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Modern Race Technique, is it really somethng new?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Im a ski instructor 41y of age with 37y of skiing behind me. Ive raced back in the 70's without any real success. However, that had nothing to do with ski technique since you need 100% devotion, good physics, good sponsors etc. in order to make it to the top.

I find myself arguing all the time with especially younger skiiers and instructors about todays carving and race technique. Im always told my outside ski pressure and hips strongly shifted to the inside in a turn are the thing of the past, 70's, and that today they use 50/50 weight on both skiis and apply edge to the skiis with their ankles and knees and keep their hips centered over the skiis.

How is this possible? How can you distribute sufficient pressure to both skiis especially when the outside ski leg is almost straight with a 400lbs lode and the inside ski leg is bent more than 90 deg not being able to carry more than lets say a 50lbs load? In my opinion the inside ski is there only for balance and because it has to be there. And looking at World Cup races, as for example the slalom won by my fellow countryman Palander today, they really seem to ski on their outside ski and put skis on edge by mooving the hips to the inside in the turn. Like the way I teach regular skiing, keep your upper body still and moove your legs underneath. Mooving your butt more than nessesary in every turn will easily throw you off balence, loose your edge grip, make you skid more and therefore slow you down. Especially in deap snow and bumps this will make or brake you, not to mention what it will do to you in a WC race.

Shure you need to be able to work with your knees and also with your ancles but once you pick up speed you will carve with your butt. We have a young ex-racer in our skischool and he is rotating his hips at the end of every turn making his skiis skid. He is some sort of a local champ so nothing can throw him off his high horses but when I addressed this issue he only said he needs stiffer skiis that all.

Anyway, I learned how to carv back in the mid 70's in Austria by local WC racers and to my understanding nothing has really changed. The new skiis are a blessing but we carved with old skiis as well and with our butts. Like ice scating backwards. Anybody tried that? Any hockey players here?

Old fart
post #2 of 10
Your assessment of the 50/50 weight distribution is incorrect. 50/50 weigth distribution is not taugh or even condoned by any coaches i know. Even in the flats you are looking to get the 'pop' out of the ouside ski. You are correct in saying that carving in terms of weight distribution is no different, but certain aspects of it have changed. New skis have allowed for more of a straight outside leg technique, as to really 'work' the skis through the turn. Technique is a focus to some extent, as far as body positioning, how forward you are, and where your weight is on your skis, but a lot of new school racing involves getting the most out of your skis... meaning knowing how to work the ski in the course to get the most rebound out of it, so that you continue to accelerate. Im sure that given a little speed on a nearly flat hill, most WC skiers could continue their turns at that speed or even speed up - all because they know how to work the ski - this is one key to Bode's success. New school racing teaches equal angles in your turn, not equal weights... meaning both skis should be angulated the same in the turn. One should not significantly lead the other, and you outside leg should straighten out in the apex of the turn, in order to push on the ski and have it push you into the next turn. There is no such thing as 50/50 weight distribution. It cannot happen - you will end up skidding your turn, and turning your hips into the hill, which as you said is bad. A lot has changed, but in terms of staying forward, and not rotating your upper body etc etc, the turns are still taught very similarly, accept now we can really carve every turn.
post #3 of 10
Very intersting. Basically I agree with everything stated in this thread so far. I will point out that in addition to angulating both skis identically at all times I find more pressure on my inside ski today than I did when skiing traditional skis. This is not a coincidence. I have strived to increase the pressure on my inside ski in all my turns since I started using shaped skis. At the same time I am a significantly better skier today than I was on traditional skis.

I guess my question is am I a better skier because I actively use the inside leg more OR am I a better skier because I actively use the inside leg more on shaped skis? I mean would a more active inside leg have been as effective on traditional skis as it is on shaped skis?

In debates with my instructor peers I constantly take either side of the debate. Sometimes I say there are things we can do today on shaped skis that we literally could not do on traditional skis. Other times I remember doing certain drills on traditional skis in race camps that I do with my customers today. Specifically, I mean railroad track turns or other pure carve drills that you needed very high speeds, pressures and angulation to obtain on traditional skis. So, I see both sides but I do not know to what degree skill improvement outweighs more efficient use of the improved tools.

Thanks for reading my miscellaneous ramblings!

post #4 of 10
Much has changed, and much hasn't.

I agree with your contention that 50/50 pressure is not a good thing. Those who promote this idea suffer from a lack of understanding of biomechanics. When a pressure is applied to the ball of the foot it naturally attempts to pronate and apply predominant pressure to the inside edge of the ski. The result of this is that when a skier is in a well balanced fore/aft position and attempts to apply significant pressure to the inside ski the foot attempts to pronate and pressure the inside edge which flattens the ski. Only by leveraging against the side of the boot can the outside edge of the inside ski continue to be engaged, but that puts the skier in a less than optimal lateral balance position. Not to mention that a severely flexed leg that is ill suited to resist the forces created by turning, just as you point out.

As to attempting to ski by just rolling the knees in and keeping the hips vertically over the skis, I'm totally with you there also. What a weak position to be skiing in. If the forces will allow the hip to be dropped into the turn a much stronger stance can be achieved. As a general principle the straighter the leg the stronger the leg, and moving the hip inside to achieve alignment with the ankle and knee is obviously the stronger position.

Nothing has really changed about carving since you learned to do it on 207 straight skis other than how far the hip must be moved inside the vertical plane of the feet to achieve a balanced position over the inside edge of the outside ski. The radius of the turn that's produced when the ski is rolled on edge and pressured has been reduced, but need and ability to balance efficiently on that ski has not.

What has changed in the race coarse is the amount of preparatory steering/pivoting needed prior to initiation of a carved arc and the diverging steps post carve. The new skis will do much more of the direction change for us by simply rolling them up and carving the direction change we need. Pivoting is still needed at times, but not to the degree it was in the past.
post #5 of 10
The main thing is to edge the insideski to the same degree as the outside ski and that we didn't do before the new skis. A frame was the norm then. And everyone thought they were carving but we were not. Pure carving is very hard even with the new skis. But by edging the inside ski the same as the outside ski it allows us to get a more extrem edge angle and more pressure on the outside ski. The COM is beside the skis so to speak,as before it was in between.
By the way, it is great to see a Finlander do so well.
Perkele, Satanas !!
post #6 of 10
My observations from viewing video one frame at a time for the last 15 years or more is: The moves are the same, the amplitude has changed(less fore and aft, more horizontal, more inside ski pressure)
The tracks that top racers(WC & Cont Cup)leave in the course are like RR tracks through the bottom of the turn(I will not hazard to guess the actual weight distribution)
It might be kind of nit picky but I don't agree that the edge angles are equal. RR track turns are a segment of two concentric circles. That is, the inside ski carves a smaller radius. Therefor it seems that the inside ski would have to be edged more. While the shins might be parallel, the angles can be different due to alignment. WC skiers who are usually aligned over their inside edges often appear bowlegged when carving RR track turns.
When I was at the National Acadamy some of the USST coaches disagreed that RR tracks were concentric until I carved a complete(360 deg.) set of RR track circles in the snow.
post #7 of 10
This 50-50 thing come about because of what skiers sense verses what is actually happening.

As Fastman has pointed out there is a lot less stepping, setting of steering angles and diverging. All of those things require a deliberate weight shift between the feet. With the decrease in deliberate weight shift comes the perception that we are weighting the skis more evenly. This is only a perception and not what is actually happening.

In a high edge carve we would ideally have a very good skeletal alignment of the body to resist the forces of the turn through the outside leg. We might have 90%+ pressure on the outside ski yet the inside ski feels balanced pressure wise. The key here is that the muscles of both legs are near equal tension and in harmony with dynamic balance. The bent inside leg may be carrying less than 10% of the weight yet the perceived pressure may be more equal between the legs. The bent inside leg will not carry anywhere near the pressure that the outside leg will carry at the same muscle tension.

So, what may be perceived as more 50-50 weight distribution is actually the decreases in deliberate weight transfer, up unweighting to set a steering angle and seeking equal muscle tension to achieve good dynamic balance that leads to the 50-50 myth.

I hope that made sense. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #8 of 10
Anything "new"? There were smatterings of talk in the instructors room that the Austrians have been inducing a bit of stem.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanx for the input folks. Biowolf, your finnish is outstanding

Yes, we seem to agree on the main issue here: carving is not something entirely new, its just that the modern skiis have made it possible for the mass to carv at slow to medium speeds and therefore racing and recreational skiing has mooved one step closer to each other.

I also agree with the above statement that carving actually is not something very easy to do. People think they do it but their skiis skid. To my understaning proper carving would leave two knife cut tracks in the snow and ice behind you. Some of the modern carving tech is teached today as an own form of skiing but I would rather copy the tech of the modern race skiers that live on the edge every second and CARVE for their lifes on the downhill ski (outside ski). On blue slopes today I see loads of good skiiers in their mid 40's all with 3000 Dollar gear, helmet and a wide stand and the inside ski forced half a meter in front of the other. In a way that looks pathetic and it cannot be efficient in the context of carving.

Today we can easily stear both skiis parallell into the turn since the carving radius of the skiis are almost the same. However, the weight would still be mainly on the outside ski because otherwise we would easily loose our balance. I always teach the balance issue like this: If you are carving a turn and you are thrown off balance towards the outside you compensate by leaning outside because then your hips will compensate that moovement and you will actually be leaning towards the inside and you will not fall. If you are thrown off balance towards the inside you need to compensate by leaning to the inside wich in this case will cause you to adjust your weight to the inside ski for a fraction of a moment. No problem. However if you alredy have the weight distributed a lot on your inside ski you will fall because shifthing your weight even more to the week inside ski with your hips centered on the wrong side of the skiis is instant disaster. The TV commentator would say that it was a typica misstake with the weight on the inside ski. If you skid all this is much easyer.

Am I right in saying that modern race ski technique is not carving but some of the turns are actually 100% cutting and therefore could be considered carving. In all forms of modern alpine ski racing there are turns that dont fit the turning radius of the ski and you need to skid and many times you need to brake as well. Like at the end of a GS run you need to brake after the finnish line. In slalom you need to brake all the time. No tight turns are 100% carved. If you carve 100% and you stay never more than 90deg off the fall line your speed will pick up and you will accellerate. If you want to reduce speed you can eather try to increase your wind resistance (parashute), start to skid or stear your skiis uphill.
post #10 of 10
Focusing only on the upper body, I see a lot of difference between old technique (early-'90s and earlier) and that of today's talented juniors- especially in the technical events. Hips are more square to the skis, bones are more stacked, and angles are much more matched. Watch a person who grew up running bamboo vs a person who grew up racing breakaways- you'll see the difference immediately.
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