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PSIA and USSCA certs!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My little girl has joined a local race program. I've been a little concerned about some of the things they are teaching the kids and wanted to post my concerns/questions here. Please set me straight if you think I'm wrong.

My kid is eight and has always been a little upright, particularly from the waist up. I taught all day Saturday and went by our race center to pick her up. She was still training, and as usual, her upper body looked a little upright. I have done my best to do NO teaching with her, and in the past, she has been in the able hands of level II or III PSIA instructors. Now she is being coached by former high school and college racers. Most of these guys skied five, ten, or fifteen years ago and coach kids on the weekends.

I tried to diplomatically broach her stance with my eight year old. She said "coach" said her stance was fine. He was standing nearby and came by to chat. He said he was "stressing" the kids "really drive their knees forward" and "keep pressure on the front of the boots". I've often overheard the coaches telling parents to go out and buy new boots for the young kids that are "more flexible" so that kids can drive their knees forward. I'm simply advocating a stance that rests or places the shin on the front of the boot. I have never taught pressuring the boot or driving knees in ANY direction.

I tried to suggest we no longer needed to flex our boots and that we should seek the center or sweet spot of the ski. I also added it was tipping not leveraging that turned skis these days. The coach looked at me like I was nuts.

They are teaching young kids to carve by having them tip their outside knee into their inside leg. There is no mention of inside leg steering or tipping.I have never seen so much "A framing".

I'm really interested to hear others thoughts about boot tongue pressure vs. a neutral tib/fib poised on the center of the ski. My goal has been to get my kid's spine aligned with her tib/fibs.

Lastly, the "coach" told me he had talked to a few of his fellow coaches and perhaps my thoughts were simply "PSIA' as opposed to "race methodology" I was a bit taken aback.

I would love to hear from folks who are PSIA and USSCA certified.

Am I nuts?
post #2 of 15
I'm with you, although without a lot of foundation. It sounds to me also that balance is staying more centered, but I will say that IMHO, keeping some healthy tip pressure even on shapes helps get an early bite. I think constant contact with boot tongues must be helpful to maintain centered, and maybe learning a little forward is an easier tweak to make than learning a little back.

Especially in a course, tendency is to end up behind your feet. Good thought though, can't wait for more experienced opinions.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
To add to what you said, "early bite" can be facilitated by aligning the spine with the tib/fibs and being on the middle of the ski.

I would suggest it is not done by pushing one's shins on the front of the boot. I guess I'm also convinced that jamming knees forward is a good reason that the entire pelvic structure falls.
post #4 of 15
Hey RG - I'm PSIA and USSCA, and definately often observe many pros from both camps (and other camps) get caught strongly in specific methadology.

You post hits me at a coincidental time because I've recently decided my primary goal when working with instructors and coaches is to try and break them out of dogmatic thinking!

The fact is, great skiers don't only stand in a neutral stance all the time, or leveraged foward (or aft) - great skiers dynamically change their stance as the situation, their needs, and their desires dictate.

They are right that leveraging fowards has a place in ski racing, however a static stance is inherently . . . well STATIC! And therefore not adaptable and versatile. Leveraging forwards to start the turn is a powerful way of engaging the tips of the skis - and you'll see it used often in SL especially when they really want a radically carved turn entry - but they do not stand statically on the fronts of the skis as those guys seemed to be advocating to you, rathedr they 'push' the whole ski through the turn and dynamically move their leveraging focus point fore to aft through the whole ski with each turn, returning back to the front of the ski at the start of each new turn. But this is not written in stone, in some turns because of snow/gate placement/tactics/recovery the racer will stand dead center through the whole turn, or even on the tails. They do whatever they have to do to accomplish the task they have set out on.

It takes more strength and is harder on the ligaments and other body structure to leverage fore or aft. Our bodies are most in their natural (walking/running) element when we are standing more centered and erect. Therefore, since most folks are not trying to win a race, it makes more sense for most people to stay more centered when they can. You also have more equal control over the entire ski throughout the entire turn this way. So that is correct too.

