We don’t know yet. Right now Guenther [Hujara, the FIS men’s director] is saying he wants to see
all the GS courses set an average of 25 [meters]. Well, I’m setting today [for the second Beaver
Creek GS] and I’ll be setting an average of 26. World Cup GS races five years ago were probably
an average of 29. Some courses were 32 meters. Speeds were much higher. If it stays pretty similar
to what it is now — 25 to 26 meters with a fair amount of offset — in general athletes are going to
be skiing fairly straight.
So it isn’t going to call for the Stivot turn?
Just flip the ski over [on edge], redirect and steer at the same time; not a full-on stivot, which is more
of a speed control. As they flip from one edge to another they’re going to have a little redirect and
slide to get to the right spot and set that edge. The new skis will actually turn cleaner and hold it
cleaner because there’s not the tip grabbing causing it to bounce. So actually it should be easier to
set that edge.
Even at slower speeds?
The question is on the flats. If you slide on the flats, it’s always much slower. So what do we do
there? Do we ski high-edge angle? Do we ski two-footed? Do we start to do more torque-like movements in the lower body to get the ski to pull radius with less edge angle? One feedback that we do
get from those who have used the new skis is that they feel a lot more torque in the knee trying to
pull that radius at the end of the turn. That’s a concern, but at same time a reality that we already
Do we need to prepare differently for these stresses?
We are going to have to change our conditioning. In theory, skiing on these skis should be more
tiring, because there’s more work being done. Athletic-movement wise, you’re going straighter and
having to set the edge. The peak force is higher in the turn, so therefore there’s more resistance;
and the other thing is to complete the radius you need to twist that ski around, which is going to
mean increased muscle load. So conditioning is going to become a much bigger factor in skiing.
One of the things we’re all going to need to pay attention to, because the athletes are going to be
dealing with increased load, is that quad development is going to become bigger. So we need in our
conditioning to really make sure all our athletes are doing a tremendous amount of hamstring work
so we don’t get the quad imbalances we had 10 or 15 years ago where guys were blowing their
ACLs out just by being too hard.
With the U.S. team we’ve been doing a lot of hamstring and gluteus work over the past few years
and having success with it. We’re going to have to increase that more and more. Because just with
the natural ski load you’re going to have increased quad development.
What other things can we watch out for?
There’s a lot of things out there that we see as risks, but I think if we look ahead and say, “These
are the potential risks, what can we do to minimize that?” we’re going to have a big advantage over
the rest of the world. Both in safety and being fast on the skis. In terms of tactics, if courses become
a bit straighter, you’re probably going to be able to go arc-to-arc no problem. If they become more
round you’re going to have to go straight, redirect, hit.
One of the other things that is probably going to be important is a little more upper body, lower body
separation. Because when you come in and redirect, hit, the peak load is really high right there. And
if you are rotated at all, you’re not structurally as strong to handle that force. So you’d have to take
more the style of Didier Cuche or some of the French guys or Swiss guys that have a little counter
right there, and that helps you take that load and move with it. Those are some of technical adaptations [required] as you go straighter to be able to handle the force. It’s a little bit of counter at the
right time, at the apex, not at the bottom of the turn.
What else do we know about how the skis will react?
One thing for sure is that the skis will be less aggressive. So when an athlete is out of balance the
catchiness of the skis should, in theory, be less aggressive. The concern is that the reason we have
aggressive set-ups is that we’re trying to change directions as fast as possible on a slippery surface.
You can’t measure aggressiveness, so that’s been the debate on the science side of this whole
thing. In order for it to be scientific you normally have to be able to measure it. What we do know is
that the skis will be less aggressive. Are we going to change the plates, the boots, the bindings to
be more aggressive because we need the aggression to change directions on a slippery surface?
There is an advantage: the skis will be less grabby, and there is some good to that.
Seems like, if conditioning is going to play such a large role, that with our program and
the Center of Excellence facility, the U.S. might have an advantage.
Our conditioning program will give us an advantage when we get the athletes fully committed to
coming there. It is a touchy subject. It would be easy to say all athletes have to move to [Park City]
and train there all the time. In order to be able to be fast in skiing and survive this circuit a long time
you need to be mentally fresh, and for some athletes, home time, away from the team, being with