Brian, Christine – 1

Watching Christine ski, knowing that she was being cautious after recovering from ACL surgery, I was looking for general characteristics to determine what was needed to help her confidence to grow. There was a tendency to lift the inside ski to start the turn and to slightly rush the start, followed by the skis locking on edge and taking over in the second half of the turn. I couldn’t be sure why there was so limited edge control – the “locking on” being undesirable in this context but I felt there was however a definite problem with dynamics. The stance also looked wrong with the knee coming too far inwards – exactly what you don’t want when there are ACL issues. The locking on could have been partly due to the inappropriate knee use and partly from being too passive and static – not working the turn by pushing the foot forwards.    


I didn’t have to analyse Christine’s skiing too far because she admitted confusion over which way to move the body when skiing. Listening to her talking and watching her body language it was clear that she didn’t understand dynamics so I decided to explain the subject from scratch and carry out the basic exercises involved. (Dynamic s link). Once Christine was clear about how to accelerate the centre of mass into a turn we practiced linking turns down the hill.  This would correct the unnecessary lifting of the inside ski and the rushing of the start of the turn  because the dynamics creates pressure beneath the outside ski immediately and so there is a feeling of security from the start of the turn.

Foot Forwards

Knowing that Christine would be most insecure on steeper slopes I decided to introduce “feet forwards” technique. We removed the skis and began with just standing on one heel and rotating on it, swinging the outside leg around in the air in an arc. The boot was then allowed to touch the snow lightly and begin to trace and arc on the snow. Eventually the boot was pressed lightly into the ground to create a resistance and this time the foot had to be pushed along to trace the arc on the snow. This gives the same feeling required to push the foot forwards when skiing. Claire tried that on a slightly steeper slope for the first time and immediately her turns were tighter. I hadn’t told her this would happen. There are two ingredients necessary to reduce turn radius; stronger dynamics and the pushing forwards of the outside foot. This was also intended to help to reduce the skis taking over and locking too much on edge.  This active movement of working the skis puts the skier back in charge and stops the skis from taking over.

Feet and Adductors

Indoors we each removed a ski boot so that I could explain how the feet and ankles work properly inside the boots. I showed Christine that standing on the meddle to front of the foot caused a chain of collapsing from the ankle up to the knee, causing the knee to be twisted into the turn and exposing the ACL to potential injury. Standing on the heel however allows the foot to be rocked onto its inside edge and the adductor muscles can then pull the knee inwards laterally with no twisting. I felt that part of the “locking on the edges” problem might be due to the knee twisting inwards. To conclude Claire now had to combine dynamics (centre of mass), pushing the outside foot forwards, standing on the heel and rocking onto the inside edge of the foot and pulling inwards with the adductor muscles. All the pressure should be on the outside ski from the start to the end of the turn and everything should feel as if being pulled inwards towards the turn centre.


Brian and Compression Turns

Once Christine was dropped off safely for lunch Brian and I went up high again to start on his skiing. Brian seemed unable to concentrate on his own skiing for a moment and I also had to push an internal reset button to tune into Brian’s skiing. It struck me for some reason that we had an opportunity to work on bumps and so we started to work on compression turns – something we hadn’t looked at at all when he was previously on carving skis – but also something that shouldn’t be neglected.  The compression turn can be simulated on the flat by simply retracting the legs but the idea is to represent a strong compression of the knees towards the chest that happens when hitting a big mogul. With support from a pole plant the body falls downhill during compression and the skis pivot from the top/back of the bump sideslipping down the front accompanied by a full extension of the legs into the trough until compressing on the next bump.     Rodion (age 10) same “Sanglier” bumps in Meribel… (towards the end of the clip)


The bumps really brought out some weaknesses that needed to be addressed in Brian’s skiing. Carving had allowed him to address those issues in long turns with strong supportive feedback but those improvements had not transferred over to pivoting. The video clip highlights the main faults – the outer arm high in the air when it should be low with the body angulated and the pole already planted. The hips and pelvis rotating from the lower back and a sideways bend to try to get the pole planted. The dropping of the inside hip as the body kinks sideways – all related to Brain’s old “two footed” stance and pushing outwards of his feet. We looked at Chi Hips as a possible solution but that didn’t do the trick. I did however perceive a better explanation of Chi Hips due to trying to demonstrate this in the context of pivoting. It’s really a counter-rotation of the pelvis in the opposite direction from the turn – while in contrast the chest and legs rotate into the turn. I got Brian to simple feel the rotation of his leg with his back and buttocks pressed up against a wall the leg had to rotate in the hip joint – foot turned to approx. 90° with the toes pointing inwards – without the buttock leaving the wall. This at least guarantees the hip is kept in place for angulation to be possible – where the body tilts forwards and swings out over the hip joint. If the hip comes forwards instead pulling the pelvis around, then creating angulation at the hip joint is impossible (hence the sideways bending of the spine to compensate). We did several exercises to generate angulation. First of all neutral pelvis is established, tilting the pelvis up at the front – then the whole upper body (including pelvis) is tilted forwards at the hip joints. standing on one leg the body can pivot on the top of this femur – and this is angulation. Brian was able to do this with no skis on and standing still – so it proved that it was his two footed association (memory) with skiing that caused the problem – not a coordination issue. Skiing in a wide stance helps to move away from the old two footed habits and develop independent leg action and angulation. Exercises such as holding the inside arm and hip high are actually quite awkward to ski with – likewise is grapping the inside buttock and pulling it upwards.  Allowing the body to face into the turn for the first half of the turn and then feel the leg coming around across the front of the body towards the end gives a good stable platform to feel the whole natural progression of angulation on the top of a single femur. The “Chi Hips” is a further development of angulation that protects the back and allows the active use of the core muscles – but it is becoming apparent that this protective aspect needs to be learned after basic angulation itself.  

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