Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Derin Day 8

Derin’s first ever off-piste experience! The crashes are all a perfectly normal part of it. Her use of dynamics – seen when inclining in carving – is what enables her to cope without any previous experience. The deep snow causes the “lifting up” power of the ski to be amplified so even more motion of the centre of mass to the inside of the turn is required – this takes experience to adjust correctly.

Close up of the snow shows how the fractal nature makes it indistinguishable from mountains.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Derin Day 7

No photography today. The conditions – snow and weather combined were probably slightly overwhelming for any 10 year old. All good experience though.

First of all we were tricked by the Lanches chair on the Grande Motte. It was warm and sunny at the bottom – but the top was freezing, in the shade, really high winds and humidity. We skied a little then I deliberately went off the side of the piste onto a very steep wall of deep snow – without warning Derin. This is to get her used to the wild and deep snow. There was no risk involved but getting Derin to work her way down it – sidestepping and slipping – was a learning experience for her – and hopefully allowing her to see new potential ways of “playing” in the snow.

Regarding skiing in the off piste this was not the day to introduce it to Derin as that requires very light powder for it to go well. The snow was very heavy and compact making it difficult for even very experienced skiers to turn efficiently. Consequently we were forced indoors twice to warm up and dry off (using the hand drier machines in the toilets) during this session.

We tried the Tichot lift with a view to working our way around to Le Lac – but were blasted frozen on the chair. Then – after abandoning that objective we tried the Fresse and with the wind behind us on the chair it was all good until trying to ski back down – frozen again!

In the end we stayed at the Bollin and Derin grudgingly accepted to do some technical exercises – but the cold is not very tolerant of that either. Eventually we were in the café warming up again and I was being educated on “Five nights at Freddy’s”.

Altogether we worked on hand carriage, angulation, pressuring the front of the boot and front of the ski – but only for a brief periods. Hopefully tomorrow brings a better day – though I’m already considering heading down to Les Brevieres to escape winds and cold at altitude. The snow should be good down there now.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Derin Day 6

Today was another non-stop trip to Le Fornet but we managed a little bit more technical work along the way. Due to the constraint of trying to cover terrain and the limited time with a “half day” the coaching side of things becomes much more pressured – but Derin still responds very positively. We worked on both improving carving and control on the steeps. There wasn’t much time for explanations so it was “on the go” coaching – some of which was filmed…



Short Swings

Derin standing in a sentry post constructed by Napoleon Bonaparte – they are spaced about 100 metres apart and were used for sending messages across the Alps by shouting…  

The South side of Mont Blanc in all it’s dramatic glory. At the foot of this side was the Italian Celtic “Bear” clan – the Aosta valley having a long Celtic tradition and standing stone circles still present on the hilltop border with France. The Centre of the Celtic world was actually in Ankara.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Derin Day 5

Today Derin skied her first black run – an icy Face de Bellevarde. She managed without any difficulty. I’d been concerned that on the ice her tendency to rotate the body might cause problems – but either she adapted to the challenge or the work on angulation with the pelvis that we did yesterday helped.

We managed to use the “up and over” chair to Le Fornet and then came back over to Solaise on it – skiing non stop down the “L” and taking the bus back to the centre to ascend the Face on the return journey. Derin did start the session today with her usual request to ski on the Bollin – but I successfully deflected that!

The video is of Derin’s first linked carved turns with no skidding in the turn transitions or initiations. Now that she has a proper feel for this she will be able to develop it much further. Getting to this point is the hardest part for most people. Carving is the basis for racing. Speed is no longer controlled by skidding to any degree – the skis are completely locked on edge and it’s the line and trajectory taken that control speed.

We worked on arm carriage (Elbows out and thumbs turned in) and used skating on the flats.

Pivoting from the uphill ski was practised and the link between this and short turns explained in more detail. Derin needs to pull her skis closer together – bringing the uphill ski down to meet the lower ski before initiating a turn – and getting on the uphill edge (of the uphill ski) to pressure it before moving the body downhill. The effectiveness of this development in technique also depends on how well the skier can angulate. There’s a lot of work to be done… Derin doesn’t like working on technique and says “Can we just ski normally!”. Well “normal” right now might be appealing but I think we have to change that idea of “normal” slightly…


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Derin Day 4

Work and play today! Derin actually allowed me to train her in technique – in exchange for a little bit of playtime in the snow! In reality she didn’t have much choice – it’s time to strengthen her technique and move forwards.

We worked on four specific areas:

  • Arm carriage
  • Skating
  • Pelvic Awareness
  • Angulation

Arm Carriage

Derin skis with her elbows close in by her sides and fists (thumbs) turned outwards . We need the exact opposite. Although we did drills (as in the video) this is really a postural issue and it will be more profoundly dealt with through developing awareness of the roll of the pelvis.


I explained to Derin that efficient propulsion in skating mainly comes from falling forwards. This is not only an exercise for getting the legs working and developing a feel of appropriate timing in skiing – it is specifically at the moment to help Derin move away from her tendency to lean on the backs of the ski boots.

