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Skiing With Harald, Tyrol 1/14

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Finally I got to meet Harald and get the "straight scoop" right "from the horse's mouth".
Harald is very personable, extremely knowledgable and an excellent skier. I found no contradiction with anything he said or taught. I also didn't hear anything that I hadn't heard before (except for some boot mod tips to my Dobermans) I even got to revisit some things I used to work on 20 years ago. I'm kind of surprised we hadn't crossed paths before as we have a number of common aquaintences.
This was not a PMTS clinic but what I would call a skier development clinic. During the preliminary discussion I asked about alignment relative to stance width. His answers were pretty much what I would have said if asked the same question. Discussion of rotary showed me that his definition is different than mine but we agree on the principles, just use different terms to describe them. A discussion of "up" with the group ended with the group missing the point, fortunatly I was able to talk one on one with him and get his meaning.(in this case he was talking about up movement or extension rather that getting farther from the center of the earth.) At this point he made a statment about how you present a task to an athlete that was almost verbatum to what another top coach had told me 20 years ago.
I suspect the controversy arises because he usually has very complex answers and explainations to things. Also his definitions don't always agree with our standard ones. I'm GUESSING that he may be figuring these things out in German and not always getting an English word that hits the nail on the head (I understand that there are German words that it takes a page of English to define) In my observation, most of the "followers" seem to be missing the point or are focusing on only one part of what is a complex system. I see nothing to argue about.
All in all it was a very good experience. We had an excellent dialogue.
post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by SLATZ
During the preliminary discussion I asked about alignment relative to stance width.

What was his take on this, what is yours? I've been wondering about this myself.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
A "functional Stance", about hip width. He agreed with the bicycle analogy I've used for the last 20 years. He mentioned vertical separation too.
He seems to do the alignment part more by guess and by gosh(eyeball) though. I couldn't pin him down there. I've been a little less rigid in that department myself after talking to those Austrian B Team guys last spring.
post #4 of 18

Another HH sighting...

Saw HH and DR with some of their charges at the bottom of Ch8 a couple of mornings ago. Tried to say hi, but they were dealing with lift ticket issues, and my clients showed up right at that moment.
Saw them again later up on the hill, but again, circumstances prevented any communication.
post #5 of 18
Well, my take is different. Harald has lived outside of Austria since he was 7 I believe, hence I am not so sure the problem is about thinking in English. When I read his books and what he writes, he tends to go much more in depth into the analysis than anybody else I know of hence his parlance is too technical to most who are not used to that level of details.
As for the alignment, I strongly doubt he uses guesses. I have got his materials about alignment and footbeds. It is more complicated than several Master's level textbooks.
Since he did my footbeds, I know that he measures a lot of angles in your legs/feet before preparing a footbed. Unless you refer to HH eyeing your skiing and realize whether you have a problem or not and if you do what it likely is, I would say he has a very "not-guessing" approach to the problem.
He is a nice dude, strong personality indeed, but very passionate and knowledgeable about skiing. I still dream about PSIA putting together materials that could stand next to his in clarity and detail. It is unfortunate that we have books written by skiers outside of PSIA circle of teaching committee that are much better than the official texts we use.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
He didn't get into the alignment part as I would have liked. Yes, I was referring to his "eyeing" people's skiing.
I said I was guessing. I noticed none of his answers were short or simple. Most of the group didn't want to hear long discussions about things. Too bad, they often miss the point as a result.
I'm not interested in taking sides. I don't think it's necessary, I see no contradictions.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by SLATZ
A "functional Stance", about hip width. He agreed with the bicycle analogy I've used for the last 20 years. He mentioned vertical separation too.
He seems to do the alignment part more by guess and by gosh(eyeball) though. I couldn't pin him down there. I've been a little less rigid in that department myself after talking to those Austrian B Team guys last spring.
When you are in your functional stance though, should your skis be flat or perhaps in a degree (as in on inside edges)? What was his take on that?
post #8 of 18

Alignment

When you ski with Harald or Diana, they have so much experience with alignment that often they will say incredible things just from watching a few turns.

I was videoing some camp skiers this fall with Harald. He was watching a new camper ski and immediately said "she has a stiff footbed, probably brand X." Some of the other campers that knew he couldn't know what was in her boots questioned how he could know. He declared with total certainty that by the way she skied he would stake his entire reputation on it . . .. (I have it on the video. Of course, at lunch she pulled out her footbeds and HH was correct.

Once you get Harb based alignment training, you begin to see that Harald's quick eye is actually based in years of systematic training. Various alignment issues (knock kneed/ bowlegged alignment, tibial varuium, limited dorsiflexion, limiting aspects of poor equipment, etc. have very predictable effects in various parts of the turn.

Because I have been Harb trained and do alignment and footbeds in Portland Oregon, I know that the Harb based alignment process is extremely structured and thorough. The process is a narrowing one of making hypotheses based on structured observations and measurements, until a clear determinartion of issues and corrections is made.

It starts with 8 on snow exercises that are designed to eliminate the effects of technique and highlight predictable results of alignment and balance issues.

The results are are then compared to what is seen in real skiing behavior.

At this point, there is usually some very clear ideas about what categories of issues the person has (if any), but the exact causes of the issues are usually still unclear. That is handled by a systematic and detailed in-shop assessment.

The on-snow dynamic assessment is followed up by about 30 static anatomical and stance measurements. The measurements are repeated in street stance, ski stance (in and out of boots), and with various temproary accomodations (as needed).

After footbed and boot modifications and changes are made, confirmation measurements are made and a final on-snow assessment is done to make sure that the desired results are acheived.

While, with experience, you can shortcut some aspects in the dynamic assessment, (sometimes you can just see the issues clearly in the actual skiing, or it may have to be done by video, etc.) nothing is ever shortcut in the static measurement phase (this usually takes about 1 hour). For many skiers the general category of issues (independent for each foot/leg) is usually pretty clear -- PMTS instructors are taught to look for these right from the start of their training. However, more subtle or difficult issues can be more difficult for less experienced people to spot in actual skiing. (e.g. tibial varum has opposite effects in different parts of the turn).

There are a lot of skiers who get a footbed made without any of this. In these cases it is just a crap shoot whether it will make your skiing better or worse -- and the odds are stacked against you.

Other very popular footbed makers are nowhere near as detailed and analytic in determining cause and accomodation. Any system that just uses some holistic balance procedure or a computerized pressure bed is a similar crap shoot -- and again, I think the odds are stacked against you.
post #9 of 18

Alignment 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by epic
When you are in your functional stance though, should your skis be flat or perhaps in a degree (as in on inside edges)? What was his take on that?
I will give a couple of answers answers to this question.

In general, when out of the boots and in a ski stance the center of the knee mass should align with the second ray.

In general, when in boots and in a ski stance, the center of the knee mass should align just outside the center line of the boot.

However, this all depends on what else is going on. sometimes these general guidlines change dramatically depending on the alignment issue and the cause. The other big issue is how the accomodations are made. One approach can help and another can hurt.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm lined up 2 degrees negative (inside) per The Athletic Skier.
I tried to get a suggestion from Harald about alignment but obviously there wasn't time. I suspected it was as you describe (outside) and asked but he didn't address that part of my question.
Sounds like it would take weeks to get a handle on that process. Quite impressive.
What is the name of your shop in Portland? I'll try to stop by next time I'm out that way.
post #11 of 18
I'm 1 deg. in, but I've been using canting tape to run flat, and I really like it. I'm trying to decide if I want to make that permanent.
post #12 of 18
SkierSynergy,

Good post on alignment. It is probably one of the most misunderstood concept in skiing. Even top people in bootfitting really don't understand the need for on-snow evaluation. AS you say. anything less is a crap-shoot.

I took Harald and Diana's class in 2002. What it did for me is turned me off to working with other people's feet. This was a good thing. But it did give me a lot of insight as to what is going on with people's feet when they are skiing. Many problems with skiing relate directly to alignment. It made me a better instructor.

Rick H
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I tried flat when I first got my Dobermans. I used it for most of a season and went back to what I was familiar with about March.
My Rondenney boots (that I use most of the time, 98%) are about 1 deg. in though. Maybe less on the left(longer) leg.
post #14 of 18

Alignment more

Info & Invitation.
SLATZ, I work out of my home, but have a shop there that can deal with most footbed/boot issues.

If you are ever in the area just contact me and we can ski together.

I also have several great sites within a couple of miles of my house for Harb Carving. Right next to my house I have a great beginner area -- also works great for testing boot fitting fixes. A little farther away are several 1 to 2 mile long rides that are more intermediate, and fairly close are a couple of mile long rides that are up to 27 degrees steep -- that is as steep as I have ever Harb carved and it's a challenge; it really teaches you to completely carve hard, steep stuff.

Come on over and play. That's an open invitation for anyone in the area or anyone that is passing through.

Comments on the Harb Alignment Course.
The Harb alignment course is really complete. It lasts 5 days. This last fall the days started at 9 am and ususally we were still trying to finish up at 7 - 9 pm. Each day also had either a written or applied test that must be passed.

You learn detailed info about the anatomy and kinesiology of the foot and ankle; to do on snow alignment recognition for identifying basic categories of alignment/balance issues; learn how those issues affect different aspect of skiing and ski teaching; to do all the anotomical and stance measurements needed to determine the needed accomodations; to create functional footbeds from start to finish; fit the footbeds to boots; do boot board mods; and do different types of canting (either on the ski or boot sole shaving). This year a fully certified Canadian race coach who had also done all the MasterFit stuff came to the course. He said that he learned/did more by the second day than everything he had from MasterFit. He didn't feel like there was any comparison in what you go away with being able to do.

Comments on The Athletic Skier.
I know that Harald did a pre-publication review in which he suggested several changes that were incorporated into the final version of the book. Some were pretty crucial: like using the center of knee mass instead of the center of the knee cap for measurements. Other info had to do with what Harald felt was already outdated material. He believes that the book was outdated in several aspects at the time of its publishing -- knee alignment and tracking being set to the inside is one such thing.

Need for more alignment related material in ski teaching.
I absolutely agree here. Harald actually did a great section about alignment and movement analysis in an early/mid 90s Eastern PSIA tech manual (a friend of mine has a copy). However, it all disappeared from PSIA materials soon after that (we know the story). I think the current technical manual is especially poor in these respects. As an example, I have noted in a thread on PMTS that the primary example in the movement analysis section of the current manual presents a person with a description of classic bowlegged alignment and that the condition is consistent with the skiing issues she and the instructor say she struggles with. If alignment is behind the issues, the suggested instructional focus in the example would be a waste of time, effort, and money. A good alignment would do more than a ski school of instruction. However, I don't think the movement analysis approach that is used is detailed or systematic enough to address these issues. In fact, despite a lot of talk about the importance of movements in the beginning of the manual, there is never any listing or discusion of the movements of skiing in any detailed sense. Simply saying there are "balancing movements" or "edging movements" is as specific as it gets. Any discussion of what "movements" on the segment and musclular level cause what effects in one's skiing is completely missing. How alignment issues interact with various movement attempts is missing. What movement/equipment suggestions could be used to mitigate various alignment issues is missing. These things are not just not covered in detail. They are just missing. In my opinion an instructor who does not have this knowledge/set of skills is simply not competent. But others might have lower levels of expectations. I was surprised it was such a black hole in the technical documents. However, I might be too judgemental here. It might be the case that these things are systematically learned from other instructors during the mentoring process or covered in workshops. Not being PSIA I wouldn't know.
post #15 of 18
SS, yoou mentioned skier evaluation on the slope during skiing. At what skill level do you, HH or PMTS suggest your comprehensive alignment, at the beginners level before someone has put on a pair of skis, at the novice level or imtermediate level, or when?

I presume that your alignment process is likely a costly thing and someone should be pretty sure they will like skiing and continue with it. But if at the imtermediate level, hasn't there been a long time of skiing with compensatory movements to accomodate the misalignment?

In the olden days only canting was addressed and that could be approximated by the wedges we carried in our pockets and then sent them into the ski shop at the bottom where wedge material was put under the bindings for less than twenty bucks and they were out on the slope in half an hour.

....Ott
post #16 of 18

When to address alignment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl
SS, yoou mentioned skier evaluation on the slope during skiing. At what skill level do you, HH or PMTS suggest your comprehensive alignment, at the beginners level before someone has put on a pair of skis, at the novice level or imtermediate level, or when?
....Ott
As soon as alignment begins to interfere with your desired goals/abilities it should be addressed. That could be as early as during the first day. There are three ways non-functional alignment can be addressed: 1) movement instruction to mitigate the negative effects of alignment issues. For example, if someone is knock kneed then movement instruction to help the skier use as narrower of a stance as possible will help many aspects of their skiing. 2) Equipment choice to mitigate the negative effects of alignment issues. A very narrow waisted ski, a riser, or rotary boots would enhance the negative effects of knock kneed alignment. The opposite type of equipment would help aleviate the problem effects. 3) alignment adjustments (temporary or permanent). These can range from putting in a temporary cant strip, to removing nonfunctional footbeds that were sold to the skier blindly at a shop, to having a full alignment done. Any of these can be done at any time and in combination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl
I presume that your alignment process is likely a costly thing and someone should be pretty sure they will like skiing and continue with it. But if at the imtermediate level, hasn't there been a long time of skiing with compensatory movements to accomodate the misalignment?
Are some of these expensive? Yes. Are they always done? It always depends on the goals and wants of the skier. My job is to give accurate information as a part of the teaching process. If someone skied once a year and didn't care about improving or even whether they struggled a bit, I would just make the best movement suggestions that I could to meet there motivation. If they were just starting out and planned to continue skiing. I would also give them options to think about that might help when they are ready -- eg. "when you are thinking about buying equipment you might think about X skis, boots, etc." For someone very motivated to improve that has alignment problems, I think it is both incompetent and unethical to not address the alignment issue and just continue to take money for instruction that the skier might not be able to benefit from. That is a lot worse than being honest about the options and the potential costs. Oh, an alignment/footbed process typically ranges from $180 - 250. Not really bad for an avid skier.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl
In the olden days only canting was addressed and that could be approximated by the wedges we carried in our pockets and then sent them into the ski shop at the bottom where wedge material was put under the bindings for less than twenty bucks and they were out on the slope in half an hour.
This is one temporary option that can help and I often use it. There is probably some extra liability in doing this. Just a thought.
post #17 of 18
I am interested in taking this 5 day course....when and where is the next one and how do I get info. Do I have to join some HH club or something or can I just pay for course and go?
post #18 of 18

Harb alignment course

Bud,

It's in Oct. Each year. No HH club card needed. Just pay, go, and learn. Contact me by e-mail at SkierSynergy@hotmail.com and I'll send you info about it and some tips about preparing before you go.
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