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New Slalom technique already obsolete

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Is the "New" Slalom technique already obsolete? Anybody else see big changes at the end of last season? Is it technique or gear?

post #2 of 36
Er, uh, what do you mean by this?

The new super-short super-shapely sl skis are now in their third full season of use. (Juniors starting using them toward the latter half of the 99 season.) For this season, lengths have gotten even shorter and sidecuts have gotten even bigger. So it's just more of the same trend.
post #3 of 36
At the end of last season I observed Mario Matt and Benji Raich making the same movements good slalom skiers have always made. Only the "box of balance" was smaller due to the shorter skis. http://ronlemaster.com/slalom1.htm
It is most obvious in the sequence of Raich. I have viewed runs of these two frame by frame on many occasions. Both, as well as all top skiers, make the same basic moves.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 23, 2001 09:12 AM: Message edited 1 time, by SLATZ ]</font>
post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 
I have been told the only WC slalom video to watch is from the last three races of the season. All previous video footage is "old" technique and they "didn't have the technique figured out" until then.
I haven't really studied the videos so what do you guys think?
post #5 of 36
I think if you were to watch any vid of Ingmar Stenmark vs. vids of the current Vikings of the sport as well as the Austrians, you'd see that today's slalom technique isn't all that "new". Solid alignment and landing in balance will never be obsolete. The human body is designed well to do certain things well, and it's only our brains that get in the way.

The "new" technique three years ago is still going strong, and getting stronger. Racers who had previously been "Juicing" their slolom skis (Team USA)are beginning to take their que from the Austrians and stay aligned... virtually RUNNING through the gates and logging some incredible times. Slalom Technique is still evasive, but not nearly as much as it was 10 years ago. :
post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 
Since the Stenmark era there have been huge changes to slalom racing.
Equipment: Rapid Gates (rapid gates at the end of Stenmarks Career),no flags on slalom gates (those sucked when they whipped you in the face), Short skis, lifters.
Technique: two ski carves (equal edge angles), more body inclination, higher angulation angles, less counterrotation, less up and down, wider stance, less steering, less stepping.
All these changes are blatantly obvious. What are more subtle are the technique changes brought on by the changes from 170cm 16m Radius Sl skis to 160cm 12m Radius Sl skis.
Are you Bears good enough to figure out the differences? Also, If there are any good slalom photo sequences from the last 3 WC races please post the link.

Cool Stenmark and Mario Matt pictures here: http://www.ski-and-ski.com/Patrick/Bio/BioTop.htm
post #7 of 36
I'll readily believe that WC sl skiing was better in the last 3 races of the seasons than in the first 3 races, given all the equipment experimentation at the beginning of the year, and given that everyone was on significantly different skis than in the previous season.

But to say that the technique was truly *different* between the beginning and end of the season is a vast overstatement. For the most part racers were just succeeding better at accomplishing the same technique they were trying to accomplish earlier in the season. Calling "obsolete" what was then "new school" is just hype.
post #8 of 36

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 23, 2001 06:29 PM: Message edited 1 time, by avenue ]</font>
post #9 of 36
I have watched and still have tape of the last three races. I stand by my origional statement. I have tape of Stenmark's last win as well. Stenmark is credited with developing the current method of clearing breakaway poles. He used air poles(something that didn't catch on). He had the fastest second run at Calgary in 88 using his "new technique". Before that racers were throwing their inside arms across in front or boot top shinning. Most of the photos on that website are of recoveries but the basic moves are still evident. The amplitutde of movement is greater because of longer stiffer skis. The new skis require, as I said before, a smaller "box of balance". In other words, you can't move as far before you tip over. The basics of movement are the same. Old skis had sidecut, just not as much, The human body hasn't changed, so why would you do something different to get the same result?
You mention two ski carves and "equal edge angles". When both skis carve the inside one makes a tighter radius. It has less weight. How can this happen if edge angles are equal?(I know the shins are at equal angles).
I haven't found anyone who can give a logical answer to this. I have my own ideas and Ron LeMaster has some in The Skiers Edge that make sense. In fairness to Ron we didn't have time to discuss it at the Acadamy. After I read his book I found another idea to add to my own.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 23, 2001 11:12 PM: Message edited 1 time, by SLATZ ]</font>
post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
Jonathon S.
The title of this topic was supposed to be "New Slalom technique already obsolete?" but I messed it up and forgot the question mark.
Basically, the turn initiation feels a lot different with the 12m turn radius skis. These probably are subtle, evolutionary changes but they are changes. It is a lot easier. Jonathon how much time have you logged on your Atomic 9.12s? Maybe you can describe the difference or lack of difference between skiing them and your 9.16s?

