Don – Wade


Don had 35 days skiing last season – but the first few runs in a season always set you back a notch until you find your feet again – particularly when you find yourself in a blizzard. When being defensive Don tends to stem the uphill ski out to prepare for his next turn – getting the ski on its inside edge. He also tends to get on the back of the skis – which makes them “straight line” and accelerate downhill – then loses angulation by rotating.

Uphill Ski Early
For Don the stem was cured by standing on the uphill ski early.

Some necessary work was done on “pivoting” Unfortunately people don’t take the time to practice the exercises – they think just 30 seconds is enough – but it absolutely is not enough. Just a few minutes per day though gives skill a chance to develop. The pivot is a braking turn – used in bumps, steep couloirs and deep fall-line off piste snow. You are always on the uphill edges of the skis – it makes skiing less tiring and allows far sharper turns and better control in difficult conditions than “carving ” – which is only for wide groomed pistes and race courses. Most people neither carve nor pivot with skill but instead they skid and brake defensively at the mercy of the skis. Don however was responsive to the exercise and did start to pivot sharp turns and improve overall control.

Angulation (stopping rotation and getting weight forwards)
We worked a little on angulation – pulling the hip back (outside ski) and sinking into the turn with the centre of mass – allowing safe pressure on the fronts of the skis. This needs practice! When on top of things this prevents Don from rotating and gives good control from the whole/fronts of the skis.


Wade got lost in the whiteout. But we found him again about half an hour later.

The session was started with an introduction to dynamics so that Wade would know what it was about. Don is very familiar with this already. Wade clearly uses both dynamics and a natural (down/up) skating timing when going at speed – but completely reverses this when going slowly (due to having been taught to do so). Wade tries to face downhill and consequently pushes his tails out to the side causing his centre of mass to move outwards instead of inwards. This is why he prefers speed because then he can then respond by feel and feedback and moves naturally correctly. The goal is to become aware of all of this and manage the motion of the centre of mass intentionally – this being what drives the entire system. The skier has one job – to fall over – and the ski has one job – to bring you back up. All motion begins at the centre.

The focus for Wade in pivoting is to avoid forward motion across the hill – this (in it’s purest form) initiates the turn from a pure sideslip and the skis remain on their uphill edges until pointing straight down the hill for an instant – then they go onto their new uphill edges – always braking.

We worked on “pulling” the skis into the turn – using the adductor muscles of the uphill leg and the centre of mass (controlled by pole plant/support). Everything goes “inwards” – nothing is pushed outwards.

Wade’s lower back was hurting from skiing slowly due to “shoulders facing downhill” in his slow turns. We consequently worked on angulation – orienting the pelvis to face downhill instead of the shoulders. Wade was shown how this activates protective postural reflexes. Once again – all motion begins at the centre – this time it’s the alignment of the bones at the core. The spine actually slightly twists in the opposite direction to when you lead with the shoulders.

Wade has a severe alignment problem with ski boots – and needs to have high end boots with canting adjustment on both sides. The red boots shown below were “corrected” by using wedges stuffed down between the shell and the liner (inside of ankle – perhaps the wedges should be higher up???). When skiing with the blue boots (which could also have been treated with wedges!) Wade had no grip and as his skis were wide this exacerbated the problem. Wade believed the problem was the skis – but it’s actually the boots and it’s made worse by the ski being wide. When skiing the loss of grip was causing Wade to stiffen and brace against his outside leg.

In my experience only racing derived high end boots start off with aggressive enough built in edging and then the amount of canting necessary to correct for this amount of misalignment. It’s not an issue to be ignored!

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