Sunday, December 4, 2016

Mikaela Shiffrin struggles with her Atomic boot set up. The boots hold her back!

Mikaela Shiffrin the best slalom skier in the world since Marlis Schild,  is struggling with her boot set up.  I know there are many skiers and coaches who want to see what is happening with Mikaela, this is just the beginning, more about this to come.
Typical example from many turns and views on her right foot. The boot angle is out relative to her knee and leg. She is also leaning away form the ski she wants to engage. Prior to this photo she was skidding across the slope, basically waiting until she could be more safe creating the holding angles for the ski she needs to arc below the gate. This is very defensive skiing. 

Here we see the same situation all the weight on the inside ski, upper body leaning and rotating. The boot shaft is still upright compared to where it should be. This set up is all wrong, three things require modification, boot cuff angle, interior changes to the boot wall, the boot has her foot and ankle totally locked up. 

The left foot turn is not much better but, this is more of an under the boot canting issue.

Leaning away from the ski shows a definite lack of trust in what that ski will do,  hold too much or skid, possibly hook up way to hard.

Even below the gate on almost every right foot turn, and the camera angles were not ideal for  many turns to demonstrate what she was having to do to make the gates. She was jacked over, skidding, leaning, rotating. This is not her skiing this is adapting to a bad boot set up.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hirscher wins his 40th World Cup race.

Matt 2nd, Schwartz was 2nd after 1st run, slide out in 2nd run. Feller was 5th. The Austrians have 4 or 5 guys now who can win slalom and it all happened in 1 year after Mario retired. And what's wrong with our development program in the USA??? One, doesn't exist!

Again, but this time he has company. Last season you saw it starting; the resurgence of Austrian men's slalom. Only a year after 2 time world champ Mario Matt retired. It looked like Hirscher was going it alone. However, in one year, the Austrians now have 3 or 4 slalom skiers who can win. How do they keep doing it?

When Tiger Shaw came into USSA 3 years ago, I heard lots of, "We can be the best in the world!"  from the his team in Park City. Sasha, Head Men's coach said, '"Our guys are as fast as anyone or faster", and gave the frame work of how slalom skiing should be done.. 

Meanwhile the Austrians didn't talk, they only produced a world cup dominant slalom team in 2 years. And it's just the beginning, they aren't even firing on all cylinders yet!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

USSA development is in real trouble, continued.

This continued dialogue on the USSA coaching topic, is in response to a question from a former Junior National Champion and Dartmouth racer, who read my article.

His question included a list of skiers that he thought were the ones using correct fundamentals and solid technique.

Harald's response:
You have the right skiers listed, I would have to include Fenninger, and Tomba of course.  However, you have to be careful with what you are picking out for viewing from them and what you point out as their base technique; as opposed to the performance technique you see when they are under pressure of the race course. 
Coaches often see the wrong movements as the movements they need to coach. If you keep in mind, the ideal movements by a skier in a race course, a ski racer rarely performs them to perfection, however tries to stay as close to the ideal, or perfection as possible. 

In this case, when technique erodes from the "the ideal" it may not be so obvious any longer, in that phase of the course, and the actions of the racer can easily become convoluted and misunderstood by an observer.
The coach, needs to understand what is the ideal and how much the racer deviated from ideal. This understanding has to be established well before the coach becomes a national development or US Team coach. This is what is missing in the USSA picture.  I see coaches out there coaching the mistakes or less than perfect movements that result from misinterpreting a top skier's movements. Often presenting and coaching movements world class racers make to recover while under pressure. Coaches too often present actions or positions or the movements or reactions, in effect what racers are trying to avoid.

The other major issue in US ski coaching is the lack of discipline and emphasis to the Essential Movements. Sloppy skiing is rarely reversed or corrected. if you know what you are looking for you can see it in junior racers skiing around any mountain in Colorado right now. 

The best skiers in the world know what they want to achieve and work hard to stay within that range, but often the techniques or body control breaks down and that's called technical mistakes.
As a coach, you have to be able to differentiate between the mistakes or eroded from "Ideal" moves. The racers making a series of turns with less than ideal movements are often interpreted as "the way to ski," and ideal movements the racer is actually trying to achieve and continue to make, not recognized. 
The quickness, and fight for balance required, with the forces and reactions needed, at the top world cup level, can rarely be controlled perfectly; therefore inevitably errors happen.

