John 1

Talking to John or our way up the gondola I was already very clear where his difficulties in progressing with skiing were coming from. The first session correcting this resembles a military deprogramming process for POWs – also factoring in the inevitable PTSD element. That’s how destructive the snowplough/balance paradigm can be for many people – especially intelligent people who accurately follow instruction.

The two videos say it all :

“Before” there are no dynamics – the centre of mass travelling unstably around the circumference of the turn arc with the body rotating

“After” there are dynamics – the body moving into the turn and the skis supporting and interacting with the centre of mass.

There are three fundamental building blocks of skiing – Dynamics, Skating and Pivot.

You can read about the dynamics exercises and principle at the following link “Dynamics“. We followed the standard program of development and there was nothing unusual to report. John’s equipment alignment was checked prior to beginning and it was fine. All of John’s questions and concerns were legitimate, correct and intelligent – demonstrating that he was connecting with the principle effectively. For instance – although moving the Centre of Mass downhill physically anticipates the body being perpendicularly above the skis when they turn downhill – you can still tilt the entre body slightly forwards to pressure the ski fronts at the turn initiation. This requires a slight extension of the ankle to place you on the ball of the foot. (avoid flexing when on the ball of the foot as the ankle collapses inside the ski boot.) I hadn’t wanted to go this far into detail – but it immediately worked for John. Likewise I hadn’t wanted to dive into teaching the Pivot – but it immediately helped John too.

The goal is to use the skis and body to generate centripetal force – everything pulling inwards – never pushing the skis outwards.

The basic biomechanics of skiing are simply based on skating.

  • On heels – subtalar joints can be felt rocking the feet onto their inside edges – both feet simultaneously
  • This is to be able to hold the wide skis on edge – so they don’t simply flatten
  • Adductor muscles are engaged – both legs simultaneously
  • Focus: Foot – adductors – Centre of Mass (outside leg in the new turn)
  • Commit very solidly to the uphill leg – pushing the CoM into the turn – pulling inwards laterally
  • Pressure on one leg – skating sensation is felt
  • We mentioned hip angulation /pelvis – but too much to go into on this session. Loading test was given to demonstrate lower abdominal reflex when pelvis is faced downhill but not the shoulders.

Read the Pivot link if possible before the next session. This separates the edge of the foot from the edge of the ski and allows far tighter turns. All finer skills are reached by finer separation of muscle use.

Gradually, with practise with dynamics, the body will centre reflexively on one leg at a time and the fore/aft aspect of stance will largely sort itself out naturally. Skiing is a feedback driven disequilibrium state and the body will tune into this with the nervous system adapting to the accelerations. It’s the natural state of any upright human being.

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