Seldomski

Paralysis by analysis
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884
Run 1 MS was beautiful. Run 2 appeared to be a struggle, even for her. I don't recall seeing her ski like run 2 in the past. To my eye, it looked like the grip of the snow was really variable? If I had only watched her runs and no one else on the hill, I would say that the tune on her ski was really jacked for run 2. But since everyone was hacking their way down, must have been the slope. She nearly fell a few times and had to dial it back.
 

Chef23

Putting on skis
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Posts
236
So 3 racers were faster than Mikaela 2nd run. Their 1st run finishes - 2nd run finishes, 2nd run time:

Thea Louise St Jernesund, NOR
28th run1 - 2nd run2 , 58.23

Anna Haver-Loeseth, NOR
17th - 1st , 57.89

Anna Swenn-Larson, SWE
9th - 3rd , 58.38

The thing is Michaela didn't need anymore. I believe if she needed more gas she had it. Sometimes playing it safe can lead to errors.
 

Muleski

Skiing the powder
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The thing is Michaela didn't need any more. I believe if she needed more gas she had it. Sometimes playing it safe can lead to errors.
Many fans on here do not grasp the subtleties of the sport. You're right on the money with that comment.

MS skied well enough and risked just enough to assure her of getting the win and 100 WC SL points. I know, from a very solid source, that she had no idea that she was putting that much time on Petra. If she did, she might have risked less, as the surface and the set were "brutal". Described to me as the most uncomfortable that she has EVER been in a WC SL. Some talk that Holdener's coach, setting his first every WC SL, was trying to advantage W. That stuff rarely works. I'll be polite and leave it at that.

Petra was in the same mode. No chance that she was going to beat MS, unless MS skied out. So, the smart tactic was to not go hammer down, on the edge, and to give MS the 100 points, and walk away with 80.

I have NO way to explain Wendy Holdener's disaster. It happens.

The prize for these women are the season long globes, based on the accumulated WC points, overall, and in each disciplined. Petra might challenge MS, but I would say has NO chance of she scores a 0 in any SL by skiing out. Same with MS. Don't expect to see any DNF. And both women have an extra gear that they will use when it's worth the minimal risk.

As far as the surface, it has to be hard, and it has to be consistent to ensure the right competition at the WC level. Hard like injected. Not like what we would consider firm. That surface was "aided" by the humidity, the dropping temps, the wind coming in with the weather. And, a dark New England hill with very flat light. Ugly.

The fact that MS could handle it speaks both to her skiing, her precision and movements as it does to just how weak this women's field is these days. Being a realist, not harsh. It is NOT that strong, and certainly not when you move past about 10 on the WCSL.

Early start to a LONG season. It's only December 2nd.

GS field, BTW, is a bit different. Could see a lot going on there.

Just my $.02........
 

dbostedo

Asst. Gathermeister-- Jackson Hole 2020
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The fact that MS could handle it speaks both to her skiing, her precision and movements as it does to just how weak this women's field is these days. Being a realist, not harsh. It is NOT that strong, and certainly not when you move past about 10 on the WCSL.
I always wonder about this.... most people tend to judge all these athletes relative to each other, since there aren't good independent standards to go by. (And it happens in every sport in fact.) If someone is dominant, are they really that good, or is the rest of the field weak? It's a tough question. I certainly defer to folks that know a lot more than I do for ski racing. But in other sports, I've even seen experts be diametrically opposed on this. Odds are, the truth is somewhere closer to the middle I'd guess.
 

James

Skiing the powder
Instructor
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8,158
If someone is dominant, are they really that good, or is the rest of the field weak?
Hirscher was really that good. Shiffrin really is that good. Would Shiffrin be less dominant with a better field? Sure, her win rate is absurd. Stronger field could also push her to be better. It's not like she wouldn't respond. We'd end up with some really great races. Imagine Shiffrin pulling a Tomba and making up a one second deficit in the second run to win. Or someone else doing it.
Petra was in the same mode. No chance that she was going to beat MS, unless MS skied out. So, the smart tactic was to not go hammer down, on the edge, and to give MS the 100 points, and walk away with 80.
Did Bode ever hold such a thought? Or even just not go all out and make some on the edge artistic statement of line, when less would clearly do.
 