Truly athletic, accomplished skiers are simply are able to effectivedly use any possible stance and leveraging method - to do what they need/want to do for each turn.

A-Framing is the same thing. Its tougher on your body in some ways than a taller more symetrical stance is. But if you have video tape of the Olympic ski races you'll see, especially in SL, many turns were started by the worlds best in an A-Frame . . . and then again, many turns were not. There is definately less of that than there used to be in the Mahre days and before - but its still an effective tool to use when needed. And ineffecient to use when not needed.

The up-unweighting and stepping are more of the same. Powerful tools to use when needed, you'll see it still happening to some degree in some of the turns of nearly every high level ski race. But certainly not in all of the turns, especially in GS and longer turns. Its another option to be used when needed but should not be stuck to (or avoided) in a linear dogmatic fashion.

The problem on the side of many USSCA and PSIA coaches is one of falling into the trap of thinking their way is THE way.

As I've been thinking about this lately I think think that ski teaching/coaching systems fall into the dogma trap for several reasons. First off, its simply a lot easier to teach ONE right way. Connected to that is the fact that its a lot easier to judge performance when you have a static performance model to compare it to. Finally there is natural ego involvement for both coach and athlete - and having myriad tools from which to choose doesn't perhaps allow for the same sense of power and mastery as being better at "the" way.

PSIA and USSCA folks (or any other system here or abroad) who think that any of the great athletes adhere to a single "tecnique" are missing the big picture. Great skiers utilize the tools espoused by any tecnique - as they need and/or want to. Sometimes fitting what the PSIA guys think is 'right', sometimes what the USSCA guys think is 'right' . . . sometimes neither!

I've been thinking about doing some writing on this very subject actually. I have been noticing dogmatic teaching/coaching a lot lately - and having been very dogmatic myself for a long time, I'm like a reformed smoker now . . . and want to make some noise about it!
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Todd- Thanks for your input. I guess my question now becomes how does what convey what you have said to an eight year old. I really wonder how you teach any kid to abandon skidding and adopt carving.

I spent a rare day skiing with my daughter on Monday. She is by all accounts a good skier and good racer. How good? Who cares and/or how would one measure. I guess I know where she stacks up in Colorado as far as J6 racers and I could really care less. She does fine.

My point is this. As I skied with her it occured to me she will naturally get faster/better. She will watch the kid who finished ahead of her in a race and pick out why. Form will follow function to a large degree. When she wants to tighten the arc of a turn she will tip the ski more.

I think I'll just stay out of her way!
post #6 of 15
As both USSCA and PSIA I'd say your coaches aren't keeping up. My experience for the last 15+ years is that PSIA is usually a little behind. Even Phil Mahre talked about "inside knee drive". At the present time I don't see a lot of difference in the two. As I see it not a lot has changed. We're just using different terms for the same moves. Changes in equipment have minimized some things and maximized others but the body and the basics remain the same.
As for your daughters stance, some of the changes will come with maturity. My stepdaughter had the same problem until about 10 or 11.(I still can see the pom-pom on her hat bouncing throught the powder between the trees at Steamboat when she was 8). She fixed it in spite of all my efforts and skied in 5 Junior Olympics and top seed in slalom at Mid-Am races. You are the best influence on her skiing but most of it comes when you don't try to change anything.
Here in the "flatlands" kids ride the backseat all the time. I used to take 10 and unders at the local club program. We did a lot of boot skiing and goofy things. We almost never did the same thing two runs in a row. We did bumps and jumps and almost never talked about what we were doing. I learned from Megan(stepdaughter) that little kids don't get it the way grownups do(most grownups don't either, they just pretend to). The exposure to the program and lots of(fun) miles will let her figure it out.(Doesn't Bode Miller kind of have an upright upper body)There's more "art" than "technique" to this thing.
post #7 of 15
As "both", I have been involved with the arguement that Todd has mentioned. "My way is better" syndrome.

My opinion is that PSIA deals with consistant turns and efficeincy of energy, while USSCA deals with speed on the verge of uncontrolled and recovery. Both "systems" have its place.

It would be nice if everyone talked in the same terms, and understood the need for the different types of skiing.

Watch a recreational skier racing...nice carved turns, but the timing is off at turn entry. Racers drive their skiis at entry.

Watch a racer doing a non-training run (this shouldn't exist...should always be training!) ...skiis are railroad tracked carved, but no "drive" (forward movement).

Versitility is important. Try to avoid the "My way is better" syndrome.

An exercise that racers do is to learn to drive the skiis forward...needed if found in the back seat. On slow flat terrain, start by pressuring the tip of the skiis in a slight extension/flexion. Increase range of motion until there is a slight "hop" off of the snow during flexion(retraction). Once "airbourne", practice keeping skiis horizontal, then practice driving the tips down during extention. If done correctly, the skiis it will look like a porpoise jumping out of the water. Great way to regain control of the skiis if you find yourself in the air! This is similar to mogul skiing, driving the toes down during extension on the backside.

Hmm... we do the same motion, just for different purposes(porpoises?). Forward for ski contact in a race if thrown into the air, forward for ski contact in a mogul field.

Can't we all just get along? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #8 of 15
Rusty Guy I am going to reinterate somthing that SLATZ said and that is the fact that your daughter likely doesn't have the maturity yet for fine muscle control. You may not be able to correct that "too up right" stance until she is able to gain fine motor control. I will leave the coaching stuff to the coaches.
post #9 of 15
I only know one side of the argument, but I would imagine, that for an 8 year old, just getting the basics of carving and stance down would be the first step. This will allow for that versatility needed to get better. Once she gets the basics down, then it would be a good time to learn deviations from that, that can help improve her time (such as leveraging, the use of angles, retraction, etc). I think that an 8 year old needs to learn basic fundamentals before getting into concepts and techniques for shaving tenths of seconds off a run.
post #10 of 15
Hey, I am both too...Yank and Canuck....which keeps me completely confused most of the time.
I have a 7 year old daughter as well...Todd et al said it well. Your girl should be focusing on BASE testing drills which will encourage flexible stance values for a variety of skiing tasks. Yeah you can do pivot slips etc fore leveraged but what results....DOGMA...makes CATS like me crazy!
Seems all camps are more focused today on lateral movement and two skis engaged with parallel leg shafts.
post #11 of 15
I can't support the A-frame, but I can support a more agressive stance attitude. With most kids this is a responce to lazy back seat skiing, not taking a solid stance and making it over aggressive. And I'd agree that many kids are in boots to stiff.

I'll just point out, the obvious, that racing is a different environment, with different specific outcomes in a generally higher energy environment than rec skiing. It is all about the carving end of the performance spectrum, staying off the brakes and going where you must, not defaulting to wherever the turn happens to take you as long at its between the trees.

There is more the the art of carving thru a race cource than just tipping it on edge and getting a fixed arc. The fastest racing line is not linked constant radius turns.
Increasing/decreasing edge angle is only the most rudamentry way of changing the radius of a carved turn. Varying shin/boot pressure to modulate tip pressure is critical to controlling the "shape" of a carved turn on a fat tip shape race ski. The technology responds to the input, drive the tips and the ski tightens the arc (top of arc), reduce tip pressure and the ski lengthens the arc (bottom of arc). For rec skiing default tip-n-park-n-ride may be fun(ctional). For racing it is winding up on the loser's line wondering why you carve so well and have times so slow.

Racers must be the drivers of their skis, with little margin for letting go and recovering. That means always having a grip on the control surfaces of their boots so as not to give up control. Most rec skiers just ride them a great deal of the time as passengers (and thats ok if thats fun for them).

Racers -vs rec skiers. Different goals, different equipment, different levels of execution and different technical tactics.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 20, 2002 10:38 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Arcmeister ]</font>
post #12 of 15
Rusty- I am both and don't see that huge a difference. Good skiing is good skiing, Your balanced, you use ski design to aid, you move down the hill and with the skis, and as a few people have said already to do the movement that is neccassry for the situation. Not to cop out of an answer I will get there but not enough of these kids are doing different drills and activity's and free skiing in all types of conditions to create this versatility.

As far as driving the knees, I think this is still a good activity to promote. But the key is that it is movement oriented. No we don't want people hanging in the front of the boot but we do want them moving through the boot in order to keep moving with the ski. I want to bend the ski not the boot but the activity of driving the knees forward can assit people to move with the skis on a forward path thru the turn. This is done with the ski's already on edge!

As for the upright stance this can vary greatly as you look at top level skiers. Watch the Olympics this week as they are running the mens and womens SL and GS you will see the whole range from tall erect to so bent over you got to wonder! The lower your stance the larger range of tipping motion you have, but the easier it is to be in the back seat and out of balance and can be more difficult to deal with terrain absorption. You should play games to see who can ski the lowest and the tallest and get your daughter to have a range of stance to draw from as needed for terrain, conditions, line, outcome desired.

Simplistic answer for me would be the tighter the arcs you are skiing the larger the benfit of a lower stance.

I think Todd had some great points of not becoming dogmatic!
post #13 of 15
Rusty Guy:

What kind of skis is she on?

Where are her hands during all of this?
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is a wonderful forum. Thanks to all for the input. I don't want anyone to think I'm "overly involved" in what my daughter has been doing, however, I think I'm just going to let her ski and have fun! I've stayed out of it so far and so far so good.

By the way Robin we had the wonderful opportunity to live north of the border for three years where I did a stint with the Canadian Ski Patrol.

Someone asked about her skis....she is on the little kids Atomics....10.22 perhaps? It's what all her buddies like!!! I think sheliked the graphics!

Again, thanks for everyone's time.
post #15 of 15
Rusty Guy: You mention a number of things which speak volumes about your daughters' coaches.

First, your daughters' age speaks to her physiological development, which will change rapidly as she approaches 10-13 versus 8. At 8 she definately doesn't have the strength in the large leg muscles, which develop later than her age, to press the tib/fib forward on the boot cuff with strong pressure.

Next moving diagonally versus forward is where we go today, since current ski technology, ie-shapes don't need tip pressure to hook up as opposed to diagonal tipping to engage the entire ski edge for turns. The current skis are too soft to pressure the tips harshly, and therefore the tails will wash out.

More importantly it is the taller stance, ie-natural stance, which allows greater flexibility in movement patterns vs a bent over or crouched stance, which will limit her ability to move in all directions with ease. I would go with your taller stance and let it be natural. It may change as she grows, gets stronger, and can create movements to match her physiological development.

With the Olympics at hand, take a look at J. Kostelic's stance. She's amazing. Her movements remain always diagonal, but her lower leg is typically forward through most of the turn. She does, however go the full spectrum in range of motion from strong angulation to a tall stance as she moves through the various gate combos and race types, ie slalom, or GS etc. I'd say she is moving more naturally in all positions then any one position.

Finally, if your daughters' coach is a level II or III is another potential significant departure from current race technique. If either passed their certs a number of years ago, then neither may actually be current on present coaching standards. I would be more concerned that she is having fun and it appears that way.

If the coaches do a good job at focusing on her improvement, but not necessarily winning, then I would stick it out. If winning is all they're about then call it a day and move on. They'll burn her out and she'll stop wanting to race.

Good luck. Whtmt


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 20, 2002 09:42 PM: Message edited 1 time, by whtmt ]</font>
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