Thursday, April 5, 2018

Alex – Off Piste Experience

Today’s Giant Slalom race was cancelled due to a large and unexpected dump of snow. Once visibility improved we exploited the opportunity for some off piste skiing – though nothing too adventurous. The video contains a clip of people negotiating Pisteur’s Couloir in Val d’Isere – that’s not us!

Off Piste exposes certain weaknesses in skiing technique and provides an opportunity to make progress… while really enjoying the mountain!



Technical Report (Password Protected):













Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Alex GS training and Wet Off Piste skiing



Alex bending the unbendable Dynastar GS ski!


Alex testing the GS skis off piste…



Technical

Technical content password protected:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Alex–Slalom

…another day in the office and useful experience gained… Regardless of circumstances Alex’s skiing at this age could only translate into world class as an adult. Competition is not meant to be easy!



THE GOOD…






THE BAD…

Borrowed 149 (Junior) Rossignols – right ski skidding on ice – impressive save!


…AND THE UGLY!

…spot the obvious equipment failure here…


… the problem here is not that Alex is being violently assaulted by two whipping plastic poles simultaneously – but that his Leki poles are (yes – unbelievably) not clipped into his gloves and the right one is about to fly away.   Skis and everything else would have probably worked on this run with melted snow. Racing is like that – one tiny detail can have a huge impact. 


Technical

Password protected technical report:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Alex–Knuckle Dragging–Super G–British Championships

Not bad for a young boy with absolutely no Super G training and on 170 GS skis – with a start position of close to 140 on a course that was not fit to ski on because it was not properly maintained. The loss of a ski two gates from the end was unfortunate – but a bad pothole caused a lurch forwards and the binding did a good job of protecting the leg. (This was not a “pre-release”)



Slalom training took a great step forwards today – at long last it’s in 3D – skis on edge far enough away from the poles to make arcs – inclining and even knuckle dragging – taking the poles without reaching. Now that there is inclination and a 3D line being taken (banked track) the outside leg can be used powerfully (extended) for early pressure and carving before the pole. It takes nerve to use the leg powerfully at the start of the turn – most people back off and pivot or stivot by reducing pressure instead of creating it. Initially during the session Alex’s carved tracks were on the apex (outside of the pole) but as pressure was achieved earlier the carved tracks were visibly earlier – carving the first part of the turns – with less frequent braking between turns. This is how to go fast!



Knuckle dragging with no skis on the snow!




Hit a pothole and lurched forward – binding did its job properly here – course in absolutely terrible condition.




Early pressure – using the ski to make the arc into the turn


Bending the ski – taking a line far enough from the pole to let the ski arc correctly – skiing in 3D instead of on a flat Earth!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Alex, Ben, Sam – Slalom


Alex

Feet sometimes getting too close to the gates – poles grabbing the shin guards (when rebounding) – all tripping you up. Perhaps the only immediate answer to this is to apex slightly further away from the pole and incline more. When you need to reach for a pole don’t forget to angulate – work on pulling back the hip – this helps to compensate and sorts out most problems with keeping pressure on the fronts.

Ben

Watch for that counter rotation creeping in (especially free skiing) and drill yourself to stay focused on your body and movements. Pulling back the hip works well for you too but it still needs more pressure on the fronts of the skis.

Sam

Now you understand “pulling in” the difference in your skiing is huge. Pull back the hip, pull in with the adductor muscles (inside of the upper leg) and drive the centre of mass inwards – all of this helping the ski direct you inwards away from a straight line. “Pushing” on the outside ski is what was causing your leg to be unstable – just pull inwards. (remember this is not the same as pushing your knees into a turn)


Encrypted extended report here:







Friday, March 30, 2018

Alex–Ben Slalom

Alex

Alex today was just getting back into skiing after a month in London and Ben was applying his reconfigured skiing to slalom in anger for the first time.

Alex did well in tricky conditions on the steep and should be very satisfied with his most successful return to slalom ever – by a huge margin!

Alex retained even his apex to apex motion across the hill – which is seen clearly in the first video clip. Still needing to use the fronts of the skis a bit more but it looks like that isn’t so much a technical issue but an age issue. Ben’s longer legs allow him to angulate and pressure the ski fronts more easily because he doesn’t have to reach for the poles. Alex loses angulation when he reaches but if he does go close enough he tends to be tripped up by collecting the poles at his ankles.


Ben

Ben is on video here working his pelvis correctly for improved hip angulation to help stay on the fronts of his skis and avoid getting kicked into the back seat – good run here – but the slowest skis on this particular planet due to waxing !!!

Remember – pulling the outside hip backwards actually pulls the opposite knee inwards. Pulling the outside shoulder backwards does the opposite.



