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Ron LeMaster on common v individual technique

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
At 7pm on November 6, Ron LeMaster will be presenting at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Ron's talks are always packed full of information for those who are interested in the more technical aspects of skiing and teaching skiing, so if you're nearby, consider attending.
post #2 of 21
Even if you aren't nearby--get there! Ron is always informative and insightful, sometimes controversial, and he always has great photographs, photosequences, and video of great skiers.

Best regards,
Bob
post #3 of 21
simple question if you know:

cost?
where is BCSM?

ok, 2 questions
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
simple question if you know:

cost?
where is BCSM?

ok, 2 questions
There is no cost.

BCSM is here at 311 Mapleton in Boulder.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
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...

My notes:

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.

Common characteristics:

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!):

Cautions:

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!
post #6 of 21
ssh: 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.

First, thanks for the overview. It is very informative, even if some of us would never consider ski racing.

As for the above statement, I have been reaching the same conclusion for my own skiing (all recreational). I have tried hard to be a two-footed skier, only to find the outside grip often compromised when trying to distribute the pressure on both skis. For me it is worse at the end of a turn.

The PSIA videos confirm this problem in several instances. It seems that we could do cleaner carves in tougher situations if we did not try so hard to remain two-footed and with a wide stance. This is something I will try to focus on this season, even if it goes against the norm.
post #7 of 21

any chance of a video presentation next time?

many will never make it to see ron. since there was no charge, is there any chance of a video to be posted online next time?
post #8 of 21
I didn't see any video cameras in evidence. It was part of a lecture series being sponsored by the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Each month through the winter, a different speaker will be giving a presentation.

Steve, I think I saw you up front, I had to scoot as soon as the lecture was over to catch a bus back to Gunbarrel.

Now, I'm rethinking my feelings on WTFH's post in the technique forum.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
Steve, I think I saw you up front, I had to scoot as soon as the lecture was over to catch a bus back to Gunbarrel.
I was wearing my ESA shirt, just for you! Should have come up; I could have given you a ride home since I live in Gunbarrel!
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by duke walker View Post
many will never make it to see ron. since there was no charge, is there any chance of a video to be posted online next time?
Drop over to Ron's website (http://www.ronlemaster.com/) and check out the presentations he has posted. He may post this one, but likely without the videos. I am not sure how he would respond to being videoed...
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
...Should have come up; I could have given you a ride home since I live in Gunbarrel!
I was on my bike...I needed to reclaim all the stored energy from the climb up Mapleton Hill.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
I was on my bike...I needed to reclaim all the stored energy from the climb up Mapleton Hill.
The Jeep I was driving has a bike rack...
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomB View Post
ssh: 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.

The PSIA videos confirm this problem in several instances. It seems that we could do cleaner carves in tougher situations if we did not try so hard to remain two-footed and with a wide stance. This is something I will try to focus on this season, even if it goes against the norm.
TomB,

Outside ski pressure dominance is the norm. If you are standing too wide the inside foot will get in the way -- so get narrower just for that. Oh, and also narrower so that you're not balancing on the inside ski and using the outside ski like an outrigger.

If I could put words into Ron's mouth, I'd say that not tipping the shoulders is to prevent excessive inside ski pressure.

I agree with you completely about the PSIA videos.
post #14 of 21

Yep, the whole thing was pretty righteous...

...and Steve took good notes, which pretty much tell the story. I'm betting Ron will put the presentation on his website fairly soon, and if you look at that and read Steve's notes, you'll pretty much get the picture.

Ron is, obviously, an excellent observer and his precepts come from looking at the data points and extracting empirically...the photo sequences he takes...and he's also pretty damned good at putting his thoughts in straightforward, real world terms that anybody can access.

If you look at the Big 4 items he sees in contemporary WC skiing...early forward pressure, early knee angulation, outside ski pressure, quiet upper body...it's pretty hard to argue against any of those fundamentals at any point in the history of skiing. It's not unlike the Stan Smith bread and butter approach to tennis: balance, early preparation, watch the ball, clean contact, follow through...boring stuff like that that obeys the laws of physics, anatomy, and the gear of the game that nobody wants to hear about ("No, I don't want to hear about early preparation again...make my backhand Wonderful in 5 minutes without all that stuff!") but seems to work surprisingly well then and now.

