Friday, February 4, 2011

Taha Day 6

Day Six

Today was intended to be an intensive technical day but it began with Mete not feeling well and so required a long recovery pause right at the start. The restaurant also sold sunglasses so I took the opportunity to insist that Mete got a pair and wore them because he had been refusing to wear his goggles. At first he was very resistant but I insisted that there was no option, eyes being easily damaged by the sun at high altitude and in the snow. Just to prove to him that it was a good idea I took his photo to show that he was really a cool dude in his shades - and appropriately for a rock star he then insisted on wearing them indoors too.

Finding ourselves at last on the Vert we were able to begin the technical session at 11am. The boys were motivated and ready to go. Cagatay had asked why we need to learn on green slope - which is a good question. The reason for this is that learning anything new we need to do it slowly and carefully with exercises that emphasise and isolate particular aspects of the final goal. We need to master those exercises in a safe and comfortable environment where there is no stress or tension. If those exercises cannot be done well there then there is no hope of achieving the end product on a steep and difficult slope. I decided to start by revising some of the skills we had worked on two days earlier - skills the boys found extremely difficult then but which I was sure they would find much easier now.

Side Stepping
Revision started with simply side stepping uphill. Two days ago Cagatay found this extremely difficult but now it was easy.

Side Stepping while moving forwards
Side stepping while moving forward was also now easily achievable. At first Cagatay stepped onto the inside edge of his uphill ski but soon had that corrected and was able to get onto the uphill edge.

Side Stepping and Gliding on the top ski
We now added a new part and that involved a sustained glide on the top ski. This would not have been possible two days ago but now the boys found it relatively easy. Taha was just too tense to find this easy.

Side Stepping, Gliding and turning
The idea now was to take the sustained glide into a turn downhill using the Centre of Mass only. Previously when we had done this there was no sustained glide as nobody could manage it.  The boys managed it quite easily except that Mete would cheat on his turns to the right by stemming the left ski slightly before stepping up onto it.

Linking two Step - Glide turns
The next stage was to link two turns using the step and glide. Mete found this a bit confusing and started the turn on the wrong leg sometimes and Taha was struggling due to being unable to topple his CM into the turn consistently.

Linking turns taking it into skating
Reducing the glide on the top edge of the top ski and smoothly linking the turns with the stepping the whole process sweetly turns into a continuous skating action. Cagatay beautifully caught on to this movement pattern and the timing that goes with it. Later on he displayed the same connection with this timing as the skis brought him up and out of short turns - it was now "happening to him" instead of him having to make it happen.

I had intended to revise the pivot turns but when I saw that there was a very good chance of getting some success with the skating timing I had changed the program and worked on this skating instead because it is more important. Dynamics and skating are the two most important things in skiing so if anyone could possibly connect with the skating at this early stage then that was worth trying for.

View from La Daille over the south facing side

Upper/Lower body separation - pulling against poles
After lunch  we made a start at something new - upper/lower body separation (U/L). To get the idea across I went downhill of each skier in turn and with them pointing their skis across the hill and their poles downhill I grabbed the tips of the poles and pulled downhill. This is the classic ski instruction exercise to show that facing the upper body downhill gives a greater strength and power against being pulled downhill than standing sideways does. When the skier pulls back on the poles to avoid being pulled over and down the hill the upper body naturally turns to face downhill around the hip joints - especially the hip joint of the leg over the lower ski - which takes all the load. U/L separation is done correctly at the hip joint - not in the spine.

Pulling downhill through turns
Using U/L separation I pulled each skier downhill in a sideslip and had them pivot their skis all the way around 180° without the upper body changing direction. This was possible because I supported them throughout. The exercise was to make clear that the skis could turn the legs but that the body could avoid turning.

To end the training we returned to the slalom and this time the boys managed to descend correctly on their own and they built up a speed that surprised me. Tomorrow they will begin to use the clock.

 View West from Tignes at the end of the day

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