Caroline Dynamics (session 1)

Fairly miserable weather day on the mountain with restricted lift operations and overcrowding on the few areas that were open – but in revenge, despite making things harder, it’s a useful time to work on technique in preparation for making most of the good days ahead. While deciding which direction to go and then later on the chairlift I interrogated Caroline about her skiing – collecting useful information and having a pretty clear idea of what was going on even before the skis hit the snow. The first short video clip is where I watched Caroline on suitable terrain, before deciding where to step in and begin work on technique…

Caroline explained that she was nervous on steeper terrain, especially when the passages are narrow. The fact that she was already tackling reds and blacks made it clear – without need for explanation – that the “nervousness” was due to lack of control through technical skill issues. Asking Caroline to explain her technique to me told me all I needed to know – every aspect being classic ski school training (which incidentally she correctly understood and diligently applied). From the video a trained eye will see that there is no intentional use of “dynamics”, vertical timing is up/down during the turns. There is stemming to push the skis out (plough) and there is poor control at the level of the feet, boots and with fore-aft movements. Nothing there can be “corrected” – the changes have to be at a very fundamental level so we started with the introduction of “Dynamics”. Meanwhile Caroline’s basic stance was strong and there was good control over her movements in general so there were no personal idiosyncrasies to distract and delay progress.


The top of the blog page has fixed “tabs” that lead to pages where my standard explanations and exercises are presented. In this case I suggest going to the “Dynamics” tab because we followed this protocol accurately. Caroline doesn’t have a science background but was perfectly able to follow the logic describing the difference between statics and dynamics – and later on to understand why there are serious misunderstandings of this subject and how it affects something like ski instruction.
Dynamics is the use of “disequilibrium “ or “accelerations” “Your job is to fall over and the ski’s job is to lift you back up.”

When you fall over laterally on a forward travelling ski it immediately deforms, changes shape and cuts under your new trajectory to lift you back up. The ski is designed to “over respond” and lift you more strongly than you can actually fall – which eventually makes you realise that you literally cannot fall and your “dynamics range” is your real limitation as a skier – and not your ability to stay upright “in balance”!


Very shortly after starting with dynamics we were blocked a bit by large queues so we went indoors to look at the use of the feet and ski boots. While inside I checked the boot alignment and it was good. It helps enormously that Caroline does Pilates and clearly has a good body awareness – so when I asked to sit with the pelvis in a certain position it was done without the normal confusion I see in people!

Caroline demonstrated her current way of bending the legs – with one boot off – and predictably the weight came forwards on the foot and the ankle collapsed and the knee flopped inwards – all very dangerous but hidden inside a ski boot due to its strength. I’ll just recap the outline of the changes we made as an aide memoire.

  • Weight on the front of the heel
  • Flex at the hip and knee
  • Engage (by reflex) the anterior tibialis to stiffen the ankle
  • Ankle stops bending at 12° – shin against front of boot – legs giving the support not the boots!
  • Roll the foot onto its inside edge using the subtaler joint (between ankle and heel)
  • Forefoot turns out – away from the turn
  • Adductor muscles engaged

Bringing this all together – the outside leg in the turn does all of the above and you can think of just “one leg” – foot, adductor, Centre of Mass – all pulling inwards during the turn. We discussed how “Centrifugal Force” is a Fictional Force (hyperlinked) and how previously Caroline had been taught to react to this fictional force by moving everything outwards in a turn instead of helping real “centripetal” (inward) forces by pulling inwards with everything and generating a solid and secure platform – with pushes you inwards away from a straight line.


The timing is now related to that of an upside down pendulum – down at the start of the turn and up at the end – like a motorbike turning on a flat track. There is no need to use ski poles and no need to use their straps either. For the moment the simplest way to progress is to follow the skis – like you follow the line of a bicycle – instead of trying to face the body downhill. The toppling /dynamics is lateral to the direction of travel.


Caroline had a quick lesson on skating – falling forwards and using the feet and adductor muscles to grip the skis on edge. This helps to begin to relate many of the aspects of skiing to skating in general.

Feet Forwards

Linked to skating is “feet forwards” technique which Caroline was shown at this stage to enable her to tighten her turns on steeper terrain when using dynamics. This is actually how turn radius in controlled in dynamic skiing (racing). Dynamics are consciously increased and matched with a rapid push forwards of the outside foot – all the leg rotation taking place in the hip joint and the foot remaining constantly rocked outwards.
The next video clip is with dynamics and then showing the “feet forwards”  static exercise in the ski boots.

Dynamics are now visible in Caroline’s movements and she reports  smoother turning and less “fighting “ her turns – which is less tiring in general. Speed should be controlled by the “line” of the turn and not by sudden braking later on in the turn. Having the correct dynamics and timing make the pressure cycle on the ski produce grip and control through the whole turn. The stiffened ankle support allows more natural centering over the skis and the postural reflexes are controlled by appropriate reflexes stimulated from the pressure under the feet. (making it easier to ski in poor visibility!)

Conscious Skiing

When your actions actually make sense – then your senses reward you with appropriate feedback. You can then focus successfully internally and the exercise resembles a moving meditation – always revealing new aspects and new levels of awareness. Visualisation also becomes spontaneous and natural. Furthermore – because you only actually see what you understand you penetrate a realm where you can actually see many things that other people can’t see at all.

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