Pelvic Awareness

Much more can be found written about this from the menu tab at the top of this page on “ChiSkiing”. The aim here is to become aware of the pelvis and separate out its movement and actions from the rest of the body. Derin has never really thought about her pelvis and tends to move everything else along with the pelvis. In skiing the goal is to counter rotate the pelvis against the direction of turning – so as the skis come around the turn the pelvis doesn’t. This slightly twists the spine in a favourable direction – tightening the abdomen and activating the involuntary postural muscles.


Correct hip angulation commences with pelvic awareness. When side slipping Derin tends to push her bottom downhill and lose all angulation – instead of moving her head and shoulders downhill and the bottom uphill. Working from the pelvis we started to correct this today.

Alp Day 6

Today was all about getting Alp onto some far longer suitable runs that would provide far more opportunity for feedback and repetition. There was a minor battle with the lift company due to the only suitable lift immediately braking down and wasting about 50 minutes of our time – leaving us freezing in minus 16°C and needing to go indoors to warm up. Eventually we got going and managed to include two complete runs of the Fresse piste. Alp was only assisted on the short but overly steep start for about 150 metres – then he skied the rest by himself – half a kilometre of altitude.

There’s nothing to report today about “technique” – it was a management day but very critical for development and progress. Alp did extremely well – picking his own path in front of me when I was filming.  His exclamation at the end probably sums it up best “It was my best day ever – in my whole life!” I’m sure there will be many more “best days”!

The Grande Motte glacier to the left and the Grande Casse to the right.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Derin day 3

Quite an impressive amount of skiing today from Derin. We started with a non-stop descent from the Grande Motte chair, short turns all the way – and when asked at the end if her legs were tired she just said “Nope!”. The idea today was to stay warm – using the Perspex cover on Les Lanches chair. After our “warm up” run we went over to Val d’Isère to ski up and down the new telecabine at La Daille – also to stay warm (We met Berin and Bruno there for a run – and we filmed it). It was great to see Derin being so active and when I gently suggested we work on some technique tomorrow – the response was another “noooo!” We’ll get there – I’m still the boss! (I think).

Alp Day 5

Today was mainly reinforcing and consolidating progress. Notably we returned to the blue piste several times (instead of the usual one off attempt) and Alp’s anxiety level was far less than previously. Other than reinforcing technical work that is already understood (though perhaps roughly executed) the only completely new thing we did was to jump and swing the ski fronts into the turns – incrementally during a turn. This exercise has several benefits; naturally narrowing the stance, getting off the backs of the boots and more perpendicular to the slope, relaxing the legs and making the muscles functional instead of rigid, reinforcing the pivot action (swinging the tips into the turn), actively using the adductors of the outside leg in the turn. The main reason for using this exercise was to combat Alp's super wide plough stance when he would go defensive on the steeper terrain. The important thing is to not let that defensive reaction become the default setting. On the steeper turns Alp was told to bring the wayward uphill ski back down to just beside the downhill ski and make sure it was on it’s uphill edge – prior to (starting a new turn) standing on it to move the body downhill into the new turn – swinging the uphill ski tip downhill following the body. Jumping shares much of this coordination.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Derin Day 2

Derin – after riding up the Funicular for the first time ever. (Mont Blanc to the right – Mont Pourri to the left)

Understandably Derin just want to ski and not to work on technique – but skiing is much better, more fun, safer and more interesting when technique is improved… so we have been working on a few things.


We did a very quick revision of dynamics – but Derin was clear on this subject so we didn’t have to take too much time. Dynamics can however be taken to completely different levels but we are not interested in that for the moment. I simply wanted to help Derin develop a narrower stance as she tends to ski with her legs wide apart as a substitute for moving her Centre of Mass.

In the video above Derin pulling her legs together with her adductor muscles while working on dynamics – actually pushing up from the uphill edge of the uphill ski just prior to the end of the existing turn. The job of a ski is to “bring you up” so it actually doesn’t matter too much which one is used! Getting Derin to modify things in this way encourages a narrower stance and this is clearly visible in the video.


Derin was asking to finish early but it wasn’t until we eventually were indoors that I saw her hands were freezing. She has been told now that she must let people know when this sort of thing is happening because it can be dangerous. It’s not “complaining” it’s just necessary! I’d made her put on a thick extra upper body layer before going out. When temperatures are as low as they are currently you can’t put on too much clothing.

Alp Day 4

Another freezing day – but no complaints from Alp. Today’s focus was mainly on building confidence. Greater speed provides clearer feedback from the skis and allows a stronger connection with the appropriate feelings and outcomes.

Magic Wall

For the first time we consciously added “dynamics” through the “Magic Wall”. This is fully described on the fixed “Dynamics” page accessed from the menu at the very top of the blog.

Foot Forward

Our attempt at skiing on steeper ground made Alp defensive again so he was given a lesson on “Foot Forward” technique – which he is seen doing in his ski boots at the end of the video clip. Pushing the ski in the same manner as he is pushing the ski boot dramatically tightens the turn radius on steeper slopes – especially when combined with dynamics. Alp is already partially pivoting but that in itself is a harder skill to develop for steeper slopes initially – and “Foot Forward” is an important skill in it’s own right.