Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What is best for you?

"It is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it." Einstein

All ski runs are open at our local ski area and the slopes are ice.  So I have been spending time on rock hard snow/ice, many days with cold feet, but the best time to dial a new pair of high end modern ski boots (think of it as cleats for better stable grip) w/ the new modern World Cup skis.  Not a easy thing to do and I can't do it myself.  I can't fit my own boots when they are on my feet.  

At the start of the task I had to trust a pro shop. May I point out that I have about $1,500 into the boots alone and left unable to use them, even use the custom made liners.  Ouch!

I even went a great distance seeking out the pro shop at a major ski area, only to be shell sized wrong, posting the wrong footbed,  foaming the high-end liner wrong.  Now I have a lot of work, another pro shop punching out the shell of the new $1,200 boots for my feet, We even had to change the base of the boot to 2-degrees to get it right, at extra cost of about $400. I could have had about 7 bikes fits for that amount of money. But if I want to have performance and have fun it is a must!

The funny thing, is I know the owner and he pointed out, even with all the high-tech, his major issue is his staff & turnover. Sure the young man's intend at Sun Valley, ID was good and he was a nice guy, but he missed the target.  As he said, he only works by the clock and its not his store, besides he is going some where else in the summer.  It is a bigger issue than you know and I fell right in it.

As in any sport, you want to play at a higher level you have to get your gear right to meet the below list:

1) A natural style
2) Exceptional balance
3) Dynamic motion (no position)
4) Skills
5) Strength
6) Quickness & Agility
7) A small window of relaxation
8) Lateral movements
9) Playfulness and imagination (THINK FUN)

Riding up the chair lift in 8-degree temps, I watched skiers and noted the qualities of each skier. Had you been with me, and I asked, you would not be able to check off the above list. Why? These elements are key for optimum performance.  

Given the vast combination of skills that are evident, you will have one guy saying you need "cross-over" or "cross-under.   Did the person do this or that? Was that a ankle roll, knee, or hip, perhaps it was a spine?   What do you think the percentage of weight was on that outside ski? How high or low was the hip position? How much femur rotation did they use and no, and on.   A very complex task to analyze.

You have to be careful, as you can absorb these strong impressions (images) into your consciousness and the next thing you know there in your head i.e. note the pros on the PGA will sometimes turn away, so as to not see a bad stroke. In other words your moves reflect you skills! True pictures explain this better than words, and that is a real issue.  Who is teaching it might not put things in the correct order. You should be foot conscious when you ski, but you don't want to be "a day late".  The same with learning the pedal stroke, the fundamentals define good strokes at all levels.

So, how can you learn movement? First, be sure you understand the concept.

Let it be know, you don't have to be good at things to have fun.  But the skiers did not have a smile on their face, rather a look of stress from their extremely straight legs on a very hard surface.  Had they taken the time to get their equipment right, they could be enjoying the ice a bit more.  

For the best dynamic motion, you have to be in continuous motion. However static positions seem to be the norm on the hard snow i.e. static bike setup.  What is best, is a full fluid range of motion - extension & contraction, weighting & unweighting on all slopes and conditions (powder, crud, ice, etc...) is an image of the most effective body regardless of its shape and size.

Here is where people get lost!  Is there a certain look and shape and size.  No! Athletic people come and all shape and sizes. Watch the Super Bowl this weekend and note. Are we saying you have to carve all turns? No! But that is what you should strive for. Its just good skiing and it provides more stability and precision and it needs to be mastered! You are not born with it!!!

As in any sport, you display your moves for all to see.  Next time you go for a ride, note the face and see if they have a smile or stress. When you hold the right skills, your game becomes easier than walking or running. Insufficient strength is always limiting. Meaning the strongest can do it easily, plus use the reserve for sustain graceful & relaxed movements.

With the newer skis, you can get stuck on the tails, into a difficult position and that can overwhelm most anyone. On the other side, you can be too far forward.  Both can lock up your legs. The same thing happens with the pedal stroke.  It is just harder to see as you are sitting on a saddle and have your hands on the handlebars.  But if your saddle is not allowing the correct range of motion you can't perform and the stresses are high. Quickness and agility are not enhanced, rather inhibited.

The laws of physics tell us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Muscles that are busy doing one task are less efficient at doing others. This is what we see on the slope and on the bike!  The pedal stroke can be off, not getting the maximum response from the minimum effort.  Look at it like this, watch a person swing a golf club, can you tell by the swing how far the ball will travel?  Most can't.  

We ski for fun and we bike for fun, so relaxation is critical to fluid movement. Take someone to play golf and you will note the same thing, if they don't know, they are not having a good time.
The key in sport is allowing the muscles to rest and the bones carry the weight.

Functional skiing should prevail over "pretty" skiing.  There is no "correct form" or "proper position" that all should copy.  A major problem, people who teach often demonstrate "correct positions" which become static model.  Note no two people walk or run or ski or cycle the same. Part of the problem with all the teaching is you see a pic or a video of people being "posed" to show you something?  That sticks in the mind.

Our methods are for cycling fans who are serious about learning. We all know that progress in athletics is seldom easy, but that makes it more rewarding. If you enjoy learning as much as we enjoy teaching, we'll make a difference in your game.

If you already know it all, we view the complacency as being a handicapped athletic person and can't help you! This is a daunting task for people who have many miles under their belt, your mind is both an ally and an enemy in the task of athletic ability.

Cycling technique should be functional and that means it comes from your joints and how they move and rotate in space. You should not use a , plumb line, or laser to force you lower legs into a certain path.

Only when we can over come the complacency of ignorance, can we determine your best alignment - for better or worse. The quest is to transmit forces to our pedals. These forces are sometimes powerful and other times subtle. To make a human function or work as well as possible is a more complex task. You don't just need a bike fitter, but a alignment specialist.
That means they need to be aware of technique. When the whole body is perfectly aligned, athletic skiing & cycling is enhanced. If any part of the system is mis-aligned, performance is diminished.

There are so many different foot shapes, leg shapes, and body builds that every skier must be seen as an individual with special needs. Even with a discriminating eye and some judgement is not enough.  

As in my case, there is a lot of work stacking the bones on the equipment, a lot of skill to get the ski on edge and carve from tip to tail.  The result can even be seen with the track you make. Not so with the pedal stroke and that is why there are so many ideas of what is best for you.

That is why we use the Dartfish to show you your moves out in the real world.  We can track your moves, allowing you to better understand and improve your skills.

Just ask 37 years young Sue Butler or top gun Georgia Gould.   Both are racing w/ Katie Compton at Worlds.  They know how seeing their moves outside has made a difference. 

Lets wish the USA gals good luck. 

No comments: