Monday, February 4, 2013

Mini Derin 4, Derin 6, Defne 5, Dilshat 1

10 Pin Bowling

Little Derin began the day slightly apprehensively. I was surprised to hear her saying that she didn’t want to let go of the pole. Perhaps her first ever fall (when skiing by herself) at the end of the last session made her a little bit worried. Regardless of this when we were near the bottom of the steeper part of the Bollin piste I decided that it was suitable for her to pick up from where she had left off yesterday. Below us a French ski teacher had a group of little boys stretched across the piste like skittles in a bowling alley, but I was confident of Derin’s ability to turn and avoid them as they were mostly quite far apart. Unfortunately Derin seemed to be attracted to one little boy and went straight for him taking his legs out from beneath him and one of his skis. The poor little boy didn’t even see it coming. The upset ski teacher shouted that Derin should have been in a snowplough so, knowing there was no hope of explaining anything I said that the  problem was that she just isn’t really a “morning person” and that we were sorry for knocking her class down. She seemed happier with the apology.  Most importantly nobody was hurt.

Derin skiing to Paganini’s Caprice for Violin Solo in E major….

Magic Wall

After the wipeout I decided that it was time to begin working on dynamics. How do you explain dynamics to a 4 year old child with Turkish as her first language. Newtonian mechanics might not be ideal.  I tried to explain the Magic Wall version but realised that it was hopeless so decided to go back to base (Tavern restaurant) and see if Tiffany could help with the communication. This of course meant that I had to explain the Magic Wall to Tiffany first so that she  understood it too. I liked Tiffany’s solution and her way of getting Derin to close her eyes and visualise. Hypnosis is like this – transporting someone to another place in their mind – and it was clearly working. The main thing about the magic wall is that when you push against it you don’t actually feel it on your shoulder because it is invisible. (Though in our exercises indoors you do push against something) You have to believe the wall will hold you up when skiing because that’s how magic (physics) works. The more strongly you believe the stronger the wall becomes and the harder you can push against it. The wall protects you more as you push even harder. Most people just think they will fall over and so try to stand up in balance all the time – so they never become good skiers. All ski schools teach “balance” or “equilibre” except in New Zealand where they recognised there is a problem with it – but still didn’t figure out what it was. Perhaps they just don’t believe in magic.

Derin was able to use the magic wall – pulling with the left leg meant pulling against the wall to her right – we worked this out indoors. Straight away her turning was much better as she could now begin to deal with the “lifting up” forces of the skis and begin to interact with them more positively. Occasionally she would fall because the forces surprised her but this is a completely normal part of discovery and learning. She finished the session excited and wanting to continue. At the moment she is still not aware enough or experienced enough to negotiate steeper slopes unassisted – but that will come soon. 


Dilshat, Defne & Derin

All of the girls are within one second of each other in the slalom so the competition is heating up. Defne currently leads Derin by 0.25 seconds.

Dilshat could gain a big advantage if she reduced rotation slightly and increased hip angulation – her inclination (dynamics) is strong and her line is good. Some work on the “chi-hips” would do the trick. For off piste fall-line skiing there could be more use of a two footed platform and pivoting from the outside edge to initiate the turns. Lack of pole support during pivoting exposes the angulation and rotation issue again as a limitation. There is a good range of movement in the legs along with good inclination when required.

Defne showed good pivoting skills off piste and good control in the slalom – producing the fastest time of the day. As with Dilshat there was no pole use during pivoting and the main culprit is tension in the area of the hips – plus leaning back a bit too much. Working on the hip area would free up her skiing a great deal. Currently she is doing everything she has been taught well though the dynamics could be stronger.


Derin was the main focus of the session and she again improved her slalom times enormously – knocking another three seconds off her best time – to 33.55 seconds.


In training we had worked previously to increase dynamic range and touch the ground during carving. Improved dynamics is probably the biggest factor in her improvement. Derin looks like a real racer in the photo opposite – except that she is about a kilometre away from the poles! Although Derin has natural hip angulation she is struggling to increase her dynamics range at this point. There is a reason for this we will come to later.




We had already started to work on improving the line by considering the pole as the apex of the turn – the apex being to the outside of the pole and not beneath. I showed Derin that she has to look downhill and try to see the outside of the poles in the course like a wall that she can bounce off. Simply trying to start each turn earlier can help to get there and doing this produced her fastest time of the day.






Derin is trying here to turn earlier but her skis are just drifting sideways and losing a lot of speed. This is also the reason that she can’t increase her dynamic range any further. The key to her improvement to another level will be when she is able to carve most of the course instead of allowing the skis to pivot.

After the slalom session we worked on carving and even tried to include the chi-hips – though I’m not sure that’s really necessary for Derin – though sometimes I do see her blocked at the hips and rotated when going faster. It appears that the key is now to focus on building the confidence to hold the skis on edge and accelerate.

Off Piste

On the way back after using the slalom and training piste we went off-piste and Derin made her first ever recorded fresh tracks in deep snow – and looked like she has done it all her life.




Derin didn’t believe that people bicycle down the mountain in the summer and use to lifts to get to the top. The Face de Bellevard in the French championships takes about 4 minutes 30 seconds to descend.




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