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Gate Clearing

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'm getting destroyed in slalom. To me, the gates are a real distraction. Outside of the course, I'm getting better with short-turns and placing them where I want, but once I get into the course I really have trouble focusing on my feet and turning. There's no way I'm inside far enough to cross-block or take the gates on my shin guards, and once or twice the gates have rattled of my chin guard. Very distracting! Forget pole planting, I'm just trying to survive. It would hurt your eyes to watch me in a slalom course. Is there a progression I could work on? Help!!
post #2 of 24
I would try to get into a stubbies or brush course. You won't have to worry about hitting the gates.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Good suggestion. I train sometime with stubbies when they are set up, but now that it's race season. It's gates. I guess that's what makes slalom difficult.
post #4 of 24
The stubbies or brushes (or turtles) help you get used to doing small radius turns where the gates tell you to, without even having to think about gate clearing.

Another things I've seen some coaches do, which is kind of the opposite, is to set ordinarly slalom poles in an easy set of turns, but lean them very far over toward the outside. That way, you can't help but ski "through" the pole. You don't think about gate clearing that much, because the gate is so far across your body you don't even block it, but just shin (or, if you're a little timid, "thigh") it out of the way.
post #5 of 24
When I'm having trouble I slow down. Also, I block with my inside hand if I can't crossblock without rotating into the turn. I find that if I don't pole plant I end up getting late in all of my turns.
post #6 of 24
As you start with slalom, the gate clear is the least of your worries. Remember: it's a good line, with good carving, that'll win the day. The gate clearing is very much secondary.

The advice about using stubbies to start with is a great tip. Also, once you've made it past the stubby phase, see if you can train with narrow-shaft gates that present less resistance as you pass.

Once you get to blocking, start with inside-arm clearing, which won't affect your rotation and angulation as adversely as a cross-block. Most folk who try cross-blocking from the get-go tend to rotate, causing their hips to swing out and their skis to lose edge angle. So cross-block should be the final step.

And remember: even though it was many years ago, Marc Girardelli won slalom World Cup races by either inside-arm clearing or using no clearing at all back in the early-1990s, when everybody and his dog had jumped on the cross-block bandwagon. How did he win? Good line and clean turns.

Good luck!
post #7 of 24
Years ago our sons' race coach had them ski through a course holding one pole horizontally at each end at chest level. It's a good way to get timing down and also get a "feel" for knocking the gates down.

Btw, never ever reach to knock a gate. Let is come to your properly positioned hand. Do not reach across your body to "cross-block" if you don't have enough edge angle so that the gate is naturally in the path of the cross-blocking hand.

Also, turn above the gate so that you are headed in the direction of the next gate as you pass it. Finally, plant your pole after you block the gate.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
I'm getting destroyed in slalom. To me, the gates are a real distraction. Outside of the course, I'm getting better with short-turns and placing them where I want, but once I get into the course I really have trouble focusing on my feet and turning. There's no way I'm inside far enough to cross-block or take the gates on my shin guards, and once or twice the gates have rattled of my chin guard. Very distracting! Forget pole planting, I'm just trying to survive. It would hurt your eyes to watch me in a slalom course. Is there a progression I could work on? Help!!
Going back to Greg Gurshman and his great articles check out this one about gate clearing, it might help with your dlilemma:

http://www.xtdev.com/ski/wmview_en.php?ArtID=951

- Fossil
post #9 of 24
Here's a link to a piece one of my coaches did on the subject for our kids.
http://www.region2cussa.com/MART%20G...Dec%202005.doc
post #10 of 24
set gates on a shallow slope to give you time to think.

get good at gonig slow to get good at going fast.
post #11 of 24

gate slapping skis when I inside arm clear

When I clear with my inside hand, the gate slaps down on top of my skis. This doesnt happen when I clear with my outside hand.

Any ideas why?

RIchr
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richr View Post
When I clear with my inside hand, the gate slaps down on top of my skis. This doesnt happen when I clear with my outside hand.

Any ideas why?
Two possible reasons:

1. When you are clearing with your inside hand, your arm is bent at the elbow and hits the gate more down the fall line than across the fall line. If your arm remains fairly straight, it'll act more like a deflector and will send the gate to the side, rather than down and across your skis. With an extreme bend in the elbow, your forearm will hit the gate at a more-or-less perpendicular angle to the fall line, sending it crashing across your skis as they travel across the gate's path. This can sometimes cause your skis to lose their edge grip on really hard snow - no fun!

Again, even though these pics are from a previous era of slalom technique, it's good to look at the master of the inside-arm clear for guidance: Marc Girardelli.

First, a shot from the 1989-1990 season:



Note how his inside arm is fairly straight, with little bend in the elbow.

Now, a shot from the 1991-1992 season, when he was cross-blocking - but still used the inside-arm clear when needed:



Again: a rather straight inside arm that brushes the gate to the side.

You can see some old (ca. 1985) footage of Girardelli in action by clicking here (AVI file). There's similar footage of Phil Mahre (ca. 1983) at this link. Both are good examples of inside-arm clearing, if really dated in terms of ski handling technique.

Allowing the gate to slide to the side is also a lot more efficient in terms of drag, though that's less of an issue for most folks who aren't at the upper levels of slalom racing.

2. Your line is a bit late, so your turn isn't far enough along when you clear. This is usually more of a problem with outside-arm clearing (cross-blocking), though.
post #13 of 24
Thanks for the response.

When you inside clear, do you use your poleguard, or your forearm? If you use your forearm, do you actively sweep it out to the side to clear, or just let your body's motion carry your forearm through the gate?

When I watch the kids, they use their poleguard to inside clear, but that is when I get the gate slapping my skis.

