Here’s an article from Tim Cafe, NZSIA demo team member, on the importance of moving accurately through the transition.
One of the goals of the New Zealand Demo team is to ski with effectiveness and efficiency.
In terms of ski performance this means creating effective early edge pressure at the top of the turn. As I am sure many of you are aware I come from a racing background. In ski racing this is something which truly separates the top ski racers from the rest of the pack. Last season I was also fortunate enough to attend a clinic with Sasha Rearick, head coach of the US Men’s Team…aka one of Ted Ligety’s main coaches for many years now. Surprise surprise this very topic was one of his main points.
A major technical theme/coaching cue which I believe is critical to achieving our goal is accurate direction of movement through the transition and initiation. Specifically of the hips.
Through transition and initiation the hips need to be driven along the length of the ski towards the outside of the following arc. This is to: 1) Help flex the ankle of the new outside leg. 2) Move the centre of gravity forward compared to the base of support, and thus move pressure to the front of the ski. 3) Stack the body over the outside ski to deal with forces created in the turn. 4) Maintain fore-aft balance as the relative slope angle becomes steeper during initiation and early part of the control phase.
Anybody ever seen this diagram before?
I’m going to assume most of you have. It’s the path of the centre of gravity compared to the base of support.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the COG doesn’t move inside the base of support. It does. But I am going to tell you this – just because this happens doesn’t mean that we need to actively move our centre of gravity in the path shown. In Sasha’s words this is the one diagram that has done more damage to high performance skiing than any other because it has become used prescriptively rather than descriptively.
When the body is moved inside the turn before creating a platform and engaging the skis it is impossible to develop effective early edge pressure. If we move forward towards the outside of the arc, tip the skis up onto edge using our lower legs and shift weight to the outside ski the inclination should take care of itself, and this diagram will happen without us ever having to focus on it.
Remember to keep this strictly a fore-aft focus. It’s entirely possible to move the hips in this direction whilst maintaining some rotational separation as is needed. It’s a powerful movement involving functional muscular tension in the core and hamstrings. It should be made smoothly and the rate of movement should be matched to the radius of the turns being made.
When this move is properly executed skiing starts to look and feel smoother. Pressure can be released more easily during turn completion because shaping of the turn has already happened above and into the fall-line through early edge pressure.
So get out there this season and make some moves! But hey, just make them in the right direction.