Derin, Defne, day 2

Defne started the day’s skiing with a warm up run and then straight into working on technique. She expressed her concern about doing anything too difficult, but I reassured her that our focus was on technique today. There is always something interesting you can do with your skiing without frightening yourself. The visibility was poor and temperature high, so it was a good day to focus on improving skills. The goal for today was to take the pivoting skills a bit further and show how they apply to both fall-line skiing (braking) and to racing (accelerating). In racing it is about making a rapid change of line, which helps you to stay close to the poles. Yesterday I told Defne we would be trying to get her to ski closer to the poles.

We began with a revision of yesterday’s fall-line pivoting then rapidly moved on to the next stage – “air pivots”. Air Pivots are when the first part of the turn is done with the skis in the air. There is already very little resistance to swinging the skis into a turn when on their uphill edge against the snow – and they provide a certain amount of braking when you do this, but there is even less resistance when the skis are in the air! Defne didn’t like the idea to begin with, because it is difficult to learn and she doesn’t seem to like being confronted with difficulty. She would mistakenly begin the turn first then jump during the turn – but eventually got the hang of starting the whole process with a coordinated two footed jump.  She did the “jump turns” well and then tried to link them together into “short swings” but that takes a lot more practice. The next stage is to realise that a racing turn can also be started this way, with the skis changing edge during the pivot. The mechanics are the same except the skis land on the downhill edges and accelerate.  This is used to change the line more rapidly at the start of a turn – when there is not likely to be enough pressure on the ski for it to carve tightly enough. Defne had no problem picking this up. In the race course she tentatively tried it out, but remained far from the poles due to feeling a bit unsafe with the poor visibility. Next time she will get the benefit. Defne gets afraid of skiers close to her, steep slopes and many other things. I explained to Defne that everybody feels fear – sometimes very strong fear. The important thing is to not always allow it to win. We are stronger than out fears – but this is something that we need to learn. Everybody experiences fear but it must never control you and stop you from doing things. People who allow fear to dominate find that their lives become more and more constrained and limited by their fears instead of opening up. Fear doesn’t get less as we grow up – we just (hopefully) learn to deal with it much better. Defne’s issues are really just about confidence. I notice that her confidence takes big swings and usually after a very good day it is followed by a bad one – as she anticipates that expectations of her performance will be higher. When distracted by having fun or just by her own positive decisions at times then she enjoys most things. Confidence or Self Belief is super important. She has a tendency to interrupt explanations instead of listening and this is clearly a confidence issue too. To help circumvent this issue I explained that skiing is not really about “understanding” it’s about perception. What makes skiing interesting is that it opens up many different levels of perception, so the same explanation means different things to different people and we have to be very careful to listen or we can completely miss this. To help, when riding the chairlift we discussed “drawing”. I asked Defne to guide me through how she would draw a bubble lift that we could see close by. She started with the cable then the support hanging down and then the bubble itself with the windows. I explained that this is normal but it doesn’t work very well because the brain has a name for all of those objects and you end up drawing those objects as symbols because that’s how the brain deals with them so that you easily recognise them. If we look at the spaces that those objects make with the surrounding snow then we can’t name those shapes and so we use a different part of the brain specialised in “observing”. Drawing only those shapes causes the other objects to appear as if by magic. This is a different way to “perceive”. There are many things like this with the body and the brain, concerning physical feelings, pain, fear, emotions, how we interacts with objects and space and much more. Skiing is really “understood “ or “perceived” through feeling. Perception is really developed through listening – it’s “internal”. In music a note is just a meaningless sound, but the size of the space between one note and  another gives it meaning. How many people really “listen” and hear this? Yesterday Defne explained that at school she gets bored with maths because she is ahead of the class. I pointed out that the most important perception regarding mathematics is that it does not describe reality. There is no such thing in nature or “man made” as a “perfect circle” but in maths every circle is perfect. A line is by definition made up of numbers at every point, but we cannot find numbers at every point, there are “holes”. The more you compare maths with reality the more problems you find. That’s what makes maths really interesting. Relating mathematics to the real world is a form of listening, just like feeling in skiing is a form of listening – all this is perception. Derin went through more or less the same training process today as Defne but had completely forgotten what a pivot is!!!!! Her body however remembered for her. Derin needed a repeat of the explanation about “pivoting”. She had either not remembered or never previously understood the concept of staying on the uphill edges for braking during both halts of the turn. This had to be clearly understood now because we would have to switch edges for the racing pivot. She followed all of this without difficulty. This is Derin the Tiger (with the ears) attacking the slalom with her new “close to the poles” technique… Derin was also game for working on her fall-line pivoting in the bumps and we started to introduce the correct timing for compression turns. Every day we will do a little more and she will soon be a competent bumps skier. Tomorrow we have to take this “relaxation” further so that she can bend a little bit more at the knees.  If conditions are suitable we will also begin to look at dynamics in the bumps. On the flat her pivoting was much better when she placed some weight on her downhill pole. Derin has to be reminded frequently to avoid leaning on the back of her ski boots – which she quickly corrects when brought to mind. For dealing with the “back of the boots” issue I reminded her to “listen” to her legs. We need a clear line of communication between the mind and the legs. When perpendicular to the skis there is no pressure from the boots against the legs and most of the leg muscles feel relaxed.

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