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Skier analysis

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

How do you conduct skier analysis? Snow up, or? Walk me through your progression and why?

post #2 of 5

"Skier analysis" = MA, usually starts from the skis up. Look at the skis

thru each phase of a turn, then body parts etc. Ask a local ski instructor

for their MA educational material, perhaps they will share their knowledge.

post #3 of 5

Soft focus first: terrain, equipment, psychological, physiological.

Then hard focus. Skis up for sure. Assess each skill separately then as a whole. Stance, rotary, edging, pressure control.


Sound mechanical understanding is required to make an accurate analysis. Can also take years to develop an 'eye'. 

post #4 of 5

Ask yourself is the skier balanced on the sagittal plane (good stance)? are they turning their feet and lower legs beneath a stable quiet upper body? and are they balanced over the inside edge of the outside ski?  These three areas represent the most common errors where we see skiers sitting back, over rotating or leaning on the inside ski.


I look at what is happening in the four planes of motion!


Sagittal plane = balance and pressure control

Frontal plane = balance and edging control

Transverse plane = balance and rotary control

Oblique plane = movements in a combination of all three planes



If there is a problem on one of these planes of motion we must identify the cause of the issue.  For example if we see a problem on the sagittal plane (fore/aft) is that issue based in technique (movement patterns), equipment (alignment issues), psychological (anxiety, intent) or physiological (movement limitations, injuries, fitness), then address the cause of the problem rather than treat the effect or symptom.


This presents a challenge if the issue is caused by something other than technique or psychological as the instructor can do little to change alignment or physiological issues during a lesson.  Still, we are doing a disservice to our guest if we do not correctly identify the cause of their issues.  To offer the correction for these two areas may require the instructor refer the guest to a specialist in either field to reconcile the problem.  Just as a family doctor refers a patient to a specialist for issues outside his scope of expertise.


If for example the issue is alignment on the sagittal plane, is it caused by inappropriate ramp angle, forward lean, delta angle, or binding mount position as these four areas all have an effect on the skiers' fore/aft balance and subsequent stance requirements.  If the instructor understands alignment, perhaps he/she can look deeper to assess the exact issue needing adjustment and perhaps offer a heel lift, or forward lean shim from trail maps, beer coasters, or napkins until the student can see a boot fitter.  Perhaps the instructor can identify the sitting back is resultant from too steep of a delta angle caused by a dramatic stand height differential between the toe and heel of the binding and a relatively short boot sole length which in combination create a very steep delta angle relegating the skier to a hips aft position to find balance? or perhaps the aft stance stems from a center mounted twin tip park ski which places the skier well ahead of the ski's sweet spot which consequently requires the skier to adjust their stance aft to turn the ski effectively?


If the back seat issue stems from psychological anxiety the instructor must address this area to change the performance.  Perhaps the student just needs to move to less threatening terrain? Perhaps they need to learn to breath to reduce tension? Perhaps they need to find confidence in their ability to control their speed?  If anxiety is the issue this must be resolved before performance can be improved.


If the issue is caused by physiological issues, again it will be difficult to improve performance until the issues are resolved.


My point here is skier analysis is the most important skill of an effective ski instructor or coach and drilling down to find the true cause of a skier's issues takes great skill and experience.  Developing a good eye takes time and effort.  Most instructors spend the majority of their study in technique alone because the majority of instructor manuals focus solely on movements or technique.  Any sport you can think of involves four primary areas which affect performance.  Tennis, golf, auto racing, etc. involve "Technique/tactics", "Equipment/alignment", "Psychological" and "Physiological" issues which need to be minimized in order to optimize performance.  


The "TAPP" sport analysis model

post #5 of 5

Like Bud I say a complete skier profile goes a long way towards providing helpful advice. In many cases the most important piece of that is why they are in a lesson in the first place. Followed by what they expect to gain from a lesson. Quite coincidentally that usually answers the physio / psychological parts of the profile. But that sounds so clinical to say it that way.


Getting to know your students and developing a learning partnership is where a skier assessment starts, then we move on to how their skis are interacting with the snow and what movements they are using to manage that interaction. This is where less experienced pros stop and provide feedback based on executing basic middle of the road ski turns. A more experienced pro will dig a bit deeper and work on identifying intent. Then they will compare the actual outcome to the intended outcome. If the skier has trouble consistently accomplishing that intended outcome we offer prescriptive advice about changes that should help them accomplish their intended outcome more often. Usually that advice is based on two possible issues. The first is a weak skill set and the second is a "too dominant" skill set. Both are actually pretty easy to spot once you understand the root cause / effect relationships at work. That's why an experienced pro doesn't need more than a few turns to identify habitual movements, weak skill sets. They may take longer to confirm their initial impressions (before sharing them) but the process is fairly simple once you have that cause /effect understanding down.

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