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Body Alignment at the Gate

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have heard two different descriptions of the body alignment at the gate (GS course/Phase 3 of turn).


Coaches tell me that the upper body should be open in order to provide upper/lower separation.  A clear indicator is that the gate should contact the racer on the back of his/her shoulder which clearly would require an open upper body.


In the instructing world, I am hearing more and more that the upper body should be aligned closer to the path of the skis in a GS-radius turn in order to create "maximum force" by stacking all the joints and following through with the hips.  Furthermore, many article/videos now talk about the importance of eliminating a lead change (aka "sagittal split") which would seem to require a closed upper body.


Are these two descriptions of body alignment in phase 3 at odds, or am I missing the connection?  Personally I think the idea of following through with the hip with little or no lead change establishes a strong and stable platform at high speeds.  Thanks for your comments!

post #2 of 4

You can eliminate the lead change and still be separated, it just requires some work and a whole lot of core strenght. If you're looking at it from a racing perspective you want to be separated shoulders down the hill, pressuring the boot and at maximum hip angulation. Sometimes you will not be completely separated but in any instance of running into trouble (hitting a bump, too straight line etc...) you're always going to want to revert to this position, inside hand comes up, think of pulling your outside elbow towards your last rib and separate the body down the fall line.

post #3 of 4

How do you get rid of the infamous sagital split if/when your inside femur is parallel to the ground in an angulated phase 3 ?

The geometry has to go somewhere. The inside foot must move ahead.

Also: Stand hip width and rotate your feet- I mean rotate your femurs - I mean spin your skis about the middle of your foot or the sweet spot just in front of your heel- the place where the g-force is sustained in stacking.

You wind up with a split there too as your inside foot would come out ahead...

You can't get steep edge angles without having your inside foot fore-ward.

I can imagine total inclinated mayhem and straight-legged steep edge angles for one turn - but how do you get yourself inside the next turn... Super down-unweight and launch like Bode in the SG at Beaver Creek...

Trying to eliminate the Sag-split is an attitude trying to pressure the inside ski... Good - but better do the cowboy leg a bit and try matching shin angles.

post #4 of 4

Well, first off, when you're talking about the inside ski ahead of the outside ski, if you were simply shuffling the skis back and forth, like walking, movement could be described in the sagittal plane, but looking at total body movement through several turns, the inside and outside body halves are exchanging leads, which can be seen as rotation through the transverse plane:

Skier Transverse Plane.tif


In any case, what you are saying is correct, the inside and outside halves should align up and down the stack with the skis. However, it's not the case where anyone with any knowledge of skiing or biomechanics is saying that inside ski lead should be eliminated. I defy you to make complete turns on a medium to steep pitch with any kind of speed without having the inside half of the body leading the outside half. More to the point is that in a completely "square" postion, there is very little ability to articulate with hips and knees. Nevertheless, unlocking these joints does not require much in the way of lead change. A rule of thumb I personally like is to not let the toe of the outside foot retard behind much farther than the arch of the inside foot, so a few inches is all it takes, and consequently, every body part on the outside half in relation to its corresponding body part on the inside half should "ideally" create the same angle when looked at from above. Having said all that, there are some observable differences seen among racers from different federations. The Swiss for example, typically display a bit more inside lead than the Austrians for example. Compare the picture of Cuche with that  of the Austrian Gruber:


 didier countered.jpg


Gruber Not Countered.jpg


While Gruber is much more "square" than Cuche, there is still a small amount of inside/outside lead observed.


The point is, there are a wide range of body makeups, strength capacities, ranges of motion and history of training and instruction in all top level skiers, not to mention the feel of and responsiveness of different skis. Within reasonable boundaries skiers are trying to find the movement patterns that work best for them in varied conditions. Don't get sucked into some dogmatic philosophy. It's a matter of developing athletes, not robots.

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