Bugra Family Day 5

Hulya started of the day by accepting my proposition to come up the beginner’s chair. Her coordination had progressed well and so it was time to get some mileage. The real issue is that there is nowhere in this part of the Alps where there are long very gentle pistes so that someone progressing like Hulya can continue unaided. I knew that Hulya would be able to handle being supported by holding onto a pole beside me. The idea of this is that I do all the work and manipulate the skier – causing sideslipping and pivoting by the way I pull and push the skier. This method only works with “pivoting” and parallel (or diverging skis) sideslipping and not with any snowplough or “stemming” (converging skis). The skier learns by feeling what happens with the forces and dynamics of the turn. The process is simply repeated until the skier can do more and more with less and less support. In Hulya’s case there was a strong tendency to keep the body in the vertical when turning into the fall line. I explained that it was important to remain perpendicular to the slope – using my pole as a support Hulya was able to correct the fore/aft positioning to correspond to the geometry of the mountain. 

Later on Hulya practised on her own again and seemed to be able to correct some of the fore/aft issues by herself – she was certainly faster and more confident – but there was a bit of a stem creeping in – only caused however by the inside ski getting a bit stuck. The way to overcome this is to go back to skating/step turns again for a short while. In any case the pivot and the skate use different edges but the same muscle (adductors) coordination – with either parallel or diverging skis. 

Kutay, having mastered straight running and using the magic carpet to get back up the hill, now had to learn how to turn. First of all he had to still improve his “herringbone” climbing coordination. Five days is too long for developing this coordination and so it appeared that he either wasn’t trying hard enough or simply didn’t connect. Talking more sternly certainly got his attention – but didn’t get results. Taking his legs and feet in my hands and manipulating them did get a result – and an “OK” from Kutay – it gave him the physical connection that he couldn’t understand up until now. Kutay could now climb with a skating action (Herringbone pattern on the snow). The objective was now to get Kutay to skate/step in turns – changing direction and bringing each turn to a stop under control. After a few attempts he managed this and had his first way of controlling his speed in descending – with absolutely no snowplough.

Speed Shopping
Before lunch Bugra went into the ski shop and walked out in about 15 minutes flat with his own pair of Zag Big 178s with Rossignol rental bindings (for a very small fee) and a pair of brand new Head World Cup racing boots that fit like a glove.

Ilay, Defne and Bugra came with me after lunch up the Grande Motte up to 3032m altitude. Unfortunately the cable car was off so we didn’t get up to the very top – but the sun was out and the view was pretty stunning anyway. The red run was well within Ilay’s limits now. The time seemed right to start working on some more advanced technique. I filmed the skiing prior to changing anything – then began work on “timing”. Correct timing means coming down into a turn and then back up out of it – the way a motorbike does in any turn. This is also how a leg works you go down and then push back up with it – and it’s how skating works too. A turn on skis resembles skating in arcs – with the skier coming up out of the turn into the perpendicular to finish the turn. We did a progression from three steps around – to two steps and then one step per turn. Ilay did good skating step turns. Bugra and Defne were turning prior to stepping. Ilay had absorbed her coaching very well during the week. When we got to the single skate however Bugra got the timing very well and looked very natural – with independent leg action. He needs to ski like this a lot more. On the final descent we did a big section off piste on some steep ground and Ilay had no problem there – she looked very confident and had fun.

Bugra sacrificed his own learning to get his whole family up and running. The skating got him to ski more “one legged” and so to center himself better over his skis – plus the correct timing proved to be very natural for him. This is clearly the main route for Bugra to focus on in future to eliminate the bad habits which get in his way.
Kutay found himself in an alien universe with alien demands being placed upon him in every way imaginable – but he responded by adapting and becoming stronger every day. Patience is required at this stage so that only the correct coordination is developed and despite a slow start his progress was accelerating rapidly. It would only have been a short time before he would have been independent on his skis and skiing parallel. His very low body weight would have permitted him to progress faster than most adults once the initial coordination was in place.
Hulya demonstrated very good coordination and learning ability. She needs long gentle slopes to build up confidence. She was honest at the outset about having no desire to ski and was obviously not comfortable with the physical accelerations. In contrast to this beginning she appeared to enjoy discovering that she was able to make consistent progress and envision a clear way ahead.
Ilya impressed me the most with her final off-piste descent. She skied that steep off-piste like she had been doing it for years. That means for me that the combination of dynamics and pivot skills has really been taken on-board. Her attitude was wonderful – from the way she disciplined herself not to lose her poles and sit down when afraid to the way she handled her body in general, the cold, her emotions – everything. Impressive! 

Mont Blanc (4010m) Italian side – seen from Toviere

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