Thursday, February 11, 2010

Freestyle Skiing Aerials

Freestyle Skiing Aerials is the springboard diving of the Winter Olympics. Athletes complete huge back flips and twists after taking off from a ramp with takeoff angles ranging from 60 to 70 degrees.

Athletes are judged on their take off, the height attained during their trick, the control, form and body position during the trick, and how they land and ski out.

Some male athletes such as the World Champion, Anton Kushnir from Belarus can attain heights of 50 feet or 5 stories during a trick. In comparison the highest jump height in a half pipe was achieved in 2010 by Peter Olenick at 24 feet 11 inches.

Below we have some video of Anton Kushnir, favored to win the gold medal for Free Style Skiing Aerials in the Vancouver Olympics 2010.

Here Anton is performing a near flawless trick with 3 back flips and 4 twists.

Analyze the video closely and you will see that Anton completes his first twist in his first flip on his way up. He then completes 2 twists in his second flip and the last of his 4 twists in the third flip.

The slow motion video also allows us to analyze and understand how Anton maintains good form and is able to land so smoothly out of the trick.

After each flip notice how he ends with his body in an upright position and how he slows down his twist. He even opens out his arms to help him slow down his twist.
He does this so that he can review his position and height in the air before moving into the next part of his trick.

Being aware of your body and spatial positioning in a big complicated trick like the one performed above is essential. If Anton began to twist off axis or drift laterally (to the side) during the trick, he would find it much more difficult to complete.

By "spotting" his position between each flip he is able to make any small corrections prior to the next flip, or in an extreme case to abort the trick and try to land safely.

We also see in the slow motion replay how Anton uses his arms and head during the second flip with the 2 twists to speed up his twisting motion. In the first and last flip he is only completing one twist and uses his arms minimally. In the second flip, by turning his head in the direction of his twist and bring his arms into his chest he is able to spin faster and complete 2 twists.

Form and landing are also critical components of the Aerial trick. We can see that Anton keeps his legs tightly together and his body straight during his flips and twists, for perfect form.

On landing he brings his arms forward and together in front of him and bends his knees into the land. When landing from 50 feet or more on snow or any hard surface your knees have to bend quite a bit to absorb the impact of landing.

Keeping his arms out in front and his head still and looking forward as he lands, he is also able to ensure he does not fall back on landing and can ski out of the trick.

So what's the biggest aerial trick we may see at the Olympics in 2010. US aerialist Jeret Peterson plans to attempt his "Hurricane", which consists of 3 flips and 5 twists (one more twist than in the video above). We also may see some other big tricks from Anton and other contenders.

Please contact us if you have any questions or are interested in analyzing your performance. Video Analysis is not only for the pros. It is great for any sport in which mechanics, form and technique are important. This covers just about all sports, except Poker :).

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