Marcel Hirscher


In my last post, I discussed the movements elite Ski Pros make to balance on their outside ski.  I used Big White Ski Pro, Josh Foster as an example and reproduced his key comments from his YouTube video, Strong Platform.

Since Foster was skiing on moderate terrain, his speed is the equivalent of slomotion in comparison to typical World Cup speeds. For this post I am providing a video clip of Marc Girardelli and Ingemar Stenmark from the 1987 World Championship SL in Crans Montana, Switzerland. The video will allow you to compare the movements that create balance on the outside ski at race speeds to Foster’s movements at recreational speeds. I added reduced speed clips at the end to allow the rapid extension movement to be more easily seen.

I don’t believe there is any question that Marc Girardelli and Ingemar Stenmark can actually balance on their outside ski, especially in view of Girardelli’s statement: –

Once you can balance perfectly on the outside ski, everything else follows.

Note that the movement occurs above the gate as Girardelli and Stenmark approach the rise line and it mainly involves a rapid extension of the knee. According the predominant view, as articulated in the mental model of ski teaching and coaching, a quick extension is an unweighting movement. If this were true, why would the best skiers in the world unweight their outside ski above the gate?

What Foster, Girardelli, Stenmark, Shiffrin, Hirscher and all the best skiers in the world are really doing is loading and engaging a dual rocker system by applying a high impulse load to their outside foot at ski flat between edge change. Without knowledge of the associated mechanics, biomechanics and physics, no amount of observation will provide insights as to what is really happening. This is why 30 years after the World Championships at Crans Montana, what racers like Shiffrin, Ligety, Hirscher and other World Cup greats are doing remains a deep, dark mystery.

In my next post, I will introduce you to the Rockers.





The high loads in GS turns make it the acid test of the ability to control forces across what I call the Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis of the outside ski. The rapid timing of slalom make it the acid test of the ability to maintain and control forces across the Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis of the outside ski while rapidly applying whole leg internal rotation to the foot and ski. After struggling early in the season due to pre-season changes in equipment, in particular, her ski boots, Shiffrin has emerged as the preeminent female slalom technician. I believe that there are two reasons why Shiffrin has not dominated GS, 1) a less than optimal boot/ski setup for GS and 2) the failure to make effective use of her inside ski in appropriate turns using what I call the Austrian Move as exemplified by Marcel Hirscher and Ana Fenniger.

In my post VONN VS FENNINGER (, I criticized Fenninger for using a dominant position on her inside in gates where Vonn was quicker with the use of a dominant position on the outside ski. Vonn flowed seamlessly from turn-to-turn while Fenninger often appeared choppy. When used inappropriately the Austrian Move can actually slow a racer. But when used appropriately, a race can be won with the effective use of the the Austrian Move in only a few turns.

Here’s the video clip where I compare Vonn to Fenninger. Note how Fenninger lifts the tail of her outside ski so she can drop in the hips and create an impact load on the tail of her inside ski. This move is most effective when it is done before the force exerted by the snow on the sidecut of the outside ski exceeds the load transferred by skier across the Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis.


The Austrian Move is not skiing on two skis or skiing with all the weight on the inside ski during a turn. Nor, is it the same as the transition move associated with the Ski Move, although the Austrian Move often evolves out of a turn that starts with the Ski Move. The Austrian Move is often a divergent move of the inside ski away from a dominant ‘over it’, position on the outside ski.

In the photo sequence below,  Marcel Hirscher makes a very rapid Austrian Move in about a tenth of a second from a dominant position on his outside ski (left leg) to a dominant position on his inside ski (right leg). Hash marks overlaid on Hirscher’s skis make the Austrian Move easier to see.

Austrian Move

Hirscher makes this move so quickly that it is not easily seen at anything less than frame-by-frame.

In the clip below, Hirscher uses what I call the Sudden Impact Austrian Move where he comes down hard on the inside edge of the tail of this inside ski. High impact loading is not possible on the outside ski which must be progressively pressured with leg extension in order to prevent the edge from being overloaded across the Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis.


The clip below shows Fenninger using the Austrian Move.


The problem with the use of a dominant inside ski in a turn is that it is risky. Once a racer commits to the inside ski, the mechanics of the Austrian Move severely limit the ability to make directional changes. So if a racer’s line is off, especially if it is too high, they usually need to make an athletic move to correct it. In turns where the load is not great, a dominant position on the inside ski can actually be slower that turns made with a dominant outside ski. In the video clip below, Fenninger  shows in the last sequence what happens when the Austrian Move goes wrong.


Racers with small feet typically have an Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis of the outside ski that is less than optimal because it is dependent on the position of the proximate centre of the head of the first metatarsal being aligned over the inside edge. The Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis is the point where the vector of the load W emanating from CoM intersects a vertical line emanating from the inside edge perpendicular to the transverse aspect of the base of the outside ski. As it becomes increasingly offset to the outside turn aspect of the inside edge, the Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis becomes increasingly unfavourable. The Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis is optimized by aligning the proximate center of the head of the first metatarsal directly over the inside edge of the outside ski. While FIS regulations appear to allow the use of skis with the appropriate Minimum Profile Width underfoot required to align the head of the first metatarsal over the inside edge, female World Cup racers do not seem to be using GS skis with less than a 64 mm Minimum Ski Profile Width.

Until such time as female racers use skis with a Minimum Profile Width that will allow the Inside Edge-Load Transfer Axis to be optimized, the Austrian Move may be the only option by which to be competitive in GS.


Numerous studies have attempted to find a correlation between foot size and height. I believe there is a reasonable correlation between foot size and height if stature is considered. Ski racers tend to have moderate body masses. When I worked on racer’s boots, most female racers had a US ladies size 7 foot (US men’s 6). Male racers tended to have a US  8 or 9 foot size. Ski boot makers usually make prototypes in a US men’s size 9 then scale the shell up or down to create other sizes.

Lange recently introduced a size 4 US men’s race shell. Perhaps it is more accurate to state that Lange reintroduced a size 4 race shell.  After I learned how to read the shell mold codes forty years ago, I knew that Lange made size 4 shells. However, they only sold them in softer children’s boots in North America. The XLR Race boot was only sold in Japan. After I got the Canadian distributor to bring in a supply of size 4 XLR Race boots, I was inundated with calls from all over Canada from female racers with small feet who heard that a size 4 XLR was available.

In my experience, I was usually able to estimate the size of a racer’s foot by looking at their stature and height. Here is a list of 6 top World Cup racers in order of height.

Ted Ligety 1.80 m
Lindsey Vonn 1.78 m
Marcel Hirscher 1.73 m
Tina Maze 1.72 m
Mikaela Shiffrin 1.70 m
Anna Fenninger 1.66 m

Based on Lindsey Vonn’s stature, I estimate that she has bigger feet than both Tina Maze and Mikaela Shiffrin who are very close to the same height. Vonn is  close to the height of Ted Ligety. I estimate that she has at least a US ladies Size 8 to 8.5 while Ted Ligety’s foot is in the order of a US men’s 9. Anna Fenninger is 1.66 m and small boned. She probably has small feet, smaller than Shiffrin who probably has a size 7 ladies (6 men’s). Anna Fenninger’s foot will be no bigger than a size 6 ladies (US men’s size 5). Marcel Hirscher at 1.73 m probably has a size 7.5 to 8 US men’s foot.

With a ski that is 65 mm in Minimum Profile Width who has the winning feet? Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn.