Dear Ted,

I watched On Giant Slalom: Ted Ligety – Video – –

It was really great watching and listening to you explain your technique. But I have a few comments. Right after the comparison of you and Bode Miller there is an excellent graphic that shows how you begin to stand on your new uphill ski while it is still on its uphill edge.  At -01.35 in the video you say, “I go from the apex. I’m  pushing as hard as I can (on the left ski)”. Ahhh, I don’t think so Ted. Unless I am missing something, you were extending on your right leg long before the graphic appeared on your left boot. So how could you be pushing? Before that, your left leg was extended with the muscles in eccentric contraction. That means you were resisting, not pushing. In the next frames you describe how you step on the new (right) ski while it is still on the edge it was currently on in that turn (ergo its uphill edge). Wow! Now I am getting excited. Dam straight Ted! You go on to talk about how your ski rolls from the uphill edge to the downhill edge and how you are getting on the new ski before you actually switch. I don’t think this is quite right Ted. You are in a transition phase from the old turn to the new turn. And just when I thought you and the New York Times had it figured out a graphic popped up showing pressure in the centre of the foot. Darn! Ted, how can a ski be driven into a turn when the force (OK, pressure) applied by your foot is on the outside aspect of the inside edge of a turn? It can’t. I fixed the graphic and posted it below.


Thanks Ted, Now go win some gold. In the meantime, I’ll fill in the blanks, connect the dots and get back to you. Good Luck!

Best Wishes,


PS: I think it’s great that the NY Times says you are the only one who skis this way. I guess they haven’t heard of Mikaela Shiffrin. I’d appreciate it if you could tell them about her. She is destined to be the next World Cup superstar. Thanks.


  1. Dave, good points. I think the biggest bravo should be to Ted and the NY Times for doing something innovative and, for the most part, correct. Of course, none of what Ted does is in any way new. He just does it better and more consistently than anyone else… for now.

    1. What Ted and the NY Times have done that is huge for skiing in my books is that they made a sincere and very good effort to explain Ted’s advantage. Put another way, Ted told the world and his competitors what it is that he is doing that gives him an advantage in competition. For this, I applaud Ted and the NY Times. What the media, and especially writers, love to do is spin a feel good fairy tale; man or woman climbs out of their death bed after being given the last rites, walks out of the hospital and enters wins the Boston Marathon. In my opinion this exactly what happened with Lance Armstrong. Everyone played off Armstrong when it benefited them. Then they threw Lance under his bike when the truth came out. That the NY Times did not go this route is a class act. Ligety and Shiffrin are leading ski racing and recreational skiing in the right direction.

  2. Based on some of the terminology and descriptions as well as the nature of the article, I make assumption that the author of this memo is a race coach/instructor or has acted as one in past. That said; Coach intervention, it’s correct timing and it’s style of communication should be respected … above content and far above a coaches felt need to interject. The most highly respected and successful coaches that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past 30 years tend to say little, watch carefully, ask many relevant questions and chose their timing for intervention very carefully …
    While the suggestion of correction said here may or may not be correct, the timing of such intervention before an Olympic event is questionable at best. Likely Ted, being Ted, is laughing about this and will no doubt deal with it to a positive performance outcome.
    Most of the assertions made in this memo I do in fact agree with yet without having a direct discussion with Ted to establish his meanings, for example when Ted says push he could very easily be meaning he feels more pressure, is holding pressure or creating more pressure … all of which which may feel like pushing to him. Another athlete may be doing exactly the same pattern of movements, feel the same sensations yet describes their experience very differently. As coaches it is not for us to say “you are wrong, you are doing this” An experienced coach will listen, ask questions, establish a common language and then if and when necessary work with the athlete to effect a more positive performance outcome … with every individual athlete.
    I think I’ve made my point; Memo and content respected, yet should have saved it until later

    1. First off, I appreciate and welcome yours and any comments. I am not a coach. If you want to know about my background, please read About Me and the Appendix. Having worked with many successful racers, I don’t believe my comments will have any impact whatsoever on Ted Ligety. Although there may be disagreement on the terminology, my clarification was intended mainly for those with an interest in furthering the sport. The Memo to Ted title was intended to be ‘tongue in cheek’. Ted knows what he is doing from a point of feel. And he has certainly honed his art. That is all he needs to know. However, if the point of interest is to ski like Ted or to coach or teach someone else to ski like Ted I am confident that observation alone without the requisite knowledge is unlikely to yield pertinent and accurate conclusions especially if they are based on the tacit, but erroneous, assumption that anyone can copy Ted. In a metaphor of a Formula One team, I see my role as the manager of the equipment, the athlete, the driver. I depend on the athlete’s input to guide my efforts. But the athlete should not need to know more than how to drive and how to communicate his or her needs.

      I commend Ted Ligety and the NY Times for taking the initiative to explain what Ted’s technique is about. Ligety and the NY Times did an excellent job, particularly as it pertains to Ted’s use of momentum to begin to load the new outside ski of the new turn (old inside ski) during a transition phase. The description of Ted’s movement of his centre of mass rotating in a pendulum action about the inside edge of the new outside ski was especially well done. This is not something that is intuitive as evidenced by the fact that Erika Hess was making essentially the same move back in 1987, some 27 years ago, and few, if any noticed. It is my hope that if talented skiers such as Ligety truly want to move ski technique and ski racing forward they will join with my efforts.

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