Alex & Sam

Alex and Sam have both skied but today they started again almost from scratch with a different set of movements. Knowing that they are here for only two half days we had nonetheless to cover a lot of ground rapidly. Wind and crowded blue pistes were the only real obstacles. Most people seem to get stuck permanently at Blue/Red piste level in Europe so the pistes are saturated beyond belief. All the more reason to learn properly and to escape all of that off piste.
Val Thorens is a high altitude resort – which makes it a bit harsh in the wind as there is no tree line to escape beneath. The photos show the wind blown frozen spindrift.

Dynamics and Skating Introduction

All of the exercises and progression that we did today are described in detail…
There wasn’t a lot of time for individual feedback as we had to get through the progressions and practice. Only issues that were holding things up significantly could be addressed directly.

Sam – Early on with easy skating turns Sam had a problem stemming out her left leg instead of diverging the right ski and lifting it to skate to the the right. Video was used to help to overcome this by allowing Sam to see herself. Mostly this is an issue of awareness – though there was something odd going on with Sam’s right leg. While standing Sam couldn’t lift the foot of the ground and rotate the leg outwards (diverging the ski tip) and she was convinced that she couldn’t make that move. Though the reality is that during the exercise she couldn’t lift the right leg because she was busy stemming the left one instead. Then when sitting on a bench with both legs straight ahead and the knees locked out – the opposite happened and the right foot locked into an outwards rotation of about 45° – and now she couldn’t make the feet parallel. I have no idea what was going on – but it does need more investigation. The right boot was canted to increase edging but when standing I could see nothing strange in Sam’s stance at all – so it’s a puzzle – except for her perception of the problem during that exercise – which was clearly mistaken. Moving on from that exercise.
Sam has no skating experience – though she was able to skate correctly on the flat. Much of her current insecurity on skis lies in her unfamiliarity in standing on one leg in a skating action. I suggested getting inline skates back home. Sam’s dynamics at the start of the turns were quite strong but then she would struggle to hold her body inside the turns – especially on steeper terrain – due to body rotation. We will work directly on that tomorrow. There is nothing holding back Sam now if she practices dynamics and skating – once she gets use to the independence of the legs and forget all the false security of the snowplough and stemming.
Later in the session Sam’s tendency to rush the start of the turns was brought to her attention. This is a legacy of the horrible snowplough and the need to push the skis outwards and get then downhill of the body quickly. Sam was able to work on correcting this.
Alex – Alex found the skating exercises a little easier but was later hampered by a strong shoulder rotation into the turns when it became a bit steeper. Once this was explained she was able to improve on it – though this will improve again when we work directly on the pelvis and hips tomorrow.
Alex remarked how she was able to feel how much easier her first deliberate turns were with dynamics – just by removing the skated step and only moving the centre of mass.

Dynamic Range – Centripetal Force

I demonstrated increased dynamic range at a higher speed and then filmed both Alex and Sam to let them see their dynamic range. (second part of the video clip here) Alex said that she felt she was moving a lot – but the video reveals how proprioception can be misleading. The video is used here to train proprioception to be accurate. The movement  need greatly amplified.
The illusion of centrifugal force was explained and the idea of reinforcing the inwards actions was emphasised. The session had started with standing on the heels beneath the ankles and rolling the feet inwards (from beneath the ankles) onto their inside edges and feeling the tension in the adductor muscles in the legs. This was then linked to the motion of the centre of mass and then the idea that everything pulls inwards from the outside foot/ski in the turn – like a string pulling a ball in a circle above your head (analogy).


We finished today’s session with looking at how to combine skating and dynamics. I skated off down the slope and then started to bring in the dynamics – staying longer on each ski and transforming skating into skiing – but maintaining the same rhythm and function of the legs. The down/up movement of the legs joined with the down/up movement of toppling over into the turn and the ski lifting the body back up out of it. We look for a resonance here. Both Alex and Sam made a good effort at trying this.

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