How to evaluate experienced skiers (movement analysis)
Understanding how people move naturally provides a simple process to evaluate skiers and understand cause and effect relationships between the movements. Movement analysis is easier because in most cases you know what you are going to see before the person skis.
1- Look for natural moves: back, turning the upper body first (rotation,) and leaning inside the turn (banking.) Watch for the the knees bending too soon, too fast, or too much relative to the ankles.
Momentum can be maintained when flexing the knees early if it is progressive, but more of the tail of the ski will be used. Natural moves are opposite skiing moves.
2- Start looking at the cross over point when skis are flat and see where the body moves relative to the feet as the skis are loaded in the new turn. Is it back and inside, or forward and toward the next turn? Skiers should continuously flow smoothly over their feet. Turning creates pressure that pushes skiers back and inside the turn rather than moving forward and toward the next turn. Look for this flow; it is the key ski move which is created by progressively flexing the ankle and tipping the upper body to the outside of the turn (angulation).
3- When does their edging end, close to the fall line or later, experts should be able to do both. Forces get very high: after the fall line, at high speeds, on steep slopes, and in some conditions. See if they can maintain smooth flow into the next turn with either extension or retraction turns, or by flexing the legs while edging.
There are some other movements you will see commonly: heel pushers, hip dumpers, and ankle crushers.
Look for a problem with symmetry and variety, usually right handed skiers turn better to the left or they may add more rotation using their dominant side. Do they vary how they make turns in the same direction? Are their small turns better than their large turns? Can they: skid and carve, ski slow and fast, handle different snow conditions or moguls?
It can take a long time to replace natural moves with skiing moves, and it is a constant challenge to maintain ski moves. Skiers often regress after improving until ski moves are applied for a longer time.
How to evaluate beginner skiers
Can they statically stand in an athletic stance and maintain it when moving down and up, or flexing ankles
When turning look for: leaning back, rotation, and banking
1- How are they back:
- Arms close to body and leaning back at waist
- Knees bent with hips back (usually happens when hands and waist are put in the proper place)
- Ankles back
To fix: hands forward, chest over toes, and stand on toes. Many can not do this even with help so stand across the hill or go to flat ground to get the feel. The brain fights hard to move naturally back.
2- Why are they rotating:
- Starting to turn too soon before they have speed
- Turning too far
- Weight is back on heels and they can not feel how to turn feet or push on big toes
- They are skiing across the hill and trying to turn downhill first
To fix: Think go straight with a good stance in a gliding wedge (hands forward, look downhill, chest over toes, stand up on toes) for 3 seconds before turning. Make slight turn then go straight. Take skis off stand on toes and turn feet.
3- Why are they banking:
- Using upper body because they can’t turn feet or push on big toes
- Turned too far
- Hill is too steep
To fix: Explore both ways to turn or a combination of the two, this may have to be with skis off, physically assist them, statically practice a given side before skiing, go to a flatter slope.
How to evaluate intermediate skier
Students are often leaning back and can be stuck in a wide wedge. They may be leaning back at their ankles with legs straight, or looking like they are sitting on a chair with knees bent too much, in either case they may be bent too far forward at the waist. When you have them bend less at the knees they may over correct (now their hips feel forward) and go straight at the waist then pull their hands into their chest (because they feel like they are too far forward).
Look for rotation and banking because they are stuck in the back seat and don't know how to turn their feet. Their harsh moves often create abrupt turn forces that knock them more out of balance and then they over compensate making a good stance hard to find.
To fix: use the big 5-
1- Gentle slope
2- Centered stance
3- Small wedge
4- Ski straight downhill with speed (they often try to turn right away)
5- Slightly turn both feet, or push on one toe then the other (ankles flex forward be sure they are not moving laterally in or out, and not flexing knee)
Later add quicker weight transfer, and down and up motion for more completed turns. Add pole touches. Do uphill christies with progressive ankle flex and tipping (angulation), then add inside lead exercises.