The topics of interest in recent views of my blog combined with comments on online forums on ski technique where nebulous terms such as pressure and tipping are an integral part of the narrative, have highlighted the need for a uniform frame of reference as a basis for meaningful discussions of ski technique as well as for the analysis and accurate identification of factors that explain the superior technique of racers like Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin. Simply trying to emulate the moves of the great skiers without re-creating the equipment factors that enable superior performance is not a productive exercise.
I touched on some of the factors that enable Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin to dominate their competition in my posts WHY SHIFFRIN AND HIRSCHER ARE DOMINATING (1.) and WHY HIRSCHER AND SHIFFRIN CAN CROSS THE LINE (2.). Over the coming weeks, I will post on the factors that I believe explain the ability of Hirscher and Shiffrin to make rapid, abbreviated hairpin turns even on the steep pitches of a course using what I call the problem-solving matrix jigsaw puzzle format. In contrast to the linear step-by-step progression problem-solving format, the matrix jigsaw puzzle format lays out information relevant to a situation in a grid format much like a jigsaw puzzle. Known factors are assembled where there is a fit with the interfaces and arranged in relation to other components until a solution begins to emerge much like a coherent picture begins to emerge in a jigsaw puzzle as the pieces are correctly assembled. As the picture becomes more clear, tentative connections between the known segments are hypothesized to try and extrapolate the big picture. As the process progresses, less certain or flawed information is discarded and replaced with more certain information
A lot of critical information on the neurobiomechanics and even the mechanics and physics of skiing is either missing, misapplied or misunderstood in the narrative of ski equipment and technique.
Biomechanics of Sports Shoes
A valuable reference on neurobiomechanics and the future of sports shoes is the technical text, Biomechanics of Sports Shoes by Benno M. Nigg. Used in conjunction with the chapter on the Ski Boot in the medical text, The Shoe in Sport, valuable insights can be gleaned on the mechanics, neurobiomechanics and physics of skiing.
Nigg’s book can be ordered at NiggShoeBook@kin.ucalgary.ca. The following chapters in particular contain information relevant to skiing:
3. Functional Biomechanics of the Lower Extremities (pp 79 to 123) – contains essential information on the human ankle joint complex, tibial rotation movement coupling and foot torsion.
4. Sensory System of the Lower Extremities (pp 243 to 253) – contains essential information on the sensory system responsible for balance and precise movement, both of which are key to effective skiing.
In order to advance skiing as a science, a mutual objective must be getting the right answer as opposed to a need to be right.
The wisdom of Albert Einstein is appropriate.
A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
In my next post, I will start laying out the functional principles that I currently believe explain the factors that enable the superior performance of racers like Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin and their ability to rapidly redirect their line and maximally accelerate by making rapid, abbreviated, hairpin turns.