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Subtitle: The chicken and the egg

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1 Subtitle: The chicken and the egg
Technique and Tactics Subtitle: The chicken and the egg

2 Goals of the talk Understand the elements of line and line choices.
See and understand examples of good line selection (and not so good ones) Understand how technique relates to tactics. Understand how Your technique relates to Your tactics.

3 Definition: Apex Note how she prepares to turn well in advance of the rise line. Rise line The apex is the point where pressures on the ski cause the majority of direction change. For most JIII,IV,V races, the apex will occur above the turn.

4 Another example

5 Lindsey Vonn: apex above the gate

6 Note how closely two racers follow the same line.
What’s the difference between you and the winner? Maybe it’s only a matter of a foot on each gate Moral: small differences in line choices can add up.

7 Apex Placement Radius of the turn is the same in both cases.
Skier on the left has a tighter, shorter line Skier on the right has a safer, cleaner line. All things being equal 99% of the time the skier on the right will be faster.

8 Line Choice The green line is the theoretical optimum, but risky.
The maroon line is too tight and leads to skidding below the gate. The purple line is more consistent. Note how it starts above the rise line of the gate.

9 Too low?

10 Terrain, course set moves the apex
Because the course requires so much across-the-hill travel between the blue and red gates, the apex of the “blue turn” is below the gate. You probably won’t see much of this in GS (without an under gate in the middle) in the east because our trails aren’t that wide. This lower line can occur more frequently in speed events.

11 The cost of misjudgment
Racer skis too straight at the next gate. The price paid for turning too early or going too straight is FAR greater than going too round. Racer skids below the gate, causing friction and slowing him/her down. Why? If you skid, you’ve lost velocity. This will impact your time throughout the rest of the course. If you go a little bit too far (too round), it impacts the time to get through that one turn, but doesn’t decrease your speed through the rest of the course.

12 Line depends on pitch Less pitch, you can turn a bit lower.
Steeper pitch, you must turn higher Size of arrow indicates steepness of pitch


14 Pinching the gate (turning too early)
For most of us, coming this far inside will screw up our turn. The panel slows us down when we hit it, it’s hard to carve cleanly around the gate like this, and we risk getting our hand between the poles and hooking the panel.

15 In the late 90’s… USST decided to focus more on technique and less on tactics. About one-third of the tactical issues went away Source of tactical issues (turning in the wrong place) are either: You don’t know where to turn, or You can’t turn where you want to, when you want to

16 So, back to basics Transitions – the phase between turns
Turning phase – when the skis cause you to change direction.

17 Transitions: 4 ways 1. Set the edges of the ski to make the feet slow down; upper body “topples over” the feet. 2. Skis tighten the arc so they “cross under” the upper body/upper body falls to the downhill side of the skis. 3. Remove the support of the downhill foot 4. Relax key muscles and flex so upper body disengages from feet and its momentum carries it across the feet.

18 1. Edge Set Note the blocking pole plant. This is a breaking move, so we only do this when we absolutely have to.

19 2. Skis tighten the arc Transition – upper body crosses feet
Solid line: path of skis Dashed line: path of upper body

20 2. Skis tighten the arc

21 A GS example

22 Retraction Absorbing the pressure between turns at the moment of transition. Done to a greater degree in Slalom, but is also done in Giant Slalom. Improves the ability to turn quickly by shortening the time it takes for transition.

23 Old days Athletes extended (stood up) in between turns to make it easier to move from one edge to the next.

24 New Days Does this athlete stand up in between turns? Why not?
Answer: it shortens the time spent in transition.

25 What a difference 10 years makes
Old way: Flex & extend New way: retraction

26 Another GS example Let’s see why shorter transitions are faster.

27 Learning Retraction Hop back and forth across a pole as fast as you can. Old way: try to hop as high as you can Retraction: try to move your feet back and forth but don’t let your head or upper body move up & down. Better simulation: try retraction on a trampoline (use spotters).

28 Too much: hop off the snow; Too late: get launched.
OOPS! Remember: our goal is to start the next turn sooner! You can’t turn if you are not contacting the snow.

29 Turning phase Little or no rotation of the skis to ensure a carve at the top of the turn. ROLL THE ANKLES AND KNEES. Inside ski used primarily during the first half of the turn. Weight goes more to outside ski when: Steep Icy Difficult turn that needs a tighter arc.

30 Not so clean Notice rotation of ski right after transition.
Note how long the weight remains Causes skidding. (note snow spray.) Rotation means that it’s harder for skis to carve. 50-50 50-50 70-30 and the outside ski finally hooks up

31 Bode carves a clean arc Little rotation.
More weight on outside ski earlier in the turn. More weight on outside ski by the gate. Little snow spray. No skidding = faster Less rotation so inside ski carves at top of turn. Both skis carve Almost all weight on outside ski

32 Side-by-side comparison
Problem started way up here when he drifted too low before starting the next turn. Bode has already started his next turn. Moral: too slow in transition  starting the turn late  skidding Question: why is the turn on the right still impressive? (hint: when is the problem with the line corrected? When would you or I figure out we are low & late and then fix it?) Bonus point: what would have been the other way to “fix” the turn? Further hint: refer back to slide 8

33 Two ways to ski a good line
Length of gold line is the time it takes to transition. Hold on to your previous turn a bit longer to aim higher on the next gate. Make your transitions faster to start turning earlier. Radius of both turns is the same Moral: you have to ski the line that matches your ability to transition and carve. Start by skiing higher and work towards faster transitions/lower line. Skier on the left can initiate a turn more quickly so s/he can ski a bit lower line.

34 Wrap Up Most turns: apex is above the gate.
Too straight a line leads to skidding and braking. Quick transition helps you turn earlier. Retraction helps shorten your transition. You need to select the line that matches the terrain, the course set, and your abilities. When in doubt, see 1st bullet. If you are low & late, it’s better to pivot and skid or ski a rounder line above the next gate or two than to skid and brake below the current gate.

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