Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Inna day 3

Dynamics – Part 2

Today started out with a brief warm up and then straight into technique. I only really wanted to introduce one new thing today and then to work on revising and consolidating some of the work from the previous two days. Dynamics involves three main aspects – getting into a turn, sustaining the turn and getting back up out of it – the “turn exit”.  We needed to work on the turn exit dynamics.

When a motorbike goes down into a turn it begins in a vertical position and then comes back up to vertical. This is only possible on flat ground. In skiing there is a complication involved because the mountain is not flat. Where exactly is the end of the turn? Most people automatically assume that it's when they are vertical and moving across the hill. For "dynamic" skiing that is not correct. The skier has still not completed the turn. The turn is only over when the skier is crossing the hill with the skis flat and the body momentarily perpendicular to the hill. This can naturally only be sustained very briefly and is part of a dynamic process. The turn completion (exit) is every bit as important as the turn initiation.

I showed Inna how to let the ski lift the body right up out of the turn into perpendicular and she managed to copy this straight away. Correct turn exit dynamics creates better flow from one turn to the next and it is of great importance for steep terrain, off-piste and slalom. We did a full run of this in preparation for going into the slalom. On the second slalom run Inna achieved the goal of 40 seconds – and would have continued to improve with more runs. I explained that it was important that she was always able to think about technique during the slalom and that as long as her attention was on technique then she was safe to try to go a bit faster on each following run.




















Carving Introduction

The fact is that you can never really go fast in slalom until you can carve. After the slalom session we went on to very shallow gradients to work on carving. I asked Inna to roll her feet and move her body across a little (same direction) standing on two edges with weight in the middle of the two skis. We practiced traversing and making shallow turns uphill riding the edges of the skis and leaving clean cutting tracks in the snow. I explained that with speed all the weight and pressure would automatically move to the outside ski. When stationary I stood below Inna to catch her when she changed edges onto the downhill edges by rolling the feet and moving the body. This edge change is easier when moving but only when moving slowly when learning. If there is any speed then the learner cannot hold the skis locked on edge. Inna was persuaded that going faster would help – but it absolutely doesn’t. Later on she mistakenly believed that she was carving when the skis were still pivoting in a longer arc – but she came to understand this. Later again, when on very flat ground I saw her successfully experimenting with getting the skis to run along their edges. This takes practice but now she understood what to look for and had a basic idea of what “carving” means.

Skating Timing

Inna wasn’t clear on “down/up” timing so we revised it a little. I explained that like a motorbike dropping down and coming back up out of the turn the down/up simply happened from this movement of the body into and out of the turn. We practiced that for a while. I then explained that a skating action is also a down/up movement of the leg and if the skating is done slowly then it can match the down/up from the dynamics of the turn and work in sync with it. We tried skating and then adding dynamics to feel how they link together. Then after this we tried skiing and adding skating to coordinate the leg action with the dynamics. This was videoed and is the second part of the clip above. Once again Inna wasn’t happy about trying to do this slowly so I explained that again this was wrong and that it meant she had to be more aware and work harder. For that reason we moved on to working on short swings – jumping and pivoting the skis in the air. The jumping really makes the legs work and most of the jump is from the downhill leg. I explained that this is a coordination exercise used by instructors to improve their overall movement and that it had to be done at low speed but with great energy – exaggerating the down/up movement.  Inna did very well at copying this. I then showed how to coordinate the turn exit dynamics of a normal turn with this sort of jump to use the energy of the skis to get airborne and pivot the start of the next turn – a modern technique used in slalom racing and useful off piste in difficult snow. We tried this off-piste and Inna did remarkably well with it.  Now she was really starting to understand the timing and how to use it. This is basic and fundamental. It can be altered and changed later to adapt to terrain and other circumstances – with things such as leg-retraction added – but those are only advanced “extras”. We also did some turns off-piste just applying the full dynamics and to Inna”s surprise it was very easy for her.

Bumps Introduction

We completed the lesson with some pivoting in bumps – the fronts of the skis in the air and then pulling them downhill into a pivot. To facilitate this I asked Inna to lift the downhill ski and swing the tip off downhill in the air – the reason for this was just to get it out of the way. Now Inna could begin to see a practical reason for pivoting and how it would help directly to use the bumps and make them enjoyable. This was good because other than the short-swings we had not practised pivoting during this final session.


Inna had covered a lot of ground in only three mornings and she understood everything she was trying to do. She has really good ability to adapt and accurately carry out difficult exercises and should have no problem progressing and skiing to higher levels now that she understands how it really works. She is a very good student and learns quickly.

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