Guess who…

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The rest of the report is password protected:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ben–Reconstructed

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Ben was very unsure of being able to retain his hard won changes from the previous days. We took a few runs where Ben asked questions and we revised the relevant points and then Ben went into the gates for the first time to see what happened – focusing intensely in preparation. The outcome was that everything was there that we had worked on – the dynamics (including inclination), the “reverse banana”, hip angulation and control of the inside leg. That’s quite an achievement for only 5 days. Ben get’s a “9” for inclination here – ( 10 being the ultimate and 0 being totally upright.) We all have an unfortunate habit of flipping this scale around so it was either a 9 or a 1 – but we all know what we mean.



After the slalom we worked for a while on using pivoting to develop correct hip angulation (with good posture) with the aim of learning to use the angulation to pressure the fronts of the skis hard but safely through the end of the turn. Ben then tested this in the off piste and felt the strong but safe directional effect of the ski fronts in deep snow. The same applies in racing when a turn has to be closed off hard to get across the hill – usually on the steeps and after a rollover when there is a hidden banane put there by some psychopathic course setter.

Ben initially used no pressure on his poles – which weakens the motion of the centre of mass moving over the front of the downhill ski into the new turn – but this was quickly corrected and in the video clip he has strong pole use (only appropriate for pivoted/braking turns – used here for developing awareness). Ben correctly recognised that it’s not the whole body weight on the pole – it’s like you “rest” your weight on the pole. (Ben’s description)

If the fronts are used effectively then dynamics and rebound are more effective. Ben’s Salomon slalom skis are stiff in the front and should be very effective with pressure there.


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Although Ben was both physically and mentally tired from the intense focus he was concerned at how he could generate speed on the flats. Just a few days earlier Ben was unable to skate or understand how skating and turning are related – due to his excessive counter rotation. This time – since the step forwards yesterday – skating and blending with dynamics – hence turning – was no problem. Ben could sense the power and timing in the skating action and how it fits in with the dynamics – and how you literally skate face first down a slalom course. What I like in Ben’s demonstration (video clip) is that he also retains his overall motion across the slope from turn to turn (apex to apex in a race course).

Sam didn’t know this exercise or why it was being done (the others did know) so he was slightly lost and used multiple skates in each turn – a useful exercise itself – but different. Next time he’ll get a proper explanation.

Alex, tired from travelling since early morning (not much sleep) was using his long new GS skis and as the snow was slow he struggled to bend them. He tried to get more pressure on the fronts to help to bend them but the snow was literally sticky so not really ideal for this. Ben had struggled to develop this exercise also a few days earlier on GS skis and the slalom skis made a big difference for this.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ben and Sam–Reverse Banana Turns

First clip in the video is with unintended counter rotation – thereafter it is mostly eliminated…


There was a clear mission today to remove Ben’s dependence on “counter rotation”. Ben was determined and deeply frustrated with it but despite understanding the alternative movements was unable to make them happen. I was wracking my brains to hack a way through Ben’s impenetrable firewall but good two-way communication got us there in the end.

Rather than revisiting the entire process that we had already worked through I decided to try a genuine torture device that I’d developed many years ago – which even I hate doing – a complex form of “snowplough” for advanced skiers. The key is to get the weight and centre of mass over the inside ski – with it flattened and acting as a brake controlling the turn. Meanwhile the outside leg  is actually pulled almost straight to hold the ski in a pure carving mode. While the turn is generated the outside ski begins behind the body and ends the turn in front of the body – constant adjustments having to be made to prevent the body rotating all the time. This worked and was the first time that Ben did not systematically counter-rotate his body to the outside of the turn throughout the entire turn… here is a video of me accurately demonstrating the killer (literally) exercise.



Even after this exercise all it took was a hot chocolate break and Ben had it all muddled up again. Time to think outside of the box! The essence of his problem here was simply that he had been relentlessly drilled to “make a banana” towards the exterior of the turn and to essentially move his centre of mass the wrong way. It was obvious now that the solution was to make the banana towards the inside of the turn instead – coming over the front of the lower ski both out of the old turn and into the new turn – which could be done with a single movement when in the snowplough but was more obvious even when skiing parallel. From that moment onwards Ben had it. We then spent time consolidating it and working it on steeper terrain – where Ben could begin to feel the life this brings to the skis. Basically correct development of angulation could be described as a “Reverse Banana Turn”. Ben felt like he was deliberately rotating to counter his counter rotation – whatever – the result was correct. It’s just the the counter rotation is so much Ben’s default mode that to prevent it actually feels like a direct rotation instead.



Unfortunately Ben’s slalom skis were stolen at lunch at the top of the mountain – which reinforces the serious need for my personal practice of locking skis together which I was unfortunately beginning to neglect.

Meanwhile I showed Simon and Ben how to get their centre of mass further behind when on a slope without leaning back. If you bend the knees and ankles only while standing on flat ground you fall backwards – but this same low position when facing somewhat downhill puts you on the fronts of the ski boots! This is the “safe” stance for off piste and is very effective. Better still is deep angulation and using the fronts of the skis even in deep snow – but to do that you need to learn to pull back the hip and sink in deeply though the turn – which we started working at with Sam because his main weakness currently is lack of hip angulation through the end of the turn. Working alongside Ben, Sam managed to improve this significantly…