Federica Brignone Killington GS 2018 analysis
What can I say? Her second run was amazing!
Federica has such a unique style/technique that has been great to analyze and she truly has some interesting tactics and movements that traditionally are not exactly text book, but in certain conditions and situations they are working in her favor.
In this second run she was displaying a very classic Ted Ligetyiesque line. Much rounder and nearly the whole run was carved with minimal skidding compared to her competitors. I think I counted her only clearing about 9 gates in the whole run. This was a great tactic for this particular run. I have skied this run many times as a kid and it is a great pitch for carving. It is not super steep. It starts out steep, then flattens out then has a medium pitch face back into a flatter run out into the finish area. I think this course is definitely a great season starter.
Federica generally takes a rounder line compared to some of her rivals, but why?
Well, I believe it comes down to her basic fundamentals as a skier. Her base technique is not exactly what most coaches are trying to coach and her unique movements are sometimes what catches her out on really steep offset courses. In this run she was able to only make one mistake and really maintain and generate speed through most of the course.
There are two very interesting aspects to her taking a round line. Besides the obvious of her being able to carve pretty much from the top of the turn to the completion of the turn, her upper body has a very interesting role in the act of where her COM moves.
More times than not she leads with her upper body into the turn and her shoulders/hips are often rotated inside the turn. This makes it difficult for her to clear the gate on her shoulder, like you see in most other racers with that slight counter rotation of the upper body to take the gate on the outside of the shoulder. This is where I believe her rounder line tactic has been developed. She is forced to take a rounder line to avoid hitting the gate because it could catch the inside of her shoulder, and this can have some serious side effects if it happens. Obviously she doesn’t do this every single turn and you can see that she does utilize the classic shoulder clearing technique in some turns, but more often than not her base technique is very upper body driven. If she tried to pinch the line with this technique her inside shoulder would definitely get caught on the gate.
Because of this technique she is forced to take a rounder line more often, and as a result needs to carve the top of the turn more to let the skis travel out further around the gate where many other girls were pinching the line and drifting the top part of the turn. This ski run at Killington, like I stated earlier, is a good pitch for just trying to carve from top to bottom of the turn.
She also has an interesting variation of this movement that she uses sometimes as well, which is where she enters the fall line square with her skis, then rotates her shoulders inside the turn until completion and then counter rotates her shoulders at the end of the turn, to face her shoulders back down the hill into the next turn.
This technique with the upper body is generally frowned upon and usually coaches teach the opposite. This is something she has been doing for years so it is hard to get rid of, but hey she is getting good results right now, so…
Transition on flats vs steeps. This was also a very interesting aspect in the run where Federica utilized the classic Italian movement of up and forward on the flats at the top creating great flow between turns and then changing to a more compact lower transition on the steeps. This looked like it was a great way for her to maintain rhythm and flow from one turn to the next. Rhythm and flow is not really a technique, but is often downplayed in the role of being a fast skier. When a skier gets into a rhythm and flow state, skiing definitely becomes faster because all the movements connect and flow from one turn to the next. It seems silly, but flowing like a dance to a beat shows elegance and also creates a better equality of timing of movements.
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