As expected, Mikaela Shiffrin blew away her competition by 1.41 seconds in the Ladies Slalom in Are, Sweden. But Veronika Velez Zuzulova looked strong, much better than she looked earlier in the season. The reason Shiffrin was faster than Zuzulova is simple. Shiffrin was more over her outside ski than Zuzulova. She had better mechanics. In my post GET OVER WHAT? (
In the video clip below, Shiffrin demonstrates this perfectly.
Note how her outside ski rotates into the new turn faster than her inside ski. This is a cue that she has has force acting over her inside edge and has engaged the correct mechanics. As she rotates her outside ski horizontally across her path, a point is reached where the ski acquires sufficient edge angle to lock with the snow. This has the effect of closing the kinetic chain in the horizontal rotation. When the kinetic chain closes, internal rotation being applied by Shiffrin to her outside leg is translated through the torque converter in the subtalar joint of her ankle into rotation of the ski about its long axis in eversion or into the turn. Using this mechanism, Shiffrin can rotate her outside ski into a turn like a corkscrew while controlling the edge angle.
The video clip below compares Zuzulova to Shiffrin in similar turns.
I have used freeze frames to highlight the reason why Zuzulova is slower than Shiffrin. Zuzulova is not able to get over her outside ski at ski flat. As a result her outside ski runs straight and tends to lose its grip. Her only option is to move to her inside ski. Every time she does this, she scrubs off speed as her inside ski throws snow and shifts her line away from the faster line of her outside ski. There are a number of reasons why Zuzulova can’t the establish the same mechanics as Shiffrin. She could have a foam fit liner in her boots or insoles or footbeds or all of the above that are limiting or even preventing the load transfer from the hindfoot to the forefoot essential to apply force to the inside edge of her outside ski. Hopefully Zuzulova is reading this and can find and correct the problem. Shiffrin needs some serious competition to keep her on her game.
If Shiffrin is so hot in slalom why isn’t she winning in GS? The answer? She needs to learn to use her inside ski the way Fenniger and Hirscher do. I call it the Austrian Move. But it is really the HirFenniger Move.