Men’s World Cup 2021

Noodler

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The fact that there has not been any updates on Tommy Ford's condition is concerning. Does anyone know what specific injuries he sustained? I re-watched the race and I have to say that there clearly needs to be more care given to areas of the course where a skier may ski out/wide. The "penalty" in this case for his miss does not seem to match the "crime".
 

S.H.

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The fact that there has not been any updates on Tommy Ford's condition is concerning. Does anyone know what specific injuries he sustained? I re-watched the race and I have to say that there clearly needs to be more care given to areas of the course where a skier may ski out/wide. The "penalty" in this case for his miss does not seem to match the "crime".
I think the latest we know, at least officially, is that head/neck injuries were pretty minor, and that there was some knee injury that required further evaluation.

Nobody ever said USST was good at communication
 

Skitechniek

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I wasn't sympathizing with HK or anyone for that matter. And HK isn't necessarily criticizing it, he's saying he just needs to adapt better, but he has a preference for turnier course sets.

But the last part of the course in Adelboden was simply dangerous. It looked very sketchy and lots of athletes were struggling. Sure that is only a small part of the course and it only happened once, but you do have to be wary for dangerous course sets imho.

Apart from that, I agree, variety is nice. Athletes should be able to ski fast and slow course sets.
 

S.H.

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I wasn't sympathizing with HK or anyone for that matter. And HK isn't necessarily criticizing it, he's saying he just needs to adapt better, but he has a preference for turnier course sets.

But the last part of the course in Adelboden was simply dangerous. It looked very sketchy and lots of athletes were struggling. Sure that is only a small part of the course and it only happened once, but you do have to be wary for dangerous course sets imho.

Apart from that, I agree, variety is nice. Athletes should be able to ski fast and slow course sets.
It looked sketchy at the bottom of the pitch, I agree, both from snow conditions (looked like a couple of weird ripples/holes) and set but ... you can't just blame the setter. You have to look at the jury and also the athlete rep for not bringing anything up/changing anything.

Also, HK IS criticizing it.

But this is not the giant slalom I, and I’m sure a lot of the other technicians want to ski.
FIS has spent an extraordinary amount of resources going back and forth between what length and radius we should have on the skis to prevent injuries, but they allow coaches to set a courses like that. If FIS really wants to put the skier’s safety first, as they so often proclaim, the courses is where you should start. It’s even free! In my second run on Saturday, I couldn’t justify giving it all I got, because of a horrendous and dangerous course set.
Making 1000 words of excuses and then saying "this is not an attempt to make an excuse" is some politician-level gaslighting.
 

Noodler

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Funny, I was just posting on this when I saw an alert that stated "new post was made". Figured there was a high change it was same topic. ogsmile
Yes, interesting blog. Seems HK us taking a page from Ted Ligety as he expresses his frustration with the the new GS course settings (as Ted did with ski changes).
No matter what you may think of HK in posting his opinions about the course sets, a course set that is 10 seconds faster on average on the same slope is a huge change that clearly impacted the race safety. We already have speed races, my vote is for the turnier course sets, they're more fun to watch.
 

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No matter what you may think of HK in posting his opinions about the course sets, a course set that is 10 seconds faster on average on the same slope is a huge change that clearly impacted the race safety. We already have speed races, my vote is for the turnier course sets, they're more fun to watch.
I'm not sure that you can say speed "clearly impacted" race safety, vs., say, snow conditions, fencing, luck, athlete preparation, course set (i.e., placement of fall zones, working with terrain, etc.) or any other factor, unless your argument is that "any increase in speed carries an increase in risk", which is true, but a bit meaningless, since the goal is always to ski faster. Is there an inflection point somewhere, where the incremental risk with incremental speed gain increases? Maybe, perhaps even probably. But it's naive to think we actually know where it is (or even that it's constant year-to-year and not dependent on thousands of other factors). Correlation isn't causation, and the number of injuries this year in GS vs. previous is not statistically significant.

Times were about 7% lower. That does not mean ground speeds were 7% faster.

It's fun to say "ooh look, it's faster, and that's bad" but ... the set was legal, the winners were sending it and skiing close to full-arc down the pitch (which is nuts), and *nobody* was forced to go out of the start gate if they didn't think it was safe.

If we want to have a discussion about safety, and the merits of letting coaches/officials/media stand where they do inside the fence, hill prep, hill fencing, equipment, equipment prep, rules, etc., and how that all intersects (or should intersect) with course sets, I'm game, but ... this is world cup. These are world-class athletes hurling themselves down a mountain with sharp sticks on their feet with the sole goal of pushing their limits and trying to go faster. It's never going to be completely safe. There are going to be injuries. The set needs to be legal, and the venue needs to be set up so that it's "safe enough". Perhaps the standard for what's "safe enough" in the mind of the organizers and jury needs to be changed.

But the set also needs to test the field and separate the best skiers of the day. Risk/reward is part of that, and I'm glad to see it returning to GS.
 

Swede

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I think the latest we know, at least officially, is that head/neck injuries were pretty minor, and that there was some knee injury that required further evaluation.

