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Does Your Body-type Make a Difference in Your Skiing?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
After a week of watching my daughter ski, and thinking about angulation, stance, leg angle, etc. I have begun to wonder if your body type has something to do with the way you ski, especially with the new technique and skis.

By way of explanation, both my daughter and I are quite tall with extremely long torsos. For example, I'm 6'3" tall with a 32" inseam on my leg. In other words, built like a mountain goat with very short, powerful legs, probably a legacy from my ancestors in Germany who were all vintners and had to climb up and down the hills with 60-80 kg baskets of water, manure and grapes on their backs. My daughter is fortunately more proportionate, but still is 5'11" with a very long torso. Watching her ski from behind has started me wondering about the effect your body proportions have on how you ski. We just got back from a week in CO where we were both on short radius (slalom) skis on groomers. What I noticed is that we both have very erect stances over our skis, and still manage to get good carving going with minimal angulation. I'm afraid that no matter what we do, we will not have that beautiful long straight line running from the leg through the central body that I have admired in other skiers. On the other hand, we both seem to be able to turn ok.

I know in the older days on the longer skis you were in more of a crouch going up and down (wedeln even), but the new skis it seems a more balanced erect stance is rewarded with better carving.

Does a higher center of balance make a difference here? Do short legs make a difference when you are trying to angulate? Does this make a difference in the gates, ie. does a long torso put you at a competitive disadvantage? Is there anything special you should be doing to compensate for the high center of weight that you have over your skis?

Conversely, I also saw a lot of middle aged skiers who looked a lot like bowling balls going down the hill. Overly round, and so were their turns (a fair amount of over angulation). Is there some kind of cause and effect relationship here?

Looking forward to your thoughts here...
post #2 of 14
I'm ducking out after saying this, let the PSIA/PMTS folks have thier say...

Yes, body morphology has an effect on ski style. taller people can create angulation from the knee down and often ski more 'upright' because of this. There's no need to generate angulation from the hip all the time, shorter people need to use the hip to create the same angles.

There is a reason most top racers are 6'+ and most top freeskiers are 5'7".
post #3 of 14
what is the reason on the freeskiers? other than it is easier to fippy spinny when you are 5'7'
post #4 of 14
One thing I have noticed for sure. When the pear body shape is stem side down it's a lot easier than when the pear shape flips to stem side up
post #5 of 14
Freeskiers tend to be little (I know, there's always exceptions like Micah Black) but most are small and light and quick footed. look at the Egan's, the Deslaurier's, Dean Decas, Scot Schmidt, Rick Armstrong, Seth Morrison, etc. One factor may be that these 'compact' skiers look very dynamic on film and in photos. They create lots of hip angulation quickly and always seem centered with their low center of gravity. Maybe they just bounce better, I dunno...most of them are little.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
There is a reason most top racers are 6'+ and most top freeskiers are 5'7".
Yeah huge cliff drops will cause a body to compact.
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
I dunno...most of them are little.
I've read that pro skiers were just like you and me, only shorter.
post #8 of 14
So do they make ski boots for NBA players?
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
So do they make ski boots for NBA players?
Yes, there are a few companies that make ski boots up to about size 18 shoes (if I remember right).

Now in terms of body shape/size effecting skiing, it definately does, and this is something that I have argued for years. The biggest problem is that we in the ski instruction industry try to categorize people into COM groups taht are simply unfair. The general rule of thumb is that guys COM is above the waist and that for women it is generally lower than men and slightly wider, due to wider hips. However, there are MANY problems here, and height is only one of them. Also that needs to be considered are added weight, placement of weight (women that are all up top, women that are totally in the hips/legs, guys with a larger mass all over, beer belly build, and sedentary body mass, just to name a few).

All of these effect how the skis work and transmit energy into the snow (how we turn). The problem is that there are not enough instructors that actually search out what works best for ALL body types. I remember when I was learning to ski how frustrated I got, not because I couldn't get it, but because nothing I was told by my instructors worked, simply because I was bigger (heavier) than the average student. Also, as I began teaching, I had other instructors believe I was aft when I skied, however, because of a different body shape/size it was realized that my COM was lower than many guys and more forward (beer belly type build - most extra weight carried around the waist). So even when I appeared a little aft, I was remaining in balance.

Now, with taller builds, often balance is an issue (fore and aft) as well as edging skills and angulation (because of the longer limbs and generally taller build - think about how tall buildings sway in the wind compared to houses)
post #10 of 14
Long legs can be an advantage, especially in slalom. Ligety's 2006 Olympic 2nd Slalom Run, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVfaZXOtpxw. On a wide set he can do very well because of his reach. Still, a large torso means more upper body weight that, if applied well to the ski, can give you some serious turning power.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
what is the reason on the freeskiers? other than it is easier to fippy spinny when you are 5'7'
Makes the air look bigger.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
Yes, body morphology has an effect on ski style. taller people can create angulation from the knee down and often ski more 'upright' because of this.
I've never seen a knee that can bend sideways and though ankles can, they don't in ski boots. The versatile hip joint is what accounts for most angulation - either either through forward flexion and rotation with bent knee, or sideways leg extension with straighter knee.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus View Post
Now, with taller builds, often balance is an issue (fore and aft) as well as edging skills and angulation (because of the longer limbs and generally taller build - think about how tall buildings sway in the wind compared to houses)
Good point about the limbs, I forgot totally to include my sleeve/arm length, which is 36/37" even though I only have a 32" leg/inseam length (ok, no jokes about monkeys, please). But I have noticed with modern technique that, generally speaking, you keep your arms in front of your spine and slightly up, as big pole plants are not as much of a deal as they used to be.

It's just that I feel I look like like such a total schlub going down the hill (compared to say ssh, which may never change) but I do feel like I am getting good angulation and carving on my edges.
post #14 of 14
Get some video of yourself. If it feels right it's probably not too bad.
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