Luke 2

Straight into the off-piste for the warm up run!

Ella demonstrating “being a victim to the illusion of centrifugal force”!     Part of learning to ski well is learning to relax and fall when it’s inevitable. The first part of the morning was really about navigating our way over to Le Fornet and putting into practice yesterday’s experience. There was good deep snow from the top of the Laissenant chair down to the Signal at Le Fornet and this time Leonie skied it well along with Luke. Florence was still too tense to risk the off piste but was doing fine alongside on the piste working on her dynamics. We finished off the first part of the session with Luke and Ella skiing their first serious off piste run, through the Grand Vallon. Both did well with Luke using the power of the skis properly to get a rebound and link the turns dynamically – at least until one went wrong and brought about a proper head plant. Ella really enjoyed the powder in the first section. We skied a steep and deep section after traversing back towards the Signal and Luke kept a good rhythm and skied it well. Ella was a bit nervous and blocked but gained confidence and was moving more freely by the bottom.

Chi Hips

After a drinks break I decided to launch into working on the hips. Everyone in the group was stiff at the hips with various degrees of hip rotation and muscular tension – so it was clear that sorting out the hips would be essential to maintain progress. I went through a brief explanation of the correct hip action – demonstrating how the pelvic/spine rotation is very different from what everyone was doing. Detailed information on the subject is found “here”! Later I also added pelvic tilt to help to control posture and activate the core muscles better. Luke in particular found that this clearly exposed for him his tendency to force the hip around the turn as a rotary mechanism,  forcing the foot to push outwards and over onto its outside edge. He was still relatively unaware of this until engaging in the exercise of directly inhibiting this movement by pulling the hip backwards instead. The pulling backwards of the hip (outside leg) has the significant advantage of aligning the leg much better and pulling the foot onto the inside edge naturally. Leonie was finding a lot of tension in the hip when trying to pull it back – basically due to fighting against herself. Leonie’s response when she is anxious is to rotate the hip outwards and try to stand on the inside leg – so this conflicts directly with the attempt to pull the hip back and in  giving a stronger stance on the outside leg. Florence was struggling to feel anything. She bent at the waist when asked to bend by sitting at the hip joints. This is very common with people who don’t engage regularly with physical activities that lead directly to better body awareness. Most people are extremely vague about how the hips, pelvis and lower back relate and consequently sooner or later fall victim to lower back problems. The “Chi” concept covered here is critical for protecting the back in skiing , walking, running or cycling – because otherwise the spine will definitely be twisted in a manner that renders the back weak and vulnerable preventing the core muscles from doing their work. Another consequence of failing to develop the Chi-Hips is that when the hip rotates forward beneath the front ribs it’s impossible to control pelvic tilt and  good posture is annihilated. View from Val d’isère glacier


After lunch I had a quick look at Tibo’s skiing. Prior to this I asked him what he had already learned in his first few days at ski school. He is with “New Generation”. When Tibo replied that he was “balancing” and that meant leaning as far as possible to the outside of the turn in a snow plough – I couldn’t believe my ears. Tibo is obviously a model student and has accurately picked up the instruction (which he showed me) – which of course is classic BASI. He was also told to lean forwards. What a great account from Tibo of the complete stupidity of ski instruction at the level of national systems. I’m drilling the others in dynamics and Tibo is being obliged to do the exact opposite and potentially destroy his skiing potential for life. I quickly ran through the idea of dynamics (Link Here) and introduced Tibo to it on the slopes. Tibo was immediately turning parallel and feeling the natural function of the movements and responding correctly. I had to explain the correct stance – not leaning forwards – and to lift the inside ski slightly to ensure the turn is more one footed. He had to be told not to twist anything (do you twist your body when your are on a bike?) and not to rush the start of the turn – but those are normal corrections that everyone has to learn to make until they know that the ski will turn them and they shouldn’t turn the ski. Tibo did very well with only minutes of direct coaching.

Leonie in the Pays Desert

We completed the afternoon with an excursion off-piste from the side of the glacier through the Pays Desert. The snow was deep and heavy and Leonie initially froze when she felt unstable – and her body refused to stand on the downhill leg as she traversed. Once her attention was brought to this stance problem Leonie took control and corrected it. We were under pressure due to the imminent closure of the access lift back out of this sector – so I had to pressure Leonie to keep moving – which was probably a good thing as she didn’t have time to dwell on her fears. She used dynamics successfully to descend the steep section and held it together on a fast and narrow shuss. Meanwhile Luke put in some good turns in the untracked heavy snow and felt how the dynamics create stability even in those conditions. There was the bonus of some light powder towards the end and both Leonie and Like were able to ski this correctly. Luke, Florence, Leoni, Tibo…

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