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The Miller/Ligety hips-back technique, physics, and implications (long)

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
What follows is a long (warned you) Epic Ski thread- and Ron LeMaster montage- and article-inspired discussion of the hips-back style I see from Bode Miller and Ted Ligety, its physics, and (if I get time in a follow on) what I think are some implications for us less accomplished (and even hack) racers. I'd like to start a discussion.

It used to be that Bode Miller had the weirdest looking technique on the World Cup circuit. Flip off the audio while watching the DVD of Winning Runs on the World Cup and Bode Miller’s GS form immediately stood out from all the other racers. Heck—from all other skiers, anywhere, ever. He was the only guy with his hips periodically WAY behind his feet as he finished the turn and entered the transition.

But now there’s Ted Ligety. In an article on Ron LeMaster’s web site, Ron goes through a photo montage analysis of Ted Ligety and Georgio Rocca skiing the same sections of a slalom course with similar times. And it shows Ligety with a hips-back technique late in the turn and early in the transition, with far more radical fore-and-aft movements (and lateral movements) and a very different later pressuring of the skis than Rocca’s more minimalist approach. If it doesn't work as a click through, paste the following into your browser to go see:

www.ronlemaster.com/articles/Ligety-Rocca.pdf

The manifest disadvantages of this technique are clear—it creates serious additional fore-and-aft balance challenges and is the exact opposite of minimalist efficient technique with no excess motion, an efficiency that many coaches and racers would urge us to pursue as a goal, with some justification.

And yet--the relentless logic of Darwinian selection says this technique MUST also have some advantages. How else could two top racers (Miller and Ligety) be winning medals despite clear drawbacks to the technique of letting their hips get back, in a sport where winning margins are hundredths of a second?

I think there are two principal advantages and one side benefit of this hips back “American” style: tighter arcs at the end of the turn as the tails are weighted allow the racer to ski a tighter line; faster more dynamic transitions allow the racer to move more quickly from one radical edge angle to the opposite one for the next turn; and the resulting demands of the fore-and-aft balance challenges in every turn promote greater fore-and-aft balance and recovery skills. (Although some might argue that calling promotion of greater balance and recovery skills a side benefit to the hips back transition is sort of like saying that playing a game of Russian roulette and surviving promotes good luck—that when it comes to “recovery” or “survival” you’d generally be better off without that particular practice/challenge in the first place…)

The first advantage to the hips back style is that the greater leaning (as it were) toward hips back at the end of the turn/early in transition of Miller and Ligety has the effect of pressuring the tail of the ski more late in the turn, decambering (bending) the tail into a tighter arc for a tighter carved turn. (Let me credit Bob Harwood with this observation, which I think is a critical one. My thinking had been more focused on the effect in the transition.)

www.modernskiracing.com/road_not_taken.php

(“Bode has learned that if he rocks his weight back a bit at the apex of his turn, he can ski a lower tighter turn and still carve. Bode is able to bend the tail of the ski with more arc to carve a small radius turn with a high degree of confidence. Sorry, make that some degree of confidence; his technique does have some inherent risk.”)

As a result, they can take a more direct line and carve a tighter turn than most racers. And, in my view, they can also start carving the same radius turn slightly later than other racers. That’s key for Ligety because in slalom he has a more radical technique of extending his legs into the fall line and engaging the edge set later than most other racers. (Here let’s take a break and look again at the article on that, with Ron LeMaster’s photo montage of Ligety vs. Rocca, who has the more classical, minimalist technique where he stays more forward and keeps his skis on the snow without dropping his hips back late in the turn/early in the transition)

www.ronlemaster.com/articles/Ligety-Rocca.pdf

After taking the gold medal in the combined at the last Olympics when Miller was DQ’d, Ligety credited his slalom technique (in my lay analysis, the extension past the gate and late engaging of the edges) with preventing disqualification through wrong-siding slalom gates, which almost never happens to Ligety.

I would argue that possibility of a slightly later start to the same turn is also helpful for Bode Miller at times, for different reasons, because he often finds himself recovering from a near crash just in time to barely make the next gate. For one example of this almost-in-the-weeds but still on the course style—and I’ve seen many in watching Bode’s winning runs--check out Bode Miller’s second run in the 2005 Beaver Creek GS, where he nearly crashes three times—the first time on just the fourth gate, where he ends up with a hand on the snow out in the fluff to the side of the course—and still wins, with the fastest time! I don’t have the URL for the eunet video site of his runs, but you can find the link in the middle of the following Gary Dranow article on the MSRT Web site:

www.modernskiracing.com/evolutionMSRT.php

(Or you can just remember that great moment from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics downhill portion of the combined, where Miller actually fell, then bounced back up off his hip and finished the turn to stay on the course.) For a discussion of the more direct line favored by Miller and Ligety (which in my view is assisted by their ability to carve a tighter turn) see:

www.ronlemaster.com/articles/LineEvolution-3.pdf

The second advantage to this hips-behind-the-feet approach early in the transition is a faster, more dynamic transition. Let’s go back and visit Ron LeMaster’s article showing two different sequences of Ligety at the same points in a slalom course as Rocca:

www.ronlemaster.com/articles/Ligety-Rocca.pdf

Ted Ligety faces an enormous challenge at the end of a slalom turn: He skis with steeper edge angles than the other World Cup slalom racers, and he takes a more direct (a turn more at the gate, not above it) line than most. So even though his line is later and his edge angle is steeper, he must somehow get his skis from WAY over on one side to WAY over on the other side in a very short time. (As we've been discussing in the "How to Get Lateral" thread referenced below.) I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years, in trying to analyze why Bode Miller’s hips-behind-the-feet thing works. But a couple of recent posts on the “How to get Lateral” thread posted by wta55 clicked with me as I was turning all this over.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=44677

There, Alaska Mike said “I've never liked telling skiers to "get lateral! Get lower! Get the skis out from under you." More often than not it leads to banking and a lateral pushoff. They're actively trying to push the skis out instead of allowing them to go there naturally. Instead, I focus on actively sending the body into the turn, allowing the skis to come underneath (and out), which extends the body at the apex of the turn.”

And Skidude72 added “Those forces that the guys work with that get REAL lateral (ie: top notch racers) come from gravity AND the ski energy they captured from the LAST TURN. Hence the more ski energy you capture...the more forces you have in the next turn...means the more lateral you will be...means the more forces you generate...which if you capture...will get you more lateral in the next turn...and so on.”

Let me explain what I see in Ron LeMaster’s montage photos of Ligety in the transition in light of those observations, and along the way let’s have me go off on one piece of conventional wisdom dispensed by coaches and racers today. (Although, I suppose, we could have a lengthy separate thread on gold medal candidates in the bad advice Olympics, and some might even nominate passages from my various posts for honorable mention.)

What I see Ligety do (and what I’ve noticed Bode Miller do in GS) is the following: (1) He has pressured the tails of his skis late in the turn to tighten the arc at the end (compared to not pressuring those tails.) (2) He finishes the turn with feet wider than some of the other racers and weight reasonably evenly balanced (you need a good lateral balance platform if you are going to increase the fore-and-aft balance challenge and still keep the waxed side down.) (3) In the second sequence he uses the energy of being a little back at the end of the turn to accelerate the ski out from under him, using that energy to get the ski airborne and then doing a down unweighting/leg retraction to rapidly add some cross-under to his transition and to redirect the skis for the next turn while unweighted.

(We briefly pause this narrative description to go on the following rant.)

Note that Ligety, in frame two of the last and shorter of the LeMaster photo montage sequences, actually gets almost his entire ski airborne. Many will tell us that we must endeavor to keep our skis on the snow at all times, or at least at all times possible, because “you cannot generate speed unless your skis are on the snow.” No, no, no, no. No. (Just tell us what you think, SFDean…) When your skis are on the snow, you are generating some amount of friction, not speed. When you are airborne, in addition to continuing your forward momentum (with slightly less friction) as Newton’s first law of motion states (“objects in motion tend to continue in motion unless acted upon”) you are also constantly accelerating toward the center of the earth at 90 feet per second per second (good ski racing, after all, is just making better friends with gravity), and when you are above the snow, that elevation (in high school physics terms) represents energy of potential, which gets converted, in part, to forward motion when your skis re-encounter the snow.

What you cannot do, however, with your skis off the snow is change your direction—you are simply a ballistic object, with no ability to change line significantly (which is a very good reason not to spend a lot of time in the air.) What you can do, however, with your feet off the snow (or at least skis unweighted) is more easily redirect your skis, with far less friction and skidding. (To be fair to those who pass along the--in my opinion slightly moldy--“generate speed” chestnut, presumably there is some loss of energy when you recontact snow, which is greater and greater the more angular change of momentum there is on impact. But if you’re going forward at Masters GS speed of, say, 35 mph and you’re off the snow for a fraction of a second in transition, and you land on a hillside that slopes down, you didn’t lose the opportunity to generate speed, what you mostly did was avoid drag as you redirected your skis for a more optimal next turn. And in further fairness to those who use the “generate speed” chestnut to discourage unnecessary hopping about and big air in the race course, well, unnecessary hopping about should probably be discouraged. End of rant, back to our regularly scheduled photo montage analysis, picking up with the next numbered point. )

(4) The retraction of the legs, coupled with the hips back position, allows the redirection of the skis and lower body faster in the transition in three ways, in my opinion:

First, when Ligety goes from a turn to the left (where the right ski is the outside ski) through the transition to a turn to the right (where is left ski becomes the outside ski), his lower body must rotate (clockwise, if you attached the clock to Ligety’s back, so his slower competitors could keep track of how much he’s clocking them by…) Essentially both the upper body and lower body must rotate (both rotating clockwise, by my arbitrary attachment of a clock facing backward) so that the legs finish on the outside, and the upper body on the inside, of the new turn. And, oddly enough, because Ligety uses some hip or knee angulation, his feet actually have to rotate further than his upper body between turns. So the first way that the hips back position accelerates the transition, in my opinion, is by accelerating this rotation around the axis of his center of mass. As you can see from any figure skater (or high diver), the way that you speed rotation is to pull your body in, to a tighter rotating ball, and the way that you slow rotation is to extend again. That’s one of the things Ligety actually does in dropping the hips back and down unweighting—he speeds the clockwise (in my example) rotation around his center of mass in the transition and then slows it as he extends his legs to set them for the new turn. The hips back position places his center of mass closer to his feet (and vice versa), speeding the rotation in that part of the transition.

Second, by weighting the tails late in the turn and dropping his hips back, Ligety causes his skis to jet out from underneath him at the end of the turn, accelerating. (Believe you me, every one of us who has gotten a little too far back late in the turn on them short slalom boards has met that particular unruly cousin of Mr. Inertia, and sometimes also his tag-along companion Mr. Crash.) But as Skidude72 suggests, Ligety actually harnesses that energy to drive his skis (which much travel a MUCH greater lateral distance between gates than his upper body) toward where they need to go to be in position for that next edge set and turn.

