During today’s short warm up run I noticed that Rodion was not standing properly and that even the knee on his outside ski was being allowed to point outwards instead of being held inwards towards the turn. I asked Rodion what he was doing with his legs and what he was doing with his feet but he had no idea. I asked him to stand on the heel, touch the front of the boot with the shin and rock the foot onto its inside edge while feeling the adductor muscle pulling the knee inwards – and then o ski like this with the outside leg in the turn always doing this. It was obvious that we would need to do some skating work.
Despite the fact that Rodion had learned to ski with a skating action he was not now able to skate into rhythmic skiing and maintain the skate timing and action properly now. He was using a rotation to start each of his turns and this was bringing him off his outside leg and onto the inside leg. He would then sit down into the turn once the skis were around the start of the turn and only then try to build up pressure on the outside ski. The stance was too narrow and there was no real angulation due to the upper body being held too upright. Rodion was just sitting down into the turn. His posture was poor - hollow lower back and pelvis tilted downwards and all sorts of problems were apparent here.
The queues for the lifts were too big so we just went over to the slalom stadium to use the empty button lift. This also gave us a space free of tourists to train on – thanks to Sarah and Gerard Bonnevie. Here I wanted Liliana to work on completing her turns and controlling her speed on steep terrain and for Victor to work on angulation – but using “chi hips”. I had to explain to Rodion how angulation is formed by standing on one hip and the entire upper body tilting forwards and rotating on the one hip joint. First of all it was necessary to show Rodion where the hip was because he didn’t know. He didn’t understand what the pelvis was either. Standing on one leg with the skis off he was able to feel the correct sensation of support on one leg that should be present when skiing. He was then encouraged to stand on one leg at the start of the turn and to stay on the leg as the body moved into the turn. Initially he couldn’t do this properly and fell off the hip joint but gradually the correct feeling of support returned. Rodion was encouraged to tilt forwards more from the hips to have better angulation and avoid being caught sitting too far back – especially as the race course had sudden changes of gradient. There was still a passive stance – not aggressively moving the centre of mass, static legs and tendency to sit into the turn with late pressure on the skis. Using a wide stance and tilting the body forwards along with a better support from the outside leg for his dynamics Rodion was able to beat his previous record from 2011 and is now at 25:88 seconds.
Advanced Skating and Angulation
Fearing confusing everything for Rodion I nevertheless plunged into advanced skating techniques. The idea was to skate downhill and try to see the race course as an exercise in directly skating downhill – but meanwhile being forced to travel side to side from pole to pole – body always facing downhill due to skating downhill. This gives a timing where the outside of the gate (poles) is the apex of each turn and not beneath the gate. In addition the leg has to extend at the start of the turn to skate the ski outwards to the side as the body is pushed directly downhill and a strong pressure is generated against the ski immediately in the turn while the ski is still uphill. It’s critical here that the extension of the leg is not translated into an “up” movement – the centre of mass is still sent downwards towards the snow and into the turn with this extension. The main idea is to separate the trajectory of the skis from the trajectory of the body and create pressure in doing so.
To begin to use the core power of the body for skating I had to introduce the chi-hips to Rodion. He had now mastered some awareness of the pelvis and could tilt his pelvis upwards. I explained that the task here was to keep the shoulders and knees facing ahead and to turn the pelvis only outwards (counter to the direction of the turn). This – with the pelvis initially tilted upwards - causes the core muscles to come into use during the skating and angulation. We did a long run of carving applying this before having to resort to short turns for bumps at the end. Remarkably when we started the short turns Rodion’s stance and dynamics looked great with everything having returned perhaps even better than before in 2011.
Liliana was still struggling to keep her body inside the turns – especially on the second half of each turn. Her tendency to rotate instead of angulate was quite strong and possibly due largely to tension. Victor was gaining awareness of the chi stance and core muscle use and the role of angulation. Timothy looked great when he worked on skating and despite being bored a lot of the time was steadily improving.