Alex, Daisy, Tallulah Slalom

The world may have stopped for four months but the snow is still here. The only thing you need a facemask here at 3500m altitude in the sun is for Sahara sand – the cause of the brown covering on the glacier.

Tallulah having her first ever runs through a slalom course – looking promising… but will she listen to advice? Today was just a loosening up and acclimatising day and for finding the feet again. It also enabled me to see the weakest points for each skier so I can provide appropriate constructive feedback and enable progress.

Here we go…

Tallulah has good body management and awareness – so we need to build some technical knowledge. When asked what you need to do when you are skiing her answer was “Don’t crash!”. Two things we need to address are related to what her left leg is showing in this picture. The foot is being pushed away from the body – we have to change that to a “pulling inwards” with the adductor muscles. In reality there isn’t much force used for this – it’s just to completely prevent any tendency to push the foot away or flatten. Secondly the tail of the ski is sliding out because she is in the back of her ski boots and although this makes the ski skid into a turn the real turning control needs to come from the front of the ski pushing the skier “inwards”.

Daisy is clearly very flexible and this is a disadvantage in some sports until you compose appropriately with it. Although we worked specifically on pelvic tilt and alignment with the spine and the skating stance on the hip joint – the left knee wobble shown here originates in the same issue as described for Tallulah – the absence of holding the leg in alignment with the adductor muscles. The ski is designed to try to flatten and if you allow it then it will pull the knee out instead of doing the manifold proper jobs of ski design.

Otherwise, in the final run in the poles, when avoiding “reaching” for the pole and holding a tight angulation “inwards”, there was a huge improvement – so the knee may be only a symptom and not a cause! Unfortunately that run wasn’t filmed.

Alex was dealing principally with “video gaming withdrawal syndrome” and his forced re-introduction to freedom – a bit like a marmotte reluctantly being booted out of hibernation. Last month I totally gave up coffee and that’s a huge ask from a coffeeholic like me – so the best thing Alex could ever do is go completely cold turkey from gaming (fat chance!)

I think Alex only had about five days skiing this year due to injury and then Covid lunacy – when the entire planet suddenly simultaneously contracted a virus causing mass psychosis and paranoia.

More weight – longer, stiffer skis, requires serious athletic conditioning! That’s not going to come from a gaming console in a bedroom! Meanwhile we can still build technique and recover from the time lost.

In the picture above Alex was destined to duck under the next blue pole – he couldn’t get across his skis into the new turn fast enough. He was working hard at including angulation to increase pressure on the ski fronts (this is a separate issue from inclination). Despite his efforts he is still caught “back” and at the moment of the photograph he should have been ramming his left ski hard into the snow and projecting his body downhill ( Yes! That left leg can actually extend if the brain sends the signal) . No amount of mid-air stivoting will get the ski to drive your centre of mass anywhere.

I’ve never seen an “Alex bust” caused by an excess of “forward” pressure in any way at all. We need to start seeing this – including full somersaults please! Once you can make huge errors in both extremes – not enough angulation – and too much angulation – then you refine this into an inherently unstable fighter jet capacity controlled by your own inboard supercomputer.

This is a vanity shot but still lacking Alex’s usual dynamism. Putting it down to readjustment to freedom and the real world, plus altitude and two nights with not enough sleep – and no – a 9am start of the glacier is not happening!

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