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Horton's Slalom Fundamentals Video #1


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Got to ski two sets w Thomas Degasperi in September at his family's ski school in Trento, IT. This is EXACTLY what he was trying to get me to do coming into the buoy. He didn't specify back leg, but he was trying to get me to be as tall as possible coming into the buoy. That centering (or getting forward) plus being patient and slow back to the handle really helped me. I knew that being tall, especially into my offside, was a good thing, but I wasn't consistent with it and that coaching kind of cemented it's importance for me.
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Great video! Can't wait to put some of this to use in the spring when I start skiing again. Based on what you are saying, how do you think this correlates to binding placement? If most of us really aren't that good at moving our weight forward, do you think being stacked with the bindings a bit forward is, in general, a better position for most people?
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Thank you so much for the video and this is exactly what I have to work on. Every time I see myself on video.....I am sitting on my back foot. So it is gonna be my only thing I will work on until it is buried on my muscle's memory. I really like your "basic just one thing to work on" video and you canmake more of them....thank's again
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@chris55 I am not going to say it is easy but I believe thinking about just "standing up" is much simpler method than common tips such as

 

  • hips up

  • shoulders back

  • knees forward (although this is actually a good idea)

 

I do not want to insult anyone by saying it is easy but it is a lot less hard if you approach it the right way.

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@HighAltitude

 

Bindings are adjustable for a reason and binding position is critical.

 

I strongly discourage moving bindings forward to compensate for hips back. Moving your bindings forward will not correct for the deficits in your stance and will likely exacerbate your problems.

 

Moving bindings forward without a clear understanding of ski set up is something I see often. It gives the skier a feeling of faster turns but in the end it means less angle across and might make a correct position harder to achieve.

 

Binding adjustments are generally more radical then fin adjustments. I rarely move my bindings more than 1/10th of an inch at a time. Old school set ups allow for 3/8” at a time. I cannot count the times I have seen 15off – 28off skiers with their bindings ¾” forward of stock - These skiers often ski way better after moving their bindings back to stock plus a little coaching.

 

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@Horton, Being devils advocate.....and to give more credit to what JB was doing.

 

I can get to CL a lot faster when I ski a compressed style on a HS turn. Hell, watch Mapples gate shot. He doesn't look much different the JB.

 

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Reality is, in those frames, both skiers are trying very hard to 'stand'. They are not sinking and getting further squatted into CL. NOTE, ski setup is a massive part of this "working". You wont find success with it with a boots forward, & long/shallow/back fin setup that has over-stable YAW rotation.

 

Being more compressed on a Onside pull allows me to create WAY more angle (and speed) into CL (not so true for a Offside pull). The huge issue is that 99% of the time all that speed and excessive angle is actually counterproductive when coming off the second wake as my mass and ski are slung off the handle in an uncontrollable trajectory causing early separation.

 

Jamie understood something most people do not, and even further, knew how to execute it on the water. His ski setup also complimented his style well. Much like Mapple. Boots back, fin forward/deep/short. Part of his compressed style is how he was able to roll over the ski to keep his COM balanced while under load. To your point, this is a skilled move, and requires knowing how to execute post CL swing very very well.

 

If you stood at the end of the lake and watched JB, one thing stood out. He was faster from Buoy to CL then ANY other skier out there...except maybe Nate today.

 

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@adamhcaldwell Yea I should likely walk back some of what I said about Jamie. What I should have said is something like "unless you already run passes at 38 and beyond you should not try to emulate Jamie."

 

I do not doubt any of what you wrote above. The problem is that 92.5% of the readers of this web site run less than 38 off. In my experience it is MUCH harder to ski forward compressed than it is to ski tall and most skiers who attempt to ski compressed move their center of mass back.

 

I super interested in the theory of why forward compressed is better than tall. @twhisper tried to explain it to me once and I should have been taking notes. Clearly some of the best skiers in the world today ski compressed but I have NEVER met a 35 off (or less) level skier who was successful at skiing compressed forward.

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@Horton I had the good fortune of a Dec 1st ski this AM in WA, and all I thought about was standing tall, straighter rear leg. I'm getting fairly comfortable at 32/15 and ran some of my best passes ever today! Lots more angle, ski finished the turn better - hope I can remember tomorrow what I did today. If you're up in my neck of the woods I will pour you a nice scotch if you will teach me some more!
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While I appreciate the trend to ski like Nate, I actually feel it's easier to ski like Jamie.

After 2-3 years of shallow fin/ stacked/etc skiing, I made the decision last fall to go back to deep fin/reverse C/etc skiing.

If you analyzed Jamie's position (put markers on his ankles, hips, and shoulders), you would see more "stack" than you think.

 

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Thank you @Horton, fantastic stuff for us less mortals. I get what you are saying & in a desperate move to get my weight forward I just bought a RTP. Your message has been the same at 3 schools and my TW Video training.

 

Could you recommend any free ski or land drills? Thoughts on practicing behind the boat at a slower speed and shorter line length (no water/no course until winter) ?

 

Your BOS slow mo video of Chis Parrish is perfection of what you are saying. His compression is minute compared to TW or JB.

