Sophie & Emily day 5

Inner Pistes

Starting off the day I asked Emily what she had been up to in the morning. She had skied a red run and some blues and learned words to a song. When asked what she was thinking about regarding her body when skiing she had no answer. It seemed that any attempt by me in the afternoons to raise her conscious awareness was being cancelled out by the fun she was having in the mornings! The only way to deal with this is directly. For the next hour before each run I asked Emily to give me a check list of things she had to focus her attention on – all things inside her body. The list was to start at the feet and work upwards. All she had to remember was to roll the feet, pull inwards with the adductor muscles and push the centre of mass against the magic wall. On top of this I added “pushing the outside foot forward”. It took some time before she could remember and repeat this but it’s probably more useful than the song she learned in the morning. I explained that skiing isn’t about what run you skied or looking good to your friends or keeping up with others It’s about the Inner Pistes connecting your consciousness to your body and developing your sense of presence. If you are unaware you are on a green piste and might spend your whole life there no matter what or where you ski. The real exploration is on the inside and we need to strengthen it through constant practice. Focusing on the body is what leads to greater presence and awareness. I hoped to see Emily on a blue piste by the end of the day and singing a new kind of song.


Sophie continued to make progress with dynamics, focusing on the turn completion and allowing the body to come up to the perpendicular while still on the lower ski. I explained the illusion of “centrifugal” force and how in the absence of any real outward force it was necessary to work to ensure that the body completed the turn correctly. The ski lifts you up and gravity also helps you fall from vertical to perpendicular – but both those aspects of turn completion remain a choice and under your control. To help achieve this I asked Sophie to try to let the skis run flat for a second at the very end of the turn. This worked and narrowed Sophie’s stance even more than before and made her turning very smooth. It also exposed a lingering rotation on the right side (turning to the left) at turn initiation. It’s almost certain that the weak turn completion dynamics (left leg) is the original source of the rotation habit as a compensatory way of forcing the skis around. I didn’t film the improvement in stance – which was nice – but Sophie could feel the difference anyway.


My re-definition of the term “chi” is here in an article titled “The Energy Illusion”. Yesterday I taught “feet forward” technique but this was only a prelude to chi-skiing as a means to eliminate hip rotation. The key to eliminating hip rotation is simply to pull the hip on the outside leg backwards all the way through the turn – but to ensure isolating the hip while doing this so as not to pull either the foot or the shoulder back too. The relative displacement of the foot and hip are the same as when pushing the foot forwards but now we make it also happen from the hip and this has a profound effect on the turn transition, making the start of the new turn remarkably easy. There is a detailed page on chi-skiing here. There is another page with an example of working on chi-running here. We did some walking exercises initially to explain the basis of chi-skiing to Sophie and she understood this. Her current knee problem is probably due to walking on high heels and being a strong heel striker. I helped Sophie isolate the pulling back of the hip so that she could feel the stretch in the abdomen. When the hip is allowed to rotate the abdomen compresses instead and the spine twists in the opposite direction in a damaging manner. Chi-skiing is all about being able to activate reflexes which protect the back and using the core muscles and glutes effectively. It is about alignment of the body and legs in a way that is both protective and effective. Sophie managed to bring this into her skiing immediately and feel the difference. The dynamics may have suffered a bit and the overall picture might not be so tidy when focusing on this new element but the important thing was to combat rotation and that was achieved. I would rather see strongly aligned legs than pretty skiing. In the photos below both skiers are managing effective use of the feet, adductors and dynamics. Sophie’s arm carriage reveals that the lower back is too hollowed and she needs to use some pelvic tilt. Posture like this, if not corrected, can lead to back and neck problems – also related to walking on heels. Chi-Walking is a fantastic discipline to deal with this. Every time I walk anywhere now I think of my mechanics of movement and it feels so horrible to slump into my old way of walking – with the core and posture dysfunctional – that I immediately correct it.                                

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