Nobody ever said USST was good at communication
They seem very silent. I actually heard a comment over here about that, that they are more silent than other nations ski federations and that it is hard to get information.
 

Average Joe

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I'm not sure that you can say speed "clearly impacted" race safety, vs., say, snow conditions, fencing, luck, athlete preparation, course set (i.e., placement of fall zones, working with terrain, etc.) or any other factor, unless your argument is that "any increase in speed carries an increase in risk", which is true, but a bit meaningless, since the goal is always to ski faster. Is there an inflection point somewhere, where the incremental risk with incremental speed gain increases? Maybe, perhaps even probably. But it's naive to think we actually know where it is (or even that it's constant year-to-year and not dependent on thousands of other factors). Correlation isn't causation, and the number of injuries this year in GS vs. previous is not statistically significant.

Times were about 7% lower. That does not mean ground speeds were 7% faster.

It's fun to say "ooh look, it's faster, and that's bad" but ... the set was legal, the winners were sending it and skiing close to full-arc down the pitch (which is nuts), and *nobody* was forced to go out of the start gate if they didn't think it was safe.

If we want to have a discussion about safety, and the merits of letting coaches/officials/media stand where they do inside the fence, hill prep, hill fencing, equipment, equipment prep, rules, etc., and how that all intersects (or should intersect) with course sets, I'm game, but ... this is world cup. These are world-class athletes hurling themselves down a mountain with sharp sticks on their feet with the sole goal of pushing their limits and trying to go faster. It's never going to be completely safe. There are going to be injuries. The set needs to be legal, and the venue needs to be set up so that it's "safe enough". Perhaps the standard for what's "safe enough" in the mind of the organizers and jury needs to be changed.

But the set also needs to test the field and separate the best skiers of the day. Risk/reward is part of that, and I'm glad to see it returning to GS.
I thought HK's comments were, coming from him, quite measured. It's true that "nobody was forced to go out of the start gate" but that's not his point.

Course setting as I'm sure you know can make or break (nice pun, eh?) a racers career: a small realignment of a gate, or deterioration of the surface can change history. Svindal and two others in Kitz a few years ago comes to mind. Nicole Schmidhofer and 3 or 4 others going down at the same location last month in Italy. And at Garmisch last season, Goggia and Rebensberg.....
In the Adelboden GS, Tommy Ford wasn't the only racer to have trouble at that gate.

If a veteran WC racer brings up out changes in the sets and discusses valid points, I think it's worth a listen.
 

S.H.

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I thought HK's comments were, coming from him, quite measured. It's true that "nobody was forced to go out of the start gate" but that's not his point.

Course setting as I'm sure you know can make or break (nice pun, eh?) a racers career: a small realignment of a gate, or deterioration of the surface can change history. Svindal and two others in Kitz a few years ago comes to mind. Nicole Schmidhofer and 3 or 4 others going down at the same location last month in Italy. And at Garmisch last season, Goggia and Rebensberg.....
In the Adelboden GS, Tommy Ford wasn't the only racer to have trouble at that gate.

If a veteran WC racer brings up out changes in the sets and discusses valid points, I think it's worth a listen.
For sure. I read his comments with interest and his opinion holds a lot of weight with me. But IMO his concerns about safety are disingenuous; he didn't really have problems with running races in sketchy snow conditions where others were injured when he won. So, I take his comments with a massive heaping of salt.

The issues you mention are problem *gates* or issues with the *size of jumps in speed*. These are not really the same as *course setting philosophy* in GS. Should a gate be moved here or there based on snow conditions/fencing/etc.? Of course. And that's an issue that the jury and athlete rep should address. 100%. But that's not the same thing, IMO. Again, I'm all about having a discussion about venue safety and everything that incorporates, and how those factors should influence and intersect with course setting. I'm also of the opinion that the bar for "safe enough" should be higher for ski racing in general, including on world cup. But straighter sets don't necessarily mean that they're unsafe.

I'll take the comments about GS being "too straight" this year more seriously if it comes from Pinturault, Odermatt, Zubcic, etc. Right now from HK it reads like sour grapes.
 

Skitechniek

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It looked sketchy at the bottom of the pitch, I agree, both from snow conditions (looked like a couple of weird ripples/holes) and set but ... you can't just blame the setter. You have to look at the jury and also the athlete rep for not bringing anything up/changing anything.

Also, HK IS criticizing it.




Making 1000 words of excuses and then saying "this is not an attempt to make an excuse" is some politician-level gaslighting.
Such an American way of reading it haha. He is saying the second course set was dangerous, and it was. He is not saying faster course sets are bad or that faster course sets are unsafe. He isn't 'criticizing' the first course set, which could imply that one was safe. But it was still a fast course set. Second of all, he's merely stating a preference, he prefers a turnier course set. Nothing wrong with that. Sure, he's value judging faster course sets by saying that is not what a technical discipline should be about. You can agree or disagree, but that is still not criticizing.

Sure you could read his piece also as saying everything fast is bad, but that is not necessarily what it says if you dissect the text. That is how you choose to read it. It might sound like sour grapes if you interpret it like that, but he has, to a certain extent, a point. That last part of the second run could have been done better.

