In the last week the traffic on my blog has exploded. Thank your for your interest. The top viewed post yesterday and today by a long shot is SORRY TED, YOUR TECHNIQUE ISN’T NEW. It is not so much that Ted’s technique is not new but more a case of Ligety taking what I call the skimove to a higher level enabled by the new GS ski geometries and construction.
As I point out in my post, it was about 1985 that I started to notice that elite skiers seemed to be moving differently than lesser skiers. I think the reason few noticed is that ski pros and coaches tend to rely primarily on the skills of observation to analyze what the best skiers are doing. If the knee turns into the turn, it is assumed that the skier is consciously turning the knee into the turn (actually, the whole leg is turning). Hence the oft heard advice to, “drive the knees into the turn”. When I pointed out to others that skiers like Erika Hess were moving onto their inside ski in what seemed like an early move I was told that they were just finishing their turn on her inside ski. But it seemed to me that something more was going on.
Eventually, I came up with a hypothesis (theory) that posited that elite skiers were somehow engaging the external forces to drive their outside ski into the turn. I wasn’t sure exactly how they were doing this. So in 1991 MACPOD, a company I was a partner in, engaged scientists to help figure out how we could test my hypothesis during actual ski maneuvers on real ski slopes. This was done with a laboratory device that replaced the ski boot. Key aspects of the foot and leg were instrumented so a sequence of force patterns associated with the series of events required to engage the external forces could be captured and analyzed. As part of the study, joint actions associated with pronation, were blocked. The studies confirmed what I had suspected. If a skiers’ outside foot was prevented from pronating, the skier cannot engage the external forces.
In a series of posts on THE MOMENT OF TRUTH I explain how Ligety’s CoM rotates about the inside edge of the inside ski as he moves onto it until the ski is flat on the snow. What I have yet to describe is the movement that Ligety makes when the ski flattens on the snow that moves the centre of force (centre of pressure) under his new outside foot to the ball of the foot. As Ligety’s CoM moves forward, his leg develops an angular relationship with his foot as Centre of Pressure moves forward from the centre of his heel on an arc to the ball of his foot. This happens as the ski is changing edges and rotating into the new turn. You can see this angular relationship of the leg with the foot if you look carefully in my posts on Mikaela Shiffrin. Figure 23B (below) from my US Patent 5,265,350 shows this angular relationship.
As his ski changes edges, Ligety applies rotational force to his foot with the internal rotators in his pelvis; ergo he rotates his entire leg into the new turn. This action reinforces and drives pronation. The reason it works is that the actions are in phase and therefor complimentary with each other. Local Whistler ski pro, Ken Chaddock, describes this perfectly in his book, Ski Well Simply. The problem is that most skiers cannot make this move even if they know how because their ski boots are impeding the required joint actions.
It may be hard for some to visualize what I am describing. So I will try and generate some animated drawings for a future post to help explain this. If those who are teaching young racers how to ski can teach them the skimove in their formative years I believe it should be possible to produce a whole generation of Ligetys and Shiffrin’s.