Saturday, December 17, 2011

Luke Day Four - Black Flag Day

Today was the first time the black flag - signalling maximum avalanche risk - has been put up in Val d'Isère for almost 10 years.

Eventually Luke and Leonie caught up with me at the Gourmandine some time after 11am - I'd been in there since 8am having driven up early to avoid traffic problems - the road had improved though. There were still several enterprising overtaking manoeuvres made during the climb so as to avoid getting stuck behind crawlers and those who are simply afraid to overtake anything and prefer to start convoys by preventing everyone else from overtaking (by not leaving enough space).

Tignes Odyssey
We drove to Tignes having heard from two sources that the Tichot lift was open as it had been the previous day when everything remained closed in Val - but we were disappointed on arrival to find it closed. The car park had about a metre of snow in it so it was totally blocked both for vehicles already in it or those like us needing to park. Luckily a snow blower machine entered just ahead of us and cut a single path which we followed. When the machine doubled back he went to the side of us and cut a spot for us to park. We decided to at least use the nursery slopes here for a while and look at some technical stuff. Basically, we worked on pivoting because both Luke and Leonie were rotating their bottoms around the turn while stemming the skis and neither had any visible angulation.

Luke's complete lack (even perhaps negative) of angulation during a traverse!

I was hoping that avoiding rotation might help Luke to improve his stance and so protect his shins better. Luke also worked on standing up on the ball of the foot to extend the ankle slightly and lift the shin off the front of the boot. I made sure the difference between twisting the foot and pulling inwards with the adductor muscles was understood. Leonie found it hard to separate standing on the inside edge of the foot and outside edge of the ski at the same time - but all it really needs is to be able to keep the ski clearly downhill of the Centre of Mass. 

After a few runs we decided to head back to Val having heard that there were runs open at La Daille. I dropped everyone off at la Daille and went to park and return by bus. Our timing was lucky and we quite rapidly met up again and went up the Funicular together. Luke realised now that his sore shin had come from being "left behind" (often described incorrectly as "leaning back") and not from pushing on the front of the boot. Until now I'd been confused because normally shins get hurt by pressing on the front of the boot  - not from getting on the back of the boot - but Luke's stance was visibly too far back so this started to make sense. I got Luke to adapt to accelerations downhill by moving forward to get perpendicular to the slope. When he gets stuck in the vertical he also picks up the tip of his inside ski and gets the tail jammed in the snow. We worked on picking up the tip instead and this appeared to help him become aware of the issues- and reduced the pain on the shins.

Static Wall Exercise
Leonie worked on trying to separate the rotation of the leg in the hip socket from the rotation of the upper body. We did this by using a static exercise with skis off - basically swinging a leg from behind the body with the foot pointing outwards, making and arc in the air/ or snow surface, so that the foot comes round to face inwards in front of the body. Leonie couldn't get the leg to swing around like this and the whole body would rotate instead of just the leg - but the difference gradually started to become clear. 

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