[quote]Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
It's a given that new skis make possible more radical turn shapes. The very best skiers then develop incrementally higher skill levels that allow them to better take advantage of the turns the skis are capable of.
Thanks for the clarification Bob. Perhaps but for semantics we are not so far apart in our positions. Where you say a great skier must develop higher skill levels I say the great skier just adapts with the skills he already possesses to meet the new task.
My example would be in the racing world. As *highly* skilled as Stenmark was, I suspect that if you could fire up the time machine and plop Stenmark in his physical prime but with the skiing skills he developed on traditional skis - onto a modern World Cup GS course *and* with modern skis on his feet, he'd get his butt kicked. Not because he's a poor skier, but only because he wouldn't have developed the skills necessary to fully utilize the skis. He would learn very quickly, but he would have to develop the skills to put his body in the right positions to bend the new skis the way they *can* today.
This is a very good example to use Bob. I agree that if you were to quantum leap Stenmark into a present day race with shapes on his feet he would get initially dusted. But as you say, watch out, because in a very short time he would quickly adapt and be right back on the podium.
Now heres a question to chew on. Reverse the scenario. Wait about 10 years until the top guy on the WC is someone who never had anything but shapes on his feet from day one. Now quantum leap that guy back to Stenmarks day and put him on straight boards. Would he adapt as quickly as Stenmark did in his leap?
My theory is no, and here's why.
Carving has always been the fastest and most efficient race technique, it is and has always been what all racers strive for. Even in Stenmarks day they were masters at it. The problem was ski dimensions did not allow for complete turn (arc to arc) carves, so they had to perfect multiple redirection of skis before carve initiation skills, feathering into carve skills, and step turn completion skills just to allow the usage of carving for a portion of the direction change. Stenmark and his buddies were masters at these supplemental skills, but their focus was always on maximizing carve time.
When shape skis hit the race slopes the top quys latched on to them with glee and adapted almost instantly. They adapted quickly because the strength of the skis, carving, was and had always been the prime focus in their skiing. Now these skis allowed them to make most turns arc to arc carves and they no longer had to depend so on the supplemental skills. Happy days had arrived.
So what happens when a guy who has never been on straight skis and has never had to develop and depend on many of those supplemental to carving skills gets quantumed into a 1979 bamboo SL coarse on 204 straight boards, or into a much tighter than today's GS on 207's and has to compete with quys who have been on those boards all their life. Do you think he will adapt as quickly as Stenmark did on his quantum leap.
If not, then which era really produced the better skiers?