Audrey & Huw Day 2

Blue Moon
On the way across the piste heading towards the café at 8am I looked up and saw a bright moon still visible in the dawn sky – but the moon was shining through a frozen air that literally turned the light blue. Huw apparently spotted this phenomenon too. There really is such a thing as a blue moon after all.

Exercise one: Pivoting on inside ski alone.
Continuing from yesterday’s work on pivoting we began the day by pivoting on the “wrong” ski, the one on the inside of the turn. While standing on the ski, the adductor muscles need to be used to pull the leg in and to stand on the inside edge of the foot. It becomes clear with this exercise that it is a movement of the body “CM” (Centre of mass) downhill that pulls the ski into a turn – and for this it is necessary to use a firmly planted ski pole. During the pivot the CM has to be kept to the inside of the turn and the ski of its inside edge (inside of the turn – actually the “outside” edge normally) until it crosses the fall line. The purpose of this is to develop awareness of the effects of movement of the CM and edge control.

Exercise two: Pivoting on outside ski alone.

Going back to using the “correct” ski would seem relatively easy now compared to the previous exercise!
With this exercise it is easier to practise the feeling of upper/lower body separation and to feel the leg turn in the hip joint as th ski pivots. That of course is providing the body is restrained from rotating – which is something Audrey completely fails to do here! Pivoting on the oustide ski still requires a pulling in of the adductor muscles and in this case the trun starts with the foot on its inside edge but the ski on its outside (uphill) edge. The adductors are also used to pull the front of the ski into the turn – but it’s mainly CM motion that controls the turn.

Exercise three: pivoting on both skis.
Well, if you can pivot on either ski then you can also pivot on both. This is good for developing awareness of the “inside leg” in the turn – which Audrey still has the habit of  getting tied in knots. Also it shows that both skis CAN be used together with weight on both – which is useful off-piste in steep and deep terrain.

Exercise four: Posture and hip joint use.
Establishment of correct “neutral pelvis” posture. Tilting forward of the upper body from the hip joints only. Slight leg flex to relax the hip joints. Standing on one hip joint only. Rotation of the body around a single hip joint. During skiing the body needs to be perched on one such hip joint at a time – and free for the leg to be rotated (by the skis) in its socket.

Exercise five: side-slip.
Upper/lower body separation. Bum facing uphill creating angulation at the hip joints. Standing up to bring the CM slightly downhill and to flatten the skis and slide. This simulates a turn completion to some extent. It also reinforces how CM motion and edge control are linked and how the CM once again dominates affairs.

Exercise six: carving while retaining upper/lower body seperation.
This was to show that all the skills being developed in the pivoting exercises are “universal” in that they apply to everything – not just one particular task. When carving U/L body separation permits a powerful loading up of the ski as the body angulates and sinks through the turn – until all that power is then used to spring the body back up and out of the turn – when required. It also permits a more effective skating action to take place.

Exercise seven: staying on the lower leg until the Centre of Mass passes over the skis at the end of the turn.
Here we are moving into “dynamics” and making turns with the inside edge of the outside ski from start to end on the turn. The trick is to realise that the turn is not completed until the ski is flat and the skier is perpendicular to the slope. Most people refuse to come up out of the turn at turn completion and only get out to the “vertical” position while standing on the downhill leg – they don’t get all the way out to the “perpendicular” position because they are afraid of falling. Audrey had this problem and it was part of the reason for her stemming and it made her use her inside ski as a sort of flat outrigger when carving

Exercise eight: skating though the turn.
Skating was used to try to develop the timing and support from the push up at the end of the turn – but this seemed too confusing for Audrey at this stage so after a brief attempt we put it aside for the time being.

Exercise nine: turn completion.
During a long ski down Le Manchet Audrey followed my line, turning almost back up the hill on each turn completion to teach her how closing off the turn like this would help to lift her up out of the turn, stabilise her going from vertical to perpendicular and develop a sense of flow from one turn to the next. She managed this well by the end of the run.

Exercise ten: moving forwards at turn initiation.
In an attempt to deal with Huw being “left behind” at the turn initiation we worked for a while on getting him to move forwards to deal with the change in acceleration. When he managed it there was a substantial increase in the ease and efficiency of turns – but the success was inconsistent. Huw keeps on returning to stiff “tractor” turns when he isn’t concentrating. His kinaesthetic awareness is letting him down over the amplitude of his movements.

Exercise eleven: short swings on one leg.
This was simply meant to wind up Huw and it did.

Exercise twelve: short swings.
Seems easy after the last exercise! Huw at first was too stiff and not aggressive enough. After a while he started to move more but the skis would start to “run away” with him – so the next stage is to get that under control. We worked on jumping from “vertical to perpendicular” – down the mountain – to make the short swings more efficient and to tie it in with today’s previous exercises of coming over the lower ski. The mechanism is actually the same anyway.

Exercise thirteen: using the front of the ski to grip on ice.
Gripping on ice is best achieved with the front of the ski – using U/L body separation to bring the CM over the front of the ski. If standing square to the skis instead the CM is slightly to the back (bindings are mounted behind the centre of the skis – and this can cause the tails to skid, especially when there is also a bit of rotation going on. Controlling rotation with angulation and U/L body separation prevents such problems.

When skiing down on the ice Audrey managed a few turns well with good angulation and then would get onto two legs and crouch instead of standing up strongly over one leg. The consequence was to end up with her bottom facing completely downhill at the end of the turn – instead of facing uphill. Interestingly Audrey had no awareness of this happening. This does not mean that she has no awareness of her bottom. Awareness is the key in learning and hopefully Audrey will get to the bottom of this soon.

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