Muleski

Skiing the powder
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Hirscher was exceptional, but the mens field was much deeper for his entire career, than this women's group. Yes he won all of those big globes, and all of those races, but he really had to "bring it" to get it done. Not like he coasted to his wins. The guy was an incredible competitor. Hated to lose.

Mikaela is "generally acknowledged" as the best female SL skier of all time. I know that some fools like to argue that. It's indisputable. I assume that if the field were deeper, she could even raise her game, and might NOT ski five events. SL is largely a game for specialists {particularly amor the guys}. She has never needed to specialize. Even at whatever level of her "max", 85%, whatever, she has been just dominant, unbeatable. Like it's a different sport at times!

I have been around Bode since he was a young kid. Saw a lot of Bode in his CVA and early USST years. Bode has skied for Bode, period. Bode is just a different guy. I suspect that if contracts were structured then as they are now, with big performance bonuses for things like WC wins, and season discipline globes, he MIGHT have paid more attention to a plan to produce results, as Bode likes to be paid...well. Then again, he might think he was selling out. He was always in search of his idea of perfect turn, the perfect run...advancing the limits of the sport, and din't seem upset when he DNF'd. I think the one year that he really focused on the results was when he first won the overall. 2005.
 

Average Joe

Getting off the lift
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Posts
223
I never quite understood the need to inject so much water. If your goal is to create the fastest course possible, just build a refrigerated piste, like in boblsled.
The FIS "snow control" director, from an interview I read last year, wants to see at least 6, preferably 8 inches of a solid surface for a WC venue. The wearing expected during a two day event (four runs) requires it, they want to be assured that the surface will be able to hold up in case of warm weather.
To inject the water into the snow at the right time, at the right depth, in the right volume.... not so easy, which is why the surfaces can vary. Injecting at Copper (10-11,000 feet) is very different than at Killington (2,000 ft).
This year, I read that Killington completed the injection only on Thursday, it having been warm in the early part of the week. Not sure what work they did previous to Thursday, but the results were....variable.
Skiers right in the upper section had uneven sections that gave the GS skiers trouble on Saturday. Sundays SL first run was set more to skiers right, and there were a few gates breaking up (after Estelle Alphand's crash there was a horde with rakes working in that area).
The second run was set on skiers left, lots more offset in the course set (almost six seconds slower) and from the video you could see the surface on that side of Superstar was pond ice. About as challenging as it gets.
 

James

Skiing the powder
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8,158
In an article about last years preparations, it detailed that much water is put into the (mostly man made) snow well before injection.

An interview with Jeff Temple, director of mountain operations at Killington:

----------------
Temple said the grooming machines have been working on various parts of the slope nonstop. “What’s happened over the last couple days is it’s been groomed out,” he explained. “The terrain's been built in with terrain features, [like] some rolls that the racers like to see.”

“And then we’ve windrowed it, just like you would a field, and so it’s all opened up. And today, crews will walk all the way down it and just douse it with water. And then right after that,” added Temple, “we’ll get grooming cats back on it and tighten it all up, till it out, so that water starts to set up inside.”

Elite racers want the hardest surface they can have, explained Temple, so to create that they'll actually inject the slope with even more water near the end of the week.

“We have these bars that go all the way across the slope," Temple said. "And crews walk every 4-to-6 inches over [an] eight-hour period down the trail, and water is actually forced into the surface through high-pressure nozzles.”

“And it actually creates a whole series of, like, icicles or cones below the snow’s surface,” said Temple, pointing up to the slope. The racers ski on top of those, he explained.

“We’ve been getting some natural snow this week and last week, and you really don’t want that,” said Temple, admitting that it’s ironic for someone in his business to not want natural snow. But he said for a World Cup race, “you want to scrape that off and have that surface as hard as you can have.”
---------------------
 

Bolder

Getting on the lift
Skier
Posts
232
^^Thanks all for the explanations about injection. I get the need for a solid base etc. It's a dispute in a lot of sports, of course: Natural vs artificial turf (grass, baby!); indoor climbing wall vs. bouldering; wavepark vs real surf etc etc...

I'm kind of grumpy about this but there's so much artificially enhanced crap in the modern world...what we see isn't what we think it is...
 

Primoz

Making fresh tracks
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Slovenia, Europe
If someone is dominant, are they really that good, or is the rest of the field weak?
While I totally agree with @Muleski that current women field is weak (nicely said), I will still say Shiffrin is really that good. She would be winning regardless of who would be skiing. Maybe she would have victory or two less, but she would still be winning. So yeah she is really that good regardless on rest of the field. But with stronger field, she wouldn't be winning for 2 or 3 sec like she's doing now, as soon as course gets a little bit more demanding.
 

PinnacleJim

Getting off the lift
Skier
Posts
262
Location
Killington/Pico, VT
I have really enjoyed this discussion and the contributions of those that know a LOT more about ski racing than I do. I usually can't look at the top 5 or 10 racers and see why one is faster than the other. But this race clearly showed that MS is on another level compared to the rest of the field. And she seems to have the mental thing under control. If she avoids injury, she could easily retire with over 100 WC wins.
 

no edge

Putting on skis
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Posts
229
The second run was nasty difficult, and MS did a fantastic job. I thought I could see fear in her skiing and I don't blame her. Her comments after the race expressed the challenge they faced.
 

sparty

Getting on the lift
Skier
Posts
169
^^Thanks all for the explanations about injection. I get the need for a solid base etc. It's a dispute in a lot of sports, of course: Natural vs artificial turf (grass, baby!); indoor climbing wall vs. bouldering; wavepark vs real surf etc etc...

I'm kind of grumpy about this but there's so much artificially enhanced crap in the modern world...what we see isn't what we think it is...
While there's a huge difference between a natural surface and a groomed slope, let alone a race-prepped surface, I think a key difference is that most of the prep involved is physical manipulation of the existing materials. You don't just mow a meadow and play soccer, you need a flat pitch for it to be a reasonable game, so you're going to groom (bulldoze, I assume) it and then plant grass that's amenable to your goals. And then you're going to mow it, potentially water it, etc. I don't think that process is a whole lot different than race-prepping a ski slope, until you get into adding salt or nitrates to the surface (and I could be wrong, but I don't believe either is necessary when injection is used).

We could race on natural surfaces, or boot-packed ones, but I'm pretty sure the injury rates would be through the roof, particularly when you combine modern equipment and the speeds it can handle with an irregular surface.
 

James

Skiing the powder
Instructor
Posts
8,158
While there's a huge difference between a natural surface and a groomed slope, let alone a race-prepped surface, I think a key difference is that most of the prep involved is physical manipulation of the existing materials. You don't just mow a meadow and play soccer, you need a flat pitch for it to be a reasonable game, so you're going to groom (bulldoze, I assume) it and then plant grass that's amenable to your goals. And then you're going to mow it, potentially water it, etc. I don't think that process is a whole lot different than race-prepping a ski slope, until you get into adding salt or nitrates to the surface (and I could be wrong, but I don't believe either is necessary when injection is used).

We could race on natural surfaces, or boot-packed ones, but I'm pretty sure the injury rates would be through the roof, particularly when you combine modern equipment and the speeds it can handle with an irregular surface.
Yes, well said. Plus many modern fields now have pipes underneath that they can blow air or pull vacuum to drain. The field is an engineered system. You don’t in general see a lot of muddy football games like we used to.

Then there’s setting up the basketball court on top of the hockey rink in arenas that have both.

Meanwhile, Temple used the word “windrowed” talking about what the groomers do before they spray water into the snow.

windrow noun [also a verb]
1a : a row of hay raked up to dry before being baled or stored
//This allows the rake to merge hay into one windrow or, individually turn or make two windrows as conditions require.— Farming

3 a: a long low ridge of material (such as snow or road-making material) scraped to the side of a road
//There is a proven and commercially available solution to the problem of snow windrows, or snow ridges, blocking driveways.— Bob Gaunt

 

S.H.

USSA Coach
Skier
Posts
159
Location
New England
Using this start list to say the start list procedures for top 20 make no sense to me. Rebensburg gets screwed, while someone like Shiffrin, who is ranked lower, get much more favorable start positions. The tech start list procedures make more sense to me by far.
 

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