Originally Posted by Biowolf
I saw Hermann ski in the GS at the WC finals last year and it looked sad. It was obvious that his technique was obsolete compared with the top 5. Now I look at him and he is hot. It jumps at you. And he is 2.5 seconds faster. Actually there are about 5 guys worth watching, the rest drops off. Now to achieve that in two month (he was still 2.5 seconds out in Soelden) is phenomenal and like I said makes me think irrationally that I can do it too ( I sense a kindred insanity reading your posts). First of all he changed boots. He said that the Atomic in GS enabled him to do what he could not do in the Lange. What would that be?
My feeling is he is getting on his edges earlier in the turn and creates edge angles without getting his feet too far out from underneath him. He also seems to show less hip angulation and counter.
Here are my thoughts, based on reading I've done about Hermann Maier. I'd be very interested in video analysis of what's changed during the season in Maier's technique, but don't know, myself. Some observations:
1. Hermann Maier has exceptional strength and balance skills, and thus is able to take advantage of new improvements in techniques without some of the limitations other athletes face. Notwithstanding his limitations from the motorcycle accident and limited ability to do weight training since, Maier is an exceptionally strong man, even for a ski racer. And I remember reading years ago when there was some pioneering being done about use of balance aids (Swiss exercise balls) that when the proponent of their use let World Cup Austrians use them, the one guy who had no problems was Hermann Maier. Similarly, as a top speed event racer on the World Cup, Maier must have good touch--smooth technique, soft edges, an ability to carry speed between turns.
2. Boot set up seems critical. At the beginning of this year, when Bode Miller was winning speed events (and even before that, when Miller was beating Daron Rahlves in South American DH and SG training runs in pre-season) Miller said a huge difference from last year was his boots--he was able to ski (at least from my translation) less upright. And Maier himself lays the improvement in his performance on his boots, saying he'd have won the overall title if he'd gotten his boot issues worked out earlier in the season. (Cites: www.skiracing.com
. And, BTW, very funny April Fool's Day article there today, saying that Hermann Maier is moving to Vail, becoming a U.S. citizen, and joining the U.S. Ski Team.http://www.skiracing.com/news/news_d...hp/2408/ALPINE
I'm not sure the Europeans share our "April Fool's Day" prank tradition, so it'll be interesting to see if there's some kind of major freak-out as that's picked up by other media. In any event, now that the Hermanator is an American, I'm sure he'll share his technique secrets with BioWolf and me. End of long digression.*) I assume Miller's boot issues were in part getting sufficient forward flex/the right heel lift or lack of heel lift, to get the shoulders forward and low without dropping the hips too far back. Of course, there's no evidence that Maier's boot issues were similar to Miller's.
3. Recovery from injury. Maier had almost no feeling in one of his legs, and noted that as a significant impediment to his GS skiing. (Of course, by definition, as atheletes we almost always DON'T know the easy answer to why we ski slow. If the answer was easy or apparent, we'd fix it.) As he gets further away from his injury, he may ski better.
4. Conditioning. Frankly, I doubt Maier's off season bicycle-oriented conditioning program is ideal, which means that Miller had an edge in early season conditioning.
So I'm very interested in what Hermann Maier changed about his skiing, along with boot brands, but a couple of other factors may be at work too.
*Well, almost. In case Skiracing.com doesn't run it in their summary of reader replies, here was my responsive e-mail to them:
I thoroughly enjoyed your (coincidentally) April 1 story on Hermann Maier's imminent relocation. But of course you left out the most crucial information about Hermann Maier's top three reasons to become an American:
(1) As buddy Arnold Schwartzenegger explained, in this country, Austrians who can no longer lift weights (A) make movies; (B) get to be governor; and (C) don't even have to pronounce correctly the name of their new home state.
(2) Actual beaches, to go with the beach muscles.
(3) For the first time in your adult life, you get to hear the phrase "Hermann who?"