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Turn Starts in Ski Racing

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I've always been fascinated with the process of changing edges.  It just seems to me that, over time, the way a skier moves from edge to edge is a big marker of where the technique is going at any moment in skiing development.


And now...the lid is off--in terms of variety--in ski racing.


The last GS, won by Ted Ligety (again), also had two Frenchies (Richard and Fanara) hot on his tail.  I feel that Ligety's edge change and the French version are very different from each other, and would like to hear your comments or ideas on that.


I'm especially interested in the version that happens in steep, icy, sharp turns.  I feel that the difference is much less pronounced when they get down to the flats.


What do you think is happening?  And why?  And what are the benefits.  And what role did Bode Miller have in developing these moves?


It's always a battle, it seems, about which issues are individual efficiency/speed oriented and which ones are universally faster.


As a hint, my observation is that both Ligety and the French let (or make) the skis drift to the edges at initiation (thereby crushing the "carve from start to finish" dogma).  However it seems to me that Ligety pivots the ski FAR more than the French do.  I think I'm seeing that the French move the skis more laterally with much less pivoting.


Interested in anyone's observations.

post #2 of 9

Marlies Schild:


Felix Neureuther:


Marcel Hirscher (this kid is going to be great)


Ted Ligety:


Cyprien Richard:


It looks like Ted is getting those skis into a carve as far above the gate as possible.  Keep in mind that GS skis are a minimum of 185 cm long and 27 meter sidecut radius--they don't want to turn that sharply.  Watch Hirscher's skis from about 2:00 to the end.


Did Miller contribute anything technique-wise?  I thought he was blessed with unequaled natural athleticism and could have done even better if he'd perfected his technique.




post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks SSG.  


Some counterpoint.  Wasn't Bode the first guy to do this so-called "skivot"?  (I hate that term and hope it goes away.)


On the steeper pitches, on hard snow, in sharp turns, it seems to me that Ligety doesn't carve at all up high in the turn.  Rather he seems to pivot the skis and slide to the point where he wants the edge to hook up.  It's amazing that skis will do that.  I don't think the French pivot like that.  I think they displace the skis laterally in that same environment.


In your comments about Hirscher, the footage you refer to is on flatter terrain and the turns are not so sharp.  Therefore, he seems to carve much more from edge to edge, without drifting in between.  And I agree with you.  He's an amazing talent.  I love the young guns on the WC--as well as the Cuches, Millers, and Walchofers.


I'm just really excited to watch the variety of solutions and styles that these guys are able to use.  As usual, there are strong similarities throughout, but I am fascinated by the experimentation in this epoch.


post #4 of 9

(Note: when reading this post, clicking on the pictures will open them up into a larger window for better viewing)


Weems, my take is that it's not whether they pivot, they all do.  Rather, it's about how well they do it, when they do.  I got a lot of video and still photos from the Beaver Creek WC this year.  It's just as you suggest, you do see many varieties of transitions being used.  Here's a montage of Jansrud I made.  Jansrud finished 2nd.  In the first turn he displays a noticeable pivot, then in the second he still uses a pivot, but it's smaller.  



(Photo courtesy of




At the same red gate, Ligety skis it arc to arc.  Ligety finished 1st:



(Photo courtesy of


But then, in the blue turns before and after Ted's pivot is massive.  (Sorry, no stills of those turns. I only have them on video, and haven't yet tranformed them into a publishable format for sharing.)



While there are numerous transition types being used, I believe there are a few themes that can be extracted.  The guys who pivot best when they do, go the fastest.  I'm referring to pivoting only the amount truly needed, and timing it such that little time is spent drifting sideways, waiting for the moment it's time to engage the edges and turn.  Here's an example of what I mean by extending the drift.  



(Photo courtesy of


That's slow.  The skis are skidding sideways, dumping speed, as they wait for the time to engage.  Contrast that to a Hirscher pivot.  He doesn't redirect his skis as much during his pivot, so is able to engage into the new arc sooner and cleaner.  Marcel finished 3rd.  




(Photo courtesy of



Timing and executions are everything.  Poor timing and over pivoting, are killers of speed.  


The other themes that can be observed is that pure retractions are generally associated with a pivot, and Arc to Arc transitions are generally of a cross over variety that include an extension of the old inside (uphill) leg.  Yep, that old ILE thing I've been talking about here for years still exists.  It can be seen the Ligety photo above by observing the action of the uphill leg between images 1 and 2.  It extends significantly, and he hasn't reached edge angle neutral yet.  


Contrast that to a pivot transtion, that generally shows a more retracted transition type, as shown here:



(Photo courtesy of



The final theme I'll talk about is the desire these guys have to get the the front of the ski at the start of there turns.  It applies whether Arc to Arc, or pivot, and influences what we see.  The ILE extension I spoke of in Ted's montage is very much driven by that desire to get to the front of the ski to start his turn.  That extension is what pulls him fore for the engagement of the new turn.  See here:



(Photo courtesy of


The same fore loading happens during a pivot, though that fore is created via the pivot itself.  The body moves downhill while the skis are redirected, which changes the fore/aft plane from across the hill, to up/down the hill.  See here, how Marcel goes from his heels to the front of his skis in the blink of an eye, thanks to the pivot:




(Photo courtesy of



Happy New Year, Weems, and everyone!  

post #5 of 9

Good points, Rick. Totally agree about Simoncelli's exaggerated and early pivot/stivot/skivot/whatever. In his defense however, it does seem to be more effective on the steeper hills - which is where his best results tend to have come. Presumably this is because line maintenance gains in importance over speed maintenance, the steeper the hill becomes.
Happy New Year to you.

post #6 of 9

Great post Rick, and great pics. Thanks

post #7 of 9

One of the best instructional/educational posts i've ever read on epic.....thanks to all!......i remember the first time i saw these photo montages [i think that's what they're called] in an early [70's] ski racing book i believe was entitled "how the racers ski" really helps to see the sequential movements and the related body positions of the various technique noticed in a couple of the shots you could really see how loaded up the tails of the skis were at the end of the turn....particularly the sequence of jansrud........can you comment on managing this part of the turn and it's relation to the pivot/skivot thing?......

post #8 of 9

Great photo montages Rick.


I noticed a similarity in the first four montages where there is a pronounce lateral hip projection to release the edges into the sideways drift.  Another indicator  of the hip projection is the higher outside or uphill hand.   So while the skis do pivot there also seems to be a concerted effort to toss the medicine ball, if you will, across the fall line to gain a higher line before engaging the edges.  This would place a deliberate hick up in BB's drawing of the path the cm takes in relation to the feet.  In other words, the ball is being more strongly redirected  without the skis remaining in the old turn as long, as it would in an arc to arc turn, which would seem to cost less time?

post #9 of 9

Thanks, guys, glad you enjoyed the post and montages.  Wow, such good comments.  I want to give them the attention they deserve in my responses, but I'm off skiing/racing for the next few days, and won't have much time for posting.  I'll get back to this as soon as I can.



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