Or, let me put it this way. Let's assume you were coaching a high level college racer who was on 170cm Atomic 9.16 slalom boards last season. They've been in Costa Rica with the Peace Corps all summer. They have a new pair of 160cm Atomic 9.12s and a Nor-Am race in 1 week. What coaching advice do you give them to tune into their new skis?

Again, If there are any good slalom photo sequences from the last 3 WC races please post the link.
post #11 of 36
The best coaching advice I could give that racer would be to spend lots of time on the snow and get familiar with the different feel. You can't make radical changes in that kind of time. In the big race you can't be thinking about something new. It's got to be the same old routine. Besides the change you describe isn't that radical(170 to 160 16m to 12m) that's just a matter of adjustment to a good athlete.
post #12 of 36
I've spent lots of time w/ my new skis: waxing them, mounting them, lovingly admiring them . . . oh wait, you meant *skiing* on them, uh, none.

I'm sure the changes in the ski carry over into evolutionary changes in technique, but I think we should refrain from overstating it. My guess is that we're just going to see more of the same: more two-footedness, more arc-to-arc, more elimination of any holdover pivoting movements, etc.

Therefore, for the hypothetical skier, my advice would be that everything he was trying to accomplish last season will be much easier this season.

(But hey, maybe once I actually get on these skis I'll change my tune!)
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
I'm not trying to get the same result as racers of years past. I'm trying to get a different turn shape (D turn not J turn) and move my body mass further inside the gate on a turnier course.
Two ski carves and equal edge angles. Wow tough question. I'll give 2 guessses.
1) The edge angles are only approximately equal. Mathmatically, you might be able to prove the change in turn radius between inside and outside skis is caused by a unnoticable amount of extra angulation of the inside ski. You could experiment with this on Hockey skates.
2) The skis are supported in bending by the snow. The additional force put on the outside ski doesn't bend the ski any further it just pushes the edge further into the snow. You could verify this by measuring the inside and outside depths of tracks in the snow.
post #14 of 36
Nord. I didn't say "Stenmark Era"... I said Stenmark. The guy was all about alignment. The technology has changed to be sure, but there was a reason he won so many races and it wasn't because he was the strongest.
post #15 of 36
Seems to me Stenmark was at his best on steep,icy terrain. One of the finest racers in the sport. Reminds me of Herman M. but not near the body size.
post #16 of 36
Re Slatz's q, this was the logic behind Atomic's differential sidecut on the 9.28 gs ski, 9.11 hypercarver, and 9.22 (or something like that) jr gs ski.

But it probably really doesn't matter much b/c you're skiing only a portion of a circle, not the entire circle. So think about two *portions* of an identical-radius circle, side by side.
post #17 of 36
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SLATZ:
You mention two ski carves and "equal edge angles". When both skis carve the inside one makes a tighter radius. It has less weight. How can this happen if edge angles are equal?(I know the shins are at equal angles).

Maybe the skis are actually carving parallel arcs instead of concentric arcs so it isn't actually carving tighter radius.

Don't use the 'inside wheel of a car' argument. It doesn't apply.
post #18 of 36
Take a compass and draw two equal radius arcs side by side. You will not have parallel lines. Or carve those "railroad tracks" all the way around in a circle. You have parallel tracks that describe two circles with different radii.
One idea that makes sense to me is to cant the way Witherall reccomends in The Athletic skier. That is about 2 degrees negative. Then when shins are parallel the indide ski has 4 degrees more edge.
Most WC skiers don't cant this way. It takes a lot more strength to do it their way but they have it.(most of us don't) Ron LeMaster talks about a skis "steering angle" in The Skiers Edge. The steering angle varies from tip to tail(the tip having the most) It appears to me that these athletes pull their inside foot back and use the greater steering angle at the tip to effect a tighter radius with the inside ski. I have not had a chance to change my cants and experiment with this since I read the book. I plan to try it soon. Presently I am canted at minus 2 degrees and find it works very well. When I first skied my shaped skis I found my inside ski would not turn enough and hit the outside. About 1/2 degree more negative fixed this.(making the inside 1 deg more than the outside)
As far as J turns go, the people I've worked with have been teaching a "comma"or inverted J for several years now. The object is to initiate on the rise line above the pole and get your "direction" when you're at the pole, then open the arc to the next rise line. Like when a race car driver goes in deep, brakes late, then turns in to the apex and runs out wide at the end.
post #19 of 36
True enough, the points on the arcs are not perfectly equidistant from each other. However, given how small a portion of a circle is being carved, and given how much slop there really is even in a near-perfect turn, the arcs are close enough to parallel for skiing purposes.

As for j turns, they never existed. It was just Ski/Skiing Mag & Bob Beattie-type hype. All good turns have always been upside-down j turns, since directional change is easier to accomplish at the top of the turn. Dr. George Twardokens had a great photo sequence of this, where he imputed radii to the different portions of a turn.
post #20 of 36
post #21 of 36
Watching tracks of racers early in the AM you see some that diverge then converge. These are equal radius turns. Some are equi-distant throughout. These are of two different radii.
Again I say, "carve a circle" where the tracks go back into themselves. The result is concentric circles.
Those photos represent only one "frame" and one small instant in time. Analyzing frame by frame sequences shows a very different scenario. Most of the time one ski is weighted more than the other. The unweighted ski tips you off as to where the leverage is. (tip up = back, tip down = forward) Check it out on the link I gave above. The same is true of the last races of the season.
I take my TV and VCR to the hill with the most recent WC race. I set it up in the finish shack and show the kids frame by frame what the "best" are doing. We do this at least once during every training session. Particullarly with slalom.
Ron LeMaster talks about the difference between "technique"(what you teach) and "methodology"(how you teach). Technique is for coaches to talk about. Methodology is what you use for the athletes. In my experience, the best athletes usually don't understand if you talk technique, you have to get the message through in your methodology.
Incidentally, Ron's presentation on technique for the National Acadamy last spring is available for downloading on his website.
post #22 of 36
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SLATZ:
Take a compass and draw two equal radius arcs side by side. You will not have parallel lines. Or carve those "railroad tracks" all the way around in a circle. You have parallel tracks that describe two circles with different radii.

