Monday, February 7, 2011

Taha Day 8

Day Eight

Straight to the slalom!  
These boys improve in their sleep. Cagatay's time dropped to 36.69 seconds to enter the "flechette"" category and Mete dropped to 38.31 which is just outside this first category. The times had improved over the course of the first few runs and then started to slow down. The only advice I gave them was to throw the body over further into the turn. I held each one of them and pulled them over to an inclination of about 40° to the ground to demonstrate the point. It was after this demonstration that the both scored their best times. When the times began to slow down again we brought the session to a halt. This race training is both clearly improving their tolerance for speed and their dynamic range (the amount of disequilibrium they can generate).

Daily Exercises on the Training Piste
After race training we returned to exercises on the Vert, beginning with one ski skiing again. Mete really figured out how to use his CM to control the turns on the outside edge of the ski, whereas Cagatay didn't get it at all. The exercise was completed with me holding Cagatay so that his CM was in the right place so as to understand the movement. He should get it right tomorrow by himself. After the "one ski" skiing we did short swings and both could do them straight away - not having forgotten anything. Mete had more control with this as he seems to be stronger in the pivoting in general than Cagatay. Cagatay was the one with the stemming originally and this still affects him in some exercises and especially on the steeps. Off piste he has a tendency to shoot off  with his speed out of control and it is caused by stemming and turning the uphill ski into an accelerator pedal. 

First Off-Piste Excursion
Next on the menu was their first ever proper off-piste excursion in variable snow. Predictably there were a few face plants when they entered the deep snow not knowing what to expect. As always there was no complaining they just got up and got on with it adapting rapidly to the new environment. The soft snow terminated in a very long gully with steep banks to play on  and then a chairlift back up to the top of the Bellevard. From there we took a steep route to the left of the OK piste and I was amazed at how well they both skied their first real steeps. The slopes were quite long but not high or long enough to intimidate them - though the steepness itself might have done so. The snow was chalky north facing and grippy to ski on. Heading back to Tignes for lunch we went from the top of the Tommeuses across off-piste to the bowl above the frozen lake and skied down a steep chalky face beside a marked black piste - although there is no "piste" there as such. This is very steep in parts and very long and there were some tricky moments at the start when both made a mess of their first turns. After the first turns though everything went perfectly as they adjusted to the environment and new parameters once again. We continued off-piste all the way to the bottom. Basically at the start of their second week of skiing they are both now competent confirmed off-piste skiers and racers.

Gulsam regaining confidence through ski technique
After lunch I went with Gulsam who was by now in a complete confidence crisis and Taha skied alone with the boys. To restore Gulsam's confidence she used the snowplough technique that she had learned the previous day - using the lower ski as a brake and moving the CM always towards the inside of the turn. This process allowed her to regain confidence for turning to the right - basically because it does not use the left ski as an accelerator pedal. Once on flatter terrain the plough width was reduced and the dynamics increased along with the speed. We didn't have a lot of time to work on things so on arriving at the Vert we began straight away with the sideslip. Sideslip was demonstrated with the skis close together so as to be cleanly on the uphill edges. Sliding was caused by moving the CM slightly downhill and stopping by moving it back uphill - thus altering the edge angles on the snow. A slight movement backwards of the CM made the sideslip go backwards. The important things here were to increase edge and CM awareness and to get more used to going sideways. Once we arrived on the flatter terrain we started on pivot turns and this time I asked Gulsam to pull with the tip of her top ski against my ski pole blocking it downhill - so that she would feel her adductor muscles working. Explaining the "pull inwards" I held her and supported her physically though the first turns so that she could feel the mechanism at work - turning from the top (braking edge) of the top ski instead of the bottom (accelerating) edge of the top ski. When she tried this on her own there was a clear difference in her stance even though there was still a bit of a stem. Once this had been practised for a while I asked Gulsam to notice that the "pull in" and the CM both act in the same direction - towards the centre of the turn - and to use this actively. Gulsam then skied confidently down to the Tommeuses chairlift working on her new feelings. It will take a day or two of practise on easy green slopes - a lot of patience - but then just like the boys she will improve rapidly. Her lack of confidence comes from feeling lost technically on the slippery skis and this technique is giving her sensible feedback and a clear reference with which to work. 

Steeps and Short Swings
Gulsam took the Aeroski down to Tignes at my suggestion - to retain her "good" sensations and the rest of us skied back to Tignes off-piste. On the way down looked for steep sections to practice short swings - which are really just pivot turns with the skis off the ground to start the turn instead of pivoting on the top edge on the snow. Mete was excellent now at this and showed great control on the steeps - truly impressive for a first week skier. Cagatay and Taha both stemmed and accelerated out of control accordingly! Work to be done there tomorrow. One of the main keys to skiing steeps in control is to have good Upper/Lower body separation (U/L) because this permits the CM to move downhill over the skis without the edges being changed! The CM can then generate an active pivot which it cannot do if the body is square to the skis and facing across the hill. The pole plant also aids the CM getting into this relationship with the skis.

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