Callum day 1

8 am photograph of the top of the Bellevarde in Val d’Isère.

Callum has never skied before and appears to have led a life so far that has been relatively averse to physical activity. That’s a shame because he basically has good coordination and learning ability. Physical challenges are truly essential for robust physical and mental health. If Callum can start to believe in himself and develop some confidence in his abilities he will one day be very glad to have confronted the difficulties of learning to ski. Meanwhile this learning is far from easy for him because everything about it is totally alien to him. Despite all of that there is video proof here that on his first day ever on skis he managed to achieve parallel turning – at least in one direction.
I’m not going to explain the exercise progressions here – or the reason for them – because they are all explained in detail on a fixed page to be found here: Beginners
After the initial session on the snow we had to change Callum’s boots because he was floating around in the ones he had. The hire shop found us a far better pair which also had a canting system which enabled me to tilt the boot shafts to give Callum more edge grip as in standard boots his leg shape puts him on the outside edges of the boots/skis. The boot soles were almost flat after adjustment…

During our boot changing break I showed Callum how to use his feet correctly inside the ski boots. This involved standing with the support directly beneath the ankle bone at the front of the heel to stimulate a reflexive strengthening of the ankle joint (front of heel) and use of the foot muscles. Supporting the weight of the body on the front of the heel permits the use of the subtaler joint which enables a rocking of the foot from edge to edge. We use the subtaler joint in conjunction with the adductor muscles (interior of thigh) to hold the ski on edge. The new boots would allow a better interaction and feedback from the activity of the feet and the motion of the body above.
Callum was clearly uncomfortable in this physically challenging environment so I took some time to make comparisons to other things he could better relate to – such as the stress of performing music in public. The point is that we all have fears and limits and one major goal of physical activity is specifically to overcome those things.  Distraction through anxiety is a key issue in sports – which is overcome by training the mind to focus internally – either on body movements and relationships or on exactly what you need to do in that second. It’s a form of meditation – but active. Usually it involves visualisation which includes all the senses. You also just need to be patient and let the body and brain adapt to accelerations and a whole new environment – because it will adapt.
Callum’s “brain to left leg” connection however still has to be made – but other than that he made a good account of himself for the first day. His apparent over-reaction to accelerations is just perfectly normal for someone who is really not used to doing anything like this. Callum has never skated in his life and the reality is that skiing is actually just skating in arcs and on a slope.

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