The Straight Truth … ABOUT MODERN GS TECHNIQUE BY RON KIPP
A carved turn performed by Ted Ligety at Beaver Creek.
The latest trend in giant slalom technique has evolved from one goal: to
go as straight as possible.
Going straight — taking a more direct line to the next gate — is now best
exemplified by the “stivot.” The stivot is a turn-entry maneuver where the
skis are pivoted and drifted sideways until the skier re-edges the ski and
finishes the turn. This turn initiation method blows away our old concept
that everything had to be carved.
Well, the carve has not gone the way of the leather ski boot. In fact, carving is still around and is as important as ever. Stivot and carve are just two
arrows in the quiver of technique that the modern ski racer needs to possess.
The stivot and carve can be viewed as two ends of the turn-entry spectrum. A turn with a small pivot or re-direction at turn initiation fills in the middle of the spectrum. Add a large amount of pivot to this turn, and you get a
stivot. Decreasing the pivot, meanwhile, will line you up with the carve end
of the spectrum.
While there are no set rules for turn-entry methods, some heuristics do
apply. Stivots seem to be found on very steep sections while pure carving
is found on the flatter areas. The slight pivot or re-direct maneuver is seen
on the steep to moderate slopes. When and where to actually apply each is
dependent upon snow conditions and, most importantly, the skill expertise
of the ski racer.
Other than just evaluating slope steepness, the ski racer must make a
couple of key decisions. If the turn is stivoted, the athlete must decide
when to start the re-direction or stivot initiation. In other words, should the
skis be chucked sideways midway between the gates — or when the racer
is at the gate? After the skis are pivoting sideways, how much attack angle
should be used? Is the attack angle that between the skis’ direction of motion and the longitudinal axis? Or just how much are they pivoted? (
Re-direct too much and there will be unwanted ski/snow friction; too little and the
skis will not have enough direction change when the actual turn comes.)
Lastly, how much edge angle will the ski have while it stivots?