Created a f-book post earlier with this comparison of two skiers (one great, one not so much) with the purpose of looking at the differences and trying to figure out the biggest improvement opportunity for the one on the right - there were a lot of good insights coming out of that post and I'll review them here. But I wanted to take also a quick look at the framework that we use for analyzing performance, very important for analyzing not only skiing at a high-level but also for everyday skiing...
This is the comparison - awesome precise WC skier on the left (M.S.) and not so awesome skier on the right. These type of comparisons are very, very informative and good to do for self-coaching - I use them all the time and you should too:
The first thing we need to be mindful of is to not jump straight into technique - this is where the EEPPTT framework used by the Canadian race coaches comes in very handy - here's how it applies in this comparison:
Equipment - we don't know much about the equipment here, other than on the left we must have WC SL skis, but a good question to always ask is if the equipment is up to the task: are the boots too stiff? Are the skis too soft? Is the jacket bright enough?
Here there are no obvious equipment issues: the skis are up to the task and the boots at least decent, as far as we can tell...
Environment - on the left we surely have injected ice, no snow spray and maximum hold... what do we have on the right? It looks like good snow, with a bit of fresh fluff on top. This would provide less grip and would make for bigger snow sprays, especially if a ski is skimming the surface - important when considering how we "see" pressure etc.
Specifically, the left outside ski bends without snow spray while for the one on the right we can't quite see the bend, just the spray. Does that mean it was skidding the turn or just displacing the snow on the top (that angle cannot be sustained with a lot of skidding, so the ski must have been engaged and bending and deflecting at that point).
Also, the hero snow type takes less skill and effort to make the ski hold and throws back less energy.
Psychological - we won't get into this one much, but it's good to always pay attention to the skier's activation: is he/she bored? Too hyper? Bad mood or distracted?
Physical - this one's important. The skier on the left is in peak form for WC skiing, very athletic and can obviously put up with the ski bend on that hard snow. The one of the right, not so much - he is backing out of the performance by reduced angulation - is that a technical flaw or a result of not being able to put up with the performance he would get otherwise?
I know the circumstances there, it was at the beginning of the season (not in shape) and he was also somewhat tired.
This is a very important aspect to consider, when judging high performance skiing!
Tactical - other than turn shape, this applies less to free skiing and more to racing, but still: pay attention to where the ski is in relation to the turn: towards the end of the turn it's ok to have some weight on the inside ski, which would be a no-no at the top of the turn. Another important fact to consider when analyzing stills of performance skiing!
Technical Lastly, the final aspect to consider is technical. We too often jump the gun and start talking about technique, without considering the other elements.
Now let's talk about the technical differences in the two skiers above - what we see and what it means.
At first sight, looking at the body relationships, the differences are not that big. Similar technique is used by both skiers, resulting in similar snapshots at the apex. Same narrow stance, long outside leg, short inside leg, carving etc. Similar counter from the hip (for some reason counter is frowned upon nowadays by north-American coaches but we clearly see here a lot of counter from the hip in both skiers, the one on the left being more of a reference model).
It is apparent the skier on the right has the inside hip dropped more than the other. But if you take into account the bigger edge angles, it's not dropped laterally that much more. It is certainly something to improve, the hips could be more level, but not the biggest bang for the buck.
Like we've seen, the snow is softer and the skier is not in top form, so maybe he's (sub)consciously backing out the performance and that's one way to back it out.
The one on the right is angulating less. Reduced counterbalancing is another way to back out the performance, so... is it related to the softer snow, larger radius or less strength? More observation over different types of turns would be needed to assess that one.
Sending him to the Counterbalancing workout session is never inappropriate, though.
The torso on the right is more upright. While the skier on the left has a need to block the gate out of the way, that doesn't seem to explain away all the difference. Drawing a technical conclusion though would be premature - this is a complex discussion, relating back to equipment and how the different body shapes balance on the same equipment, so we'd be looking at delta and ramp angles, boot design and fit, body shape, and only then maybe correct the technical approach - that would be a thorough approach to that.
There is less counter on the right, but not by much - again, there is some counteraction there and it shows in the ski performance. Could work to improve it, definitely. We see counter not as a static relationship, but a strong movement, of counteracting the ski turning with the upper body and that's clearly visible even in the static snapshots here (as the hips counter-rotated).
Some mobility and strength issues are apparent, judging by how the counter is created on the right versus the left - by that we can see that the spine is more involved in creating angulation, which is not ideal and may indicate some hip mobility issues.
This is an interesting one. The outside arm on the left is higher up (blocking notwithstanding) while the one on the right is less so The wrist is also closed on the right - another good improvement.
The inside arm, however, shows an interesting difference: see the swing there on the right which likely dragged the shoulders lower as well as back, contrasting it with the long arm and the bent elbow on the left? I wonder if, even though she has the elbow further back, the bent elbow allows better separation?
The inside ski seems similarly little weighted in both, the snow spray on the right may indicate that it's weighted more, but at that lean angle and the softer snow, it's not the same strong indicator.