Richr
post #14 of 24
If you're inside clearing because it's appropriate you've usually "pinched" the top of the turn and don't have enough "direction" at the gate. The gate falls in the direction it was contacted. In this case across the ski tips.
It's like kids that complain "the stubbies keep hitting me in the butt". It's because they don't have proper "direction" at the gate.
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richr View Post
When you inside clear, do you use your poleguard, or your forearm? If you use your forearm, do you actively sweep it out to the side to clear, or just let your body's motion carry your forearm through the gate?
Forearm - look at the Girardelli picture or video for reference.

The kids reach with the inside hand because they think that the pole guard is the only thing that can block. Also, a lot of kids don't have any guards on their wrist or forearm with modern slalom garb.

And there's also a key word in there: they reach for the gate, which isn't good body mechanics when skiing in gates. As was said earlier in this thread, and is said in most articles about modern slalom technique: the gate should come to your hand (or arm) in terms of blocking/clearing, not the other way around. The kids seem to think of blocking as the goal ("it's cool to punch at the gates, man"), rather than simply a side-effect of a good line.

As far as an "active sweep" is concerned, it shouldn't be anything exaggerated. Yes, use an "open the door motion" (a good analogy in terms of the motion used) to get your arm back into the right position going through the gate, but don't let an exaggerated motion rotate your shoulders (and hips) in the process.

Again: watch the old-school video of Girardelli and Mahre for an inside-arm reference clinic. And notice what even current racers do in a pinch: they inside-arm block. Even Raich, Ligety, Pallander, Schild or Pärson uses inside-arm blocking when warranted. And they all use the forearm to block, rather than the pole guard.

BTW, the note about "pinching" one's turns causing gate slap is spot-on: the "pinch" is a result of a "straight-and-late" line, and regardless of what blocking technique your use - cross-block, inside arm or body-checking the gate - the slap can occur.
post #16 of 24
First of all, don't wory about clearing the gates, at first just keep your hands in front of you and let the gates hit you where they will, they can't hurt you. Aldo, try widening you stance, that will help you get more on your edge and closer to the gates. then you can try to get you blocking down. When you start to practice blocking, don't cross block. At first, just brush the gates away with your inside arm.

A good drill: find someone who is good at slalom, then have them take free runs pretending that they are in a slalom course. Folow their tracks as closely as you can and try to keep up with them. This will help you ski as if you are in a slalom coure, but you won't have to worry about the gates.

Good Luck!
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by FastestManOnSkis View Post
they can't hurt you.
They can hurt me!
post #18 of 24
Try not to cross block. I dont know how new you are to this sport but cross blocking on a line that isnt tight enough is really not a good idea.

Heres Why:


He reaches across his bod effectivly messing up his line.
post #19 of 24
If you're "cross" blocking you're doing it wrong. WC skiers outside arm clear, never cross. In fact if the gate is inside of the outside eye they usually "shoulder" (inside clear) it. (lots of video to support this)
Second, why are we talking about photos from the 89/90 season? Gate clearing has gone miles/years beyond. No one does it that way anymore. You might as well talk about bamboo technique, it's about as relevent. (actually closer to what WC skiers do when they "miss" a clear)
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SLATZ View Post
If you're "cross" blocking you're doing it wrong. WC skiers outside arm clear, never cross. In fact if the gate is inside of the outside eye they usually "shoulder" (inside clear) it. (lots of video to support this)
What videos of slalom have you been watching? They always cross block in slalom! You have no idea what you are talking about.
post #21 of 24
Don't be so hasty since he has a point. Skiers before the whole short skis phase we are now in had to reach more (but they didn't reach like amateur racers are doing now) in order to block the gate with their outside arm because they also had a lot more counterrotation in their upper-body, meaning that the hand was farther away from the gate when the skis passed it, giving the impression of the arm crossing over the torso to clear. Mortals are still doing this even with the sidecut-crazy slaloms we now have because they do not have enough inclination in order to get their whole body inside the gate so that the hand is naturally in the place where the gate hits. Wcupers' arms or hands never move to hit a gate since their shoulders are completly on the inside of the gate they approach.

Thus, WCupers do not cross-block (since there is no crossing or reaching movement) per se, they do more of a outside arm block nowadays. Semantics, but telling him flat out that he is wrong is pretty rude.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichigainSkiMan View Post
What videos of slalom have you been watching? They always cross block in slalom! You have no idea what you are talking about.
I think the term "crossblocking" doesn't describe the action. When done properly outside arm clearing doesn't involve reaching across. As a result I don't allow my athletes to use the term.
I've been watching WC videos one frame at a time since 1987. I've seen many cases where WC skiers will choose to "shoulder" a gate if they're not inside enough. The most recent one that I recall was in the 2004 (I think) Winning Runs DVD where Janica Kostelic does it.

As far as "knowing what I'm talking about", you can check my resume in the "Qualifications for Movement Analysis" thread or ask a USSA program head coach at any Michigan ski area. (most of them know me as Slatz but if not it's Pat Slattery)
post #23 of 24
So far as I can tell, the vast majority of people use the term "cross-block" as a synonym for the phrase "outside-arm clear" (that is, if they use the latter at all). If you do a search here, you should be able to find a thread on exactly this subject, so maybe we can avoid simply repeating what's already been said. Suffice to say (INMHO): (i) most people understand what "cross-block" means: knocking a gate down with the outside hand, whether or not one has to reach to do it, (ii) the proposed alternative ("outside-hand clear") is clumsy to say, particularly awkward to use as a verb and almost never actually used by people I've talked to, (iii) insisting on "outside-hand clear" confuses a physical question with a linguistic one, doesn't even make sense (if I do a huge reach across my body to reach a gate, I'm still clearing with my outside hand), the same45
post #24 of 24
Most coaches I know don't use the term.
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