Alex Glacier 4

After missing yesterday due to another technical hitch with the cable car (and atrocious weather) – with no direct forewarning of the real issues – we moved camp to the lower, soggier, flatter and busier slopes. Personally, I was happy with this because it makes Alex ski really badly – and that’s exactly what highlights weaknesses that need to be addressed. Of course Alex appeared to be mildly disgusted and naturally blamed the snow on everything.

Clip 1 – outside ski breaking away – getting back all the time.
Clip 2 – attempting to change skiing in the gates – total mess.

However – all of this led to a complete breakthrough – but there wasn’t time to film it – tomorrow!

After delving into Gorges Joubert’s “Skiing an Art… a Technique” (published 1978) I noticed something interesting in the two photos below. Both bodies are inclined in the same direction – but the skis are inclined in opposite directions.

I’e been saying to Alex for some time now that he needs to learn to ski bumps and off piste to know how to adapt to skiing slalom ruts and soft snow efficiently. When I spotted the photos though I realised this went much deeper as a key issue.

In the photo above I’m using the rebound from the ski/snow to propel my body downhill while the skis are still turning to my right. (We have done similar exercises in long turns – called “hanger turns” – but the emphasis isn’t quite the same.) What this boils down to is a timing issue. You have to “face downhill” and get the body coming out of the existing turn well before you think it’s necessary – hence the skis are still continuing in that turn. (this would if required also lead to a “natural stivot”).

Attempting this initially in the gates is why Alex ended up skiing unusually badly in the 2nd video clip. Fortunately huge ruts were made on a course right beside us so I directed Alex to ski them. Initially he was spat out and blamed his skis not “fitting” the tight ruts. Another explanation of the “early movement of the body over the skis and into the next turn – in the context of the ruts – and voila! Complete change and the ruts were easy and he could resonate with their rhythm and the forces and absorbing the bumps between the troughs. Yes – as Alex commented himself – the ruts helped the turn. (Talk about a 180° U turn!!!)

Next task – straight into the slalom course again – and a different skier. Breakthrough.

Many disturbing issues cleared up all at once. It’s now obvious that what Alex has been doing in the gates is trying to at all costs make an early edge change through the turn transition phase – but by doing it at the level of the skis and knees. This is often done with leg retraction or compression but causes Alex’s body to lag behind all the time despite his persistent efforts to stay forward. As I said – “many disturbing issues all at once”!

We’ve never really had an opportunity to ski big ruts or even bumps – as they are quite hard to find most of the year and there’s always been a pressure for an imminent race preparation etc. This however truly demonstrates how critical all round skills are to cultivate full efficiency and adaptability.

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