turn. Both WNYSkier and I were pretty surprised just how important the release is in this process, and just how quickly it needs to happen in order to allow for adequate transition time.

Harald,
If you could (when you have the time of course) elaborate a bit more on the release timing to make sure we are correct in our thinking I think it would make all of the pieces of the puzzle fall together for us (and probably anyone else who is reading).

Later

Greg
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby BigE » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:44 am

Thanks for posting this thread.

It is an instant classic.
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby jclayton » Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:29 pm

Excellent thread , waiting for the reply to Haralds request for elaboration of the release timing .

As I have moved along with PMTS I have learnt to develop a strong rebound at release but have become a bit addicted to it . This thread hopefully will assist me in smoothing it all out and not losing it on the steeps .

I suspect I am not the only one with this problem . I did start to get a bit of a feel for it a few times in Courmayeur last week and it was very satisfying but very hard to judge still .

By the way saw a lot of club racers from all over Italy , a few girls from Cortina were spectacular ( wearing Italia race suits ) pretty well everyone else was up un-weighting and jamming the skis around . Instruction on the slopes terrible but they certainly looked the part . Lovely town .
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby HeluvaSkier » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:48 am

I just exchanged a few quick messages with Harald and he is pretty tied up with teaching and working on the last DVD right now (which I am eagerly awaiting), so he probably won't be able to tackle this thread for a little while (just wanted to let those who were waiting know that he hasn't abandoned us).
Later
Greg
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby Max_501 » Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:45 am

HeluvaSkier wrote:...and working on the last DVD right now (which I am eagerly awaiting)...


I will put up a full review later, but if you haven't ordered those DVDs you are missing out on some really great coaching.
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby HeluvaSkier » Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:44 pm

Max_501 wrote:
HeluvaSkier wrote:...and working on the last DVD right now (which I am eagerly awaiting)...


I will put up a full review later, but if you haven't ordered those DVDs you are missing out on some really great coaching.


I'm ordering all three this week I think.
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby WNYSkier » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:05 pm

I thought it would be good to elaborate on Heluva’s comments and frame the conversation in a specific context.

We were working on two objectives, both related to evolving GS technique:
1. Maximizing float time, including High C engagement, simulating a direct and deep GS line.
2. Minimizing loading in Lower C by completing as much of the direction change as possible in the fall line in order to reduce the “push back” from the hill, which equates to forces in opposition to acceleration.

As Harald points out in his “Note to Racers” in Essentials, the goal of a racer is to use as little edge as possible while still maintaining grip in order to maximize speed.

The perfect balance is to release and then maintain neutral (flat or very slightly upside down) while carrying energy out of the old turn and into the new turn. If you establish this, you can then choose when to tip into the new turn quickly and decisively to complete a tight arc in the fall line. We are talking about >90 degree direction changes here, executed at high speeds, probably 40-50 mph.

Also keep in mind that extending float and choosing when to tip is a matter of at most a couple of tenths of a second.

I’ll take a chance and suggest that what we needed to do was move the release to earlier in the Lower C by using a Power Release and then use the energy to float and pull back both feet while staying flexed. This will set us up to tip (but not actively engage) and provide the freedom to roll into the turn when we choose.
M

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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby h.harb » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:51 pm

Thanks Greg, I am just finishing the last of the Essentials DVD Library. Can I say this is the most precise, concise, easy to use, and complete consumer available ski teaching, education program, ever presented in the world of skiing?

We are very proud of this work. It is not perfect, no I still have things to do to make it perfect, but I'm motivated and it will get perfect. This is completely in-house. We do the skiing, filming, writing, editing and production.

Next project is the complete PMTS beginner Direct Parallel learning program for parents and friends who have new skiers. After that I will do a complete HH skiing video , just me skiing, sorry PSIA, my skiing in every imaginable situation. I might even ski off a 14teener in Colorado. I'll ski gates , steeps, powder, bumps, groomers, I'll even do some jumping and cliff diving (no speedos). And possibly a few sport climbing pitches just to feed my passion. How about a few 24 inch South Boise River Rainbows breaking the surface.
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby onyxjl » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:33 pm

h.harb wrote:Next project is the complete PMTS beginner Direct Parallel learning program for parents and friends who have new skiers.


That sounds very helpful! Especially if it had pointers on common mistakes and things that can go wrong with the drills.
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby Icanski » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:44 pm

HI Harald,
The DVDs are excellent! I can't wait for the next one. But if you put out a perfect one for parents, no one will want to come to a PMTS instructor for a lesson.. :wink:
Maybe you could just add a note at the end to come see one of us to confirm they watched it correctly.... :)
cheers,
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Re: Learning how to learn: developing GS technique with HH

Postby Max_501 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:28 pm

Bumping so HH doesn't miss this question:

HeluvaSkier wrote:IHarald,
If you could (when you have the time of course) elaborate a bit more on the release timing to make sure we are correct in our thinking I think it would make all of the pieces of the puzzle fall together for us (and probably anyone else who is reading).
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