Sunday, February 6, 2011

Taha Day 7

Day Seven

Race Course
Today was the first day for racing against the clock. The boys, despite being very quiet, were definitely up for it. Determined not to be left behind Taha was also up for it and managed to split the two boys with the final score - Cagatay 39.13 seconds, Taha 41.53 Seconds and Mete over 42 Seconds.

Taha started off poorly but made a determined effort to improve his dynamics using the poles for reference. Mete was very late in a lot of his turns but was taking a poor line and leaving the turn initiation too late. We will work on this next time now that he is familiar with the course.

Gulsam joined the group and attempted to run though the revision exercises with the boys - but for her they were all new and difficult if not impossible at this stage.

Side Stepping - through to Step-Glide turns.
We quickly went though the progression from stepping uphill to gliding into turns using the CM from standing up on the top edge of the top ski. Taha failed to move the CM into the turns because he rushed the turn initiation and confused the stepping onto the top ski with a motion of the CM towards the outside of the turn. I asked Taha to separate the actions - stepping up on the top ski and gliding for the count of three prior to toppling the CM into the new turn. This worked and greatly improved Taha's result. The boys were similarly rushing things and not separating them out clearly - always failing to glide on the top ski long enough to separate this act from the CM toppling into the turn.

I explained that the "skating" timing - or in this case the step up onto the top leg coordinates with the skier coming up out of a turn, like a motorbike coming up out of a turn. The toppling of the CM into a turn is like a motorbike dropping into a turn. This timing is fundamentally important in skiing, walking, cycling, running - anything you can think off. National teaching methods world wide teach the opposite at the most important basic level - they teach to come up at the start of a turn and to sink at the end - that being one reason why they are extremely dysfunctional.

Skiing on One Ski
Mainly because it was so difficult to persuade the boys to glide on their top ski on the next descent I removed one ski from each of them so that they would have no choice. Taha had a go too. There was a lot of falling over from everyone but Mete really started to get it. We will do a bit of this each day so that the skill is developed. Skiing on one ski requires both awareness of the CM and awareness of the edges to perform well.

Lower ski pivot - with pole
Encouraging the "one ski" skills a little further we worked on the lower ski pivot - that is standing only on the downhill ski and pivoting into a turn down the hill while on the uphill edge. A good pole plant, grip and support are necessary to do this well - with the body moving inwards towards the pole throughout the entire turn. No one is on top of this exercise yet.

Gulsam (individual lesson)
Gulsam was having trouble "freezing" on steeper slopes so we put aside some time for her to have some individual coaching.

Plough on outside edge of feet
When the slopes were steeper Gulsam reverted to a wide stem, but she could not do this when turning to the right and thus being forced to stand on her left leg. She had the habit of taking off her skis to turn right - which at the end of the day caused her to slide down a steep icy blue slope on her bottom without her skis. Rule one if you are on ice is DO NOT REMOVE YOUR SKIS, unless of course you have crampons for your boots and an ice axe.

To help Gulsam we worked on a different kind of snowplough - feet on their outside edges and skis on their inside edges, knees slightly outwards for relaxation. This was initially done with straight running.

Turn with little toe
As soon as Gulasm had the plough correct we started using the little toe tor turn - that is push the right toe to the right. That's all you need to do to turn on shallow gradients. There is no "weight transfer", no twisting of the body or the skis into the turn. The skis turn you.

Turn with CM and little toe
Once the turns were happening we started to mover the CM towards the direction of the new turn to initiate the turn and compliment the "toes". We briefly looked at the effect on the stationary skis of moving the CM to one side and then the other - how one ski flattens and one edges at the same time. Gulsam started to turn using the CM.

Pressure on lower ski feeding into turn
I explained how the lower ski at the start of a turn takes the skier's weight as the CM  moves towards it. This ski then acts as a brake, slowly feeding the skier into a turn. The CM must continue to move towards the centre of the turn all the way through to the end, but after crossing the fall line (straight downhill) pressure automatically goes onto the new lower ski which then completes the turn. There is always a ski below the skier on the mountain and always that ski will be on its uphill edge and act as a confidence giving brake. This is why I wanted Gulsam to understand that she could use this mechanism on steeper slopes when turning to her right. In that standard version of a snowplough the weight would have been "transferred" to the left ski, which pointing downhill would have acted as an accelerator. This new approach avoided all of those traps. Standing on the outside edges of the feet allows a wide plough to be achieved even on steep slopes because there is a major reduction in tension in the leg muscles - this being because the flattening of the feet inside the ski boots corresponds more with the natural flattening of the feet if there had been no ski boot at all.

Once the plough was fully functional we moved on to proper dynamics in parallel skiing. I used the "shoulder" exercises (documented often in other posts within this blog). Gulsam quickly took on board the idea and was surprised to understand the difference between "balance" and "dynamics" and to discover that "balancing" was the wrong thing to do. Correct dynamics was immediately visibly obvious in her skiing.

End of day dramatics - Bumps and Pisteurs
On the penultimate run of the day I took the boys into moguls for the first time ever and it was chaos - pretty much as expected. One pile up between the two boys ended up in tears and I had to climb back up to pick Cagatay up off the ground. However I later learned that the tears were due to fighting between the two brothers over which ski poles they had and nothing to do with falling.

Unfortunately Gulsam hadn't had enough time to assimilate her earlier lesson and on the the blue run back home to Val Claret at the end of the day she ended up getting herself "frozen" again on a traverse. The pisteurs were closing the slope and so one came over to her to increase the pressure. I had skied down a steeper route with the two boys and so was too far away to intervene and could only watch as events unfolded. At least I was not worried about any danger because pisteurs are there to save people. Gulsam predictably removed her skis and ended up hurtling down the slope on her bottom - but unfortunately not to the bottom of the slope - which would actually have been a good result in this case. Apparently there was a misunderstanding with the pisteur being quite aggressive and stupid - as pisteurs tend to be. Gulsam eventually boarded a passing snowmobile and had a free ride to Val Claret. Had she simply been encouraged to side slip she would have been down in minutes and on her way as the slope was not so steep again after that. The pisteur was really astonishingly thick. Taha had been correctly taking Gulsam down a less steep section but unfortunately Gulsam had decided to do one of her famous endless traverses on her right leg and ended up in a place where she didn't want to be. Persistence with the right skills development will sort this out in future. Unfortunately Gulsam had hardly skied during the first week and missed the opportunity to develop new skills along with the boys.

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