The other interesting item that Steve talks about is how Ron pointed out that everybody on the WC does the basics but beyond that there are variations...example, Julie Mancuso stays fairly low and uses a lot of retraction, someone like Genevieve Simard uses a fair amount of extension in the transition phase. Which is better? Guess what...they're both fast, potentially, so per Steve's notes, try some different stuff and see what works...with the clock running, of course.

Ron has a very informed and omniscient view of (1) what skiers actually do and do not do...the camera does not lie and (2) what skiers should and should not do. In general, as he said to us last year when he dropped into a Team Eldo training session "I'm not an absolutist." The specific discussion was countering (but it could have been anything)...Daron uses very little, Bode uses a fair amount. There is no "right" answer, because they're both fast, potentially, for different athletes.

One of the interesting things Ron said last night is that WC racers often appear to make choices based on who they are as individuals. Anja Paerson does a lot of pivoting at the top of the turn to get to the new edge whereas some of the new kids on the block (Zettel) finesse the whole process a bit more. Maybe Anja does it because she's a fairly aggressive, go-for-it racer. Seems to work...I think she won an Olympic gold and a few WC races last year...
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
One of the things that I found really interesting is how frequently various skiing pundits like to proclaim the death of some move (like extension at transition) or declare something as "wrong" (like pivots at the top of the turn) when they are really just points along a spectrum of possibly good approaches to getting down a hill. The objectivity of the clock makes racing a nice testing ground for ideas, and Ron was very clear that relying on the observations of others wasn't really useful... it's the clock that counts.

This takes that old perception thread to a new level, doesn't it? Even the perception of a good coach can be misleading if it's not backed up emperically. This should be a warning to those of us who coach others to be very mindful of determining too many aspects of skiing to be absolute.

In fact, even the movements that "all skiers" make are made at various levels, so more isn't necessarily better.

Balance. It seems to me to be all about individual balance. With all of the meanings of that word intended...
post #16 of 21
Steve, from your description of his presentation it sounds like he took very technically sound positions, but didn't introduce anything ground breaking. Very much in line with what some of us have been trying to advocate here at Epic for some time now. The outside ski dominance,,, the common terminology,,, the re-affirmation of the legitimacy of counter,,, the spectrum of useful transitions,,, the "my way is the only way" mantra killing,,, the importance of developing versatility.

Perhaps that lack of earth shattering new concepts was in of itself the most important message his presentation contained. It's within the promotion of such "latest greatest" methodologies that technically limiting mantras are born.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
I agree, Rick... It was refreshing in both its simplicity and its call for rational thinking instead of doctrinaire disseration. As Tsavo often says, "It's just skiin', baby!" We often let it get a little too bifurcated, I think.

The "groundbreaking" aspect was really that it's not all that different from what the highest-level skiers have always done. Furthermore, the required basics (the "blocking and tackling" of skiing) are limited. Some of the things we think are required (retraction is the only transition that is fast, for example) aren't.

...and he can prove it, which is the nicest part. His photography, as most here know, is exceptional!
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
The "groundbreaking" aspect was really that it's not all that different from what the highest-level skiers have always done.
"Ground breaking" for some.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
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.
do it enough that it's not simply a matter of habit versus a new movement.

I would like to add a suggestion on this point. Not only do it enough, but do it enough at slower speed over a sustained period of time. This way you really have a chance to "know" by internalizing your various options.

Often you will try a different timing or new move, in an undisciplined environment, and it just won't work so you give it up. Or often you learn a new move that you like and you practice it for a bit, and say groovy, and then you take it out of the comfort zone before you "get" it.

Doing it enough, at least for me, is a matter of doing it enough in isolation from other challenges, and building the challenge level (speed/terrain acquisition) slowly.

Obvious? Maybe. Do many recreational skiers do that? I don't think so. We're talking hours here. Not one run, but ten runs.
post #20 of 21
Also, good notes, Steve. It sounds like the stuff that Ron would say. He's a master at being both clear and flexible at the same time.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post
Doing it enough, at least for me, is a matter of doing it enough in isolation from other challenges, and building the challenge level (speed/terrain acquisition) slowly.

Obvious? Maybe. Do many recreational skiers do that? I don't think so. We're talking hours here. Not one run, but ten runs of sustained focus and adjusting.
Exactly, Weems.
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