Forsyth, Mancuso and very different paths to getting lateral fast
I’m getting back to this thread, after Gary Dranow reminded me that no one had really responded to his open question (post #58 above) about the why of the difference in technique between Forsyth and Mancuso, whose montage pictures from the 2005 US GS Nationals on Ron LeMaster’s site were compared. Gary’s comment, in playing around with how to look at the two montages was:
“Perhaps consider physical attributes as both a) an ethos (using the term with some literary freedom) for technique development b) tactical choices.
One of the two is…spending more time getting from the release to re-engagement (and I suspect is a consistent distinction between the two "styles") but is then cutting off the line to spend more time in the fall line.
Looking at the spray off the skis, one is a bit harsher on [her] edges and has higher edge angles and load a bit deeper into the turn, especially on the "old outside ski". The other is a bit rounder throughout the turn(s) and more "two footed". One maintains more consistent relationship between skis and COM. One is using more upper torso "twisting" to uncoil between turns (look at the hands).
Power versus agility? How can these two attributes be influenced by physicality? Can physicality determine strategic and tactical choices and can these predilections in turn ultimately determine technical styles?”
And my discussion below is also somewhat informed by another post, under the ski technique and instruction forum, of the comments of Ron LeMaster in Boulder this month.http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=45842
LeMaster is quoted (not verbatim, but by summary) by SSH as saying, of current high level skiing on the World Cup:
Early forward pressure: This is accomplished via ankle flex for some, waist for others.
Early knee angulation: Bringing the knee into the turn early; A-Frame often comes from this knee crank (but, see Counter later in talk).
Outside ski pressure: When the going gets tough, the weight moves to the outside ski. Just about everyone puts some weight on the inside ski, but the harder the snow and more difficult the line, the more pressure on the outside ski. The focus is definitely there.
Quiet upper body: Shoulders don't tip, hands forward and relatively level, always back to "center" (my term)….
Differences between high-level skiers:
Skiers differ in areas that some proclaim as absolutes, proving that none of these are "right" or "wrong," merely different ways of performing high-level skiing. Note: none of these were consistently faster or slower, and correlations were hard to come by...
Extension/retraction in the transition (some tend to stand up more, others stay low... no difference in outcome in terms of times)
Countered/square stance (some tend to counter more, other to stand more square to the skis. The only correlation seems to me more knee angulation/A Frame in those who counter less).
Progressive steering/Redirection (some redirect dramatically, others are more progressive in their steering [interestingly, all are steering!], and there doesn't seem to be a correlation with better times. The coaches believe that the current direction is to more progressive steering at least/especially among the women).
He spent a bit of time on each of these, including discussions on the benefits and drawbacks of various choices. He discussed how extending may give your muscles a chance to recover, while staying low may allow you to pressure earlier in the turn. All the skiers target where the ski will engage, with a focus on the fall line. Lower may allow the skier to be more progressive.
Each skier figures out what works best... But, don't rely on others' eyes. Instead, experiment--a lot. Time everything and do it enough that it's not simply a matter of habit versus a new movement. See what's faster.
Why counter? It lines up the body more so that the bigger, stronger muscles can do the work (quads and glutes in skiing).”
Let me also round up a couple of other comments above, specifically about Forsyth’s montage, because I want to reference them.
First, Rick (post #49 above) notes of frame 7 of the Forsyth montage, that odd-looking weight all on the old outside ski early in transition while old inside ski is lifted, and upper body goes slightly “over the handlebars” in a cross over that what is going on is:
“While it's a cross over transition, it's not the traditional garden variety. Pressure transfer to the old inside (uphill) ski does not occur until after passing neutral, just as you observed. This is a White Pass Lean transition, otherwise known as a weighted release. Pressure transfer comes after the start of tipping into the new turn.”
Second, FlyingFossil (post #57 above) notes of Forsyth that one explanation for her skiing is that:
“Actually Allison [Forsyth] is pinching the gates too much, not giving herself the room she needs to get "lateral" as expressed in this thread. It is more apparent when you compare with Julia [Mancuso]. This is something she identifies as a weakness for her GS in the interview on Tech Talk/Athletes section in CSCF World 06 DVD. She makes another interesting comment in that interview "if you set up at this level you are dead" or something to that effect talking about WC GS.”
Before we go on, let me complicate the comparison still further by posting links to the LeMaster montage of all THREE of the fastest second runs at the 2005 GS women’s U.S. Nationals, Mancuso (1:24.20), Forsyth (1:25.19) and Lindsey Kildow (1:25.84). (All three women were fast, and all gained serious time on Kristina Koznick, who had won the first run.)http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/20...5-gs-2-wm.htmlhttp://ronlemaster.com/images/2004-2...005-gs-wm.htmlhttp://www.ronlemaster.com/images/20...05-gs-2-c.html
What’s most interesting to me (tactically, anatomically, and how it stacks with my current habits notwithstanding my extensive separate blather on the “Ligety/Miller Hips Back Technique” thread) is Forsyth’s sequence.
Forsyth is skiing a much tighter line, as both Gary Dranow and FlyingFossil note, and her quote, which FlyingFossil passes along, suggests that’s a consistent approach, not a one gate sequence anomaly. (I read “you can’t set up” on the WC currently to mean that in her view you have to cut off the line and go direct as you can, and that the rounded early line completing much of the turn before the gate is often just not fast enough.)
In my view, she chooses to trade greater drag from serious gate impact for a shorter, more direct line (and for not having to get as far lateral, as her feet don’t have to cover as much lateral distance as the other women.) I think that many of the rest of the differences flow in large part from that tactical choice:
1) Counter. She uses counter to minimize drag at gate impact and because if she skied that inside line with more inclination and less counter-driven upper body separation, she’d get knocked right out of the race with 70% of her body inside the gate when she slammed into it. (Think Bode Miller in the Olympic Super-G run.) Because she isn’t as steeply inclined (her feet don’t have to go as far laterally) she also uses counter to generate a necessary incremental increase in edge angle.
2) Transition. She doesn’t have as far to go with her lower body between gates and she doesn’t need to get her hip as low to the snow at turn apex to generate as much inclination, so she can stay higher in the transition (or come up in transition) while both Mancuso and Kildow show elements of the “hips back” style we’ve discussed in the “The Miller/Ligety Hips Back Technique” thread here. (Specifically, both Mancuso and Kildow stay low in transition; both use a modest hips-back down unweighting to help with the crossunder; both use that stay short/hips back transition to shorten the pendulum swing to speed lower body rotation displacement; and frame 7 of both of their montages (especially Kildow) show old-outside tip up as the ski jets out from under toward the next edge set. Forsyth doesn’t spend as much time unweighted before the next edge set, so she actually has to get that old inside ski headed out for the next edge set pretty quickly (and pivoted and back on the snow sooner than the other women too.)
A. I’m intrigued by Rick’s explanation of frame 7 of Forsyth’s sequence, because how it works anatomically. She’s loaded up her old outside ski, and her inside ski is already off the snow on its way to the pivot for the next edge set. Lots of research of plyometrics (jumping exercises, particularly those that involve what’s called a prestretch or loading phase, where you compress on landing before immediately exploding up again) shows that if you add a loading phase before an explosive jump, you generate substantially more power. So frame 7 of Forsyth’s sequence looks like she’s loaded the old outside ski before exploding off of it. That technique looks interesting to me, particularly since it looks easier than what the other two women are doing, and it plays to my strengths (off hill athletic preparation) instead of weaknesses (list longer even than this posting, or even thread.)
B. For the reasons we’ve talked about in the Miller/Ligety Hips Back thread, Mancuso and Lindow both have a much longer unweighted phase before edge set that Forsyth does.
C. As LeMaster notes, the different skiers have different approaches to how to get forward, and Kildow does a lot more bending at the waist to get forward. (Frame 11.)
D. I’d be very interested in a more extended report of Ron LeMaster’s description of the trade offs from different approaches.
There seem to be some very different approaches to being fast and getting lateral, and some very different approaches seem to all be fast. It seems to me that in part the technique seems driven by the racer’s tactical approach.
And before anyone tweaks me for inconsistency, given my lengthy comments on the “Miller/Ligety Hips Back Technique” thread, where I was intrigued by the technique opposite to Forsyth’s, let me say in my defense that consistency is a virtue only once one starts skiing with awesome technique. Until then (and let’s just say that there are days where I have to hike to find my equipment before I can even think about trying to ski to there) consistency may just be a deeper rut you have to climb out of.
In less than eight days, I'll be on actual skis and snow, and in nine days flailing in actual gates, finally freed from the theoretical-only hampster cage of my mind.
(And if just thinking about skiing would make me a great skier, then heck, I must be the world's greatest lover already, given the amount of time I devoted to thinking about THAT subject in my youth...)
Happy skiing thoughts, all.