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Technique as Technology

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Some great threads in here had me thinking again this morning about something I've long thought. That tecniques themselves are a technology, that advances and moves forwards.

This may sound somewhat stupidly obvious, but really - most of us here (and elsewhere) generally talk as if the changes in whats possible on skis these days, is all a result of technological changes such as shaped skis, and better boots and bindings.

Now I think this is *mostly* true, I do think that the biggest variable in our move forwards has been the equipment. However, I do think *some* of it is discoveries in training/movement/tactics "technology". We generally talk as if all the changes in coaching and tecnique are a response to the physicial technology, but not visa-versa.

I suspect that even if the technology had stayed completely static at some point in time - that the capabilities of skiers would have continued to increase. Not perhaps nearly at the rate it has increased, but I think that the continual movement forward in biomechanics, sports psychology, tactics, and training methadology -- would have still kept things moving forwards.

I know I have have always unconciously felt that somebody like Ingmar Stenmark was doing the very most that was physically *possible* on the skis of the time. And maybe he was, but maybe even if the technology had stayed the same -- but he had grown up in the coaching environment/technology 20 years hence, he would have been even more amazing (ok, maybe HE couldn't have been more amazing, but exchange the name with somebody else!).

Anyways, just an idea. Curious what others think, is training itself a technology which moves forwards? Therefore everything we see happening out there isn't *all* because of shaped/shorter skis and better materials and design in all the gear?

[ August 12, 2002, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #2 of 29
This is by far one of the most brilliant threads posted here in awhile! I'd have to say I agree with you 100%, even though I do in fact have a bias.

Truth be told, there have been major advance in the past decade regarding the study of biomechanics. But even more significantly, it is only in the past decade or so have research studies been performed in a manner that is acceptble within the standards of experimental design. In the past, it was too darn easy for anyone to "prove" anything.

IMHO, the most ground breaking studies of biomechanics that have a direct effect on both ski technique and technology are the studies regarding the kinetic chain. Yes, this concept has been around for awhile. But it is only recently that coaches, trainers, etc. have come to view the actions of the body as interrelated.

In the end, it comes down to form following function. And as we learn more about functionality, the form of our equipment evolves accordingly.
post #3 of 29
A neat story is the "trainer" friend of the first person to break the 4 minute mile. Remember, it "couldn't" be done.

Technology didn't change, but the training did!!

Technology does make it easier, but if we don't use the body properly, it doesn't matter.
post #4 of 29
I believe you are on to it Todd! With more specific and longer focused training and idenfication of body types, technique/technology lines are blurred. Often, breakthroughs in kinesthetic specialization drive the change in equipment.
The example of Bannister's mile is great. Other pure sports like track, swimming, endurance sports....yeah, you can get aero but the body and your knowledge of how it works is the technological instrument.
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by GravityGuru (Todd):

This may sound somewhat stupidly obvious, but really - most of us here (and elsewhere) generally talk as if the changes in whats possible on skis these days, is all a result of technological changes such as shaped skis, and better boots and bindings...
Gravity,
Without the VAST improvements in alignment ...eg. boots, footbeds/orthotics and bindings...millions of us wouldn't be able to exercise our true skills on the mountain.
We NEVER asked to be born with imperfection in our
skeletal makeup, believe me.
There was a LOT of prejudgice in our early education in skiing, ignoring any of our true abilities simply because the beginning instructors were blind...
post #6 of 29
But Steve, don't you think that the changes and developments in alignment and boot fit are the result of a deeper understanding of technique?
post #7 of 29
Mr. Chicken, may I present Mr. Egg.

Mr. Egg, may I present Mr. Chicken.

[img]smile.gif[/img]

Tom / PM
post #8 of 29
When I get out my 20 yeart old K2 710's, I feel every bit as confident and capable as on my "daily drivers. I just "screw up" a bit more often.

The equipment technology may allow us to explore our boundries, but the skill and development are ours.

Regards

CalG
post #9 of 29
Nolo was talking in another thread about how fine motor control is the hallmark of expert skiing. This is another area where we now have a much greater understanding. if you were to take a look at the exercise equipment used by sports teams in the early 70s, you would see many machines with seat belts.

The idea was the belt stabilized you while performing the exercise. But guess what? the belt kept you from using probably one of the most important muscle groups in any sport, especially skiing; Your internal stabilizers.

Wquipment manufacturers used to boast that their machines 'isolated' certain muscle groups. But the muscle groups that they were not working were the assisters and stabilizers, really important for sport.

Look at the exaggerated UP DOWN movement in the early history of this sport. Major use of the big quad muscles. Nowadays, its a finer movement, using a bit mor of vastus medialis, the smaller muscles of the quad. Sports med oriented trainers are also putting a greater focus on this muscle group.
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Re-read my post Steve, I was not arguing it that it is all one way or another. I very conciously avoided that very oversimplification. I specifically pointed out that I do believe that equipment has been the *most* dominant factor . . . just not the *only* one.

I believe that most of us have been oversimplifying over to one extreme in the last decade. That is, we were tending to work off the preceipt that the advances in skier capability lately have been based only on equipment. Which I'm certain is not true. However, very clearly, the opposite oversimplification would be equally shortsighted (i.e. that none of these advances happened because of equipment).

[ August 12, 2002, 03:31 PM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #11 of 29
Boy oops girl this thread could start a war. Lets just say understanding, education, and change in equipment have allowed more to do more. However if it were at all possible to measure I would bet the same 3-5% at the top their game before are still the same 3-5% at the top of their game today. Now most might say those are the ones with the natural ability. I would say those are the average that works harder than the other 95-97%. The really neat thing with the break through in equipment, alignment, and training is more can do more. The other 3-5% are out there on their own anyway. I guess that is because I can’t keep up with them!

So bottom line our advancements have allowed a lot of us to ski better and enjoy skiing more than we might have otherwise. Therein lies the ultimate!
post #12 of 29
Some of the funniest things that us instructors have to deal with are our client's pre-concieved notions about a great many things. We, as educators, must reach for our most complete understanding of skiing in order to do the lesson justice. Naturally, this "understanding" continues to be a moving target as our awareness of physical, mental, and technological being increases. We (most of us) work really hard at this, and then a customer shows up with the idea that these are "Carvin' Skis" or that FAST=GOOD.

Lately, I've had to be just as good at "un-teaching" as I have at Teaching!!! Clients and Instructors alike take so many things in skiing as absolutes. Like has been said, any move that creates a faster time or a prettier carve quickly bcomes "THE WAY", while those who wish to achieve these patterns don't put enough foresight into how they will get there... or even really why! Truth is, these "new" maneuvers should just be considered Tactics and put in your pocket.

Spag :
post #13 of 29
...Gravity,
Oh I'm essentially in agreement with ya'...and Nolo..and PhysicsMan(4Sure)....on the surface I came on a little too heavy...*coming back from mid-coastal Maine to this air in Boston today LisaMarie!....#@&$(&$ (too much for me..
...and LisaMarie I guess I do agree, but I think that for every forward thinking...and great skiing instructor...pushing a method based on proper mechanics, at the beginner level, you have a dozen bozos just happy to have a job and enjoy racing...AFTER the lessons were *done with*....and as most can tell, these mtns wer NOT the big ones..
I guess it's just that I *hung out* in Maine's woods and climbed the few mountains LONNNNG before my first *breakthrough* lesson, which actually vindicated a lot of the articles that I read and visualized_by
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
I totally understand . . . being a western boy born and bred, but now in Vermont, heat and humidity don't suit me well at all.

I've lived in worse, when I spent a year in Georgia, but you know . . . it was not *much* worse.

And actually down south you just live in air conditioning full time when its like this. Every house, every business and every car has it pretty much. Here you get to experience every horrific bit of it.

When its cold, I'm never cold - because you can just wear clothes - but when its like this, you either have to get into water, or into AC.

It sucks! It makes me very irritable! So I'm with you!

[ August 12, 2002, 05:03 PM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #15 of 29
Lately, I've had to be just as good at "un-teaching" as I have at Teaching!!!

So true but look at it this "Mo money". They just keep coming back for that unteaching because a "break through" really happens when you unteach.
post #16 of 29
>>>Look at the exaggerated UP DOWN movement in the early history of this sport. Major use of the big quad muscles. Nowadays, its a finer movement,<<<

LM, the up or down movements were not exaggerated but necessary to make turns on the skis of the era.

There are a few dozen instructors in this forum who could ski on any ski in existance and it would take them less than a run to feel them out and ski them well, using movements required to make that ski turn, may it be fifty years old or a brand new model.

And they can do it smoothly, using, as nolo said, only the movements required "and no more".

Skiing is not hard for those who know how, and instructors are expert in knowing how, or they should be.

>>> for every forward thinking...and great skiing instructor...pushing a method based on proper mechanics, at the beginner level, you have a dozen bozos just happy to have a job and enjoy racing...<<<

HaveSkisWillClimb, I don't know where that insight comes from, but a ski school director wouldn't last long hiring slackers like that. Sure there are learning instructors with less experience but let one of them kiss off a lesson and just one person complain to management, both the instructor and the ski school director will be in hot water.

....Ott
post #17 of 29
Instead of chicken and egg, maybe we need to imagine a more complementary menage a trois: equipment, alignment, and TRAINING. (I thought of using COACHING, but chose the T-word because the C-word seems one-sided, but training is implies both internal and external motivators.)

I think what propels the threesome is the same thing that propels L'Oreal's marketing message: Because I'm worth it!

It works with my many female clients, anyway. They show up with old straight skis that haven't seen a tune for ages, intermediate boots that they got at the ski swap for $10, really crappy poles, and a frou-frou outfit. By season's end I have convinced them that they're worth it, and what's more, skiing is worth it, and have got them into good boots, on a custom footbed, and properly aligned; they have demoed skis all season and made a selection that will form the foundation for their quiver; they have poles that fit, have a nice swing weight and grip; and after the first lesson, they often show up in a helmet once the other students convince them that I am a wild woman (or maybe I do that all by myself). And that frou-frou outfit gets deep-sixed in favor of practical clothes.

I enjoyed the company of several students at a baby shower held for one of the group today. One of the students was talking about her "before and after" -- how she used to be the spouse dragging her feet on ski days, but now she's the one clamoring to get going to catch the first chair.

That's what it's all about--the time and expense of trying on boots, selecting a pair, and getting them fitted properly; taking lessons every week for years; buying and caring for your skis. It all adds immeasurably to the experience, because you have confidence in your ride, your stance, and your technique.

What's a class but a group of training buddies? Training buddies can ski and learn from each other whether the coach is present or not. I find nothing more gratifying than to hear that my students are skiing together outside of class, working on stuff.

They don't just become better skiers, their lives become more focused on skiing. They find it helps them cope with the daily grind, it gives them confidence in other areas of their lives (like their marriages, which often undergo some adjustment when the wife comes home changed into this "because I'm worth it" chick with a carfull of new expensive ski booty), and it makes them feel vital, connected, and SEXY in a bodily-kinesthetic way that dancing also makes them feel.

Oh, I'm afraid I've gone rambling, all because Spag didn't include the spirit in his list of what the human brings to the sport.
post #18 of 29
Todd, good post. I have found that modern techniques when applied to straight skis work better than the older techniques we taught only a few years ago.
The newer equipment allowed us to discover techniques that would have worked better had we known about them on older equipment. That suggests that technique would have moved forward even if the equipment had stayed the same.
post #19 of 29
As far as students go, there are 2 types, which are really 2 sides of the same coin.

Some think that the equipment will do it all for them, and will need to put in only a minimal amount of work.

Others, will actually work very hard, but never give themselves credit for anything. If they are sucessful at something, they will always attribute it to either the equipment, the instructor, the "conditions" or all thses extrinsic factors!
post #20 of 29
It's not just equipment and technique. In the old days, most people bought a pair of boots, and never made any adjustments except to blow them out if the feet were too wide for them or to foam them or otherwise shim them up to take up extra volume. In other words, the only boot doctoring we had done was for a better fit (for the life of the shim material, which often wasn't long).

Alignment and boot balancing is also an advance worth our notice in distinguishing what's different today. I think these advances have infinitely improved the performance capability of the skier-boot-ski system.

When boots and skis are appropriate for the skier's anatomy, size, and power, s/he has tools that will respond to minimal inputs from the skier--little toe movements have the desired effect, for instance. But if the tools are inappropriate for any reason, the skier will have to add movements to create the same effect. This leads to faulty technique and overprotective tactics, or what I call "overskiing."

These three elements are like the legs of a stool. When one leg is shaky, the whole stool is prone to topple.

[ August 13, 2002, 07:18 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #21 of 29
Ott..and John/nolo,
Your're certainly correct...I think the biggest mistake I made and the one for everyone to avoid during those developing years..was in stretching too few lessons over too long a timespan. The chance of forgetting the specific areas on which to focus attention to in technique(or lack of) is so easy, especially in those early days of skill development. (getting bumped off @ this Library... later...seeking the water today
LisaMarie!
[img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre eh!:
...I have found that modern techniques when applied to straight skis work better than the older techniques we taught only a few years ago. ...
WORD!

I keep an old pair of 1980-ish, ultra stiff, 65 m sidecut radius, 207 Volkl Zebras in shape, and try to take them out for a spin at least once a year. I do this partly for fun (eg, knowing the comments I'll receive), but I find its a great way of calibrating where I am as a skier since I'm using a known, unchanging piece of equipment.

A few years ago, I got on these skis, and without really thinking about what I was doing, I started using a very active inside leg. This is a technique I would *never* have done in the 70's or early '80's. I was flabbergasted by how well this relatively new technique worked on the old equipment, and just how wonderful the old skis felt again.

I was flying along like the wind, feeling like an idiot for spending money on all this modern equipment. Then, as I got lower and lower on the mountain, I got into slush and was quite happy to know I had a wider, softer, shorter, thinner (top to bottom), more modern pair waiting for me at the base.

Tom / PM
post #23 of 29
That's hilarious PM! I am the same way! I have a pair of 207 Rossi Strato 102's and an eclectic collection of others (including an orange pair of 223 RennTiger "orange with bowling ball green triple groove" DH's) that I break out frequently. My "technique" has evolved over the last decade to really optimize what most would consider ancient technology!
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
...But if the tools are inappropriate for any reason, the skier will have to add movements to create the same effect. This leads to faulty technique and overprotective tactics, or what I call "overskiing."
nolo...
sounds like it's been just as exasperating to
watch : as I remember doing [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin:
...I have a ... an eclectic collection of others (including an orange pair of 223 RennTiger "orange with bowling ball green triple groove" DH's) that I break out frequently. ...
I try not to bring any attention to my own "eclectic collection", lest my wife investigate the back of the shed and decide on a drastic clean-up. My Zebras are the only old ski that I have taken out in the last 5 or 10 years, but I keep thinking about fixing up and taking out my Hart GS Comps, Kestle CPM-Ti, k2 255 Softs, or my Kneissel Red Stars (all in amazingly good shape except for some minor surface rust on the edges). Unfortunately, the bindings are another story.

When you mentioned the green on your waaay cool triple groove DH Renntigers, did you mean that the ptex is green? If so, their bases are the same color as my Zebras, except that after years of not being able to find green ptex, mine are more of a green and black patchwork, sort of like a green Holstein.

Tom / PM
post #26 of 29
If a brown cow makes chocolate milk, What does a green holstein make? Mint?

By the way, the K2 VO Slaloms may have to make an appearance this season. They are... how do you say?... HEFTY!

Cheers.
Spag :
post #27 of 29
Have Skis Will Climb,

I imagine those folks are burning a tad more calories, and that's a good thing for most of them.
post #28 of 29
10-4, Green...in the barn in AF...a pair of K2 Holidays...great powder ski, Miller Softs....old fun race sleds...plus about 10 pair of one year old foamed Tecnicas...ready for potting geraniums into...my wife too thinks I am a nut in need of a flea market. Spag...still got the gold lame Reusch bumper trousers to go with? Man....
post #29 of 29
Oh man! I forgot all about those! Unfortunately No, I don't have my "Sigfried and Roy" pants anymore. I believe they ended up in a dumpster in Angel fire. Who Knows? They might be standard Ski patrol uniform there now! JB probably dug 'em up and said "Heeeeeeey. These are NICE!"
Get this. I was recently at Colorado Ski + Golf in Aurora and I WALKED RIGHT BY THE $5.00 BOX!!!! Can you believie it?

Gotta go to work,
Spag :
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