Derin (Mini) –first ever time on skis.

Derin’s first ever time on skis. At this point she is just getting used to walking in ski boots for the first time and then patiently taking the bus to the best beginner’s area at Tignes Le Lac. She isn’t talking to me yet because I’m still a complete stranger. I guess she is wondering what it is all about at this moment. The first few days on skis are the most important of all. Incorrect information can leave a very visible scar for life. It’s not so much “what is taught” that is important it’s “what isn’t taught”. Nothing generating constraints or inappropriate coordination should be taught. Basic appropriate movements are very natural and a great deal of patience and support is required to let them develop naturally. Derin was first asked to jump up and down in her ski boots with no skis on – so she could feel how to modify her movements to the high rigid boots. I then showed her how to put a ski on and we both walked about with one ski on so she could get used to having a “big foot”. She was then shown how to remove the ski and put it on the other foot. Once the ski had been tried on each foot she then put both skis on and continued to walk around on the flat and turn with tiny steps. I pulled her a little and supported her down a very shallow gradient then pushed her back up again several times until her body stopped over-reacting to the accelerations. She was soon able to slide on two skis unassisted.     Today I didn’t want her to be frustrated with difficult coordination but just to get used to sliding and to enjoy it. We did a little bit of “skating step” work but not enough for it to become frustrating. Some of her first turns should come from skating steps in the near future.  Meanwhile I was training Derin to hold onto my ski pole for support. We used the small moving carpet to give us access to a steeper gradient where Derin could descend holding onto the ski pole (handle end for safety). She was clearly very comfortable with all of this – but hadn’t really said a word to me by this stage. We stopped for a drinks break after an hour with a view to avoiding sessions being too long and demanding (It is tiring at first because there is no sitting down). After the drinks break  we were straight up the chairlift (which she calls the “flying chairs” – as many children do) and she was able to comfortably hold on the pole for the long descent of the nursery area. Earlier, the first thing she said to me was “I’m four”. Now, the second thing she said was “I want to go faster!”

Derin was taken down the mountain with skis held parallel totally naturally. She has never even heard the word “parallel”. Holding onto the pole she was sideslipping the steep sections without knowing about it – only feeling it. Skiing is about “feeling” more than anything else.  I controlled the overall speed with a plough and with Derin holding the pole tightly (held at the level of her belly button) I would control the sideslipping into each turn on the outside edges of the skis – moving her body in the appropriate direction by pushing or pulling on the pole. This way the skis are working and she can learn to identify the feeling. At each suitable opportunity, when running straight,  I encouraged her to let go of the pole and manage short sections on her own. She is not learning the incorrect and defensive coordination of the snowplough which pushes the uphill ski onto the wrong edge for developing speed control and develops the bad habit of pushing the skis “outwards”. Her body is pulled or pushed into the turn – not away from it as is taught in snowplough – another serious problem to avoid. Derin connected perfectly with the whole process and really enjoyed it. I noticed that towards the end she was appearing to fall asleep on the chairlift and on the final run at 16:10hrs she was losing concentration so it was time to stop. I think she would happily have continued until she dropped off to sleep.   First with one ski on – then with two…

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