 

Can Video 2 be about how to keep your arms to the vest/handle down?

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@TustinTom I am not sure moving to RTP is a good or bad thing but you may find the transition to be a project above and beyond fixing your stance.

 

As for dry land drills - I think they are generally useless. Any dry land drill is an exercise on a static surface - the water pressures under your feet are always dynamic.

 

As for arms down.... if your stance is correct & arms are straight, your elbows will be on your vest. There are some "tricks" to take it to the next level but if your stance is wrong those concepts are pointless.

 

 

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@escmanaze I am going to gloss over your question by simply saying @twhisper is an exceptional athlete. His stance works for him and he may advocate something different than what I advocate. I stand by my assertion that most skiers who do not yet run into 38 off likely have their center of mass too far back and the easiest fix is with straighter legs. There are a number of super elite skiers who ski compressed and it may or may not be better but I am sure it is harder.

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"Natural hip and knee bender" is a term known to most any pro sports trainer. A natural knee bender like Mapple or JB or Twhisper ain't going to benefit from trying to ski straight legged. Can draw a straight line from head thru hips thru feet: that is stacked. It is also very dynamic. Though it may be true that non 38off natural knee benders haven't perfected their stack, I disagree that they should abandon their natural athletic stance. Maybe they just need to move everything forward an inch or two. What is holding back the straight legged non 38 off skiers? Lack of dynamic balance?

 

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@ktm300 I agree that those rare talented folks that make it work should not change. I am really speaking to the majority of the skiing public who simply can't ski that way.

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There's a big difference between being knee- and ankle-flexed in your pull and into your edge change and being that way coming into the ball and through the turn. Some of the most flexy, compressed skiers like a Terry or a Marcus get very straight and long coming into the bouy, especially into their offside. It's a distinct up and forward (or at least centered) move. I took @Horton's video to be about that - being long/tall/straight back leg coming into the bouy, not about being in that position at all times.
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@jimbrake No. That is not what I was trying to say. I am saying that straighter legs (straighter back leg) from apex to the first wakes is the easy way to move your mass forward. Doing it from the wakes to the ball is a very good thing also but that is not really my main point.

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@KRoundy I already recorded my second video but I hate it and need to re-do it. : - )

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@horton - I rewatched/listened. I hear and see you saying/showing both - 4:10 you appear to be referring to coming into the ball. 5:19ish you appear to be referring to the pull. As has already been discussed here, you can be all full o' angles in the pull and still be stacked, centered, even forward, efficient, and strong (especially in an onside pull). Yeah, maybe that's more athletic. Coming into the bouy? We all are best served by being tall, long, and centered to forward. I'm this close to starting an alpine ski racing technique analogy. So...
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Thanks, @Horton. I find that when my stance starts to degrade, the one time when I can "fix" it mid-pass is through & after the edge change. You eluded to just that with your comments about increasing distance from feet to chin as you flow out. I use different words to fix my stance, but I do assess stance quality at the edge change and try to fix/improve it approaching the turn.

 

I'd add one more thing about stance. I have found in coaching many people that they just "relax" and have crappy stance when they are not between the end gates. That just baffles me. Every moment on the ski is a moment to practice good stance. Why would anyone waste those precious seconds after the end gates, while setting down, while rounding the island or turn, or while waiting to pull out for the gates? I bet if one watched video, the skier spends nearly 50% of their time on the ski outside of the course. That's the best time IMHO to have your best stance and build comfort and normalcy when in a good stance.

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@ToddL - I hohardly agree. I use the pull out at the end of the lake to see how good of a stance and stack and connection I can have and what it does to my acceleration, load, angle, etc. I'm constantly pulling skiers that do an arms-out pull, then suddenly let off losing connection. They have a hard time getting up on the boat. I don't point it out usually, though, because if I do they'll start skiing better than me and that pisses me off.
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To take it one step further, I don't understand why, if someone messes up 1 or 2 ball, they just stand in the middle of the wake all the way to the end, and drop. Why not take advantage of the time remaining down the course, to free ski, and practice a couple of pulls and turns, without buoys, to work on technique. Seems like such a waste.

 

 

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@ToddL you know I kind of have to disagree. I can't tell you how many times I've watched skiers in the course drag their ass over the tail their ski and then exit the gate stand up perfect and when it comes time to pull out at the end their stack is world-class

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@ski6jones I don't think I said that. What I meant is I often see people get outside the gates and then almost ironically & unintentionally achieve perfect position.

 

 

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JB was highly misunderstood as a skier. West coast concepts and other people trying to 'digest his movements' make things worse. It sucks he is not still skiing/competing.

 

My best attempt to explain is as that he was not compressing to create more angle and load through CL. He was compressing slightly to start the "turn" prior to crossing CL (Think YAW rotation = turn). I think the elevated position of this video highlights it very well.

 

Where this falls apart for most people is they are continually compressing while holding on to load and angle all the way through CL and beyond. JB was compress though the finish of the turn, and then de-compressing (aka starting to stand tall) before the first wake through CL and all the way to the buoyline. Or like @Horton likes to call...a high chin position.

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@adamhcaldwell I 100% agree and clearly I overstepped a bit in the video. My bottom line is that skiers watch JB, think they understand then proceed to attempt to compress all the way from apex to centerline. Even in the above video it sort of looks like JB is back all the time but I assume his center of mass is much farther forward then it looks.

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@Horton, tell me what you think about this. One thing that stands out when you look at me in my lean compared to a pro is that they’re much more locked in. They’re leaning more aggressively against the rope and as a result their shoulders are much lower relative to the horizon than mine are and their handle is much closer to their hips. This difference was super evident when I went from my normal passes (28-32 off, 36 mph) to short line 38-39 off in order to practice the “beat the boat” drill that @AdamCord has promoted. I noticed at those line lengths that it can be physically quite difficult to get the handle to your hips, and the same is true of 32 off relative to 15 off.

 

For someone who has that issue to work on it seems like getting a bit lower in the knees & ankles would be needed to allow for a more aggressive lean that is still balanced. And the idea of trying to actively stand up before you get to the wakes, which I’ve heard @adamhcaldwell discuss, also seems like it can only be appropriate advice if you’ve already generated a strong lean against the rope in a stacked position. To me, standing tall would work against what’s needed for someone that has their handle too far from their hips and lacks the proper cutting speed needed to run short line.

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I like @skispray line of questioning. I don't think added compression needs to result in handle closer. Lean angle relative to the rope plays a big part in how close you can get handle to hips. Interested in others thoughts on all of that.

 

And that video is fantastic. Much less compressed than I was expecting.

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@Horton, Great point on JB.

 

I would take the position that the appearance of JB being "back" is that his upper body is perfectly aligned with the centripetal force and the ski has Yaw'd (turned) and moved in front. Relative to the ski, yes - he is "back" (or in other words ski is out in front). Relative to the load however, he is "in-line" and as you say with a constrained upper - carrying the connection all the way around the pylon.

 

IMO this all goes back to ski setup and philosophy of how to move yourself and the ski through the course - obviously there are many ways to do it.

 

Off-topic, but worth mentioning....

 

As most know....there are some HUGE differences between how a long/shallow and deep short setup can move through the slalom course. One reason JB can move the way he does is largely due to the deep/short boots back setup which has a much more under-stable 'yaw' & 'pitch' dynamic that allows the ski to move more dynamically/freely when under full load into the first wake. A long shallow fin is much more 'locked' when under load and wont build, or loose angle as easily/quickly.

 

Think of it like this.

 

Deep short; equates to steeper angle of attack achieved out of the ball. Also faster/easier to build or unwind that angle through CL when under load.

 

Long/shallow; typically equates to less angle out of the ball and slower/harder to build or unwind angle through CL when loaded by the line.

 

The unique difference existing between the two is the 'pitch' stability. Boots/Dft position is the secret behind making either of these setups function optimally.

 

 

@skispray - You have one shot at getting in a 'leveraged' position against the boat and that is a moment before the ski is loaded by the rope. This is why there is so much talk of 'progression'. You must be skiing 'into a leaned/leveraged position' before the 'pull comes on at full power. This is true at the gate, and the back of the ball. If your not actively 'standing up' as the pull starts to consume you, then your body mechanically will never create space for your hips to advance or move toward the handle.

 

FWIW, I am usually trying as hard as possible to 'stand up' all the way through the wakes, however on video, my knees and ankles are still compressed slightly. Especially at 38/39/41. I can only assume it is a similar experience for other shortline slalom guys. Be careful not to miss-interpret what you see. A guy holding a 600lbs of load in his body with bent knees/ankles doesnt mean he isn't trying like hell to stand up. Just imagine a barbell dead lift and being on your way to full extension on your max effort lift. Its all about moving your shoulders up & away from the floor, or in our case -the ski (its the same exact thing) to create space to drive hips forward into the final 'stack'.

 

If the shoulders and feet are getting closer together under the boats pull, the hips will forever be in the back seat. But -if you "stand up" to move shoulders away from the ski(floor) then the hips will start to come into the picture as they should.

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@adamhcaldwell & @Horton I think we are in agreement?, "If you analyzed Jamie's position (put markers on his ankles, hips, and shoulders), you would see more "stack" than you think." (His shoulders are over his hips which are over his ankles, basically perpendicular to the force)

Ski set up is very On Topic to this discussion. Try with all your might, there are things you can and can't do depending on your ski set up

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@drago Yes, I have previously conceded a couple of times that Jamie's center of mass is further forward than it appears.

 

My whole point with the video and this thread is that for the average Baller a lot of knee bend is counterproductive. For skiers who are not yet running 38 and beyond I believe trying to emulate Jamie's style is totally counterproductive.

 

If you can do it that's great. If you can ski compressed with knees forward congratulations. To reiterate my point I firmly believe that most skiers benefit from less knee bend.

 

As far as Adam and Adam's new fin theory that should probably be a different thread.

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@PB3 I'm happy to hear it helped you in your turns. Can you tell me more about your wake crossings ( and your general level of skiing) ?

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