Third (and I’m much less certain about this one, but it seems right to me as a feel thing, even if I don’t understand it quite well enough to explain it) I think the hips back position leaves a little more room for the knees to come up toward the chest in transition in the unweighted phase (although that may say more about my lack of forward flexibility than anything of relevance to anyone else in the world. Am working toward something like a minus 6 inches on the sitting reach component of the simplified US Ski Team fitness test in the latest issue of Ski or Skiing magazine—forget which. Sheesh.) How I see it manifest itself in the longer first sequence of Ligety and Rocca that LeMaster has in his article is that Ligety spends more time in the transition with his knees retracted.

www.ronlemaster.com/articles/Ligety-Rocca.pdf

Finally (5) after a longer unweighting of the skis, Ligety redirects his skis and extends and sets the edge, closer to the fall line than Rocca. It’s not the old “J” turn where you let the ski run in the fall line and then stomp it for a bee sting bite before the next butterfly float, but it’s sort of a new school updating of the technique, where the edge set is progressive but is later than other racers, the edge angle is steeper and the tails are used to finish the turn and jet off to the next.

I think one side benefit to this kind of skiing (Ligety’s in slalom, but also I submit Bode Miller’s equivalent but slightly different hips back finishing turns/transitions in GS) is that if you do it enough, you get a lot of balance practice and core muscle work to promote recoveries from rather extreme positions. (Sort of the definitive description of many of Bode Miller’s runs generally.)

When I get a little time, I’ll jot down what I think some of the implications are for us non-World Cup racers and even struggling hacks. In conclusion, I do want to add some caveats:

1. I’m very familiar with Bode Miller’s hips back skiing (many videos, many stills, side by side video and still picture comparison of him and me on the same course), and have been looking at it and thinking about it for several years. Throwing Ligety on the same heap (and there are differences between their current slalom styles, clearly, like, uh, Ted finishing the race) may be completely arbitrary and uninformed, particularly since my detailed analysis of Ligety’s slalom style is almost all derived from the LeMaster montages above. (So wading through the depth of my knowledge on that front may easily keep your boot tops dry. Buckles too.) Still, I think I’m right about the advantages of the hips back style in Bode Miller’s skiing, to Bode Miller.

2. Clearly, there are disadvantages to this hips back skiing as well. It introduces yet another balance challenge and considerable additional risk to a sport that many of us already experience from a periodic horizontal position. Bode Miller nearly ends up with a high speed gluteus rut massage several times in the last of the two Beaver Creek GS runs linked indirectly to above.

3. I am not advocating or promoting a new approach to ski racing, and am (frankly) not fit to do so—lots and lots of people reading this post are much faster in the gates than I am, and--by way of further warning--I have a tendency to personally pioneer some techniques in the gates that are so monumentally insane they wouldn’t even occur to anyone else. (Do have my brother Mark tell you about the prior helmet clear technique. (Best observer quote “I’ve NEVER seen anything like that.” Not meant as a complement.) Or have my son Jay do an impression of dad’s former roaring bull skate out from the start wand thrash-around that is really a pinnacle of high satire (and has actually gotten me to go quiet in the start. I look plenty of silly already shivering in the race suit, thanks.) Or have me explain the Z turn deliberate hook-the-GS gate self arrest to stay on course after getting late… Oh, heck, let’s just skip all those discussions as even more tedious and as even less directly useful than this one.)

4. What this really is is an armchair analysis of what I see as something interesting about the skiing of Bode Miller and Ted Ligety, intended to kick off a discussion from others who’ve been looking at and thinking about contemporary World Cup technique and what can filter down to the rest of us from current high level skiing. And in that connection, do be warned. October is the cruelest month for me, when I have my new racing skis, but racing is still weeks away, so I’m stuck here with my brain running in ski theory mode like a crazed hamster on its wheel in a cage: All scrabbling energy and enthusiasm, but not necessary going anywhere….

Thanks for your patience, if you got this far. Your thoughts, all?

SFDean
post #2 of 39

Yep, it's hard to figure why this is working...

...and I think you're close, but let me offer a few observations:

- You keep talking about this as the "hips back" style. Go back and take a look at what Ron says. They're only "hips back" some of the time. Other times, they're way forward. This is no more than saying that pressure control is not just the amount of pressure on the ski, it's where it is from front to back. Ron was coaching me and a teammate one day and we were working on slalom turns on the steep...unsuccessfully. Ron said "Do you ever feel your tails slide at the end of the turn?" Answer: "Only on the right and left turns." What we were not doing was sufficiently pressuring the front of the ski at the turn initiation. Result: not enough direction at the top of the turn. Our solution? Pressure the hell out of the tips after the fall line! As Ron pointed out, not a good idea, because all that produces is windshield wiper turns. We had it backwards. Pressure the forebody of the ski at turn initiation, come to the center/tail of the ski as the turn finishes. Most people would be in a neutral fore/aft stance in the recentering phase between turns. Bode and Ted elect to be a little further back on the ski in the recentering phase. Why? As Bode said a couple of years back when he was developing his approach, he wants the ski edge to slice through the snow with the minimum amount of resistance. Therefore, he's willing to take the chance of letting the ski buck in the fall line a little more than a skier who's more centered through the whole turn...like Rocca or Aamodt for example. When it works, it's fast. When it doesn't...well, we've all see the results.

- Ligety's also doing some other rad stuff beyond where his hips are, see the following:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgyRzxj0QGM

Watching this video, you realize he's not adhering to a lot of the truisms about good gate skiing. For example, he doesn't seem to worry much about whether his inside hand is in the classical "up" position. He's also getting huge inclination without a lot of angulation, and his feet are relatively close together. He almost looks like he's in a water-ski slalom course, or is making that move that surfers make when they get into the green room and put the inside hand up against the wave for balance.

All this good stuff was pointed out to me by Bill Gooch at a race clinic last year at Vail. Read what Ron says about the huge edge angles today's slalom skiers are getting. The moves that Ligety is making are what you have to do to balance against these kind of edge angles. Is it easy to do? Hell, no! It requires incredible athleticism, timing, balance, and commitment. Do I think I can pull this stuff off, as a 58 year-old Masters racer? Hell no! Am I gonna try it anyway? You damn betcha, as soon as I get on snow at Loveland. Just remember: "Know your limits and exceed them frequently." It's the only way any of us are going to get faster...
post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiRacer55 View Post
...and I think you're close, but let me offer a few observations:

- You keep talking about this as the "hips back" style. Go back and take a look at what Ron says. They're only "hips back" some of the time. Other times, they're way forward. This is no more than saying that pressure control is not just the amount of pressure on the ski, it's where it is from front to back. Ron was coaching me and a teammate one day and we were working on slalom turns on the steep...unsuccessfully. Ron said "Do you ever feel your tails slide at the end of the turn?" Answer: "Only on the right and left turns." What we were not doing was sufficiently pressuring the front of the ski at the turn initiation. Result: not enough direction at the top of the turn. Our solution? Pressure the hell out of the tips after the fall line! As Ron pointed out, not a good idea, because all that produces is windshield wiper turns. We had it backwards. Pressure the forebody of the ski at turn initiation, come to the center/tail of the ski as the turn finishes. Most people would be in a neutral fore/aft stance in the recentering phase between turns. Bode and Ted elect to be a little further back on the ski in the recentering phase. Why? As Bode said a couple of years back when he was developing his approach, he wants the ski edge to slice through the snow with the minimum amount of resistance. Therefore, he's willing to take the chance of letting the ski buck in the fall line a little more than a skier who's more centered through the whole turn...like Rocca or Aamodt for example. When it works, it's fast. When it doesn't...well, we've all see the results.

-
I think you have it nailed exactly. It's (compared to other skiers) a more pronounced fore-and-aft balance shift, carefully timed to have specific benefits. (BTW, noticed from your post in the "How to get Lateral" that you're Richard Malmros. A big hello, and belated huge thank you! Your articles in RMM available on line--Speed 101 and Sharpening the Saw--were great resources for me when I started to get into racing as a grown up (or, anyway, as a guy approaching 50; "grown up" assumes facts not in evidence, as my litigator friends would say.) And they still are great resources--I could retrieve the names easily because I have them bookmarked in the favorites on my browser. A few Octobers ago, when I was in my annual crazed hamster ski theory mode, they and the Ron LeMaster stuff then on line were absolutely the best resources out there on practical translation of the World Cup technique.) For those of you who are not Richard Malmros, I commend you to his articles, found at:

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles...Sharpening.pdf

http://www.rmmskiracing.ort/articles...1-Speed101.pdf

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles...001-DayJob.pdf

And the conclusion of your post above, about the difficulty of applying the more radical techniques from the World Cup given the limitations of our decades older, non-elite athelete, day-job limited bodies but wanting to try anyway really resonates with me, and I think has the exact right conclusion.

It's an important question for all of us here--if the more radical and risky techniques of Bode Miller and Ted Ligety are something that almost all the elite atheletes on the World Cup pass on, because they are too challenging to master or not (in their view) worth the incremental risk, then why is it that those of us who don't have the luxury of training full time should be looking into it?

Put another way, even if Georgio Rocca, Kjteil Andre Aamodt, Hermann Maier, and Benni Raich all finish a full second and a half behind Ted Ligety and Bode Miller in this season's World Cup races that those Americans finish, wouldn't those of us 48 and 58 year old club league and Masters racers love to ski like Rocca, Aamodt, Maier, and Raich (instead of like the guys who show up wearing our bib numbers on the occasional weekend races after a long drive)?

I'd say it's worth looking into anyway, because of a bunch of reasons, including the following 3:

(1) Ski racing isn't a finished sport. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that high jump technique has stayed pretty constant for over three decades or so, since the invention of the Fosbury flop. Ski racing absolutely hasn't. The equipment is very, very different from 9 years ago, and technique continues to evolve.

The better our understanding of the different approaches out there and the different tools available in the toolbox, the better our ability to find what works fast for us, sooner than some of our competitors. (Let's say, for sake of argument, that five years from now the current technique of Bode Miller and Ted Ligety is absolutely mainstream for high level skiing, which isn't far fetched at all. A couple of years ago (before Bode Miller started winning speed events and largely stopped finishing slaloms) Ron LeMaster wrote an article in Ski Magazine called "Bode's Big Secret" comparing Miller's slalom technique to Aamodt's, making largely these same fore-and-aft observations and concluding that if Miller finished a slalom race without a big mistake, he couldn't be beat.) Given that for many of us without 100 days of gate training a year (and, hey, that's a pretty big category) it takes us a while to master (or even make reasonably nice hash of) a new technique, wouldn't it be nice to get started making that hash sooner, rather than later?

(2) It has implications for what we might want to emphasize in training on the hill and in training off the hill. I'd like to elaborate on some thoughts I have about that at more length later, but I'll toss one nugget out now: Balance training. Balance is critical to all this, and what's interesting to me is that the balance challenge added is not just lateral balance (although great lateral balance does make it easier to achieve those huge edge angles with confidence) but dynamic fore-and-aft balance. That seems important to how we do our balance training. (Foam roller, guys, not just the bongo board.)

(3) It looks really, really fun. It's not just that the racer chooses the line, the line also chooses the racer. Different approaches speak to different racers not because there is only one way to go fast, but because of who those racers are. Bode Miller employs a high risk technique because he'd rather go for first or DNF, instead of skiing for top ten. Benni Raich, by contrast, has an understandible desire to go around all the flags thoses course workers patiently set even if that means he just makes the podium. For some of us, ideal minimalist technique is not only currently somewhat beyond us, it also doesn't speak to who we are and how we'd really like to attack the flags, if we could match the ski movie that plays in our heads.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

SfDean
post #4 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiRacer55 View Post
...
- Ligety's also doing some other rad stuff beyond where his hips are, see the following:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgyRzxj0QGM

Watching this video, you realize he's not adhering to a lot of the truisms about good gate skiing. For example, he doesn't seem to worry much about whether his inside hand is in the classical "up" position. He's also getting huge inclination without a lot of angulation, and his feet are relatively close together. He almost looks like he's in a water-ski slalom course, or is making that move that surfers make when they get into the green room and put the inside hand up against the wave for balance.

All this good stuff was pointed out to me by Bill Gooch at a race clinic last year at Vail. Read what Ron says about the huge edge angles today's slalom skiers are getting. The moves that Ligety is making are what you have to do to balance against these kind of edge angles. Is it easy to do? Hell, no! It requires incredible athleticism, timing, balance, and commitment.
Again, I think you're right on. In the fall a couple of years ago (2003 I think, but it might have been 2004), one of the Austrians complained after Bode Miller won the opening GS race in Soelden by over a second, that if Miller kept winning, soon the young Austrians would all start practicing "snowboarder turns," which I took to mean inside hand on the snow instead of in the classical up position.

The inside hand down lowers the center of gravity, improving balance; it gives you the safety valve of a snow punch to re-right yourself in case of boot out/bounce out; and it increases confidence to allow you to increase the edge angle. (French racer Joel Chenal--at least as of a couple of years ago--skied with the basket of his inside pole brushing the ground as a cat's whisker, and won a few world cup GS podiums that way. Presumably, he found the confidence- and balance-driven higher edge angle at the turn a good tradeoff for the greater drag.) The inside hand down does risk falling onto the inside ski/leaning in (and whatever bad things are supposed to happen from not having level shoulders), but Miller and Ligety generate such high edge angle turns that the G forces are sufficient to allow them to stack against it.

I would argue that one of the ways Ligety generates the higher G forces (at least in slalom anyway) is by more redirection of the ski before edge set so the pressure on the shovel of the ski (and bend of the ski and change of the skier's direction from the pre-existing momentum) is greater and builds up faster once it starts.

The other ways, of course are that he and Bode Miller (1) achieve higher edge angles and (2) achieve tighter turns because of pressuring the tail late. (IMHO, Bode Miller's success in the speed events in the last two years has been largely because he skied a much tighter line than all the other racers--his line on many gates is sometimes a couple of feet or more inside all the other racers--and he can do that because (A) he skis a tighter turn, and (B) he had a tighter line on the prior gate and thus doesn't have to come as far across the hill. Of course, his line was a bit too tight in the Olympic Super-G...)

I'm actually reminded of a very young junior racer I saw several years ago as I was trying to work out some issues in a private lesson at the top of a GS practice race course at Alpine Meadows (back when they used to set one on Kangaroo, before that hill sprouted a terrain park). Despite not brushing the gates, the kid was absolutely ripping these perfect pure inclination huge edge angle tight parentheses turns. Wow! I said, and his coach chatted with me about how the kid was doing it by skiing the GS course on slalom skis and just balancing against the big edge angles.

Which might be fun practice.
post #5 of 39
Thread Starter 
(Duplicate post deleted.)
post #6 of 39

To SFDEAN: Buddy, you just made my whole day...

...thanks for the good words on my stuff helping you out. And your last two posts have some amazing thoughts going on. We have to keep this going (others, please chime in...) and capture it all somehow.

And, we gotta make some arcs together. I'll PM you so we can try to hook up...and don't forget, laughter is the best medecine. When I coach (I'm currently coaching one of my home boys that I play tennis with...my summer sport is tournament tennis), I find that a few good belly laughs always help the learning process. To whit:

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles...-03-Hotbox.pdf

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles...tbox-Part2.pdf

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles...6-03-Goals.pdf
post #7 of 39

Excellent dialogue

Quote:
October is the cruelest month for me, when I have my new racing skis, but racing is still weeks away, so I’m stuck here with my brain running in ski theory mode like a crazed hamster on its wheel in a cage: All scrabbling energy and enthusiasm, but not necessary going anywhere….
Sounds like you are due for a long conversation with Milos when you get to your Copper camp. I had the pleasure of training with his beautiful daughter, son-in-law and the kids on their McCall ski team Saturday. Crystal clear perfect day with minimal salt needed to maintain the course.
Quote:
And the conclusion of your post above, about the difficulty of applying the more radical techniques from the World Cup given the limitations of our decades older, non-elite athelete, day-job limited bodies but wanting to try anyway really resonates with me, and I think has the exact right conclusion. It's an important question for all of us here--if the more radical and risky techniques of Bode Miller and Ted Ligety are something that almost all the elite atheletes on the World Cup pass on, because they are too challenging to master or not (in their view) worth the incremental risk, then why is it that those of us who don't have the luxury of training full time should be looking into it?
Keep up the discussion. I enjoy following it even though I can't say that I have alot to contribute in a meaningful way both of you guy's essays and articles are very informative and thought provoking. The one thing that does make some of the MSRT accessible to older racers like me are the drills that the coaches think up to re-educate our bodies. It may have been Alaska Mike in another thread mentioning that he would like his racers to spend more time on drills and that is a very insightful sentiment.

Bit off topic none the less in the racing realm - an amazing experience on the way down from the mountain Saturday. A small ski shop next to the Mt Hood Country Store in Parkdale that I have never seen open before had vehicles parked in front and the door open. I stopped for a look and inside was a small ski shop with nothing but racing skis and boots. There was Fischer, Volkl, Nordica, Atomic with a range of models from very small juniors to the full sizes for adult competition. That was the complete inventory of the store! All racing with some clothing and tools for racing. It was like a ski racers vision of shopping Valhalla and pricing was appropriate to licensed racers with a statement to that effect.

We always say "where else but Hood River do you see such things" Usually it is some feat by a young daredevil on a kite board or a mountain bike but in this case a rather unique ski shop.

- Fossil
post #8 of 39
I just wanted to thank sfdean for this thread. This is EXCELLENT! I don't have a lot to add to the discussion at this point, but I have researched this before and completely agree with a lot of your observations. Pulling it together in one place is very impressive. Thanks for putting so much time into your thoughts.
Thanks
GREG
post #9 of 39
Sounds like a cool shop. As to where else....Waitsfield, VT.

....

Quote:
He was the only guy with his hips periodically WAY behind his feet as he finished the turn and entered the transition.
I think even today you could blur off the top half of the skier and most of us could still recognize Bode being Bode from the hips down in SL, even though there have been some substantial changes in common technique as well as other new and different stuff from some other guys.
Quote:
And yet--the relentless logic of Darwinian selection says this technique MUST also have some advantages. How else could two top racers (Miller and Ligety) be winning medals despite clear drawbacks to the technique of letting their hips get back, in a sport where winning margins are hundredths of a second?
Yes, I think it is clear from looking at the sequences LeMaster chose for that PDF that most coaches out there, with only those sequences to go on, would do their damndest to convince Ligety to ski like Rocca.

It is clear too from the results that there is much value in the seemingly less efficient way Ligety skis.

I would have a hard time arguing with a coach of anyone other than a very top level skier if they tried to convince a skier to do business more like Rocca than Ligety. After all, points list one doesn't lie:
http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/607.ht...ea rch=Search

There is certainly a lot to be said for what guys like Ligety are doing differently, but time will tell if it is ultimately the best way to go.
Quote:
I think there are two principal advantages and one side benefit of this hips back “American” style: tighter arcs at the end of the turn as the tails are weighted allow the racer to ski a tighter line;
You seem to have noticed this too later in your post: LeMaster notes "While it’s natural for us to focus on the two middle frames where Ted appears to be dangerously back on his skis, it’s important to look closely at the first and last frames. In these, he is well-balanced over the forebody of the outside ski."

When I look at the last frame of that sequence and compare to that of Rocca below, I see Ligety having his CM a bit behind where Rocca does at that point. The outside ski is solid and hooked up for both skiers, but it appears to me that Ligety is working the tail more than Rocca for precisely the reason you noted above.
Quote:
(Although some might argue that calling promotion of greater balance and recovery skills a side benefit to the hips back transition is sort of like saying that playing a game of Russian roulette and surviving promotes good luck—that when it comes to “recovery” or “survival” you’d generally be better off without that particular practice/challenge in the first place…)
If you got one of these guys to wear pants and a jacket in a course and posted it for MA on epicski without a name, either guy would invoke pages and pages of "corrections" from the peanut-gallery of highly qualified epicski members. Rocca might get a little less flak than Ligety, who I'm sure would be warned that it is simply impossible to ski like that.

Crazy hips low transitions are a means to an end, as I see it. There is only one G to play with. The lower the CM is to the snow, the quicker the skis can reach the maximum edge angle. If the CM is any higher than necessary, time and distance is wasted while the skier gets the CM low enough to successfully execute the extreme edge angle/short radius turn required.

If you look at top-level women, I think you'll see that the hips aren't quite as far back and low as they are in the men. The men are able to keep the CM closer to the snow on average, and this indirectly translates into a shorter line down the hill.
http://ronlemaster.com/images/2004-2...sl-1-1-SR.html

Quote:
As a result, they can take a more direct line and carve a tighter turn than most racers. And, in my view, they can also start carving the same radius turn slightly later than other racers. That’s key for Ligety because in slalom he has a more radical technique of extending his legs into the fall line and engaging the edge set later than most other racers.
I think the bold bit is critical. In slalom, the distance the distance the CM moves laterally is smallest in relation to the lateral distance from gate to gate. Indeed, the CM rarely travels through the gate. The lateral distance the skis move under the skier is significant, and if it can be maximized both the radius of the subsequent turn can be larger and the total length of the CM's path down the hill can be shorter.

Related post from last season:
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...n#post373 211

From my viewpoint, keeping the hips low and back does allow Ligety to start a similar radius turn marginally lower and later than Rocca.
Quote:
check out Bode Miller’s second run in the 2005 Beaver Creek GS, where he nearly crashes three time
I once heard a great F1 commentator say that if a lap looks fast, it probably is, but if it looks really hairy and fast, it probably isn't. That run is amazing to watch, and I think it illustrates a couple things:
-"superfluous" movements above the hips are ultimately unimportant.
-ski racing isn't way out on an asymptote yet, there is still gobs of speed to be found by the right superhumans.
Quote:
he must somehow get his skis from WAY over on one side to WAY over on the other side in a very short time.
I think this is the essence of why his hips must remain as low as possible through the transition. Means to the end.
Quote:
What you cannot do, however, with your skis off the snow is change your direction—you are simply a ballistic object, with no ability to change line significantly (which is a very good reason not to spend a lot of time in the air.)
Correct, and the "skis always on the snow" naysayers seem to forget that sometimes the skier doesn't need to turn. If the skis come off the snow in the transition, it is ultimately unimportant. By definition, the skier is going straight during the transition. In ski racing, its generally even better to make the transition as long and straight as one can get away with.
Quote:
well, unnecessary hopping about should probably be discouraged.
LOL, yes. My home hill has a GS course that often has two key places where airtime is often seen. One is on a fallaway transition from flat to steep, and one is a roller usually setup between gates as the hill flattens.

Getting a little bit of air over the roller in your transition rather than doing some crazy extension/retraction to keep your feet on the ground is more fun and probably faster. Getting air on that fallaway is a rookie tactical error leading to predictable uglyness.
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman View Post
If you got one of these guys to wear pants and a jacket in a course and posted it for MA on epicski without a name, either guy would invoke pages and pages of "corrections" from the peanut-gallery of highly qualified epicski members. Rocca might get a little less flak than Ligety, who I'm sure would be warned that it is simply impossible to ski like that.
Ain't that the truth!
post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman View Post

Crazy hips low transitions are a means to an end, as I see it. There is only one G to play with. The lower the CM is to the snow, the quicker the skis can reach the maximum edge angle. If the CM is any higher than necessary, time and distance is wasted while the skier gets the CM low enough to successfully execute the extreme edge angle/short radius turn required.
Skiingman, I think you got more to the heart of the issue with those four sentences than I did in all those paragraphs. Let me try again, and this time let me see if I can put it in a way that includes your observation:

1. By definition, the larger edge angles achieved by Ligety generally require either radical angulation (not in evidence) or a lower CM during the turn (very much in evidence). (Don't believe me? Let's have rogue space aliens attach a hypothetical Levitron(tm) to Ligety in mid turn. As they drag him directly upward, in mid turn, to join those kidnapped cows in their UFO, that sharply reduces Ligety's edge angles. Disguisted, our aliens now suddenly see nothing special about the racer in mid-turn anymore and flick off off the Levitron. The US Ski Team is saved.)

2. Despite the more pronounced fore-and-aft commitments of Ligety compared to Rocca (and of Bode Miller compared to Aamodt) another way to look at the hips back technique is to see it as an efficient way to reduce VERTICAL displacement of the center of mass between turns. The knees have to come up to get the skis unweighted enough to get them to the other side. If the hips stay back, the center of mass can stay low between the gates and the rapid bending of the knees (in Ron LeMaster's term, the absorbtion of the virtual bump, or in other terms an effective down unweighting) allows for the unweighted crossunder portion of the combined crossover/crossunder transition.

3. Although Ligety does have to manage the commitment forward early in the turn and finish the turn with pressure on the tails, he can keep his center of mass relatively low to the ski hill. I'd say (A) (definitely) that means very little wasted energy in launching his center of mass upward between turns (for contrast, compare the old school technique of a rapid up unweighting between turns) (B) (probably) that promotes a faster transition in that the center of mass has to drop less to start the next turn and to rise less in the transition and (C) (maybe) that means a more efficient channelling of the rebound energy from the end of the old turn to launch the skis/feet to where they need to be at initiation of the next turn. (And, frankly, as an observer/struggling racer that seems like the really difficult part of the Ligety and Miller technique in slalom--how do they get the feet way out there and have them land in the right place for that next turn?)

Great stuff, guys--this is exactly the kind of kicking things around I was hoping to start here.

SfDean
post #12 of 39
It's late, and there's just too much to try to read here, but I'll throw my comments out with attached apologies if I repeat what someone already said.

I'll keep it short and sweet. Ted kicks butt because he's capturing and using the stored energy of reverse camber to rocket himself across the hill at the end of a turn. Rocca is absorbing the energy,,, translation: wasting it.

To do this Ted does use the tail of his skis, but in actuality he is not back. It's an illusion. You can't look at it from the perspective of his skis at the moment of release, you have to look at it from the perspective of the falline. That rocket lauch transition is combined with a pivot. The pivot changes the fore/aft relationship of the CM and the feet. It brings him back to fore for edge engagement.

http://ronlemaster.com/images/2005-2...l-1a-flat.html (Credit: Ron LeMaster)

It's more dynamic skiing, and of course more risk, but if he can limit the mistakes Rocca energy killing technique can't compete.

Bode knows this too. He's known it his whole career. I wrote about it here on epic a couple years ago.
post #13 of 39

Very cool, high octane stuff...

...a couple of thoughts:

- Ron LeMaster wrote an excellent article on the evolution of line:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/articles/LineEvolution-3.pdf

The "new" line requires the new moves, and the new moves enable the new line. Re the issue of "how do you get the feet that far out, the article has some drills that Jesse Hunt uses for the U. S. Team that I plan to demand we do in our training this year."

- The new line applies to SG and DH, too. SFDEAN said some good stuff about a tighter line helping Bode to start winning in speed events, and that's a definite yes. I was just watching the 2004 Beaver Creek MDH last nite, and Bode just destroyed everybody in the technical section below the top flats. He was so clean and so far inside everybody else that he basically had the race won after that section. I think he's using the same basic moves in speed events that he and Ligety are using in SL and GS...what does everybody else think?
post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
I'll keep it short and sweet. Ted kicks butt because he's capturing and using the stored energy of reverse camber to rocket himself across the hill at the end of a turn. Rocca is absorbing the energy,,, translation: wasting it.

To do this Ted does use the tail of his skis, but in actuality he is not back. It's an illusion. You can't look at it from the perspective of his skis at the moment of release, you have to look at it from the perspective of the falline. That rocket lauch transition is combined with a pivot. The pivot changes the fore/aft relationship of the CM and the feet. It brings him back to fore for edge engagement.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean, Rick, but here's what I think is happening, and let me underline one factor you note, but that we haven't discussed about loading the tails late in the turn: Ted is, in fact, somewhat back at the end of the first turn. That causes more reverse camber (bend) in the tail of the ski, which actually does two things, not just one: First, (as discussed at length much further above) it tightens the radius of his last turn at the end of that turn (compared to not loading the tail). Second, in connection with your observation, it also has the effect of storing more energy of potential in the more deeply bent reverse-cambered tail of the ski. That ski is, in effect, a wound spring that is released at the end of the turn, and Ted Ligety uses much of that energy (and he also has more energy stored at the end of the turn than Rocca) to help drive the ski to where it needs to be for the beginning of the next turn.

I do think you need to be somewhat back at the end of the first turn in order to cause the skis to take off on you to harness that energy. (Having learned that from experience, and having gathered up the equipment afterward.) I like Ski55's terminology that Ted is "letting the ski buck."

Then what I think you're saying (or, anyway, what I think is happening) is that (A) by the time Ligety's skis "buck" and use that stored energy to accelerate out from under him, he has already turned so that he is facing across the hill in the direction the feet and skis need to go to be in position for the next turn, so they are launching at an ideal trajectory, and (B) by the time his feet and skis get there, to where they need to go for edge set for the next turn, he has already pivoted and redirected the skis and properly positioned his upper body, so that instead of being "behind" the skis at turn initiation, his CM is "inside" the skis at the new turn. He properly pressures the ski shovel at turn initiation, lets the pressure build up smoothly (but more rapidly and starting later and closer to the fall line than Rocca) to bend the shovel of the ski and he achieves a higher edge angle than Rocca, bending the ski to turn more tightly and also to store more energy for the rebound to the next turn.

Essentially, Ted is using as much of the stored energy of the ski as possible to solve the phyisics problem of how to cause his feet to cover the most distance between gates while his CM covers the least possible distance between gates, while allowing both feet and CM to arrive at turn initiation in a position to properly initiate the next turn with pressured ski forebody and a high edge angle.

When I get time, in a follow on post, I'd like to weigh in with one hack's assessment of what I think is reasonably easy, what's challenging, and what seems to be insanely difficult to master about Ligety's technique. (But, of course, your mileage may vary.)
post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
It's more dynamic skiing, and of course more risk, but if [Ligety] can limit the mistakes, [the] Rocca energy killing technique can't compete.

Bode knows this too. He's known it his whole career. I wrote about it here on epic a couple years ago.
I think you're right (and Ron LeMaster thinks you're right, or at least did when he wrote the "Bode's Big Secret" piece for Ski Magazine.)

But let's tease it out just a little bit to quantify some of the respective advantages of Ligety and Rocca:

1. Tighter, more direct line of the feet. Ligety has higher edge angles. Ligety finishes his turns with tighter arcs. Ligety turns more at the gate instead of above it. By necessity, turning right at the gate means you ski a shorter line through the course. (Since, if you turn above the gate, unless you start your turn wider, you will wrong side the gate.) In general, I've used the rule of thumb that every six inches in distance you save is about a hundredth of a second, so skiing a line which is 6 inches closer to each gate over 60 gates saves .02 per gate (6 inches in both directions) for a 1.2 second gain (not including whatever savings you have from not having to overturn to set up early for the next gate and to set up a line that covers more lateral distance across the hill). Advantage, Ligety.

2. Tighter, more direct line of the center of mass. The feet, of course, aren't really what we have to get through the course. Generally, speed/distance is measured by how far the center of mass travels. Not only do Ligety's feet travel a much shorter line (due to tighter turns and a more direct line turning at the gate) his center of mass travels a much shorter line, because it is more laterally displaced to the inside of his feet (that is, he has higher edge angles and uses a lot of inclination to achieve those high edge angles.) Advantage, Ligety.

3. Use of energy. Anyone who has gotten way back on slalom skis at the end of a turn on an icy course knows the enormous acceleration that can result as your skis jet out from underneath you. Rick points out that Ligety harnesses much of that energy to drive his skis directly toward the edge set of the next turn--the direction of travel down the race course. At every turn, Ligety has a spring-loaded assist to go faster. (And at every turn, he stores some of the energy from the change of momentum to launch himself in the direction of travel again.) Advantage, Ligety.

4. Fall line. Rocca's rounder turns mean his skis spend more time in the fall line and near the fall line, accelerating. Advantage, Rocca.

5. Clean turns, with a minimum of skidding. I'm not sure who wins here. I'd guess Rocca, but I don't know, and it might depend on course set and snow conditions. (But then again, they're World Cup elite atheletes with multiple tools in the toolbox. Those racers modify their technique on the fly to maximize speed given the conditions.) Rocca has rounder turns, but Ligety's technique of effectively initiating his turns with a lateral hop (a misleading oversimplification, no flame decorated correction required) with more rapid loading of the ski forebody means he really gets the ski decambered and carving quickly in a tighter carved turn. Not sure who wins. Your votes?

6. Pole plant. In the sequences in the LeMaster montage, it looks to me that Ligety uses a pole plant or at least a pole touch. (Downhill hand after completing the turn.) And, as a practical matter, for those of us non-World Cup elite atheletes typing and reading this, I think we may need a pole plant or pole touch to manage the greater balance challenges inherent in moving toward the Ligety technique. A pole plant is modest drag. Advantage Rocca, but I don't see this as a big one. Again, for reference:

www.ronlemaster.com/articles/Ligety-Rocca.pdf

7. Acceleration and drag between gates, in transition. Those who argue that "you cannot generate speed if your skis aren't on the snow" would say Rocca's technique wins here, hands down (or, more correctly, hands and the rest of the body quiet and skiing in a balanced athletic position) because he keeps the Atomics constantly in contact with the crystals. I'd say that's based on a misunderstanding of the actual physics involved. I think Ligety avoids drag between gates, minimizes friction and skidding that would otherwise occur as he pivots his skis for the next edge set, and when those skis do contact the snow he has them reasonably close to the fall line allowing him to generate plenty of speed, thank you very much. Your call, but I would argue (with some conviction) that the "cannot generate speed" canard blinds many otherwise very knowlegeable people into misunderstanding this one, or at least the true relative value of keeping the skis on the snow in transition.

8. Adjustment of line. I think Rocca, with his rounder line, has a continuing opportunity to adjust and set up his line between gates. Ligety, having launched his lower body missile at the next turn very early has limited ability to adjust his line between gates and also has limited ability to adjust his line after edge set--his skis bite very hard at that edge set when he engages them at the outset of the next turn. Ligety had better get the pivot very close to exactly right, since I see his only three tools for line adjustment once he sets the edge as (A) edge angle (which he certainly can't much increase given the insanely high edge angle he's achieved already) (B) fore and aft pressure during different phases of the turn, and (C) absorbtion of energy in bending the knees to reduce decambering of the ski to make the turn less tight. Ligety has very little opportunity to make his turn tighter if he picked the wrong entry angle. Big advantage Rocca.

8. Risk. Those who can, do. One who can't (me) is typing this. Ligety's technique is both more difficult and more risky. First, you have to consistently manage the tail pressure to tighten the turn enough to be aimed across the hill before the "buck of the ski" so your spring launching is the right trajectory (difficult, but then line management has always been an issue with me) manage the acceleration of the skis out from under you without a high speed posterior plant (only slightly difficult, but been there, biffed that), and then manage the simultaneous extension of the legs, pivot of the skis, and driving of the upper body diagonally forward to consistently land your skis in a rutted slalom course in a perfect position to make the next gate where (A) the skis are properly oriented with a pivot entry to the turn for the correct turn entry and exit, (B) the skis actually landed laterally far enough to go on the correct side of the pole (details, details), and (C) the forebody of the ski is properly pressured at turn initiation.

More about that last, later, and maybe what it means to those of us who aren't Ted Ligety about making use of some of his technique. But in my outline form and verbose way, I think I just said in over 600 words what Rick said in 12: "if [Ligety] can limit the mistakes, [the] Rocca energy killing technique can't compete."
post #16 of 39
The technique is certainly fast in slalom, but I think it's a young man's style. If it's the future of the discipline, I would expect to see guys in their early 20s dominating the podium. It requires too much athleticism and flexibility to be sustained over injury-filled years, and I'll bet as Ted matures he'll have to modify the technique to account for that. Also, as he skis more disciplines, he'll find it is incompatible with speed, as Bode did. Skiing two different styles isn't impossible, but it certainly presents quite the training challenge.

I think more than anything we've seen a line evolution across the disciplines over the last 5 years. The fore-aft thing is more in the tech disciplines (primarily slalom), but the straighter/pivoted line is certainly a common thread. I'm with Hermann Maier when I say that I don't like it- but it certainly is faster. I still use and teach a style more akin to Rocca or Raich, because it's sustainable and forms a better foundation for later athlete innovation (IMHO).
post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiRacer55 View Post
...
- Ron LeMaster wrote an excellent article on the evolution of line:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/articles/LineEvolution-3.pdf

The "new" line requires the new moves, and the new moves enable the new line. Re the issue of "how do you get the feet that far out, the article has some drills that Jesse Hunt uses for the U. S. Team that I plan to demand we do in our training this year."
I liked the article, SkiRacer55--

And it seems to me that it's pretty easy to do the line drill even without brushes set up between the gates: Show up at masters drop in training, and twenty minutes after the first run, there are a variety of lines between the gates. Then you can just pick the high line in the snow, the midline, and the low line.

(Unless you're me. My big issues at the beginning of the season are that I don't get forward enough at turn initiation, especially in the steeps, and I usually take a more direct line than my current skills allow me to ski well. It's going to be an ugly combination for those first three days on snow at the slalom camp.)

I had one major problem with LeMaster's article, though, in that the first few times I tried to read his sentence on the most critical thing for racers to master to create the new tight turn, the way I processed his sentence was "The first [stage] is to develop the ability to make tight turns with as much of the turn as possible being made with the skis in or near the fall line. The key factor in accomplishing this is for [BEEP Here, unfortunately, the author lapsed into a foreign language that only appeared to resemble English BEEP] to the next."

LeMaster's actual sentence is "The key factor in accomplishing this is for the athlete's hips and upper body (and hence the center of mass) to take a steeper line across the skis in the transition from one turn to the next." (p.4)

I'm not sure what "steeper line across the skis in the transition" means, but here's my current bent ski pole stab at it: I assume what LeMaster means is that the skis and the upper body must take as divergent a line as possible(within limits) intersecting in mid transition. If we go back to a LeMaster montage

http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/20...sl-1-1-SR.html

Poutainen's skis take a different line, more across the hill, than do her hips and upper body, which are going down the hill, angled toward the inside of the turning pole. (And, by the way, Poutainen shows at the first gate impact, extreme edge angle and afterward uses some energy from the tail of the ski to launch the skis toward the outside of the next gate.)

Do I have that right? And if so, if this is the key to a successful tight high inclination turn, how does one best get the hips and upper body "to take a steeper line across the skis in transition."
post #18 of 39
SFDean, check out these two montages. They're of Ted and Rocca in the same turn. They provide an excellent case study. The lines are very similar, if anything Rocca may be coming into the turn a bit straighter/lower. Rocca's pivot is delayed more than Ted's, it's more compact, but they both end up arriving at the pole with the same amount of direction change. They both have their feet about the same distance from the turning pole. They have similar edge angles and CM positions.

http://ronlemaster.com/images/2005-2006/slides/rocca-bc-2005-sl-1c.html

http://ronlemaster.com/images/2005-2006/slides/ligety-bc-2005-sl-1a-flat.html


The glaring difference is in image 2. Ted has released a ton of energy from his skis and directed it across the falline. The skis are exploding out of the turn, rocketing across the hill, and Ted is contracting his legs and stomach muscles so that his body is taken along. That's the key; it's not just the skis being launched across the slope, the CM is being taken along for the ride.

Rocca in image 2 is absorbing the energy. What energy did exist in the skis is not being directed forward, it's being directed up, and then absorbed through flexion of the legs. From image 2 Ted explodes forward towards the next gate. Rocca stalls and then waits for it to eventually arrive.

That is the primary technical element that is now separating these guys in regard to the clock. While the montage does show the difference in energy usage by these two, when you see them on full speed video the contrast in speed coming out of the turn these two technical approaches create is striking.

And last note; I totally agree with what Mike says here;

Quote:
I'm with Hermann Maier when I say that I don't like it- but it certainly is faster. I still use and teach a style more akin to Rocca or Raich, because it's sustainable and forms a better foundation for later athlete innovation (IMHO).

That's profoundly accurate. I can't emphasize enough how strongly I agree with this statement. I hope every coach out there, as they continue to watch Ted ski and begin to figure out what he's doing that makes him so fast, understands this. Rocca displays the foundation of great skiing. Ted is simply displaying a nifty little add that only the athletic of gifted proportions could hope to pull off.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
I hope every coach out there, as they continue to watch Ted ski and begin to figure out what he's doing that makes him so fast, understands this. Rocca displays the foundation of great skiing. Ted is simply displaying a nifty little add that only the athletic of gifted proportions could hope to pull off.
On the Worldcup on TV thread if you go to the referenced WCSN.com then click on Skiing Highlights the Adelboden SL is available for free viewing. It includes the entire field both runs and the reason I interject it here is that Rocca wins with Ted second. Just using Windows Media I can move backwards and forwards on it and it is of particular fascination to do so as reading this excellent thread then watching Rocca and Ted ski that race. Of course with this great coverage we get to see all the other tremendous skiers in the field that we normally miss as all the attention goes on the winners or winning runs.

- Fossil
post #20 of 39
"I hope every coach out there, as they continue to watch Ted ski and begin to figure out what he's doing that makes him so fast, understands this. Rocca displays the foundation of great skiing. Ted is simply displaying a nifty little add that only the athletic of gifted proportions could hope to pull off."
Right on Rick
post #21 of 39
Excellent thread, guys - lots to chew on, and verbalizes a lot of what I've noticed in MA I've done in my spare time.

As they say on other sport forums: +1
post #22 of 39
Thread Starter 

Not quite ready to give up yet.

You’re all right, we should be looking at Rocca’s technique as the template and Ligety’s variation as a unique approach that’s not really in the reach of most of the rest of us, but I’m not quite ready to let this go

Rick, Slatz, Alaska Mike, SkiRacer55 (and a lot of the rest of you) are MUCH faster than I am in slalom gates. (Hey, don’t take that as flattery—I didn’t just admit you to a very exclusive club. In slalom, my new attraction to competent skiing has so far gone unrequited).

And, let’s face it—even I know I would be better off dropping the whole Ligety/Miller jet ski analysis thing in favor of doing the Heisman/Schlopy drill from the “How to get Lateral” thread

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?=44677

The Ron LeMaster Line Evolution report of the Jess Hunt drill on line choice (thanks SkiRacer55)

www.ronlemaster.com/articles.html

And figuring how to commit forward on those slalom boards in the steeper sections during the Tichy camp in November at Copper Mountain (the Land that Oxygen Forgot, for those of us from sea level.)

But, sadly, though I have a garage now full of skis, wax, and edging and balance tools (do take up ski racing as a grown up, because it’s never too late for a happy childhood—especially once you figure out the compelling rationale for huge categories of new toys) you can’t buy efficient, minimalist technique on eBay.

And, even more sadly, it probably isn’t in my current reach and doesn’t even especially speak to me.

We’ve all seen those guys, floating down the slalom course to just the quiet kish, kish kish, as their edges throw the minimum of snow and the quiet click, click, click as they cross block without effort, just collecting the flags which their shins as they pass, so graceful that “Ode to Joy” from George Winston’s December album spontaneously starts playing on your iPod as you watch.

That’s not me. (And for a variety of reasons, probably never will be despite my improvement aspirations that are vastly grander than any past history would justify.) My body parts sometimes more favor the boxcars-at- the-freight-train-wreck look, where which ones end up in front of the others is somewhat more randomized and often collision driven. (But a key advantage of the way I ski is that my bindings never go too long without a release test.)

But a technique that hints at benefits from a more dynamic, but riskier style, and which demands extreme balance skills (my new obsession, and one that can be worked on regularly away from the ski hill.) Now THAT sounds interesting. (And it’s one most of my competitors aren’t interested in adopting.)

So I’m not quite ready to let this go. In my defense:

1) I’ve always had more enthusiasm than sense. (Heck, SkiRacer55, without hardly trying, has already just about persuaded me to come out and ski in the Cooper downhills in January.)

2) I believe there are some lessons we can learn (and apply) from Ligety’s technique without skiing in a way that’s as extreme (or as demanding) as Ligety does. More about that in another future post, but look at the recent pictures on Ron LeMaster’s Web site as Poutanian uses the energy from her ski rebound to drive it toward the next gate. (And, IMHO, women World Cup racers are probably generally better technique models for us older guys than the WC men: Their course sets are often not as extreme as the men’s and their individual strength is closer to ours than the guys who squat 350.)

3) Even if we older racers wanted to adopt Ligety’s complete technique, that’s not how it works. As a racer, what feels (subjectively) like a HUGE change in technique on the hill gets replayed in the video shack as a tiny little adjustment.

(Sad, but totally true. And even worse, that video has NEVER matched the ski movie that runs in my head. But I’m still working on that. And on the plus side, I have given the world at least one video in slalom gates that, in its own I-can’t-believe-he-didn’t-put-a-bag-over-his-head way, is as horrifically transfixing as footage of the Hindenberg disaster or the recording of William Shatner singing “Mister Bojangles”. (Which everyone should hear once, and no one should have to sit through twice. All of us have a purpose in life, even if, at times, it’s just serving as an object lesson to others.)

4) Finally, in talking about teaching people template technique, I always remember someone’s remark about Ichiro’s batting, that if he’d come up through US little league and high school, he’d have been talked out of his best skills a long time earlier. Ligety has run slalom and GS for the last couple of years watching side-by-side video of himself and Bode Miller. I think that’s related. Miller is a guy who isn’t really capable of being talked out of his technique. (I remember last year or the year earlier when he won the Soelden GS with a bizarre technique of power sliding most of the turns in one direction, which allowed him to carve all the turns in the other direction cleanly and run tight, after which he explained that he’d had his skis specially prepped to allow him to do that. Not exactly a skill we’re coaching everybody else in.)

Anyway, I know you’re all right, but I’m still have a little more to run on about Ligety’s technique, pieces of it that may actually be applicable to some of us who are (a lot) less skilled, and some on and off-hill preparation. More later.

SFDean
post #23 of 39
1. Enthusiasm for ski racing is no sin.

2. Using rebound from skis to accelerate is nothing new- the best skiers have been doing it for years. The ways to manage it have evolved. I agree, though, for mortals the best models are usually the women WC athletes.

3. Everyone looks for a shortcut. Don't ignore the fact that there are certain proven techniques to get you skiing faster- without all of the fancy moves. A little flair isn't a bad thing- just don't be all flair.

4. Another thing to remember is that every skier on the World Cup was cut from that template. They all have quirks from coaching and individual differences, but they all came from pretty much the same place. Bode has absorbed far more than he's ignored (far more than he admits).

Explore the technique as much as you want- there are lessons to be learned here. Just make sure you aren't building on sand. What we need now is some good snow and some short liftlines.
post #24 of 39
Thread Starter 

Cynamic skiing--more on Ligety and the template

Everything AlaskaMike says in the post immediately above this seems true. And just to prove that I'm not completely impervious to good advice (even if at times highly resistant) let me couch my follow on observations here not just in terms of Ligety's (and Bode Miller's) technique, but also try to see that technique in the broader and more applicable context of the slightly less radical, basic template skiing of which Giorgio Rocca and Benni Raich better illustrate. Again, let's go back to some common source materials:

Let's start back with Ron LeMaster's article, and mid-course montages, of Ligety and Rocca:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/articles/Ligety-Rocca.pdf

And while we're at it, let's look at LeMaster's article and montage of Raich:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/articles/raich-SR-3-05.pdf

And, just for variation, let's take a look at the still of Ligety in a maximum edge angle slalom turn in his winning run at the U.S. Nationals in March:

http://www.usskiteam.com/public/news...dId=2&aId=2156

Finally, let's look at Poutanian, from LeMaster's recent images collection:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/la...sl-1-1-SR.html

And, heck, let's add another montage of a World Cup woman--here's Zettel from a 2005 Aspen slalom run:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/20...5-sl-1-wm.html


Here are some things I see (and, I grant you, most of these are not remotely profound):

When you compare the last two montages, of Zettel vs. Poutanian, perhaps in part because they are different turns, Zettel's technique is quieter, more balanced, less radical and less dynamic. (But darned fine skiing. I'd love to ski slalom like that.) It seems the epitome of quiet skiing with no wasted movement, but also seems to be the "absorb" the energy approach we've talked about in Rocca's skiing rather than the "store, launch and harness" the energy approach of Ligety's (and to some extent in the Poutanian sequence).

I see several ways her montage seems less dynamic than Poutanian's montage (again, though, they are in different turns): First, there is slightly less fore-and-aft shift, it seems to me, as Zettel stays (very slightly) more centrally balanced. In the second frame of the Poutanian sequence, what I see is Poutanian's a little hips back and her ski tips up, as her pressuring the tails at the end of the turn allows those skis to "buck" squirting forward out from under her and toward the direction they need to go for the next edge set. Poutainian also compresses more at the first gate impact, with a more deeply flexed inside knee, a lower center of mass, and a higher edge angle. (But, of course, she is at a different turn in the course than Zettel.) Along with the rest of the more dynamic skiing, her stance width seems to me to vary slightly more than Zettel's (more about that below) who seems to me to keep her skis a more uniform width apart.

Now let's look at the men's montages.

http://www.ronlemaster.com/articles/Ligety-Rocca.pdf

We've talked about the differences between the Ligety and Rocca sequences, so now let's note some similarities. They both have a very direct line, turning at the gate (as Rick corrects my earlier post, in the shorter sequence Rocca's line is at least as direct as Ligety's.) The both show reasonably narrow stances before gate clear and at gate clear (second to last frame and last frame in the shorter sequences, third to last frame and second to last frame in the longer sequences.) This isn't the "old school" super-narrow stance you see from some masters racers who learned slalom a long time ago, but it's narrower than Raich looks in his sequence from the other LeMaster article:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/articles/raich-SR-3-05.pdf

Raich is known for skiing a slightly more conservative, less risky line than some of his competitors. The slightly narrower stance for the other two men allows them to ski a line slightly closer to the gate without risking wrong-footing it. I would argue that there may also be an advantage to Ligety in a slightly narrower (rather than wider) stance, since he is "landing" his skis after a longer period of knee retraction where they're being redirected (especially apparent in the longer sequence.) If he landed with a wider stance, his outside leg would have to be straighter and his inside knee more bent, which would give his two legs very different shock absorbtion properties during the rapid build up of force at edge set. I would argue that the greater fore-and-aft balance challenges in his skiing require a laterally balanced two-footed technique.

Finally, it's just a couple of sequences, but Rocca, of the three men, seems to show the least ski tip divergence (not divergence in the sense of tip lead but rather non-parallel orientation in the turn.) I would argue that ski tip divergence may actually have some benefits in Ligety's skiing, since he can ski with a reasonably narrow stance at gate clear, but have a wider balance platform after gate clear as he launches into his more dynamic transition.

And, finally, to the last image, the still of Ligety in an extreme edge angle slalom turn:

http://www.usskiteam.com/public/news...dId=2&aId=2156

As SkiRacer55 notes of Ligety's GS runs, in a high edge angle turn, Ligety drops his inside hand to skim the snow. I'd argue that this improves balance, lowering the center of gravity and providing a safety punch/confidence booster, and (only because he is going so fast and is turning with such redirection of the skis) doesn't cause Ligety to fall to the inside because of the forces he is stacking against.

To come: What I think this means to us hacks (er, racers with "emerging skills," as they would say in my son's school.)
post #25 of 39
Thread Starter 

More on the physics (and physical demands) of Ligety's technique

I'm still slowly working my way toward drafting a post on what some of us less accomplished skiers can take from the Ted Ligety/Bode Miller hips back technique and some of the training implications (trying to take into account and incorporate the comments from Alaska Mike, Rick, and Slatz above, that we should focus more on the fundamentals and mainstream template of high level WC skiing (Raich, Rocca) rather than concentrating on an athletic add-on of limited utility without the fundamental building blocks that support it. (That is, let’s get the grounding of basic excellent technique as a taking off point, before we launch from that into some add on.) That's actually taking a while.

In the meantime, Gary Dranow posted over on the Nastar forum some thoughts I've quoted (in very abbreviated part) and reacted to below. (I think my response is a little physics-intense and slalom-specific for the Nastar forum.)

http://www.nastar.com/forums/viewtop...=1278&start=15

Gary quotes Ted Ligety's own explanation to Ski Racing of his technique (that it involves high edge angles for only part of the turn, and then much lower edge angles than other racers) and notes that some takeaways the rest of us might have from Ted Ligety's technique or his observations might include, among other things:

1) early edge engagement
2) maximum edge angle BEFORE the fall line
3) maximum load by the fall line
4) decreasing edge angle to the release

http://www.nastar.com/forums/viewtop...=1278&start=15

I hadn't really focused as much on the impact of how quickly Ligety gets out of that maximum edge angle in our dialogue above, but the more I think about it, the more I think that's a critical part of Ligety's approach, for several reasons:

1. It means Ligety is already moving into the transition earlier, which means that he'll have time to get his skis out from under him and set for another high edge angle turn by the next gate.

2. It means that Ligety can actually use more of the energy stored in the bent (reverse camber) tail of his ski (like a spring) as he jets his ski out for that next turn more effectively. A more gradual release probably would not do that as well.

3. It means that the enormous muscular demands of high edge angle skiing are easier to manage, because the maximum force has to be withstood for a shorter period of time. I think that's actually pretty important, once you understand (A) how additional Gs build up with the last few degrees of very high edge angle skiing and (B) how much force we humans can actually resist eccentrically, as long as we don't have to do it for very long. More about (A) and (B) below:

(A) The new fun online tool I've been playing with lately is the inclination/angulation/turn radius/G force calculator available here:

http://www.natew.com/frame_main.cgi/...snow/html.Main

go most of the way down the page and click on biomechanical engineering. It pulls up a calculator, and if you enter your ski sidecut radius (say 12 for slalom, 18 for skiercross/all mountain, 21 for FIS-legal (until next year) GS skis) and angulation and inclination, the calculator will spit back, among other things, your turn radius and the amount of Gs your inclination dictates that you're balancing against in the turn. (Inclination dictates G force; inclination plus angulation dictates edge angle and thus--at a given sidecut--turn radius. As a quick refresher for the casual reader, inclination is how much your center of mass is tilted to balance against the forces in the turn, and angulation is the additional bend--for example, from a break at the hip so your body position resembles a comma or hockey stick--that allows you to load up the outside ski a little more and create a slightly higher edge angle while balancing against the same force)

If you play around with entering different inclinations, you learn pretty quickly how REALLY big inclination angles generate enormously more Gs than just slightly smaller ones: Build up of Gs is really modest at first, and a skier goes from 1 G to only 1.5 Gs resisted as the skier goes to 48 degrees of inclination. Add 12 more degrees of inclination--to 60 degrees--and you increase the Gs resisted to 2. Still manageable. But add just 10.5 more degrees of inclination--to 70.5 degrees--and now you're resisting 3 Gs of force in that turn (540 pounds of force if you're a 180 pound skier.) Add just 5 more degrees of inclination to that--bumping up to 75.5 degrees--and now you're resisting 4 Gs. That's 720 pounds of force being resisted by our poor 180 pound skier's quads.

Now, (B)

Some of you who do squats in the gym may have just decided you no longer have any interest or intention of ever getting anywhere near 70 or 75 degree inclination turns in this life (or at least with these currently connected ligaments) but bear with me: It is not as difficult (at least in terms of purely muscular demands) as it sounds at first. A standard measure of good squat strength is that an athlete can squat 1.5 times his body weight. (Or, for us older guys, let's fudge that and say 1.5 times our lean body weight, since we are already squating a few extra pounds every day just getting in and out of chairs, without any resort to the weight room.) So, given that you include your body weight, you're already up to squatting 2.5 Gs of force. That still seems a far cry from 3Gs of force or 4 Gs. But studies of the forces involved in plyometrics (the training method of doing jumping exercises) show that the forces managed by an athlete in landing and then rebounding from a box jump or depth jump are thousands of pounds, but the force is resisted only briefly, and the maximum force is resisted eccentrically (that is by decellerating your CM upon landing.)

That's really the key to managing loads that seem insanely high--we humans can do it, but can do it best if (1) the load is resisted eccentrically (that is, the lowering phase of the squat, not the extending back upward phase), and (2) if the load is resisted for a short period of time.

I don't have the figures at my fingertips on the studies of how many thousands of pounds of force are resisted in the landing and rebound phase of plyometric exercises (or in the foot plant/landing phase of downhill running), but I remember the numbers as being very impressive, and they're probably lurking somewhere in either Radcliffe's or Chu's books on Plyometrics.

http://www.amazon.com/High-Powered-P...e=UTF8&s=books

In any event, I think that may be an important part of Ligety's technique: Because his edge angles are immense at their steepest, and driven by huge inclination, he has to get out of that high inclination/higher load phase faster than the other skiers to manage the physical/muscular demands of the higher load that inclination/change of direction generates.

(Although that's kind of circular: Ligety doesn't need to keep a high edge angle for as long as other skiers, because he uses a higher edge angle for a short period of the turn. And because Ligety uses that higher inclination/high edge angle, he needs to get out of that inclination/edge angle/change of direction phase faster to manage the physical demands of that extra few degrees of inclination/greater change of direction.)

Anyway, those are some further thoughts. I still plan to say something more later about what we hacks can take from all this.

SfDean.
post #26 of 39
Thread Starter 

Hips Back for Hacks (Appallingly Long)

"Hook me up a new revolution
‘Cause this one is a lie…

I’m looking for a complication,
Looking ‘cause I’m tired of trying
Make my way back home
And I’ll learn to fly

Fly along with me
I can’t quite make it alone…"

Foo Fighters, “Learn to Fly”

I’ve been meaning to get back to this thread on what I’ve been calling the hips back technique, to post some thoughts on some possible uses and some training implications for those of us who do not ski at an altitude near the lofty peak of current World Cup technique. (Typing here from near sea level in several respects…)

Do be warned that this entire (appallingly long) post may be just an example of the folk wisdom that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and its corollary that if what you are is a hack, every new tool looks like a cleaver.

And I’ve thought a lot about the comments from Alaska Mike, Rick, and Slatz above, that we should focus more on the fundamentals and mainstream template of high level WC skiing (Raich, Rocca) rather than concentrating on an athletic add-on of limited utility without the fundamental building blocks that support it. (That is, let’s get the grounding of basic excellent technique as a taking off point, before we launch from that into some add on.) So what I’ve tried to do here is put a little more emphasis on some of the elements of the hips back technique (particularly as apparent in the LeMaster Ligety montages) that are also common to other high level skiing in the gates (or which promote generally better technique, rather than a one-off wrinkle used by a couple of racers.)

1. Breaking down some of the hardest parts of hips back skiing.

I think it’s useful to talk about what (IMHO) is most difficult about Ligety’s technique analyzed at length by various of us above, and then see if there’s a way to dial back some of the most difficult parts or break them down so that (A) the technique is more useable for those of us who are not as gifted (and who don’t have the luxury of full time training), (B) we see what parts of the technique are just extreme applications of general principles used in high level racing, and (C) we see what building block skills we might work on to get ourselves in a position to integrate some higher level skills into our skiing. In doing that, I’m going to try to concentrate not just on Ligety and Miller with their hips back wrinkle, but (in light of the comments above) to try to put it in the broader context of elements in common with other high level WC skiers, or at least what in the Ligety technique we can generalize from.

And in typing this, I’m acutely aware of the extraordinary combination of naivety and hubris that collide in my making these observations. Listening to a hack racer opine on what’s “difficult” about one World Cup racer’s technique that’s different from other WC skiers is sort of like, say, consulting a squirrel about the details of your house construction, just because he has experience climbing on things made of wood. But as Skiracer55 says “know your limits and exceed them frequently.” I like to think that I’m living that slogan even at the present moment, away from the hill. (Next: Brain surgery technique tips from the guy whose one qualification is many, many concussions…)

If nothing else, if I blunder badly, someone else may be drawn back into this discussion to correct me, so I’m not just talking to myself. (A certain lack of interaction on this thread, just lately. Not sure if that’s because I’ve wandered even further afield than usual, or that I’ve finally just bludgeoned everyone into silence with sheer length.)

Anyway, when it gets sketchy, drive the hands and commit forward, so here it goes:

It seems to me that one of the things most difficult about Ligety’s technique involves control of the forces unleashed in driving the lower body across the hill: The precise landing of the redirected skis for the rapid loading at extreme inclination, while the weight/hips are forward enough at edge set seems enormously difficult to me. The technique seems to require extraordinary fore-and-aft and lateral balance skills (even for a world cup athlete) and considerable strength at maximum loading, and some precision about driving the skis to the right place with the right entry angle for the desired turn.

(But I’ve modified my thinking in the first numbered paragraph 8 of Post # 15 above about the difficulty Ligety has in adjusting his line after edge set, based on thinking about Gary Dranow’s comments and his quote from Ligety about how quickly Ligety gets back to a lower edge angle. My original thought had been that it would be enormously difficult for Ligety to tighten his line, if the initial entry direction orientation of the skis at edge set for the turn wasn’t correct. BZZT. Wrong--of course, what Ligety could do is just stay in the high edge angle/high inclination position for slightly longer than originally planned.)

But to put the balance demands in context, the link below shows some of the extreme balance training done by high level athletes who DON’T manage to ski like Ligety and Miller:

http://www.gordbrownskiing.com/coolstuff.htm

(BTW, don’t try this at home, at least not without months of preparation and some attention to injury prevention. Balance is a progressive skill. The good news is, that means it steadily improves with training. The bad news is, without that training, you cannot do the advanced balance challenges. And some of the challenges pictured—like the big balls in a row (as it were) in a gym but not on an exercise mat, done by an athlete already cast from one break--violate what I call the Snowboarder Stairwell Rule of balance training: Don’t undertake a balance challenge you haven’t mastered under conditions where there’s a substantial risk of serious injury just from trying it. “Snowboarder Stairwell Rule” because, as an extreme example of the penalties for breaking the rule, a couple of years ago, a guy on the US Snowboard team got his afterlife ticket punched by falling something like eight floors through an open stairwell in the hotel where the team was staying, after an ill-timed oops, while sliding down the banister on a room service tray. It does help to be short while doing inverted aerials, but there are limits.)

I don’t know what balance training Ligety does. Bode Miller, who has some of the most extraordinary balance skills of anyone on the WC circuit (but whose initials were still listed as DQ or DNF in most of his WC slalom races in the last two years) rides a unicycle up hill and does one-legged jumps on a slack line, among his balance training. (More about the importance of dealing with balance at the point of landing later.)

2. General principles of higher level skiing from Ligety’s extreme specific application.

Most of the aspects of Ligety’s skiing are just exaggerated forms of techniques used by other high level skiers:

Pressuring the tails at the end of the turn? As SkiRacer55 points out in post #2 above (and in his RMM article years ago), that’s just good technique to avoid washing out the tails at the end of the turn.

Letting the ski buck and harnessing the energy to drive it across for the next edge set? As Alaska Mike noted, this isn’t unique to Ligety—lots of high level skiers harness some of the pop from the unbending of the loaded ski at the end of the turn. (And in fact, that’s one of the reasons GS and SL skis are different from super-G skis. They are designed to capture and release that energy, while the Super-G boards are designed to flex at high speeds without launching the skier into the next run over…)

Substantial fore-and-aft move so the CM is forward at engagement of the edges for the new turn? That’s absolutely mainstream in modern high level slalom technique, as Olle Larsson pointed out years ago in his early article on skiing slalom on getting forward at turn initiation with the new shaped skis, as Alaska Mike points out in post 16 above as prevalent in technical disciplines, and as the U.S. men’s technical coach Greg Needell pointed out as recently as this week’s quote on the Skracing.com Web site in saying the “balance and recovery is so violent in slalom” that you have to “force it at a maximum level” in that discipline.

Really steep edge angles? That’s what we’ve all been talking about for years (and still are—check out the “How to Get Lateral” thread) as we’re all still trying to digest the implications of how best to ski on shaped skis, after junior skier Bode Miller force-fed that innovation to the racing world after showing up at the 1996 Junior Olympics on a pair of K2 IVs. What Ligety does differently is have more extreme edge angles but maintain them for a shorter period.

And it also seems to me that a lot of the elements of Ligety’s technique (tightened end of the turn from tail weighting, bigger edge angle but held for a shorter time so earlier release of the ski, use of stored energy in the bent tail of the ski to drive it across the hill for the next edge set, hips back to leave room for a down unweighting crossunder transition without a vertical bob of the hips, shortened height in transition for more rapid pendulum rotation) are not only useful for creating a HUGE lateral drive of the skis compared to the upper body between gates: They are also useful for creating a much FASTER short lateral drive of the skis between gates where it has to happen quickly. And it seems to me that the extreme challenges of the technique are almost all reduced in that situation: The bent-ski energy generated and harnessed is less, the distance the skis travel is much less, and there’s much less of an extreme balance challenge, because in that situation the angles and dynamic temporary-out-of-balance phase in transition is just less extreme and even more temporary.

In that connection, in one specific example--a quick, kick out gate not far down the hill before a big lateral displacement to the other side--it seems to me that some aspects of Ligety's technique might be useful (and useable) by a lot of us less accomplished skiers.

3. What I think this means for hacks.

Here are some of the things I’m thinking about or planning to play around with right now. And, if you’ve read this far (congratulations and thank you--sorry I can't give you that half hour back), I REALLY would appreciate any suggestions or feedback on this front, since I head out to slalom camp in two weeks (and plan to do some Masters speed events this year, where the consequences of a technical miscue would tend to scatter the pieces over more linear feet and possibly even hospital districts.)

3.1 On the hill.

Hips and feet. I’m always trying to figure out a way to make my skiing consistently better without just strapping myself to a different bad habit and flinging that shiny new anchor down the hill at the gates. This is my latest try. It seems to me, particularly in slalom, a key to good skiing without immediately lapsing into a collection of various bad habits instead, is to ski with a proper awareness of where the hips and the feet are at specific times. Hip needs to be low, low, low at that maximum edge angle portion of the turn. Hips need to be ahead of feet at edge set to properly pressure the shovels at turn initiation. Hips are inside the turn (Schlopy/Heismann drill) for adding angulation and its incremental edge angle. Hips don’t need to be bobbing up in an old school up unweighting in the transition between slalom turns. As long as I can think hips forward (or, as Deb Armstrong puts it, think elbows forward, not just hands forward, which pulls the hips, not just the shoulders forward) at turn initiation, I won’t be doing the drop the posterior back thing, and I’ll be properly bending at the ankles and knees for a balanced, athletic stance, instead of just bending at the waist to achieve that funky riding the tricycle pose so incompatible with good skiing.

(Slightly) Narrower Stance, in Slalom. One common recurring problems in racing camp video is skiing inside ski dominant—there’s falling onto the inside ski or insufficient pressure on the outside ski to carve well with it, or there’s the A frame, where the inside ski’s edge angle is much less, and it thus skids in the turn instead of achieving a two footed carve. As long as the fix is moving the inside ski out a little, and as long as there’s enough angulation to load the outside ski, problems solved.

Angulation. The simplest way for us hacks, at slower speeds in less extreme courses, to simplify some of Ligety’s technique is to add angulation. We don’t have the speed for steep inclination without simply falling in, but by adding angulation, we can achieve steeper edge angles for something that moves toward that short turn phase steep edge angle turn that Ligety has going on. And adding angulation means we don’t have to achieve anything like Ligety’s massively greater lateral distance traveled of the feet compared to the upper body.

Faster sinking down at edge set. This may be where I go rocketing off in the wrong direction, but it seems to me the key to Ligety’s technique is how quickly he achieves that huge edge angle after edge set/upon rapid pressure build up. One advantage to keeping the hips low in transition is so that they don’t have as far to fall to create that big inclination driven huge edge angle in mid turn. One of the lessons for me from Ligety’s skiing is the observation that if I can get to a bigger edge angle quicker, I won’t have to maintain it as long, and I can get on to the business of the next transition and looking down the course much faster, which puts me in a better position for the next turns. For me, somehow achieving earlier transitions just seems to make everything go in what seems like slow motion.

More balance training on the hill. One ski skiing, here I come. When I’m on the flats this year, I plan to be making lots of turns in both directions, balanced on one ski.

3.2 Off the Hill. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about generally:

Balance, balance, balance. I’m doing MUCH more balance training this year, and I’m emphasizing much more fore-and-aft balance training, not just lateral balance.

All the muscles involved in getting forward. I’m emphasizing more training of all the different muscles involved in getting that forward commitment for edge set: Not just upper and lower abs and hamstrings, but also dorsal flexion (toe raises, opposite of calf raises) and forward jumps and everything else that drives the hips forward.

Some plyometrics with an emphasis on landing location and position. When you look at Ligety’s (or high level) slalom technique, it’s not just about getting skis way out there. It’s about getting them in the right place way out there, with your weight balanced and forward at edge set. (Like diagonal hops down a slope, with emphasis on landing on the balls of the feet and immediate springing forward and diagonally the other way.)

Retraction and extension. I do not, alas, have a Skier’s Edge machine, or currently the room for one. (My wife pointed out helpfully that we do have some room in the garage, but only if all my skis and waxing equipment go…) I do have a trampoline, which I’m starting to use, and I’m doing lots of lateral jumps over objects.

More explosive leg strength. As I posted above, higher inclination skiing imposes steeply increasing strength demands after a certain point. This year I’m not just doing the squats and unweighted plyometrics, but weighted jumps and explosive Olympic style lifts.

Your thoughts, all?

SfDean.
post #27 of 39
A few things to add to your list of technical objectives before you set off for camp, Dean;

1) Before you lay into your big post pivot edge engagement, make sure you've executed the proper amount of redirection (pivot). For most typical SL turns you should have at least half of your direction change (via pre carve redirection) accomplished by the time you get to the turning pole. Notice the shots of Ted when he's at the turning pole. Usually is already through the falline. Once you lay into your carve, your turn shape is pretty well set. The pivot is your major turn shape control mechanism,,,, the bottom of the turn carving phase fine tunes the finish.

2) Leave enough post pivot direction change for the skis to load up to an aggressive edge angle and then release. Over pivoting increases the drag factor during the feather into the carve, and doesn't leave enough direction change for the skis to optimally load.

3) Through experience you will know by instinct how much pivot is required just by looking at the turn you're approaching.

4) Don't execute your pivot too high above the gate. This will cause engagement to bring you into the inside the turning pole, or require you to drag out the feather period until you get back downt to the pole. Feathering is best done as quickly as possible because it's actually speed dumping sliding.

5) Know that the more pivot you execute, the higher the lateral forces will be when you engage your carve. It allow for more inclination at carve initiation.

6) Also know that the more pivot you execute, the more opportunity it offers you to auto move your fore/aft balance point from tails to the tips.

7) Remember to use upper body anticipation during your transitions to power your pivot. Let the skis arc across the falline under you through the bottom of the turn, while maintaining your down the falline upper body orientation. This produces a progressive rotation torsion build in the body that can be released and utilized to facilitate your pivot.

8) No matter how much of the tail you use at the end of the turn, get back to the tips for the initiation of your new turn.

9) In the beginning,,, error on the side of caution with your line. Stay ahead of the course. Get plenty of direction change done above the pole. As you get feeling on top of the course, high in your line, and not rushed with your turns, start to straighten your line and reduce your pivot. Find your threshold, and don't be afraid to push it a little, work on your ability to scramble, but always know how to get back on top of the course.

10) Have fun!!!
post #28 of 39
The amount of information in this thread is quite simply overwhelming! Here's my take:

There's clearly more than one way to skin a cat. What is useful from Bode/Ted's way of doing things for us mere mortals is that, when it comes down to it, a race is won by the person who gets themselves the fastest from the top to the bottom. Even if your skills are not textbook, you can still win just by hucking yourself and constantly thinking of the goal of getting to that finish line. Racing is about getting down the hill. Gates are just things in the way.

But a guy like Rocca can win too, which shows that extremely strong technique with a more conservative approach can also win.

Imagine if Rocca skied with the reckless abandon of Bode or Ligety...

The difference between Ligety and Rocca to me seems more tactical than technical. The important elements are there for both skiers.
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by D(C) View Post
But a guy like Rocca can win too, which shows that extremely strong technique with a more conservative approach can also win.

Imagine if Rocca skied with the reckless abandon of Bode or Ligety...
This could be an interesting season to observe, DC. I'm no prophet, but I suspect if Ted gets dialed in and consistent with his liberal approach, he could force the tour conservatives (IE; Rocca) to rethink their own approach to the event. (Sorry, there's an election coming ) I saw skiing in Ted last season that has the potential to produce victory margins that haven't been seen since Bode was winning slalom races. Not saying it's going to happen, but the potential exists. Should be fun to watch.

GO TED!! A good kid worthy of being rooted for.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
This could be an interesting season to observe, DC. I'm no prophet, but I suspect if Ted gets dialed in and consistent with his liberal approach, he could force the tour conservatives (IE; Rocca) to rethink their own approach to the event. (Sorry, there's an election coming ) I saw skiing in Ted last season that has the potential to produce victory margins that haven't been seen since Bode was winning slalom races. Not saying it's going to happen, but the potential exists. Should be fun to watch.

GO TED!! A good kid worthy of being rooted for.

Because I'm Canadian, Thomas Grandi is someone I pay a lot of attention to. He tends to ski on the more conservative end of the spectrum, but he managed to have a fantastic slalom season last year. If you watch his fast runs, you'll actually see plenty of messiness and a focus on keeping the tips pointed toward the bottom throughout. He is a good example of an old stock guy having to make some changes. It actually seems to pay off.

But I think the bottom line is that being all over the place is not something we strive for. It's something that happens when our focus shifts to thinking about the ticking clock rather than making the perfect turn. What you see is that, when these skiers mess up their line, they don't try and correct it by getting a high line. They maintain their speed and direction and just bang the corner hard when they get to the gate.
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