Don, Jennifer, Wade, Marcia Day 2

Today my plans were hijacked when we were diverted by Don into addressing “angulation” during our warm up run. Wade went off with Philippe – the living Duracell Bunny – to test his own batteries to destruction.    

ChiSkiing (Angulation)

All three, Don, Jennifer and Marcia were having issues with angulation however this is really a tricky subject to teach correctly to a group – because each person can bring different complications to the table. The hip joints and lower back are key areas for postural control so each person can have a lifetime of baggage to be dealt with there that has nothing even to do with skiing. The first thing here is to prioritise the protection of the lower back. Normally people are taught to face the shoulders downhill. Inevitably the outside ski coming around the turn will pull the outside hip in front of the ribs and slightly twist the spine by turning the whole pelvis in this direction against the shoulders. When there is load on the body at the same time this collapses the posture and exposes the lower back to serious risk – and it also produces very ineffective angulation and can introduce “hip rotation” problems and poor turn transitions.   Here is a video of me demonstrating this (inappropriate, incorrect and dangerous) standard ‘’”Upper/Lower Body Separation” as taught by national ski teaching systems around the world…   The next version demonstrated is the ChiSkiing version – the principles being take from ChiRunning and applied directly to skiing. Pulling back the hip so that it counter rotates the base of the spine to the turn allows the postural muscles to be activated under load. We carried out the “load testing” static exercise so that everyone ould feel the lower abdomen contract. Pulling back the hip during turn transition and then holding it back for the whole turn evolution directly improves turn transition and Don remarked how he felt better edging without even consciously trying to “angulate”.   Correct “Chi” generation of hip angulation… (It takes careful observation to see the difference visually)  

Foot Forwards

When using dynamics in skiing (when the skis are moving forwards) there are two ways to alter turn raduis; increase the dynamics or push the outside foot forwards. When on steeps both of those strategies are employed. We used a static exercise to cultivate the feeling for pushing forwards – but this is not on film here. The exercise is to scribe an arc on the snow with the inside edge of a ski boot – using one leg as a prop and the outer leg swinging around. Tomorrow we will stop and video this for the record. This is a good exercise for Jennifer because it exposed her tendency to twist the leg and foot rather than swing it through an arc with the foot held on edge. Applying this provides more grip in short turns – but later on I saw a couple of times that Don’s skis were still running away with him so for him the key issue was likely to be that he was not using the fronts of his skis. Before working on using the fronts of the skis we have to do some work on angulation, dynamics and foot forward technique – so events were moving in the right direction.  

Turn Exit Dynamics (Perpendicularity)

Today it was important to introduce the second main part of dynamics to the group – even though information overload was already threatening. Using dynamics to get out of a turn is just as important as it is for getting into a turn. Off Piste it is even more important. We used “hanger” turns to explore this principle – completing the turn by supporting the body on the downhill leg until it came right out into “neutral” momentarily with the skis flat across the slope and the body perpendicular to the slope. Hanger turns exaggerate this effect but are good for demonstrating and making it obvious. Everyone got the dynamics both into and out of the turn. The foot is kept on its inside edge all the way through the turn – whether the centre of mass is moving into or out of the turn the foot and adductors remain the same because they are really concerned with the integrity of the body and posture. The aim of introducing this principle now is to eliminate the tendency to use the downhill ski as a platform for stemming out the uphill ski – which is a defensive alternative way of making a turn transition but extremely inefective in comparison – especially off piste or on ice. The perpendicularity of “neutral” helps the skier to be on the front of the ski as it tilts downhill for the next turn.  

Pivot  The link here gives a detailed explanation of pivoting and how and why it builds important skills. Everyone tried skiing on one ski only but nobody could get anywhere close to success – and this is specificially due to the lack of pivoting skills and the edge control required and developed through pivoting. Jennifer was assisted through a nice pivot and felt the mechanism clearly. Marcia revolted. Don grumbled but still managed a half decent pivot on his own. I’m sure he will come to appreciate this over time!   The following video shows one version of Short Swings – a training exercise used to develop good technical form …   The next video shows one reason why we learn such things… Steeps …   Here is a single pivoted compression turn as used for mogul (bumps) skiing…  

Fronts of Skis

Thankfully we had enough time to directly address the issue of Don getting stuck on the backs of his skis. The best way to tackle this is to go directly  for the jugular and lean forwards like Superman – almost breaking out of the bindings at the backs. The first thing is to learn to identify the feel of the fronts of the ski so you just ski on gentle terrain cranked right forwards. The heels almost pull out of the boots and you will end up on your toes – but that’s fine because the ankles are definitely not collapsing! I demonstrated to Don how the aim is to angulate (during a turn) to stay forwards in the fronts and have the resultant force through the centre of mass coming frrom the middle of the front of the ski – driving you around in a turn. This morning I demonstrated how a seated stance – bottom up the hill – always kept the pressure forwards as the turn developed – but without risk of being pitched over the fronts of the skis. (Without angulation – bottom facing across the slope – weight falls back on the tails of the skis as the turn progresses) It’s fine standing up and leaning forward against the boot with the foot extended inside the ski boot – though control of edging of the foot and sensing the adductors is lost to some degree (at least at early stages of development). Both Don and Marcia significantly improved their feel for the skis and their stance. Marcia’s skiing is alreaady looking totally different and Don’s stance now looks far more natural and relaxed.     From the top of the Bellevarde…

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