Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Taha's Family - Day 3

Day Three

Off the Beginner's Slope
Day three started with Mete and Cagatay back on the beginner's slope for more consolidation. Cagatay held onto the pole for the entire first run and Mete held on during the steep traverse at the top. After only three runs Cagatay was able to ski alone from the middle of the run and on the next descent he started alone just after the  traverse at the top. With both boys now turning it was time to get some mileage in and so we headed for the Chaudane chair and an ascent to 2438 meters and their first excursion to high altitude and a warm  mountain café where we could get the feet warmed up before tackling the first long descent. Unfortunately there are no long green runs in Tignes and this blue was a bit of a handful for novices though Mete did a great job of side-slipping the steep sections on his own.  After one descent we then returned to the more manageable beginner's area and did several loops with the boys skiing everything on their own. My aim was to get their confidence up a bit so that they could go slightly faster and then feel and respond to the appropriate forces and feedback from the skis naturally. The hardest part was getting them to follow my tracks. Children tend to turn the same moment that you turn - regardless of where they are relative to you. Cagatay tended to dislike pointing his skis downhill and so went for at least one improvised excursion off-piste.

We organised to stop for an early lunch so that there would be time for a bus ride to Tignes Val Claret and skiing over to Val d'Isère for the easy green runs and the protected beginner's area on the Vert piste.

Mont Blanc in the background (4010m  Italian side)

Once on the green runs the boys immediately came to life because they were so much easier than anything in Tignes. Now they could get in the mileage and speed that would really have them skiing with the handful of skills they already had working for them. This was not a day for technical input because the boys needed experience, practise and feedback from the skis and terrain so that they could adapt and overcome fears and anxieties. Progress was very rapid. Mete became caught on his inside ski  (outside edge) several times and fell over, so I asked him to lift the ski a little during the turn to make him commit to the outside ski and leg an bit more strongly. 

We covered much more mileage than I had expected and the boys were growing in confidence by the minute. We just made it to the Borsat chair for a return to Tignes by minutes - thanks to the ability of the boys to descend rapidly already with minimum delays - or it could have been an expensive taxi ride home from Val. This descent to Val Claret was on the first long blue run the boys had tackled on their own and it had a few narrow paths. Everyone struggled on the first narrow path from the top of the Borsat - even though it was marked as a green run - with both Mete and Cagatay making more improvised off-piste excursions - but without falling. To try to get them under control we had a brief look at short radius turns  through Centre of Mass (CM) motion. Those turns are made just by wilfully and rapidly moving the CM from side to side and feeling the skis respond. Mete got it straight away but Cagatay did a snowplough thing with feet twisting and no CM movement (we know what we will be working on tomorrow). 

The Posturing Pisteur
We were making our way down the mountain and I was preparing everyone for the narrow paths when a pisteur came right up to Taha and Gulsam and told them that they had to get off the mountain because it was closing. A good analogy would be a sheepdog trained to worry sheep - or an idiotic tailgater in a car. He came over to me and repeated the same - with no apologies for interrupting the lesson or interfering with the potential safety of the group by compromising their preparation. I told him to back off and keep his distance so that he wouldn't intimidate the group (he did make everyone nervous). He was not invited into this group and he could easily observe from 50m away while we descended - but he was too stupid to understand this. Val d'Isère's employees are always offensive in this manner - it's why people prefer Whistler and why they dislike the French in general. Eventually when he came up to me again he couldn't keep his mouth shut - so I told him to and thankfully he got the message. Crossing over to Tignes the pisteurs were extremely polite and unobtrusive - only coming close by if it looked like they might be able to help but never once approaching or talking to anyone or posturing in any manner. Tignes obviously has much better management. Even in the Maire's office in Tignes the people are extremely pleasant and you come out of the place feeling like administrators are actually human after all. I'm sure it's only an illusion though!

The Final Blue
The final part of the descent was very tough for the boys because it was late, steep and icy. Cagatay was apprehensive on the ice and his impulse to sit down was a bit too strong for him at times. He wouldn't have fallen down once if he hadn't let himself sit down. I made him aware of this so that he could start to think about it and work on it. He has to learn that the can control those impulses quite easily if he chooses to. Part of this is just knowing that it is the same for everybody else and that it is not something unique to his universe.
Cagatay was tackling a massively long blue run on his second real day skiing and Mete was only on his third. The boys did really well.

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