or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Technique or Alignment?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I was skiing last weekend (Western NY) in cut up new snow, with scraped hardpack/ice underneath by the end of the day. Occasionally, as I finished short left hand turns on mild black runs, the tail of the right ski would skid out a bit... Seemingly a perfect example of an abstem (from BB's book "... an unintential tail washout at the end of a turn, often due to excessive forward pressure on the skis, upper body rotation, or 'over-initiation' of the turn.") :

This washout did not occur to the left ski when turning right.

I am right handed, and have a stronger and more coordinated right leg. My inside leg steering with my left leg is therefore significantly less precise than with my right one.

I was aware that having my weight too far forward could cause the washout, so I tried to keep centered, with a little more pressure on the back of my right ski than I usually have at the end of a left turn, and also concentrated on keeping the front of the left ski steering into the turn and consequently the tail of the left ski parallel with the right ski. Still, the washout occured at times, particularly when finishing a turn on a more scraped off region of snow.

Certainly the problem occurs at least in part due to a deficiency in technique. What might I do to improve? Is my self diagnosis on track?

As to alignment; my left ski points directly forward when my left knee points forward, and when I bend my left knee, it tracks true, forward over my toe. Okay, the left leg seems good. However, my right leg is less well aligned. When my right knee is pointed forward, my right ski splays outward by maybe 10 degrees, or more. Similarly, when I point the right ski directly forward and bend the right knee, it tracks to the inside of the ski.

This improper tracking of the right knee would seem to be a likely suspect for the right ski washout problem. Is this likely to be the case, and if so, what sort of alignment adjustments (or technique accomodations) might be in order.

Finally, I got a footbed and boot/binding alignment work at the Boot Doctors in Taos last year. I've got a 1% inside high cant under my right binding. In addition, they measured my dorsiflection (ability to flex the ankle, bringing the front of the foot upward toward the shin) and concluded that it's well below normal. They put in a small amount of heel lift on the footbed as a result.

Any help thats provided would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 15
To me it sounds like a huge alignment issue. If that's happening to your right ski, then 1 degree sounds like very little correction. It's never accurate to do this when you can't see it, but lots of times when you can't do something you're trying to do, you really need your wheels balanced. The Boot Docs are good, but it sounds like they went a little conservative.

Besides, it's a hell of a lot more fun to blame it on the gear!

However, you didn't talk much about what you're doing to increase edge angle. There could be a whole bunch of things happening at the initiation (rotation, too much up motion, leaning in, etc.) that could cause you to lose the edge on that side later in the turn. Make sure and keep tipping those boots to make the edge slice.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 26, 2002 08:07 PM: Message edited 1 time, by weems ]</font>
post #3 of 15
The Boot Doctors in Taos do as fine a job as anyone in the country aligning skiers, so, unless something changed, you should be alright.

Since your right side is dominant, most likely, from your description, you are pressuring that ski and in that process rotating your hip into the turn which results in your ski flattening somewhat.

If you are leveraging your tip it will be the tail that slips out while the tip bites.

Twenty, thirty or forty years ago, well before boot and binding alignment was thought of, skiers compensated for joint discrepencies with body contorsions.

A famous racer and Sun Valley ski instructor named Christian Pravda looked so grotesque going through a slalom it was laughable, but he did it to get an edge on and he won many times.

Below is a picture I took of Christian forty years ago in a slalom race which he didn't win but he made a good showing.

That race was won by Pepi Gramshammer, with Ernst Hinterseer second and Pepi Stiegler third, Egon Zimmermann and Anderl Molterer didn't make the podium. Motlerer had the bad luck of knoking out a bamboo pole from a gate and it rolled ahead of him and he had to ski over it several times while going through gates.

These names may not mean anything to you but maybe some old timers here will recognize them.

I'm putting three pictures of that race up here to make a point: the first one of a skier with goggles on his head is Christian Pravda, he has very bad alignment problems. Next is Ernst Hinterseer, the 1962 Olympic Slalom gold medalist (in the Kneissl stuff) he is naturally aligned, no problem there, and Pepi Gramshammer (Head gear) has to tuck his knee in order to get the skis carving.

Oh, by the way, they were carving forty years ago (surprised?)


