Sally, Julia, Kat, Stanly, Billy 3

Today it was time to move on to the slightly longer “Boulevard” green piste and increase mileage – but also to have the use of a chairlift so as to be less tiring.

Billy had to learn a traditional snowplough as a temporary measure due to ongoing struggling with control. The snowplough allowed the group to stay together and even later on cope with a blue run – Billy having to accept this defensive method of skiing as a compromise.

Mostly we were focused on gaining mileage and experience today. The only real feedback concerning dynamics was to be more forwards – up on the balls of the feet and tilted against the fronts of the boots to apply some pressure to the fronts of the skis. There is more turning power on from the fronts of the skis so when there is not much speed this type of action helps. There was not enough time to go indoors to look at how to use the feet and boots properly – or to check alignment. Unfortunately this is what happens with short sessions – it really needs whole day sessions to get through things properly and pace things well – especially when there is a group and everyone is responding a bit differently.

The group was patient when I was working for a moment one-on-one with Billy – and it needed my full attention to spot what was necessary to free him up. There was some kind of conflict going on when trying to hold the adductor muscles tight and open the legs wide with them turned inwards. Just releasing the tension in the adductors allowed the plough to function on gentle terrain. For steeper terrain we went back to working as a group on sideslipping.

Sideslipping is a precursor to pivoting. The feet are close together, both skis on their uphill edges and both feet on their inside edges inside the ski boots – adductor muscles pulling the legs together. The slipping happens when the centre of mass is tipped slightly downhill across the skis. Tipping slightly forwards makes a forward diagonal sideslip and tilting slightly backwards does the same backwards. Billy did the best sideslipping of the group.

Progress was also made with pivoting. Once again Billy was a bit stuck and once again it was associated with the adductor muscles use – but we got to the bottom of the issue. I saw Sally eventually getting the weight on her pole and making a proper pivot on her own. This is best practiced initially only in small chunks as it can be frustrating to begin with – but soon integrates into your overall skiing.

On the final descent on the blue run Billy didn’t listen to my advice to sideslip the steeper parts – and the snowplough went very defensive with the upper body twisting hard into the turns and losing control. That however demonstrated that the issue was not “technique specific”. The answer to this is to only turn on suitable gradients where the body mechanics can be constructive and sideslip the rest – while also working on learning to pivot. Patience is essential. The sideslip builds good skills and awareness – and when you choose the wrong run and find yourself on a steep icy black descent you won’t even find it boring!

Stanley skied the blue run well but was off the mark too quickly for me to capture it on film. Sally needed to move the body more downhill at the start of the steeper turns but looked strong when back on a more familiar pitch. Kat was rotating the upper body too much, causing trouble with the skis and Julia was also rotating causing a sideways skid in her case. Those are mainly issues with dynamics but also with angulation – which we haven’t looked at yet as this was the first occasion where it would likely even be an issue.

For Billy, if the snowplough must be used then in your case don’t pull in with the adductors – that only seems to worsen the body rotation inwards of the upper body. Save the adductors for when you use dynamics, sideslip or pivot all with the skis parallel.

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