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Thread: Fastest line?

  1. #1
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    Fastest line?

    Interesting idea came to me (from a coach)... Wanted to know what you guys think.

    I was told in GS it is going to be a lot faster if you can let your skis run flat based on the snow from the end of one turn just for a little bit. While they run they are pointed at the INSIDE of the TURNING gate.

    Tried to photoshop a picture of it...But I'm not very good with drawing turns...



    The green line is the idea that is where you are running your skis flat, and then the yellow line would be the rest of the turn (ignore the tail end of the green line, thats just showing where your skis should be pointed).

    This is another picture with what I figured it looks like when you ski arc to arc...




    As you can see its deffinatly more dirrect to point your skis at the gate, and there is more time your skis are in (or almost in) the fall line...


    Thoughts??? (aside form skidude can't draw turns)
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    I have a similar observation. That's where NASTAR differs from a real GS course. The main differences are:
    - NASTAR is usually not on a steep slope. Therefore, you can not count on acceleration, and you should concentrate on not losing speed, as opposed to catchig acceleration opportunities.
    - NASTAR gates are closer together than GS. Therefore, in NASTAR you have less opportunity to get higher (earlier) on release and prepare to go down (close to) the fall line until the next gate. Especially if you are on GS skis.
    - (I am sure this is for safety) The course is usually set so no strong lateral forces develop to throw you off the course. If you go straight to the next gate, you can always manage to turn sharply enough to stay on course, at worst at the cost of small deviation below the gate. In real GS, if you go straight to the gate, you get thrown off course and you will miss the next gate (unless you have Bode's legs :) ).

    I watched the Torino GS (especially Benni Raich's second run). They use pivot turns (also not usable in NASTAR) to get as high as possible. Then they get almost straight above the gate and let their skis go down the fall line (less edges) until they encounter the gate. They point both arms forward at the gate (edges engaged), and as soon as they pass the gate they extend their inner arm sideways, releasing the skis and "floating" sideways until the next pivot turn. They maximize the acceleration opportunity down the fall line, and worry less about the deceleration during pivoting.

    On contrary, on NASTAR you don't have good acceleration opportunities. The calmer you stay and carve, the less you deccelerate and the better time you get. I find some NASTAR courses have such a small offset on a flat slope, that I can stay in a tuck more.

    With all this, I have observed that running the NASTAR course is sometimes determental to my GS technique. Instead of initiating my turns early, I find that it is faster to go straight to the next gate, which stimulates me to develop a bad habit. My strategy is as follows:
    - For NASTAR: carve calmly and precisely. I go almost straight to the next gate.
    - For GS: initiate the turns as soon as possible to get as high as possible for the next gate, in order to catch the acceleration opportunity down the fall line.

    I would love to read the comments of the faster guys out there. On NASTAR on GS skis I get HC 6-9, and I am 42 years old, 170-175lbs, 5'7". So take my comments with a grain of salt.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jclose8's Avatar
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    J,
    Those are some GREAT observations. I would say you are right on.... I too have noticed that if I run too much Nastar, I start to develop bad habits and my GS suffers.
    Although it is based on the Nastar software and scoring system, our league is a true GS. When I spend some time in the Nastar course on the weekends, it seems like I'm slower at our next league race.

    One of the biggest coaching principles right now is the concept of early edge pressure, which allows the ski to build energy early in the turn while the skis are in the fall line. When this energy is released, just after the gate, more momentum can be focused down the fall line, rather than across the hill. Nastar hills are usually too flat to gain any advantage from this, and in fact it can actually slow you down.
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    Originally posted by jclose8
    J,
    I too have noticed that if I run too much Nastar, I start to develop bad habits and my GS suffers...When I spend some time in the Nastar course on the weekends, it seems like I'm slower at our next league race.
    I have observed the same also - it seems to be detrimental going both ways, NASTAR to GS and GS to NASTAR.

    skidude:

    Maybe I'm not getting your drawings, but are you introducing "double turning" action?

  5. #5
    Senior Member IN.racer's Avatar
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    Originally posted by J
    NASTAR is usually not on a steep slope.  Therefore, you can not count on acceleration, and you should concentrate on not losing speed, as opposed to catchig acceleration opportunities.  
    - NASTAR gates are closer together than GS.  Therefore, in NASTAR you have less opportunity to get higher (earlier) on release and prepare to go down (close to) the fall line until the next gate.  Especially if you are on GS skis.  
    - (I am sure this is for safety) The course is usually set so no strong lateral forces develop to throw you off the course.  If you go straight to the next gate, you can always manage to turn sharply enough to stay on course, at worst at the cost of small deviation below the gate.  In real GS, if you go straight to the gate, you get thrown off course and you will miss the next gate (unless you have Bode's legs :) ).  

    The calmer you stay and carve, the less you deccelerate and the better time you get.  I find some NASTAR courses have such a small offset on a flat slope, that I can stay in a tuck more.  

    I agree with a lot of these observations.

    I've found Nastar courses to vary greatly from hill to hill. Some courses are very easy to ski, others have insane gate sets that are near impossible. I've had handicaps as low as 5 and as high as 26 this year. Usually I'm in the low to mid teens.

    One thing I have noticed is it seems the consistently fast racers are very still in the upper body. No wild arm movements. I often try so hard to be aggressive and fast it is actually slowing me down. The key on a lot of these "easy" courses is to be quite and don't disrupt your momentum. Racer X and I have raced together on a very easy course set. We've both concluded this particular hill is very easy to ski, very difficult to ski fast. Why? There is no room for error. You must ski a perfect line and build momentum all the way down. That's what makes it fun and challenging.

    I guess that is what differs from Nastar to real GS. On these short 20 second sprints there is no room for error. If you make a mistake, there is no time to make up for it. I would think a 60 second GS run involves more tactics and one or two bad turns can be recovered from.
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  6. #6
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    Originally posted by NE1+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(NE1)</div>
    <!--QuoteBegin-jclose8
    J,
    I too have noticed that if I run too much Nastar, I start to develop bad habits and my GS suffers...When I spend some time in the Nastar course on the weekends, it seems like I'm slower at our next league race.
    I have observed the same also - it seems to be detrimental going both ways, NASTAR to GS and GS to NASTAR.

    skidude:

    Maybe I'm not getting your drawings, but are you introducing "double turning" action?[/b]
    Not trying to draw a double turn...Have to work on the pictures a bit and get back to you guys :?
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    Ridge has been told that racing Nastar is reinforcing bad habits. My response to those coaches who do that is that they need to set more courses for him to race on outside of Nastar.

    Pointing the skis as described above seems to me to increase the liklihood of scrubbing the gate and your speed.
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  8. #8
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    One more observation:
    There are a lot of beginners running on the NASTAR course. So the ruts are quite low. After the ruts develop, it is hard to turn early and fight the ruts, especially in a heavy slush like last weekend in the east, or in lack of good hard ice in the west :wink: . In such conditions, it is easier to use "bobsled" technique: just stay calm and follow the rut and it will lead you to the next gate with minimal ski edge usage :) .

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by J
    One more observation:
    There are a lot of beginners running on the NASTAR course.  So the ruts are quite low.  After the ruts develop, it is hard to turn early and fight the ruts, especially in a heavy slush like last weekend in the east, or in lack of good hard ice in the west  :wink: .  In such conditions, it is easier to use \"bobsled\" technique: just stay calm and follow the rut and it will lead you to the next gate with minimal ski edge usage :) .
    Yeah, a few weeks ago ago I was all eager to implement better techniques that I had been studying only to get to find the NASTAR course so deeply grooved that there was very little choice as to which line to choose. It was either follow the tracks or go way outside of them and then jump back into the grooves at the end of my turn, neither choice was optimal. Even lost a ski trying this.
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  10. #10
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    My two cents.

    I think what SkiDude was describing was a pivoted entry turn. It's rare to encounter a course at the junior level that requires this. It's also rare to encounter a master's course that requires this, and more rare to find one that requires it all the way down. It'd be very, very rare to find a NASTAR course that required this. The GS in Torino did require this, but the fastest racers used it judiciously and demonstrated great skill by pivoting into a clean carve.

    A pivoted turn is used when the course turn radius is well below the turning radius of the ski or when the course is too steep to carve every turn. WC courses have these turns to slow the racers down for safety reasons and as an extra measure of differentiation. A carved turn just can't be accomplished in all cases on these kinds of courses (which obviously don't match a NASTAR course).

    At the USSA J3 to J5 level, any decent coach will set a course that can have a carved line all the way down. Sometimes, though, racers will not see that and try to "power carve" their way through thinking that the tighter "fall-line" path is faster.

    However, the speed from carving will more than compensate for a slightly longer line. The leaders at the eastern J4 Future Stars event showed this to the other skiers. They applied early pressure to engage the ski on the pitch and keep their forward momentum. They skied a longer, rounder line as a result. The slower skiers used a more direct line and a stronger rotary movement at the start of the turn. Unfortunately, this led to a bit of skidding and, hence, less overall velocity and slower times.

    In all the CT Youth Ski League, Tri-State, Northern Vermont Council, VT state, and NHARA open races I've watched for J3 and below, the winners were the kids that could carve better through all the turns.

    At the USSA J2/J1/Sr level, there will sometimes be a course with maximum horizontal off-set and short vertical distance between gates. This type of course will require a strong pivot followed by an edge set into a carve. This is a challenging turn to learn, as most racers will pivot and then skid/chop/bounce through the rest of the turn. Early edge pressure and feathering the edge in are still required to turn the pivot into a clean carve. Easy for me to say; hard for me to do.

    An more interesting discussion is finding the line through a course that is fastest for you. Each racer will have slight variances on line based on their skill, physique, etc. It's good for you to be able to look at a turn, classify it (fall-away gate, basic rhythm gate, under-gate, etc.) , and then understand what's the fastest line for you. USSA kids can get this by using radio timers and timing the course by sections, alternating their line through the sections to see tight & pivoting or rounder & carving is faster. Intermediate NASTAR junkies and better can get this through running multiple runs and making small line changes in just one section. (Those lesser skilled are best off working on the basics of skiing and ski racing.)

    The minimal offset found in a NASTAR course does encourage a lower, straighter line. That's the shortest path, and good skiers can get away with that in a NASTAR set. Ridge would be at a disadvantage if he tried this with all his USSA courses because they will have more offset and will require a rounder line.

    But, big ruts aside, there's no reason why he can't try to to stay high and carve in a NASTAR course. He can also work on getting early pressure through a strong cross-over movement to get a clean carve throughout the turn. But, to do this he needs to cast finish time aside and focus on technique with video feedback. Learning anything new will cause you to be a wee bit slower initially.
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