In effect there maybe two or three techniques we have to describe, understand and differentiate. The three can be classified as the the following : The ideal, the eroded and the breakdown. If coaches understood this important distinction; we would be a lot closer to building skiers with a solid foundation.
However in my view and what I see going on, on the mountain, the coaches are a long way from understanding the correct technique, let alone degrees of correct or incorrect technique.
There is a big assumption here on my part, and I have to point it out.  It is paramount that you have to have a very strong core technical foundation before you can differentiate between the three resultant techniques that are demonstrated in every race.  USSA training, coaching and racer skiing demonstrates clearly this important aspect of coaching does not exist in their repertoire.

Hope this makes sense?


When Training goes wrong, Understanding the Psoas Muscle

In my view, in training athletes, ski by coaches, too much emphasis is put into doing squats with heavy weights, rather than understanding the connections of the body. The lack of connection, weakens everything, so it doesn't matter how many squats you can do or how strong your hamstrings are. Lack of connections doesn't allow you to maximize their full potential anyway.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

USSA Development in real trouble! Poor skiing in racer development, and it's getting worse.

My yearly USSA Update:

And every year I see the same things, only they are getting worse, not better. As you know this isn't the first time I have brought this up as a topic of conversation.

I have no good news from watching the PSIA Crew (Demo Team, Examiners and DCLs, no difference between there skiing these days, it's all sad) skiing at A-Basin the last two days. Even less good news about how the junior racers are skiing, which is exactly like PSIA except a little faster and higher edge angle. So what are the similarities? Full upper body rotation, arm swing to compliment it and leaning away from an engaging ski, losing all the pressure as the arc continues. Oh yes, the PSIA crew has less angle and skids out of the arc, due to the lack of edge angle, using rotate instead. 

I'm afraid I have to tell everyone, that Warren Witherell was wrong. The racers no longer have a different way of skiing. So watching US Junior Racers, is no longer, "How the Racers's Ski" at least not like the best racers. USSA development and coaching are directly to blame and responsible for this in my opinion, and the facts support that.. The racers ski just like the PSIA gang, so do their coaches. 

Do we have a Development problem, Houston? 

Yes and it's coming directly from USSA and PSIA. We have nothing coming up in the ranks for the US Ski Team, no matter what the commentators say. Since when was there a second Slalom and GS skier regularly qualifying in slalom and GS on the women's side, to the obvious "one" we a very lucky to have? 

On the men's side it's little better, the chance of future prospects, we are still hanging onto Ligety. It's been almost 5 years since Bode, and no one before or after. I wonder what the brain trust in the Park City "Castle" is thinking about when they look at this situation? Is it, "We sure hope the cross country and snowboard team can pull us through???"

Typical of USSA development skiing. a wide unbalanced stance, rotated, and  leaning.

No answers coming out of Park city, they aren't even asking the questions, so don't look for any changes in the near future. 

If you follow my Blog or posts on Facebook, you will notice that I do comment, and point out that there are small pockets of good coaching in the USA. However these are the exception not the norm. These programs are usually dissociated from USSA coaching norms and techniques.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Comments by participants of the Harb Alignment and Boot Tech Course!

Ski boot alignment training and foot balance. Ski Tech Training.

This week of October 23rd to 30th is our annual ski boot fitting, Shop technician and alignment camp. Newly minted boot techs come out of the camp with the whole program. They have measured, done biomechanics assessments, evaluated the results, made footbeds, done in boot adjustments for cuff location and completed sole canting.

 There are many shops that say they do alignment, but rarely is that a complete evaluation with on the snow proof of results. We at Harb Ski Systems have done over 10,000 evaluations and assessments with on snow confirmation. There is no other group in the world that has such a complete system of training or evaluation as we have developed over the last 25 years.

Every participant measures, does a biomechananical assessment that is taught to them by our training. 
Everyone learns to mold and carve out a high level footbed, hands on learning,  is the best teacher..

On snow confirmation and analysis is a super important part of the education and learning process. If you don't understand what the collation is between in the shop accommodation and on snow result you can easily be far off the mark.