I realized that after I thought about it a little; parallel was definitely the wrong word to use. What I was trying to point out is that the arcs are probably of very similar radii, so the inside ski may not be making a significantly shorter arc than the outside. I think this is more likely on the shorter skis of today than on the longer ones. Since the skis are not connected through a rigid framework, if a skier is well balanced, the skis can truly make arcs independent of each other. As long as the arcs do not come around too far in their cross-section of the circle I see the possibility for them to be of (very)close to equal radius.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 25, 2001 10:38 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Roto ]</font>
post #23 of 36
Thread Starter 
Tell me if I am correct on this.
1) A ski loaded in the center will have only one arc size for each edge angle regardless of load on the ski. This assumes the ski is in loaded enough to make full contact with snow along its edge.
If the ski is not loaded in the center the the shape of the bend (and pressure distribution into the snow) of the ski will be different and the arc will be a different size. A similar effect would happen in a rut. The ski would be bent differently than on a smooth slope and the arc would be different than on a smooth slope.
2) If 1) is true then the only way for the inside ski to have a smaller arc is a higher angulation angle or a different bend shape. The sharper bend may be from weighting the front of the ski more.
post #24 of 36
I think it would be very hard to load the inside ski more at the front.Even in these days where inside ski lead is more subtle,it still exists,so it would be more natural for the inside ski to be back-loaded.
I´ve asked this same question to instructors with racing experience,they don´t know how,they just do it.
However,i concur with Al Hobart: when the going gets tough (ice,steeps,apex of turns) we still see top racers with inside ski lead,some or lots of hip-torso angulation,weight on the outside ski and up-unweighting.
post #25 of 36
Right on the idea of loading the front more. This is what "pulling the inside ski back" does. Try to pull the inside ski back without raising your heel(getting up on the tip).
After reading The Skiers Edge I think this probably has more to do with it than different edge angles. Especially since WC skiers don't cant negative enough to create the edge angle difference. The ones with the most positive cant are the ones who are more "square" with their skis and seem to pull that foot back more.
As far as Al Hobart goes, he hasn't changed his website since February 2000. I've sent a number of emails and received no answers. The "Coaches Corner" has been "under construction" since 99. I think we've lost him. I think that hip-locked "gorilla turn" didn't lead to very good "two ski" carving.
World Cup skiers on steep icy turns do seem to run deep to the rise line, up unweight and redirect the skis to the next turn-in point. There aren't too many places in Central where we can do that,Ripley, Boyne and the final pitch at Lutsen come to mind.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 26, 2001 08:58 AM: Message edited 1 time, by SLATZ ]</font>
post #26 of 36
It's not last year stuff but Ron LeMaster who has popped in here in the past has great images on his website. www.ronlemaster.com

These might help in this discussion.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 26, 2001 09:01 AM: Message edited 1 time, by dchan ]</font>
post #27 of 36
I would have commented a long time ago, but have been too involved with other things. My answer to the question of has slalom “changed” again, until last week, was not really. Last week I skied a pair of Atomic World Cup skis (155). I could do stuff I never would have envisioned. Based on this ski, I could easily see setting 10 M offsets on 14 M vertical. Has technique changed? No, but MORE creeps in. More lateral, more offset, more carve, more earlier, more extreme.

There is a tendency to have racers ski lower through the transition between one turn and another so there is a greater range of motion to move/accelerate mass down the hill (action/reaction), and wider foot separation. Take a look at the Ron LeMaster web site of the Loveland Super Series from last year. Incidentally, in my opinion, Benni Raich and Kilian Albrecht are very classical skiers; Matt is more extreme. Raich and Albrecht use more counter than Matt who is fairly square and very wide. The former move more front to back than Matt who stays very much in the middle and skis very low.

If the racers have personalities/styles, so do the skis. For example, the K2 race stock likes to be skied pretty much over the middle, the Atomic and Stockli encourage/tolerate some front to back movement. The Stockli being the least extreme is the most tolerant of skier mistakes. The others are faster, but more punishing of mistakes.

So to summarize, nothing is really new, but the evolution is a combination of technique and technology. Last years slaloms skis are out of date, last springs skis are a bit old, and most manufacturers are creating new stuff as fast as they can push it through their system. The technology alters the emphasis on which subsystems of technique best take advantage of the new stuff.

I'll try to tune in a bit more often. World Cup teams are booked to start coming in in about 10 days. The Loveland NorAm is Nov 15-18 and will be televised on CBS.
post #28 of 36
Thanks, very interesting. Also, did you see the latest Ski Racing News? Another great photo sequence by Olle Larson – what do you think of his analysis? (Plus the issue elsewhere notes complaints from European teams re the high prices you CO ski areas are charging for early-season hill space & lift tix!)
post #29 of 36
GOOD POST. Sums it up I'd say.
I'll check it out. Olle always has some good stuff. I worked at a camp with him one summer. Great guy. AHH-HA-HA-HA!(Olle's signature laugh) [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #30 of 36
Please drop by this forum more often,i think lots of people would like to know more about top racing technique and equipment.
Knowing what the pros are really doing would also settle many pointless disputes and help clarify matters.
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