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How to watch ski racing on tv?

post #1 of 48
The thing that always amazes me is that the racer who looks the slowest is usually on a run that is going to burn out the timers.

Whenever I yawn durning the first five gates I now have an internal alarm set to jump up and pay close attention. The economy of motion and lack of "dramatic" body movement are the best signs that you are watching the winner.
post #2 of 48
Well said, Yuki. Bode Miller is a great example. His wild, undisciplined, athletic skiing style is his downfall--and his strength, if he manages to keep it together through both runs of an event.

But his second run in the Aspen slalom, in which he took second, showed a smooth, quiet, relaxed Bode Miller that belied his actual speed. Perhaps he'll take a lesson away from that run!

The same is true of RUNNING gates, as well as watching them. When I'm at my fastest, everything seems smoother, with less effort, and more time between gates. A lot has to do with line and tactics. A good line allows smooth, well-timed movements. Getting off the line usually requires athletic recovery movements and quick, harsh, corrections.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 48
I should add to the last post, though. Especially when watching the Men's events, particularly GS and Slalom, the very smoothest are not always the fastest. Those who simply roll their skis from edge to edge, linking "arc-to-arc" turns, are often taking a slower-than-optimal line. The very fastest now--as years ago--take the straightest line possible, redirecting their skis prior to setting the edges to complete the turn. Those edge engagements can then be harsh and quick, vs. the smooth, progressive engagement of the "pure rollers." The fastest racers do whatever is fastest, every turn.

Ah yes--"rotary" is alive and well on the World Cup!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 09, 2001 07:55 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Bob Barnes/Colorado ]</font>
post #4 of 48
Watching TV and tapes of ski racing is a lot of fun, and as Defcon said, looking for specific points can be really fun. One issue that you have to keep in mind is what you are watching. If you look for pole plant techniques, then speed events are not the right videos. They are purely means to push out from the start and then aid in balance. Relative to the questions about equal weight on both skis. Specifically in the high speed sharper turns this is absolutely not the case. Total committment to the outside ski is an absolute must. At times a "rescue or save" from the inside ski happens when something happens to the outside ski. On the slower turns or high speed tuck turns there is a definite two footed skiing, but don't be fooled the outside ski is weighed more.

Bob's comment about Bode Millers run in Aspen is exactly what I saw. He was smooth and not his "old style" of a series of linked recoveries. Just saw that he won the GS in Val d'Isere. Not a surprise to me as he had been fast all fall. Now if only Schlopy could get back on track!
post #5 of 48
Watch the sun and the way it may be causing changes in the course. If the course has some softer and slower sections they may suddenly become very fast as the order of the racers progresses and these sections become shaded from the sunlight.

Now, if I only had something to ski on...
post #6 of 48
Thread Starter 

How to watch ski racing on tv?

I got the idea for this from a Tennis magazine article about learning from watching tennis matches - the idea was that instead of just casual viewing, if you look for specific things its possible to identify and learn skills and get a better understanding.
I don't get cable but today I was watching the Womens downhill at Lake Louise, and I was trying to see if I could pick out certain things the faster racers were doing. To my untrained eye, this is what I noticed -

- very little pole usage, as most of the time everyone's in a tuck to maintain speed. The only time they spread their arms was for balance

- the edge changes seemed very fast and effortless. It seems that the inside ski is almost equally pressured - is this true?

- absorbing the bumps and maintaining balance at the high speeds seems to be a large part of the technique

In short, they made it look easy! I will be watching the men's downhill in Val d'Isere on Monday, which will be even more exciting.

What else should I be looking for? At the very least, I hope that long hours spent watching top skiers will stick in my subconscious visual memory [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 48
I think that two good exapmles of Bob's smooth rollers vs straight liners are VonGrunegen(smooth roller) vs Eberharter(straight liner). He might be fast but god damn is Eberharter an ugly skier. I'd rather show my kids a roller then a straight liner. The only time they are going to be able to ski the straight line is when they are Eberharter's age.
post #8 of 48
Yes--good point, MattW. The smooth, rolling, linked arc-to-arc turns are probably the most satisfying to make as recreational skiers, even if they are not necessarily the absolute fastest line down a race course.

For all his smoothness, though, Von Gruenigen too demonstrates extraordinary steering skills. Perhaps the clearest I've seen took place in last season's World Championship Giant Slalom race. It was Hermann Maier, in this case, who tried to just roll from edge to edge. He got so far off line that he had to make some real jamming moves to make a few gates, which slowed him down. Von Gruenigen, by contrast, skied a beautiful line, by turning his skis as much as he needed to before engaging his edges, then carving the remainder of the turn cleanly. This turning, by-the-way, also involved some significant "up"-unweighting between turns, to facilitate the redirection of the skis. At one point, he was going directly sideways, waiting for the perfect moment to engage his edges and change direction. It was a thing of beauty!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 48
Hi Guys, I searched my local TV guide and my on-screen programs and could not find anyone showing any skiing, yesterday or today.

I have Time/Warner digital cable TV with about 300 stations and there was no skiing show on amy of them.

Could somebody tell me what stations are showing those races? I do not have OLN.

...Ott
post #10 of 48
Ott:

BobB has some friends with "the company" and rumor has it that he can even arrange for a Blackbird overflight.

The Ski Racing Magazine has a web site that has two catagories of race programing. OLN and the "other one", that lists ESPN as well as CBS times.
post #11 of 48
That's ski racing magazine I think. [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 10, 2001 08:09 PM: Message edited 1 time, by skis&snow ]</font>
post #12 of 48
Sorry Ott--OLN is the usual source. They show ski racing every Monday and Thursday. ESPN also carries some of the races, but OLN is great. No Bob Beattie, either.

Oh--btw--Bode Miller wins a slalom! Wow! That's a first and a second now in slalom, and a first place in GS. Off to a good start!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #13 of 48
I am with MattW!! I would rather watch Von Grunigen than Maier or the Austro power team. Sonja Nef and Alison Forsyth than Dorfmeister....then again I prefered Wassmeirer to Mueller! In all the girls are more fun to watch!
post #14 of 48
In the speed events(downhill,super-G), watch for the most direct line and the least amount of spray coming off their skis. If a racer has too direct of a line their "lateness" from gate to gate will be easy to notice, due to the large amount of spray. But, if a racer picks the right line their spray and line will equal out to create an extremley fast run.
post #15 of 48
Everyone,
Watching races on tv is great fun and there are a lot of good things one can pick out from a run and try to emmulate. But I must ask this question: What is a free skier going to do with this knowledge if he or she doesn't plan to use it in a coarse? This question kind of pertains to the instruction of racer/free skier threads that I've read in the past. However, the answers that come from this question will answer the original post.

CERAF
post #16 of 48
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Defcon:
this is what I noticed -
- very little pole usage, as most of the time everyone's in a tuck to maintain speed. The only time they spread their arms was for balance [img]smile.gif[/img]
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Little (weighted) pole usage is evidence of how important balancing over both feet is. The fastest skiers seldom move outside the scope of being "balanced over the feet" and have little need for heavy pole plants. Touches and "sensor" drags are quite common however, and the use of poles/arms in this way helps them keep up and over both feet.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>- the edge changes seemed very fast and effortless. It seems that the inside ski is almost equally pressured - is this true? [img]smile.gif[/img]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Again, being balanced over both feet is the culprit. I would not say that the inside ski is being equally pressured, but it is being equally edged(approximately). WC skiers are working to be balanced over both feet instead of one throughout arcs as well as transitions. More weight/pressure on the inside foot than in the (now distant) past results. More pressure is still directed to the outside ski than the inside tho, if only because that is a natural part of the physics of it all. As skiers finish turns and transition they are over both feet and it doesn't take much to finish off the edge change at the perfect time to maintain that fast line.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>- absorbing the bumps and maintaining balance at the high speeds seems to be a large part of the technique [img]smile.gif[/img]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Again, balance over both feet. If they are not so, they cannot absorb with both legs

If there is one thing that has differentiated Maier from others over his dominating years, he was able to anticipate where his feet were going and throw himself there without getting out of balance. He sometimes had very exaggerated arm/upperbody movements, but if you watched, when he threw his outside arm up, the inside arm threw down and forward at the same time succeeding in directing everything the right direction instead of just tipping him off hist feet like so many people who tried to mimic him. He was able to use this to keep his body mass in such a relationship with his skis that he accelerated as often as possible without compromising his ability to direct his line as well. Somehow though, during the last season he raced it started to change, his timing was a little off. I think it was just unnerving to Maier that there were racers beginning to close in and pass him up more often than before. He was merely in a period of intensifying his current technique prior to evolving it (which he would have done this season) We'll see him back at the top again I think.

The inspiring thing about Maier; like Klammer, Stenmark, Girardelli, Tomba, S. & P. Mahre, Armstrong, Durrance, Sailer, McKinney, Killy, Schneider, etc. etc. is the marriage of Natural Ability and Technique. In synchronicity they are unbeatable. And that combination leads to a winning career with longevity. There are many flashes in the pan (Johnson, Furuseth, etc.) who had one or the other(or both briefly), but the marriage was not harmonious enough for longevity.

I like looking for those Natural Ability things that stick out visually, and let them influence my skiing along with all the technical stuff I get from coaching.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 11, 2001 10:18 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Roto ]</font>
post #17 of 48
Roto:

Some good points, but I must take exception to listing Furuseth as a "flash in the pan" kind of racer. Ole first broke into the top 10 in world cup in 1986, and was 5th at the WC finals slalom last season. In between, he finished in the top ten 95 times, won his first WC race in 1989 and the last one (so far) in 2000. He has brought longetivity to a career by being adaptable in his skiing style and has provided basis for much of some of the fast technical skiing going on today.
post #18 of 48
I agree that Furuseth has had a major effect on the evolution of ski technique. However, his reign as 'the winner' compared to those that won/win for an extended period of time is the reason for the flash in the pan comment. Top ten is great, but I'm thinking about those that have been winning powerhouses for a period of time. Which is why I didn't list Mueller, certainly a hero, but not like Maier, Girardelli, Stenmark, Klammer, Schneider, etc. I certainly keep my eye on the guy and look at him as much as any other WCer for what is good. When I was actively coaching he was the one to who started the change to what we see now. Other racers quickly gobbled him up and he didn't stay out in front like some of the other names I mentioned.

Furuseth is like Mueller, longevity as a great one, but not as the greatest. Nothing wrong with that at all in my book. It's what is cool about the objectivity of racing.

There is just something vastly different in those athletes who have a glaring Natural Ability coupled with an incredibly accurate technique and manage to work hard enough to develop all of it at a pace that enables them to crush everybody for more than a few races or a season.

Kinda makes me wonder which is the most important thing. The ability, the technique or the hard work. Most likely the latter I think.
post #19 of 48
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by CERA F:
Everyone,
Watching races on tv is great fun and there are a lot of good things one can pick out from a run and try to emmulate. But I must ask this question: What is a free skier going to do with this knowledge if he or she doesn't plan to use it in a coarse? This question kind of pertains to the instruction of racer/free skier threads that I've read in the past. However, the answers that come from this question will answer the original post.

CERAF
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Cera F, a racer is essentially skiing on the same run as a rec skier. Take the gates and the line tactics away and the same movements still apply. Even if you're talking powder. Watch any freeskier (extreme skier) who used to race fly down some crazy peak. They are still using the same body positioning.

Racing still gives a good picture of the fundamentals of skiing no matter the circumstances.

Robin I argee with you about the women. Right now Nef is my favorite skier to watch. But any of the swiss team will do. Anyone notice how they all seem to have adopted VonGrunegen's style.
post #20 of 48
CERA F:

Skiing with a quiet upper body where one turn flows into the other without an excess of motion (to regain balance).

Turns that carve efficiently don't throw lots of snow.
post #21 of 48
For some great examples of the "redirecting" that Bob describes check out the photo sequences at the link below. The redirecting is most evident between images 8 and 9 for each skier.
http://www.ronlemaster.com/filmstrip...GS-1/index.htm
post #22 of 48
MattW,
A racers run through the gates is not the same run as a rec skiier! Watching a racers form does give good fundamentals on how to ski, but normal rec skiers DO NOT and more likely CANNOT ski like they're in a race coarse. I don't care who is watching the video of the racers, "if they haven't been a racer in the past then they won't be able to duplicate the actions of the video and apply it to themselves while feeskiing." Its just not done, unless you join a race program.
post #23 of 48
Bob, you are correct. Two things that had a very big impact on my skiing were the chapter on racing in Lito's 1st book, and a ski mag article about 8 years ago called "Ski Like Tomba". And running some gates ( there aren't any around here anymore ) changed my intent.
However, watching racing probably won't help the typical intermediate skier much.
post #24 of 48
Hi Bob and all, just wanted to let you know that my Digital Cable service annouced today that after January 1 they will add OLN and ten other stations to the lineup, so now I will be with you on that.

Does anyone know where OLN gets the coverage? They are a comparatively small outfit so it isn't their own camera people who cover the races.

...Ott
post #25 of 48
Lbrother1, no someone who just finished learing how to carve their skis probably won't be skiing like a world cup racer any time soon, but watching a racers form gives a rec skier something to aspire to.

"I don't care who is watching the video of the racers, "if they haven't been a racer in the past then they won't be able to duplicate the actions of the video and apply it to themselves while feeskiing." Its just not done, unless you join a race program."

If what you say above is true then the following should also hold true."if they haven't been an INSTRUCTOR in the past then they won't be able to duplicate the actions THEY SEE THEIR INSTRUCOTOR MAKE and apply it to themselves while feeskiing."

If a student can emulate the movements he/she sees their instructor make, why not the movements a World Cup racer makes. No they will most likly never do it as well, but they still will have a better concept of how it should look. Watching a WC racer gives any skier better direction, just as watchig a CSIA/PSIA demo team member will do the same.
post #26 of 48
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>normal rec skiers DO NOT and more likely CANNOT ski like they're in a race course<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I can't agree with you here, LBrother. Casual golfers can benefit from emulating Tiger Woods, even if they may never equal his skill or athleticism. Beginning tennis is fundamentally the same as expert tennis, so watching Wimbledon provides good images. At its core, running shares the fundamentals of walking--and of crawling, for that matter--and children learn to do it by watching adults.

Skiing is no different. While the speeds, forces, and athleticism of World Cup races may be far removed from the reality of the casual recreational skier, the fundamental movement patterns are identical.

Or at least, they CAN be. It is true that the techniques and tactics of the typical recreational skier are far removed from those of the pros. But that isn't because these skiers CAN'T do it--it's just because they DON'T. We have discussed these things at great length here at EpicSki, but I'll re-emphasize that this is where LESSONS come in! Since very few skiers take lessons, and fewer still take them regularly, it is no wonder that "average" skiing resembles little what World Cup racers do.

So I'll agree with you that "normal rec skiers DO NOT" ski like racers. But I won't agree that they "cannot." Not only can they--from day 1, with good instruction--but their enjoyment of skiing would rise dramatically if they would learn to!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #27 of 48
Bob
Barnes/Colorao
MattW,
I'm not saying rec skiiers cannot take what they have seen on tv and apply it to their own tecnique. Of coarse they can. Bob- Like i said before its a great place to learn funamentals, but a lot of skiiers can't ski that way, no matter how many videos they watch. There is an inside aggression, instinct, or drive that racers have that you cannot learn from watching the video or learning from an instructor. You have to experience it! Competing in race after race after race is the only way to really unerstand that aggression... Racers have a "Grit"(grit your teeth toughness) to them that a rec skiier dosen't.(its hard to explain) After so many years of racing you develop a kind of attitue. And its tough for a rec skiier to emulate that. If you watch a racer free ski when he/she is at practice or warming up for a race you'll see what i mean.
post #28 of 48
If I could perhaps, add something to this discussion from my own experience.

It would seem that learning to ski by watching others, while helpful, is not as easy as it is in other athletic pursuits because of the subtle movements involved, especially when it comes to edging and weight transfer movements.
post #29 of 48
You know, you bring up an interesting point, Lbrother1, about the "aggressiveness" of racers. Ski racing is an unusual athletic event in that, while you certainly need to be aggressive to be successful, that aggressiveness must be channeled and harnessed. There is no "accelerator" in skiing. All a racer can do is avoid losing speed--there isn't much he/she can do to INCREASE speed. It's about GLIDING--which is a concept that doesn't fit well with many aspects of "aggression."

In many competitive events, aggression can be translated into more raw power, more speed, more strength. This can help us run faster, jump higher, punch harder, tackle more visciously, and so on. But again, skiing is about gliding, not grunting! Aggressiveness on skis often makes the racer assume too low a stance, move too harshly, edge too intensely, push too hard.... Excess "aggression" often causes racers to just plain TRY too hard!

If aggressiveness can be turned into FOCUS, clarity, mental intensity and alertness, and the relaxed state that comes only with confidence, then it can help win ski races. The best racers, of couse, do exactly this. "Tranquil aggression" was a description by a coach of the great Swedish racer Ingemar Stenmark--a seeming contradiction that fits perfectly!

And this tranquil aggression is most definitely an attribute that recreational skiers can emulate. Whether skiing a World Cup race, an "extreme" avalanche chute, or a blue run for the first time ever, emotions like aggression and fear must be harnessed to produce a state of focus and "calm"!

I have often stated that one definition that crosses all lines and styles of skiing is that "good skiing" means gliding when possible, not braking. It means "skiing a slow enough line as fast as you can (when you can)." This description applies equally to racers, whose line is determined for them by the gates, to beginners playing with their first real turns, to powder skiing and crud, as well as ice. It involves thinking of "turns" as offensive activities used to control direction--to go where you want to go--as opposed to defensive activities used as brakes to control speed. Yes, a "slow enough line" for a timid recreational skier may be much different from the line downhill racer may choose, but the movements involved in CONTROLLING that line are fundamentally the same.

Also the same is the "offensive" (a more applicable word than "aggressive"?) intent and state of mind. Good turns, at any level from beginner to World Cup competitor, arise from the same intent--to "go that way," rather than to "stop going this way."

Yes, they do it better and faster than most recreational skiers will ever imagine, but racers really do NOT do ANYTHING qualitative that is inappropriate for "every skier" to emulate. The movements and the intents they arise from are fundamentally identical! The top competitor's focus is something most of us can only envy--but it is something we can certainly try to emulate!

Tough, yes, but worth shooting for!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #30 of 48
One more thought, on this topic: While rec skiers certainly can imitate WC skiers and possibly improve their technique that way, there has been a problem the last couple of seasons with more skiers than the norm getting killed in crowded conditions or on steep blue runs.

It is possible that this occurred because intermediate skiers were trying to push their technique in imitation of higher-level racers without realizing that without the necessary control/knowledge it could be dangerous.

In other words, if Picabo is getting pulled over by patrol for dangerous skiing, imagine what it's like for the layman trying to base his/her technique on racers' skiing without comprehending how those racers ensure their own safety! (That is, when they can ensure their own safety...)
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