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 26, 2002 08:20 PM: Message edited 2 times, by Ott Gangl ]</font>
post #4 of 15
post #5 of 15
I agree, Ott.

And these racers were my childhood heroes.

Pravda, in his day, really was the best, I'm told.

Could I respectfully challenge your history on these photos?

These are all from early pro tours, but I'm wondering, since Pravda has the old IPSRA bib (International Professional Ski Racers Association) from Friedl Pfeifer's first pro tour, while Hinterseer and Stiegler have "sponsor" bibs,--is this really the same race? Maybe Pravda just didn't have a sponsor, but I had thought Pravda was just a tick earlier than these other two guys. I know IPSRA started in the late fifties (or very early sixties, and Stiegler wouldn't have turned pro before 1964 after his slalom gold medal. Also, I seem to remember that Pravda only raced for the first couple of years of the pro tour as he was already near the end of his career. Lastly, aren't Hinterseer and Stiegler on a bit more updated gear here?

Not important stuff, but interesting historical trivia.

Great shots! Man, those guys could really ski.
post #6 of 15
Weems, I am very sure that it was the same race as all these shots are on the same roll of film.

It was a pro race and could well have been in '64. Hiterseer was the 1960 gold medalist in slalom, not '62 as I stated.

As a skiing photojournalist I was assigned to cover this race and what may surprise many now, these racers did their own waxing and sharpening and carried their skis over their shoulders while walking up the course for inspection, though they rode a chair for the race.

Those were the days. BTW, Pravda was one of my heros too, as was Molterer, a little guy and great racer, though he never did anything in the Olympics.

Most of these guys stayed in the US after their time was over, Molterer I think opened a clothing shop in Aspen, Gramshammer a restaurant in Vail, Zimmermann became the ski school director somehwere in New Hampshire (Waterville?) and Stiegler out west. Some of them had businesses on both sides of the pond.

But all of them could have benefitted from modern boots and alignment.

post #7 of 15
Jimmy D, I have the same thing going on with my right leg. I have had the boot sole ground (2 degrees) and foot beds made and this helped. Have someone good in movement analysis watch you. I have a suspicion that you may be moving your right hand more to the left side towards the end of the turn than you do with the left hand when turning right.
post #8 of 15
Thanks Ott. I accept your history. It is interesting then to me that Pravda appears to not have been sponsored, and he skis with a slightly older technique. That must have been near the end.

Another question. Didn't Molterer get a silver in Cortina in 56?

I got to take a run with Molterer and Dick Dorworth about ten years ago down Ruthie's in Aspen. We had about ten other instructors. Dorworth was the only one that could keep up.

Dorworth said, "Hey Anderl, take a run with us." Molterer replied, "No. You instructors make too many turns."


Sorry to derail the alignment thread.
post #9 of 15
Weems, it's been forty years, I just don't remeber Molterer having won anything at an Olympics, but it could well be, I'm sure there is a record of it somewhere.

He had a reputation of partying all night before a race and I asked him about it and he said that he was too nervous to sleep the night before a big race anyway so partying took his mind off of it and besides it makes his knees limber for the race...typical of him.. [img]smile.gif[/img]

I'll see if I can dig up a shot of him and I'll post it...is he still around?

Don't worry about derailing the thread, JimmyD hasn't checked in yet, it will get back on track then...

post #10 of 15
Great photos Ott, as usual, and I'm loving the history lesson! The photos do indeed show the still-typical stances of skiers with possible alignment issues--over-edged (the bow-legged Pravda) and under-edged (the a-framed Gramshammer).

But as JimmyD suggests, these stances--especially the a-frame--can also result from technical deficiencies. An a-frame will result whenever all the tipping (edging) activity is focused on only the outside leg. In Gramshammer's case, it looks to me like his skis are about equally edged, despite his shins being at very different angles. If true, then more activity of the inside leg would only tip his inside ski too far. His is an equipment/canting issue, for which he compensates with the a-frame.

JimmyD--I'm guessing that your problem has both equipment and technique roots. The inward tracking of your right knee when you flex it suggests that you pronate, which is consistent with being underedged (the one-degree inside-high cant will help correct, but perhaps it is not enough). Does this inward tracking still happen when you stand on your footbed? A good footbed can correct for excessive pronation, by changing the angle of foot and ankle. Try flexing your right knee with the inside of your right foot raised slightly--stand on the edge of a thin board or book. If that corrects the tracking problem, then perhaps a "pronation wedge" could help, under the heel of your footbed, inside the boot. Bob Gleason would "post" your footbed by building up the inside edge a bit. I've experimented by building up the inside edge of my footbed with layers of duct tape on the bottom. Try it--then get back to Bob G. and let him know what happened. I'm sure he'll make appropriate adjustments.

As far as technique goes, remember that tipping actions of the foot and leg also involve rotation of the femur in the hip socket. Angulating the knee (moving it in), which you will exaggerate if you are underedged, requires rotating the femur inward, which can twist the tail out if you aren't careful.

One thing you might try is to focus lower down. Make sure all your edging movements originate way down in your feet and ankles--not up in your knees or hips. And make sure also that the movements begin with the INSIDE foot and leg. To turn left, tip first your LEFT boot to the left, which will begin a chain of activities up through the knee and hips, and including the other (right) leg. Do NOT start a left turn by tipping your right knee to the left!

You will know if you are doing this right if you feel distinct pressure on the INSIDE (right) part of your left shin, around "two o'clock" on the shin as you look down, all the way through a left turn. If you don't, you aren't being active enough with your feet and ankles. Tip your leg with your boot, rather than tipping your boot with your leg!

That's about all I can suggest without seeing you ski. It will involve experimenting on your part, both with your boot setup and your movements. Let us know how it comes out!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #11 of 15
Nice analysis, Bob.

Ott, I haven't seen Anderl for awhile. I heard he was okay and living in Florida. I saw him skiing at Buttermilk about two years ago. He was unmistakable.

Interesting line. He doesn't/didn't stay in an arc. He would go straight than suddenly change directions like a jack rabbit. Then do it again in the other direction.

Yeah, I know he and Schranz used to party. Wasn't it the two of them that got kicked off the Austrian team in 1960 for going down to Reno to party during the Squaw Valley Olympics?

The new racers are no different. Hermann Maier got himself into all kinds of trouble in Aspen for stealing cars and bicycles. Ahhh the swashbuckling racers!
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to comment. As always Ott, the pictures and commentary were a delight to see and read.

As it happens, I have heard of the two Pepis. I believe Gramshammer was mentioned by Picabo Street during her TV commentary at the World championship in Vail in 2000. I think they finished up their slalom race on a steep named for him. In the mid 1980s I was at Jackson Hole with a group and we got a day long race lesson with Pepi Steigler’s brother, Peter I believe. I don’t recall too much about the lesson except that the guy could really ski… I could only imagine how good his brother was.

There seems to be a remarkable consistency with the suggestions provided here, and with what I have been told on other occasions.

Ott, I do tend to rotate. In fact, one of the things I try to do is stay somewhat counter-rotated (anticipated) as I end a turn, because I know my tendency is just the opposite. Clearly, I have not broken the excess rotation habit. Also, I have been told that sometimes my hip moves out over the ski causing a flattening of the ski, exactly as you suggested! Now I've just got to stop doing it.

Lucky, I guess your supposition that I move my right hand more to the left on a left turn than vice versa would be another symptom of over rotation. I will look out for this in the future, and try to eliminate it if I find it; I suspect I will.

A number of you mentioned the possible need for either greater canting or building up the inside of the footbed. Bob, I tried your experiment. When I place a slim book under the inside of my right foot and flex the knee and ankle, the inward tracking of the knee is reduced. Both your message and a private message I got suggested building up under the inside edge using duct tape. I will experiment.

Also, I have changed my focus from the outside to the inside ski. This is mostly as a result of lurking in these forums over the last couple of years. However, your suggestion that I feel pressure at 2 o’clock (the inside) on the left shin while initiating a left turn (and all the way through) is a very helpful cue.

I will be heading out to Summit county for a week of skiing starting this Saturday, so I might not receive or be able to respond to any further comments. Does anyone have the name of an instructor who is well versed in movement analysis, and who might be available for an hour or a half day lesson if I show up some morning? I’m with a group relying on public transportation and charter bus so I’m not really able to plan much in advance. I believe we’re skiing at Breck, Vail, Copper, and Keystone, but I’m not sure which days.

Finally, I don’t really like the idea of having a dedicated right and left ski. I would prefer to have a cantable boot. I understand that Daleboots have an adjustable cant, but from what I see on the Web, you measure your own foot, and it’s a mail-in/mail-back deal. Is that a safe way to buy a high performance (expensive) boot? Are there other boots that have an adjustable cant, and are any available for in-person boot fitting in Ohio/Michigan/Indiana, etc. What about in Summit County?

PS. I see in a thread on cantable boots that SnoKarver mentions the Dalbello SGS. I'll look into that.
post #13 of 15
Ann has that Dalbello SGS and it is a bitch to put on, she can't do it alone. After I did extensive surgery on the boot it finally fits her but the canting has to be done on the Dalbello machine, Buckeye Sports has the machine.

Enjoy Colorado...look me up next season at BM and I'll work with you...looks like you just need a few pointers...

post #14 of 15
Hi Jimmy--

ANY boot is cantable by a good bootfitter/shop. The current state-of-the-art technique involves grinding the bottom of the boot, and the tops of the "lips" that attach to the bindings, to the desired specifications, then screwing special plastic plates onto the soles to return them to the correct thickness. Bootfitters in Summit County who I know can do this for you include Jeff Bergeron in Breckenridge ("Boot Fixation") and Surefoot, which has shops in Copper Mountain, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge, as well as many other resorts across the country.

Remember that canting the bindings or boot soles has a different effect than "posting" the footbed within the boot. The posting alters the angle of your foot and ankle, which affects the flexibility of the rest of the foot. For walking, some pronation is useful when you step down on your heel, because it "opens" the bones of the foot, making it more flexible and better able to absorb shock. When you rock forward onto the forefoot, the foot should supinate (sole rolls inward), locking the bones of the foot to create the rigidity needed to push off. On skis, we want the foot somewhere between completely flexible and totally rigid--"neutral." Supporting the foot in neutral is the job of the footbed, adjusted by wedging or posting inside the boot.

Once the foot is correctly supported within the boot, and the boot cuff is properly aligned to your leg, THEN canting adjustments can correct for any under- or over-edging. These can involve either wedges under the bindings, or changing the shape of the boot sole. The binding option is cheaper, but as you suggest, you have to do it to every pair of skis you own, and you can't switch left and right. The boot sole grinding is more expensive, but it stays consistent from ski to ski, and allows you to switch skis so edges wear more evenly.

The Dalbello boot has a built-in sole canting adjustment. It's a great idea, but I've heard mixed reviews about the boots. The biggest problem I've heard about is a tendency for the adjustable system to loosen with wear. But I haven't actually come across very many people who use the Dalbello system, and I have no firsthand knowledge.

As for Summit County instructors, there are several here in the EpicSki group who I'm sure would be glad to ski with you. Give me a call when you get here--I'd love to ski with you myself, or I can help you find another instructor. You're welcome to join us for our weekly Tuesday evening movement analysis video session, too, if you're interested--give me a call for details (I'm in the book in Silverthorne).

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #15 of 15
Jimmy D,

Also,in the midwest and in particular Auburn Hills, Michigan, North of Detroit just off I-75 University Road exit is a place called the Performance Zone. The have a web site: performancezone.com. 248-371-3800 is the phone number and Brian Graham is the person you want to talk with.

Pierre used his services for his daughter about 18 months ago.

Brian carries the full line of Dabello boots including the cantable Dalbello's.

One final suggestion to go along with all the other excellent suggestions on this thread, is that if you don't have CUSTOM insoles, you should. The off the shelf ones usually brake down much sooner, but Brain can guide you here as well.

One thing you should understand about the cantable Dabello boots, is that the are heavier than most, and you must make sure that the canting adjustment stays where set.

I use shims under my bindings, and yes there is always a right and left ski, but I don't screw up my alignment as my boots ware down walking in the parking lot, and carrying those "catfeet" around is just something else to loose.

Proper alignment with a good boot fit along with custom insloes makes a BIG difference.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 29, 2002 06:45 AM: Message edited 1 time, by wink ]</font>
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching