As always, Ron's presentation was excellent. SkiRacer55 made it out, and it was great to see him, as always. He was working me over to get me out with the Masters racers this year...
Ron started with the definitions of a few words that he was going to use for the talk, which focused on the common characteristics across skiers on the world cup and also those characteristics that differ, even at the highest levels.
As always, his points were illustrated using his excellent photography, and in this case a lot of video...
His definitions were:
Transition: From the end of one turn to the start of the next.
Retraction: Pulling skis up or keeping body low through the transition.
Redirection: Turning the skis a bit before the ski bites.
Steering: Anything that makes the ski change the direction its pointed.
Engagement: When the ski bites (WC skiers focus on the engagement in the fall line).
Counter: Body facing to the outside of the turn.
Early forward pressure: This is accomplished via ankle flex for some, waist for others.
Early knee angulation: Bringing the knee into the turn early; A-Frame often comes from this knee crank (but, see Counter later in talk).
Outside ski pressure: When the going gets tough, the weight moves to the outside ski. Just about everyone puts some weight on the inside ski, but the harder the snow and more difficult the line, the more pressure on the outside ski. The focus is definitely there.
Quiet upper body: Shoulders don't tip, hands forward and relatively level, always back to "center" (my term).
Next, he gave us a little "comic" relief (if you want to call it that!):
Too low a stance can be dangerous (showed a knee get blown on a compression when the skier was too low)
Keep the chin strap tight (showed a skier get knocked out in a fall when his helmet came off after he hit the snow)
Differences between high-level skiers:
Skiers differ in areas that some proclaim as absolutes, proving that none of these are "right" or "wrong," merely different ways of performing high-level skiing. Note: none of these were consistently faster or slower, and correlations were hard to come by...
Extension/retraction in the transion (some tend to stand up more, others stay low... no difference in outcome in terms of times)
Countered/square stance (some tend to counter more, other to stand more square to the skis. The only correlation seems to me more knee angulation/A Frame in those who counter less).
Progressive steering/Redirection (some redirect dramatically, others are more progressive in their steering [interestingly, all are steering!], and there doesn't seem to be a correlation with better times. The coaches' believe that the current direction is to more progressive steering at least/especially among the women).
He spent a bit of time on each of these, including discussions on the benefits and drawbacks of various choices. He discussed how extending may give your muscles a chance to recover, while staying low may allow you to pressure earlier in the turn. All the skiers target where the ski will engage, with a focus on the fall line. Lower may allow the skier to be more progressive.
Each skier figures out what works best... But, don't rely on others' eyes. Instead, experiment--a lot. Time everything and do it enough that it's not simply a matter of habit versus a new movement. See what's faster.
Why counter? It lines up the body more so that the bigger, stronger muscles can do the work (quads and glutes in skiing). This is often mis-identified as "using your skeleton".
Again, as always an excellent talk by a brilliant scientist... I'm sorry I missed seeing more of you there!