or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

notes from HH part 2

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This quoted from SCSA's original post.
Harald gave me the permission to post this. I think it's really informative.

Dear SCSA,

I recently had another look to Epic because Rick Hammel sent me a copy of a post from someone who demonstrated a list of motivations for skiing. While there, I checked the Robert Butler forum, as I used to know a Robert Butler when I was in Canada skiing for the Canadian Ski Team.

I noticed a long discussion about stance width and female issues in skiing. My proclivity is to stand on science rather than people’s personal opinions on almost all of these issues. First, I don’t believe in or like what Jeanne Thorne is doing to women. Do women need another skiing stereotype to feel insecure about?

Diana Rogers, Bob Hintermeister and I did considerable research on the anatomical differences and deviations between women and men. We recruited PT’s and biomechanists and we presented our findings to the International Congress of Skiing and Science in 2000. In fact, Hintermeister Ph.D. did a study and a paper, for a presentation to the Vail Ski School, a number of years ago about the similarity between men and women rather then dwelling on differences, which turn out to be minimal. The anthropomorphic data collected for men and women also demonstrates little difference, actually less then 5%. This relationship is specifically for differences between position of center of mass, hip width and Q angle. I know this probably won’t satisfy the advocates of women’s problems in skiing and their quest to identify that women have special needs. I hope not to generate a backlash, especially since this information is not my opinion, it is just scientific data.

I digress, last week the "Association of PMTS Direct Parallel Instructors" hosted its annual PMTS Instructor College, at Copper. We had forty instructors from around the world, which includes skiers from Australia and Germany. On the second day, I coached a mixed group of men and women. Of the six skiers, two women were bowlegged and two men were knock-kneed. If we go by Jeannie’s formula, one should make an assumption that all men have "Q angle" issues. If we use this group as an example men could be considered to have large Q angles and wide hips. I would prefer to address their individual needs, for the next man that comes to the group might be bowlegged?

Again, this demonstrates men and women should be addressed on an individual case by case basis, rather then separated by gender classifications. The stereotypical representations of each gender – the wide-hipped, knock-kneed female and the narrow-hipped, bowlegged male – do not accurately represent the variation of body types that exist among either gender. In fact, there is a large overlap of body types between the genders, pointing again to the need for individualized assessment rather than gender-based assumptions.

I collected alignment data on skiers over four years between 1995 to 1999. Based on one thousand profiles, I sorted the skiers into three categories: bowlegged, knocked-kneed and mixed alignment, (mixed refers to inside aligned on one leg and out on the other). The results are interesting. Thirty percent were knock-kneed, thirty percent bowed and the rest mixed. When I separated the genders, to my amazement, the percentages stayed the same (within or less then five percent difference).

I do believe some women are more comfortable learning from women and I don’t have any problems with that, just as some women prefer women doctors. I have coached women, who won World Cup races and became World Champions, as I have taught women who are beginners. I treat their needs for alignment, movement and equipment, based on results of biomechanical assessments and balancing ability, not on whether they are men or women. I believe there are people in the ski business doing great disservice to women by treating them for supposed, gender symptoms, rather then doing proper biomechanical evaluations.

I also found the stance width debate similar to the ongoing discussion in skiing and racing. I would like to clear up my position and that of PMTS Direct Parallel. Learning to balance on one ski is an important skill in skiing. Balancing on one ski in a wide stance without assistance from momentum is impossible. We therefore teach beginners and intermediates (who ski at slower speeds and therefore low or almost no forces act on them) to balance in a narrow stance until they become aware of the balancing phenomenon in skiing. When skiers are not generating forces or much momentum, a narrow stance allows them to move their center of mass easily and more quickly. Once they begin to ski faster and do generate forces, they will be able to adjust as necessary and still ski with balance. The confusion in much of the instructor community, again, is the lack of understanding of true "balance" in skiing. I see almost all lessons underlined by instructions directing students to stand in a wide stance, compromising a skier’s balance. I feel bad watching skiers on the slopes struggling unnecessarily due to a lack of balance. They are trapped in the wide stance they were taught, which limits movements and improvement.

Ski racing is not immune to this problem. I observe coaches doing the same thing to young racers. Young racers are no different then learning skiers. If they are not capable of developing a holding ski with a balanced body over the edge, they are not able to generate enough forces to widen their stance. Because Hermann Maier has a 36 inch waist and skis at fifty miles per hour in giant slalom, doesn’t mean a twelve-year-old skier should hold their skis two feet apart. Trying to emulate Hermann Maier or any other World Cup racer’s stance is a mistake for young racers and many instructors. They would be better served to first develop balance with appropriate stance. Hermann knows how to balance and can lift his inside ski at any time during a skiing run. He does not need to use the inside ski as a crutch to lean on. If you ask skiers who learn without balance and utilize the wide stance, to lift the inside ski in a turn, ninety percent will fall over.

I had the opportunity to work with Erich Schlopy this summer. We build footbeds for him, which help is ankle articulation in his ski boots. I met him last week and he is having success and likes the footbeds. He also always works on balancing exercises, Erich works very hard to improve his one footed balance. He skis in a narrow stance when practicing balance at moderate speeds.

A wide stance is even more debilitating for skiers who are knock-kneed. When a knock-kneed skier puts their skis farther apart they become more knock-kneed, locking them on the big toe edges. A skier with a knock-kneed stance needs to narrow the stance to become more balanced. Narrowing the stance aligns and moves the knees to line up over the center of the boots. Many of my clients arrive with a wide stance, because they were told to spread their feet in ski lessons. This is the shotgun approach. Instructors teach a wide stance because they heard it from a trainer or they are expected to ski this way in some exam final forms. There is little consideration, regard or knowledge directed toward alignment in most ski lessons. Fifty percent of skiers are far enough out of alignment that alignment is the major obstacle in achieving success. If instructors can be more sensitive and informed about individual needs especially regarding stance width, a big hurdle can be overcome.

I know that some progress is being made with regards to understanding some of these biomechanical issues. Instructors are not getting enough of this information in training. Many, thankfully are finding out by reading and studying. I encourage all skiers to avail themselves of this information. Try to stay away from opinions of the quote, "experts" who do the Band-Aid jobs. Do the homework and find information from those who have done the research collected data and tied themselves to the sciences.

As some have already noted, I am not an advocate boots together, narrow stance skiing in all situations. In my skiing I vary stance according to balancing needs. I demonstrate a variety of stance widths in my videos and book photos. I do teach a narrower stance as part of PMTS Direct Parallel exercises to introduce balance and efficient movements to students. A student grasps balance more readily with a narrower stance, especially at lower speeds on flat less intimidating slopes. This approach develops awareness for dynamic balancing versatility and body adaptability.

SCSA, if you think this information would be helpful to the group on Epic, you may post this in its entirety.

Hope this helps,


The thread was getting too long and wandering all over the place. If you want to start a conversation on one of the tangent topics, please do so.

To view the closed topic,

click here
post #2 of 10
thanks for bring that info to the forum. It was well written by Harald. I enjoyed the results of his findings, and I too was somewhat suprised by the results. i.e. Gender stereotypes not necessarily holding true with regard to alignment.

Lately I have been clinicing, as leader and a participant. I find it interesting how many of us (instructor types) like to catagorize (stereotype) things as black, or white, or blue, etc.

I understand why we do it. And sometimes it is right on, a certain cause leads to a certain effect. But if we stereotype a gender, or an age group, etc. Then we diminish our ablity to develop a creative/personalized solution and the quality of the guest experience is lessened.

Very cool article, I will need to read it a few times to really "get it"

post #3 of 10
In response to a few points made by HH let me add this:

Generalization of skiers needs is very bad. As an example I have what would be termed a woman’s leg with long femur and short tib/fib and wear a size 9-½ narrow street shoes. I am not a small person at 6 ft. and 225 lbs. Fortunately I have always been able to fit into and be aligned in a man’s boot.

Secondly I would like HH to remember that most instructors’ lessons are taught to beginner and lower intermediate students. That is a fact in my neck of the woods anyway. Our first and foremost goal is to allow our students to have a fun time. One way we do that is to put the student in a stance that will allow the student to feel in control. A narrow stance will not accomplish that objective. The student at this stage cannot dynamic balance and while we may not think standing on a ski is dynamic balance it is for them. A functional wider platform will help them balance. That is the goal in the beginning. I agree that as students progress a functionally balanced stance/width for the terrain they are skiing is what we like to see. Unfortunately most of us will never see that stage of the students learning so we may have created a little monster because we put the student in a little wider stance to gain a “safe” platform and now they go self teach. Double-edged sword I would think. At my area are lessons are one (1) hour so you can imagine what we need to accomplish in a short sixty minutes. Many times when our students at level six and up come to us they are from the old school of locked boots. While I have seen some very beautiful skiers i.e. Stein Erickson ski this way we all know it is generally a shaky platform. Possibly as instructors our students through know fault of their own miss-interpret our desire to unlock the boots. I can only tell you from my experience I generally leave stance alone if balance is not a problem. If there is an inefficient platform I coach the skier through a discovery process that will allow the skier to find an efficient stance. I do use a very wide stance exercise to coach the student to move “into the future” with their skiing. I never plant the student there and let them grow.
post #4 of 10
I have a question? One of my students (Laura Croft) has a forward UB (upper body) alignment "problem". I am not quite sure how to progress her to a centred stance. As much as I follow her from behind for analaysis I cannot put my hands on the UB problem. She seems happy with my technique so I was wondering if it may be PMTS.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 30, 2001 06:11 AM: Message edited 3 times, by man from oz ]</font>
post #5 of 10
Could you describe what is not aligned in her upper body?

Took a friend to get orthotics, discovered he had one lower and foward hip, and that effected his shoulders, which had one lower and back.

After 4 hours, the boot fitter succeeded in getting his feet aligned, but his shoulder will always be back.

Like with your student, if they are "aligned" on the skiis, have "fore/aft balance", do we need to correct skeleton upper body "visual" problems?

Notice the words I have in quotes. We do not have ideal bodies, so what do we accept as minimum in the world of NON-ADAPTIVE skiing?
post #6 of 10
If it is the same person, she is A Jolie fit girl but I have also noticed Lara's upper body problem and have thought a lot about it. Mmm.
Perhaps if you were to get on a pair of skiboards and ski backwards in front of her, so she was always coming down towards you, you might have a better view than from behind.
I used this technique once to get a girl, who was a bit of a novice, to go down with me on more difficult terrain.

S [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 10
And what is more difficult than my terrain?

Cheers to Bela fast mon tree Guiness and a pint of .....

post #8 of 10
Hey Oz! Does Lara ski that infamous double diamond, Tomb Raider????
post #9 of 10
Are you guys talking dirty? ...Ott
post #10 of 10
"What is more difficult than my terrain?" Well, if you read her bio: http://www.laracroft.co.uk/front.html

You will see that she went to the Himalayas to search for more extreme terrain.
Interesting, though, I would think that all that rock climbing would develop her lats, giving her excellent upper body alignment!
Perhaps she's a prime candidae for one of these gizmos: http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...&f=11&t=000051
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching