Mark & Claire 1

Warm Up

First ski run of the season is best considered a warm up run. This is also an opportunity for me to observe and decide the most appropriate issue to tackle first –and how to go about it. Different people respond to different things so it’s important to have a basic profile of the way people move and their attitudes. Claire had some natural dynamics and timing in her skiing but was clearly mainly pushing out her outside ski and using a form of whole body rotation to turn with a wide stance and a tendency to be on the back of her ski boots. When questioned about skiing she had no concept or awareness of how to actually make a turn on skis.

Intro to Dynamics

I explained to Claire that there were two fundamental aspects to skiing – dynamics and skating. A basic outline of dynamics can be found HERE! I explained that her job is to fall over and the ski’s job is to bring her up. Claire had already been using some dynamics naturally and unconsciously so as I expected she was able to work with dynamics quite naturally. We did the static exercises (shoulder) and then a few turns up the hill from a traverse – then complete turns. I wanted Claire to understand the skiing is about moving the centre of mass and that it moves into the turn actively.  During the static exercises I had Claire feel how moving slowly or quickly had completely different results at feet with pressure being generated on a different foot for each case. Mark was already using strong dynamics but his support base for the dynamics was very muddled – particularly due to a very upright stance and a serious blocking of the hips joints. There was also a strong rotation especially to begin a turn to the right and a twisting of the feet into the turn and knees out of the turn. The skis were somehow flattening Mark’s foot and pulling the knee outwards. On the turn to the right there seemed to be a lateral bending of the spine at the start of the turn. He was also skiing two footed and this indicates that there was still some pushing out of the skis or twisting them (feet perhaps) into the turn. There was a persistent bowlegged-ness and lack of hip angulation. The start of the turns were rushed and then followed by prolonged bracing against the skis once they were downhill of the body. I could see that out of all of this the hips were the biggest problem. The Warm Up  and Dynamics took us to the first pit stop for a drink, after which I decide to start to work on Mark. The priority was Claire but nevertheless I felt that Mark couldn’t be left with such significant problems unattended. After the pit stop the intention was to work on skating to help with Mark, until we found that Claire couldn’t skate at all and so that became an even greater priority to sort out.      

Intro to Skating

To get Claire skating I had her push me backwards while falling forwards me between her diverging skis. Initially she couldn’t hold an edge well enough to push me but soon found out how pulling in the knees together slightly with the adductor muscles gets  the skis on edge. The inside edge of the ski is not centred beneath the foot so it takes an effort to pull in with both the centre of mass and the adductor muscles to keep the ski on edge and to avoid it flattening out. We also spent some time doing herringbone Mark could not stop himself from going bow legged as soon as his skating began to evolve into turns by adding some dynamics (letting the body fall to the inside). Essentially both skiers were allowing the feet to be flattened by the skis – instead of having the boot (shaft) provide support and for the feet to remain on their inside edges inside the ski boots. After skiing Mark bought Claire new performance ski boots, which should go along way towards helping Claire overcome this edge control issue. Claire’s hire boots were slightly under-edged and the new boots were built with more edge before even adjusting the canting.

Diverging Parallel

Mark attempted to ski with constantly diverging skis – as in an exaggerated version of he “diverging parallel” – but this was dominated by the problem of the knees coming out into a bow-legged stance. Mark commented on having a feeling of the outside hip coming forwards and blocking or jamming. This remark made me feel that it might be necessary to work directly on this issue through the techniques of “chi-running” – specifically, getting the outside hip to pull backwards instead of moving forwards. I didn’t really want to get into this but it seemed potentially very relevant for Mark – though Mark did appear to have postural issues to complicate the matter.

Chi Hips and Posture

An outline of the Chi issues can be found HERE! We started with exaggerated walking to show how the tendency is to drive the hip forwards – which is exaggerated in skiing by the ski pulling the hip in front of the body and compressing the front lower rib into the pelvis. We did some chi-walking with the aid of ski poles to feel the glutes contract while the stride was stretched behind the body and the spine twisted (up to the 12 thoracic vertebra – ribs) . The idea was to pull the hip backwards and feel the space open up between the bottom front rib and the pelvis even as the ski came around in front of the upper body. Mark had serious trouble doing this due to lack of awareness of how to separate his pelvic movements and to hold the pelvis up at the front. We worked directly on posture for a while to attempt to correct this – pulling up the pelvis while relaxing and flexing the hip joints. Strangely mark could get it right when asked to reach ahead and hold on to my horizontal ski poles – he could then pull back the hip and feel an appropriate  rotation around the spine. A detailed inquiry into “energy” and the relevance of “chi” can be found HERE – under “Energy Illusion”.

Intro to Pivoting

A full description of pivoting can be found HERE! Claire found this quite difficult to do and needed reassurance that this was in fact quite normal at this stage. She had only even been shown how to do accelerating, racing type turns and did not know the skills of “braking” turns. The idea at this stage was only to raise her awareness and present the possibility of using this partially in turn initiation. Just having the knowledge that turns do not require jamming the ski on it’s inside edge is liberating.

Speed Skating

Following a hunch I had mark bend right over like a speed skater with his hands behind his back and sure enough this freed his blocked hips and permitted him to skate and ski without any bowlegged-ness. In the video clip he was struggling a bit with bumps and so stood a bit too upright. When skiing normally his perception of “bending” of tilting at the hips was way off the mark – tending to be practically upright when believing that he was seriously tilted forwards. This appears to be the main area for Mark to work on.


After skiing we had an indoors session on the feet – with me showing how to stand on the heel, and bend from the knee and hip instead of the ankle. I demonstrated the use of the subtaler joint in rocking the foot and showed how as the foot rocks onto its inside edge it actually turns away from the direction of the turn to give a strong support against the floor of the tilted ski boot – which provides an effective  “banked track” through the lateral support of the shaft of the boot. (This contributed to Claire ending up with her own ski boots later on). (Not yet edited…)

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