Thursday, April 12, 2012

Derin, Defne - Day 6

Lemon Pie day

The day started out hopeful with Defne on a different pair of skis chosen for being more suitable off piste. Before even starting I was concerned because the bindings looked too far forwards and the skis had very little sidecut in comparison with her previous skis. Sure enough she had no clear feedback from them and was all over the place. Off Piste she had no confidence - but it later transpired that she had played until late outdoors the night before and then went to bed very late. Basically she was tired out before even starting - especially after such a big day on skis yesterday. She should really have been early to bed yesterday to have any hope of maintaining the momentum of her progress. All the time Derin was pleading to go off-piste but that just wasn't going to happen today.

During the day I revised various technical aspects with Defne but none of it was going very far. The snow was very changeable and inconsistent - with temperatures varying an enormous amount depending on whether or not the sun could break through the clouds. It became clear that even consolidation and revision were a bit pointless today so I decided to at least try to get some new ideas across. Defne was clearly beginning to have more confidence in me and understood that I was listening to her and respecting her issues. In return she was trying her best under the circumstances. When you are tired you are tired.

Centre of Mass
We worked on pivoting on one leg with a view to increasing awareness of moving the body into the turn through support from the pole plant. I explained "Centre of Mass" and how it was the most important thing in skiing. The Centre of Mass is just in front of the spine and between the pelvis and the navel. It can move around depending on what shape is made by the body and it can even move outside the body. A good athlete gets to know this point like an artist would know the point of her pencil. It is not part of the body but we can still sense it and use it. You move it to control your turn - left to go left and right to go right. Down into a turn and up out of one. I showed how pivoting can be done without even pulling the ski with the adductor muscles - just using the center of mass alone. A good skier uses a combination of both.

Listening to the Legs
Defne had her first explanation of how to reduce tension. I got everyone to clench a fist and do arm curls with the arm relaxed. I then asked everyone to tense all of the muscles in the arm and then try to do a curl - which of course is impossible. You are fighting against yourself with maximum tension. I explained that by relaxing the muscles in the legs and using only those that were absolutely necessary tension could be removed from the legs. To make this happen you first of all need to listen carefully to what the legs have to say. They will be telling you that they are tense but you are almost certain to be not listening very well. When you hear this message then you can act to relax appropriately. I'd hoped this would help Defne to deal with the tiredness in her legs - but it didn't. 

Defne also had her first ever explanation of perpendicularity - the same as had been explained to Derin a few days earlier. It wasn't clear that she fully understood it though. With this in mind I altered the theme of the exercise to using the front of the ski. A bicycle or car uses the front wheel or wheels for changing direction and in skiing the front of the ski has the most powerful directional effect. When you are systematically on the back of the skis and ski boots you never discover this. I asked the girls to try to pressure the front of the skis during the turns. They noticed a stronger turning effect. Trying to use the front of the ski should automatically help with perpendicularity through the whole turn.

Foot Forwards
Today I introduced "foot forwards" technique properly for the first time. Prior to this I asked both the girls to take their skis off at the side of the piste and then to lie down in the snow and warm sunshine and go to sleep.  When it was plainly obvious that they actually had more energy than this and couldn't keep still for a second I told them to get back up and started the lesson. 

Pushing the outside foot forwards is best learned with just the ski boots on the snow and the two poles for support. It's a tricky exercise because you have to use the inside leg for support and spin around on the heel while the outside boot scribes an arc on the snow as it is pushed forwards around the turn on its inside edge. Most people just fall downhill at the end of the turn because they don't let their body (centre of mass) move back uphill into the turn to complete the ultra tight turn. Defne does this (falls downhill) in the video and you can see the line she scribes in the snow is more of a straight push downhill with her heel pushing outwards - than an arc with the foot going forwards. This exercise exposes a lot of issues. Regardless of this Defne's attempt was good enough to try it on skis. 

I asked Defne to tell me what she experienced when she tried it on skis. She correctly responded that the turn was tighter and she felt there was stronger grip and control. This is correct. Pushing the foot forwards makes the turn active (it doesn't actually cause the foot to shoot forwards) making the turn radius shorter and  quicker. This is a major help when on steep terrain or off piste. This will progressively help Defne to change from pushing her ski outwards to pushing forwards - which is much more functional.

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