Saturday, December 29, 2012


Knowing that Rowdy had not been able to work on his fitness for a long time somehow didn’t register in my conscience – it was clear that he was going to have to ski off-piste in all sorts of snow. When you ski on Kung Fujas K2 skis you basically have no choice! The skis make the decision.

I could see Rowdy was both hesitant with dynamics and tending to seek the inside (downhill) edge of his turning ski immediately for feedback and support. This is a recipe for trouble! You can either use clean strong dynamics with the inside edge, or stay on the uphill edges – but inside edge with weak dynamics just causes the top ski to track off straight and an unwanted fall onto the inside leg – or buttock.

It had occurred to me earlier that because Rowdy had never consistently managed to retain good dynamics then it would be best to really go to work on the pivot. Pivoting in the fall-line is a really good way to control speed very safely – so it can help to develop a lot of confidence. It would seem that this might be more appropriate for Rowdy to develop.

Fall-line Pivot Basics

We worked on the basic uphill edge pivot on the uphill ski to begin with. I explained that the foot needed to roll onto the inside edge but the ski would remain on the uphill edge. The pivot is aided with the adductor muscles but is also timed with the centre of mass falling into the turn – though not far enough to change edge. Rowdy had a tendency to travel across the hill instead of sideslip downhill. He would then tend to try to force the ski outwards rather than pull inwards. We worked on correcting this. Moving on to pivoting on the lower ski only I explained that once again we hold the foot on its inside edge. The adductor isn’t really used to pivot now – it’s all dependent on good body position aided by a strong support from the pole  (downhill and behind the feet) – allowing the body to move downhill without the edge changing. The body has to be so strongly committed downhill that this is why the foot must remain on its inside edge (and the ski on its uphill / inside edge). Both feet have to be held on inside edges – which is handy when placing the feet together to make a single two footed pivoting platform for either bumps or deep snow. This is the opposite from carving where feet are rolled onto opposing edges.

Off-Piste – Resonance

For deep snow I explained that a low seated stance was best for pivoting. This gives more leverage for pulling the skis inwards and also places the resultant forces more accurately through the sweet spot for pivoting under the feet. The K2s are great for this as the bindings are placed further forward than the classic position – so the front of the ski is easier to swing inwards. We worked on bouncing so that Rowdy could feel the resonance of the skis being loaded up. I explained that he had to start to pivot inwards very slightly after the bounce – once up and light. It’s important not to “overturn” but to let the deep snow slow you down and the pivoting add to the friction appropriately. This requires a close stance with the adductors pulling both feet and legs together. The feet have to be kept downhill of the body and the seated stance helps that to be achieved. It’s also important to never reverse the timing and attempt to start a pivot while standing up off downhill into a turn. Starting off in the deep snow is the hardest part if it’s deep because there is no support from the pole – but a downsink during the start of the pivot generally does the job.

Independent Leg Pivoting

Back on the piste we worked on windscreen wiper pivots. I wanted Rowdy to control his rotation better and remain more direct in the fall-line so I started by removing my skis and standing facing downhill – then skiing in the boots with the feet pivoting independently – each leg turning in its hip socket only. I explained that in practice this feels like a little skate with each outside leg – pushing the body back up at the end of each pivot. You hardly lose any height during each pivot.


I explained that timing is basically the same for both bumps (compression turns) and short swings (jumps). The first is caused by terrain and the latter by muscle power. Either way you come down from the start of the turn and up at the very end (in the bumps this means you fully extend into the hole). Both  require good pole plants and pole support to place the body in the right position for pivoting – for preventing an edge change that is too early. The pole plant indicates the start of the next pivot. It is not the end of a turn.

Resistance and relaxing

I explained to Rowdy that if the muscles he felt painful and tired were on the outside of his thighs then this was because he was “resisting” and bracing when he should be bending. A properly controlled pulling inwards with the adductor allows the support leg to bend (pushing outwards braces the leg). When force builds up in the turn then the skier must bend consciously to avoid resisting and bracing, sinking down and into the turn more and keeping the feet well downhill of the centre of mass. The turn is completed by allowing the body to come back up and out of the turn at the very end – leading to a pole plant. If there is any confusion here just think of the pole plant coming after the “bounce” up. Sometimes this is not very visible because there can be a leg retraction included to absorb some of the bounce and help the body to get out of the turn more easily. If you bend well during the second half of the picot turn then although it is a muscular act the legs will not tire out so easily.


I discussed later with Rowdy how the traditional “coiling” and uncoiling of the body like a spring is completely wrong, with the spine twisting in the wrong direction. This makes it impossible for people to stop “hip rotation” and to protect their backs by engaging the core muscles strongly and placing the pelvis correctly. The answer is to pull the hip (on the outside leg) backwards during the turn – to the degree that it twists the lumbar spine slightly in the opposite direction from the turn and slightly stretches the lower abdomen. The pelvis should be slightly tilted up at the front and the hips joints released and relaxed when tilting the pelvis. This is much more effective than pushing the foot forward – but achieves the same control of turn radius while adding a much higher degree of body management.


Rowdy needs to avoid the tendency to fall off the outside hip joint. There must be a total commitment to standing on the hip of the support leg. This takes a conscious control because the emotional and unconscious reaction is to fall off the hip during accelerations and look for the other one for bilateral support and security. This issue causes Rowdy to fall even on the flat when working on new technique – always finding himself stuck on the outside edge of his inside ski and falling over as a result.

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