Saturday, January 26, 2013

Derin & Defne 1


I asked Defne what she most wants to improve in her skiing and she said that she would like to be able to ski deep soft snow without being afraid.

Everything in the following program is aimed to bring about this result. Defne has been asked to always let me know if she feels apprehensive about anything. There is nothing that can’t be overcome as long as there is confidence and competence and our aim is to build those things together without fear being present.

The thing she likes least in skiing is racing. I explained that racing is about skiing very well and that you don’t need to race to achieve this – in fact it is better to get there by using intelligence than by using racing poles.


It’s a long time since I explained the “Magic Wall” to Defne so I began by asking her about it. Her answer made it clear that it was time to explain it once again. We did the static exercises – her pushing against my shoulders and  emphasized that it is pressure under the foot that we need to recognise and be able to create. I explained “proprioception” (the sense which lets us know where body parts are relative to each other in space) and that most of the body’s proprioception sensors are in the feet. The idea was to generate pressure from the very beginning of the turn.


We did a little bit of pivoting on steeper ground and emphasized pole use as Defne has a tendency to not use the poles - reflecting hip angulation issues that we will not look into today.  We did some jump turn pivots on moderately steep  terrain on piste just as an introduction to safe techniques for even steeper slopes. The control from those techniques is where confidence comes from.

In the photo below taken from the video there is no hip angulation and so the hips are blocked. Tomorrow we will begin working to change that. In the video Defne was focused on dynamics and using her feet correctly.


The Feet

It had been a long time since the magic wall had been explained to Defne but much longer since she had been shown how to use her feet properly. Since it was a very cold day and the first hour of skiing was freezing it was a good idea to have a hot chocolate and revise the feet work at the same time.

I explained about the shaft of the ski boot and how it holds the ski on edge without the foot flattening. Most people don’t realise that this is why the boot goes so far up the leg and that its lateral stiffness is the most important quality.

Defne was using the front of the foot, collapsing the ankle and twisting the knee inwards. She found it hard to get onto the heel (front of the heel) and to bend by squatting but she managed it. She managed to feel the anterior tibialis (muscle beside the shin bone) tighten and the ankle strengthen.  She then learned to rock the foot above the heel and to feel how the knee doesn’t twist inwards when standing this way. I explained that the way she had been standing was causing her to lean against the front of the ski boot for support and the boots are not designed for holding you up – only your legs are.


We used the support from the feet to work on dynamics while carving, taking advantage of the near empty pistes on change-over day. The main goal was to be able to concentrate on the feet: The pressure under the front of the heel from dynamics and the rocking of the foot.


Derin was uncomplicated as usual and agreed that skiing a couloir would do her as a goal! She didn’t want to go into slalom though on her first day.

Derin said she would like to improve her pivot in the bumps – but that pivoting on the piste was boring!

“No! My body is me!”

She said that she was excited about skiing again but that she’d forgotten what it feels like to ski. I told her not to worry because the body would remember how to ski. She shouted “No! My body is me!”. Later she agreed that when she plays piano she doesn’t have to tell each finger what to do for the pieces she has already learned because the body has been trained and the fingers just work automatically.

The video is Derin doing jump turns and making her first ever “own tracks” off piste – on steep and difficult snow!

Derin has some natural hip angulation and this is probably why she is quite comfortable in all conditions.


Off Piste

Our first few runs were just to let Derin’s body tell her that she still knew how to ski. After that we went on a nice long off piste excursion and even found some untracked soft snow which Derin skied with no trouble. She was comfortable following my tracks in all sorts of snow conditions off piste. All of this is in terrain with very gentle gradient and zero avalanche risk.



Derin has a “thing with no name” attached to her finger and has decided that is has some sort of value and therefore is keeping it.  She found herself at a hot chocolate break with no Kitkat to eat and said it was “Totally mum’s fault!” We did however manage to find one in the cafe.





Jump Turns

Prior to the jump turns in the video and photo above we did some exercises on the piste. Derin had to remove her skis and then do jumps downhill while facing downhill, without her body or bottom turning – only the legs turning  in their sockets – and using one ski pole at at time. This was her preparation for going onto steep off piste and doing the same thing. Later on she did this on even steeper off-piste than seen in the video.


We finished the day skiing down the Campagnule black bumps run home to Tignes. Although Derin was a bit scared of the steep bumps and slightly icy surface she took the plunge and made herself do what she had to do. The goal here was instead of jumping to remove pressure from the pivoting ski she had to get the ski tips in the air over the shoulder of the bump and then pull them inwards as she went over it. Once she got going there was no problem.

The biggest shriek of the day was when she went over a small cornice and landed it correctly – pushing the feet forwards when she went over the lip and into the air.

One Ski

I pointed out to Derin that although pivoting on the piste is boring that she would still have to learn to do it well enough to ski on one ski properly. At the moment she can’t manage this so there is work to be done.

Mont Pourri


Mont Blanc

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