He is still saying he needs to adapt better and blaming himself as well. But it's understandable it might be a bit frustrating for him.

I'm not sure that you can say speed "clearly impacted" race safety, vs., say, snow conditions, fencing, luck, athlete preparation, course set (i.e., placement of fall zones, working with terrain, etc.) or any other factor, unless your argument is that "any increase in speed carries an increase in risk", which is true, but a bit meaningless, since the goal is always to ski faster. Is there an inflection point somewhere, where the incremental risk with incremental speed gain increases? Maybe, perhaps even probably. But it's naive to think we actually know where it is (or even that it's constant year-to-year and not dependent on thousands of other factors). Correlation isn't causation, and the number of injuries this year in GS vs. previous is not statistically significant.

Times were about 7% lower. That does not mean ground speeds were 7% faster.

It's fun to say "ooh look, it's faster, and that's bad" but ... the set was legal, the winners were sending it and skiing close to full-arc down the pitch (which is nuts), and *nobody* was forced to go out of the start gate if they didn't think it was safe.

If we want to have a discussion about safety, and the merits of letting coaches/officials/media stand where they do inside the fence, hill prep, hill fencing, equipment, equipment prep, rules, etc., and how that all intersects (or should intersect) with course sets, I'm game, but ... this is world cup. These are world-class athletes hurling themselves down a mountain with sharp sticks on their feet with the sole goal of pushing their limits and trying to go faster. It's never going to be completely safe. There are going to be injuries. The set needs to be legal, and the venue needs to be set up so that it's "safe enough". Perhaps the standard for what's "safe enough" in the mind of the organizers and jury needs to be changed.

But the set also needs to test the field and separate the best skiers of the day. Risk/reward is part of that, and I'm glad to see it returning to GS.
Obviously this debate isn't just about safety, but also about the 7% difference and HK not performing well. He is merely using safety as another example. But in the end it is about technical vs. speed event. And I think you are hugely underestimating a 7 percent difference. A 7 percent difference in sports is an absurdly high number. It's the difference between winning on the PGA and not even making cuts on the Korn Ferry tour, the difference between top 3 in het world and hardly making the ATP tour. 7 percent is not negligible. And sure, it is self interest of HK as well to say he thinks it should be a technical event. That is his opinion and he has every right for that. But the discussion in itself is valid, should it be about speed or technique? I think we both agree on variety being a nice thing. The gs should encompass both, but at least make it sensible. Don't expect athletes to make 26 meter, 8 meter offset turns on a 30 degrees pitch if the speed is almost 100 km/h. The ski's just won't grip enough then.

Have you ever played high level sports yourself? If so, you must understand that it can be frustrating for an athlete to see what they've worked so hard for go away. Do I feel sorry for HK, no. Do I sense some frustration? Probably. But it doesn't make his point less valid.

In the end I think he should learn to cope with faster and slower sets. But let's not pretend that a 7% difference is marginal. That could really change the dynamic on the wc and we could potentially see speed skiers taking the overall more and more, because they will start scoring points in gs.
 

Average Joe

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For sure. I read his comments with interest and his opinion holds a lot of weight with me. But IMO his concerns about safety are disingenuous; he didn't really have problems with running races in sketchy snow conditions where others were injured when he won. So, I take his comments with a massive heaping of salt.

The issues you mention are problem *gates* or issues with the *size of jumps in speed*. These are not really the same as *course setting philosophy* in GS. Should a gate be moved here or there based on snow conditions/fencing/etc.? Of course. And that's an issue that the jury and athlete rep should address. 100%. But that's not the same thing, IMO. Again, I'm all about having a discussion about venue safety and everything that incorporates, and how those factors should influence and intersect with course setting. I'm also of the opinion that the bar for "safe enough" should be higher for ski racing in general, including on world cup. But straighter sets don't necessarily mean that they're unsafe.

I'll take the comments about GS being "too straight" this year more seriously if it comes from Pinturault, Odermatt, Zubcic, etc. Right now from HK it reads like sour grapes.
There are many venues where speeding up a set by 5 seconds per run would drastically change the level of safety on the course. Kitzbuhel as an example is now is set on average 7 -8 seconds slower than it's record time, and if the course were returned to its pre-2000's set, there would be more injuries. If those complaints do not come from a top 5 finisher it does not make them less valid.

You will never hear complaints from the winners. The young and hungry will be keen to replace the cautious veterans who opt out. The coaches will protest only if the rule book can be cited. The fans, sponsors and their guests will (someday again) watch from the stands and hospitality tents.

Sponsored and paid participants are often afraid to speak up for fear of losing their income stream. It's understandable. I don't think it's "sour grapes" just because it's from a 15th place finisher, I think it's a refreshing. Ligety used his standing to argue merits and flaws with FIS, and he was proven correct.

It's a dangerous sport, for sure. Risk cannot be eliminated, but it can be reduced. We've lost way too many top and upcoming athletes to injury in recent years. It's good to consider advice from those who know.
 
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