Don (Angulation)

Magic Wall – Fronts of SkisToday began with a warm up run over to Val d’Isère during which I had noticed that Don was not shaping his turns properly – by not using the uphill ski for grip and pressure at the start of the turn. We revised “Turn Entry Dynamics” – the “Magic Wall” to make sure Don felt the connection between the direct acceleration of the body (into the turn) and the pressure on the uphill ski. Don pointed out that the previous time he skied with me he had managed to make progress in this direction through our focus on using the fronts of the skis. When you send the centre of mass downhill – followed by the ski changing direction this automatically centres you on the middle/fronts of the skis during the turn. However to get strong pressure on the front of the ski to use the whole front half of the ski for directional effect at the start of the turn (like car steering with the front wheels) you often need to move forwards towards the ski tips at the same time as moving downhill. This modification to the trajectory of the centre of mass did work for Don and he started properly using the ski through the first half of the turns. For the moment the upper body was more or less facing the same direction as the travel of the skis – so “forwards” was obvious (not so obvious when there is upper/lower body separation!).

Consistent Control on Steeps

Stopping for a break and to warm up the feet Don clarified that his objective was to ski steeps consistently in control. I was in full agreement with that and it fitted perfectly with my observation that he really had to improve his hip angulation and control of rotation so the rest of the session would be to tackle this issue head on. This had been my original intention for the day until spotting the other issue – which was important to address first anyway. Don’s quads were worn out yesterday due to not using the fronts of the skis enough. I had thought yesterday the “being back” was only an issue for him on the steeps – but it was more prevalent than that even if not clearly visible.I’ve found over the years that the best way to get people to feel hip angulation is to use a hybrid snowplough – with the weight on the inside ski and flattening it by moving the body (pelvis) over it – pulling the outside ski onto its edge. The hard part is avoiding the upper body from rotating to follow the skis as the turn comes to completion across the hill and this needs the body to bend in ever increasing amounts at the hip joint (outside ski). Don is doing this exercise on the start of today’s video clip. The full exercise is shown here below… including starting with the outside ski behind the body!

Don’s second video clip shows the improved angulation in his general skiing – but we still had to add one thing before making this effective on steep slopes. Foot Forward technique had to be introduced. There is a good video with Mark yesterday doing this so I didn’t film it today. We initially did the exercise on flat snow and Don could feel the co-ordination centering around the hip joint. Moving onto steeper snow there has to be an active effort at the end of the foot swing to stop rotation and the body coming out of the centre. This was done to emphasize the need to work harder at the end of the turn to deal with the geometry of the mountain and build up of forces. It occurred to me that I should really have 3 phases of dynamics in my teaching – the “Turn Entry”, “Turn Development” and “Turn Exit”. Here we are concerned with the mechanism of “Turn Development”. The increased hip angulation is necessary to prevent unwanted rotation of the upper body. Don could feel the reactivity of the ski and the support from pushing the foot forward. (the bare boot on the snow develops the feeling of pushing in the exercise) The final video clips are Don putting this together on steeps and learning how to exploit it. If you make a mistake and pick up speed – then bail out by checking the speed and then resume – don’t pretend all is acceptably well and allow the extra speed to continue. Skiing is all about the discipline of shaping turns in a functional manner.Note that with this new level of upper/lower body separation the torso is facing downhill during turn transitions – so moving forward onto the front of the ski needs to keep this in mind. There are of course subtleties involved in handling this that we are not quite yet ready to look at.

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