Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rowdy 5

Historically Rowdy has always shown clear progress during almost every coaching session – then when left to work on things on his own they deteriorate. The key is when you can get somebody to genuinely change their habitual overall stance and appearance and retain this change permanently. Many times in the past I’ve been sure that this key has been found for Rowdy – only to discover shortly afterwards that it truly has not. Today was no exception. There was such a good improvement with the chi-hips work last time – the neatly aligned stance in the photos – that I thought we were there. Today it was once again back to square one. I’d been strongly encouraged by the chi-hips genuinely working for Haluk and felt hopeful that this unique insight might also do the trick here – but it didn’t. It’s a good lesson on how everyone is different and even the most powerful insights and information might still not be appropriate to get someone through.

I noticed immediately that Rowdy had not retained a lot of the chi-hips effect in his skiing so I decided that we should begin by dealing with his timing issue and associated stemming. Working at standing up on the uphill ski and on  its uphill edge and then coming down – falling into the next turn  from this ski – would guarantee correct timing and elimination of any pushing out of the ski. The pattern was to roll the foot in, pull in with the knee and adductors (being careful to stay off the front of the foot to avoid twisting the knee inwards), then aligning the hip, then moving the centre of mass down and into the new turn. After a bit of practice this was done by preparing the foot, knee, leg and hip before standing on it. We did a few exercises so that Rowdy could feel himself standing on the uphill edge of the ski but downhill edge of the foot inside the ski boot, with the foot rolled onto the downhill edge. When I supported Rowdy doing this in a pivot he was fine and it was a new feeling for him – everything stayed in place. Later on – to avoid Rowdy getting stuck too long on his uphill edge I suggested that it wasn’t necessary to go on the uphill edge – any edge would do – or a flat ski. But the top edge is good for separating out the timing issues and making any stemming impossible. As soon as the video camera was put on Rowdy his timing started to show signs of deteriorating again – even when standing on the uphill edge. He was trying desperately to pull the knee inwards laterally with the adductor muscles and was moving everything inwards – but the knees were still going noticeably outwards and he couldn’t feel it. He described a serious tension and resistance when he tried to pull inwards. Eventually we had to stop because his feet were in serious agony. The last time he had felt this was when skiing with me with Bridget and Mike several years ago and he had thought this problem had gone away.  Rowdy isn’t dyslexic so he doesn’t jumble his physical learning. So what was really going on and what is at the bottom of all this trouble?


When looking at Rowdy’s leg during the turn I felt certain that he was standing on the outside edge of the foot and not the inside edge. The way the turns were being executed there was no outwards pushing or stemming of the skis possible and so nothing was directly visible except the shape of the leg. I asked Rowdy to do the pole test where he pulls the inside tip of the ski against a ski pole and I watch what happens to the tail. Sure enough the tail went outwards which can only happen by pushing out. If you pull inwards with the adductors then the tail comes in and the skis diverge at the tips. Rowdy was pushing out into a stemming position to force the tip of the ski against my pole instead of pulling sideways against the pole. It transpired that he had misinterpreted my previous example of this (some time ago) and had been practising doing it the wrong way. Years of pushing outwards has this action firmly trained into the body and it is an unconscious skill or habit. It’s so strong that it comes back at him and then determines his conscious perception – the way he interprets things and generates confusion. No matter how many times we had done exercises pulling inwards, working with everything from the feet upwards – it never overcame this initial ski school junk of pushing the skis out into a stem.

We abandoned the lesson on the snow due to the pain and went indoors to look at the feet. I explained the location of the subtaler joint and got Rowdy to roll the feet beneath the ankles. This is no different from how I have always done this exercise – but it appeared to connect better this time. It appears that what Rowdy does is to initially roll the foot onto the inside edge and then push the heel outwards, twisting the forefoot inside edge down and inwards (like in the pole exercise). The pressure should not be on the forefoot it should remain just in front of the heel (there are other ways of dong this too – heel pressure is not always necessary) and the forefoot should actually turn slightly outwards. I know we have looked at this before many years ago.  The physically agonising tension is coming from the conflict between rolling the foot inwards and pushing the heel outwards. The stem is coming from this too when skiing. The timing problem is coming from this and the mangled stance is coming from this. The reason he struggled to initiate turns when trying to just stand up on the uphill edge of the uphill ski earlier on – is also coming from this. The mangling of the chi-hips is coming from this. Why has this happened? It has happened because of being initially taught skiing in a snowplough and a “Stem Christie” (“Basic Swing” if you are taught by a BASI indoctrinated and certified moron instead) This damaging technique makes the skier permanently defensive and dependent on emotionally driven movement patterns. When they become ingrained in the unconscious they can be as hard to remove as a full blown phobia. Now that this is correctly isolated the physical action required feels totally alien to Rowdy – but he is now able to understand what “pulling inwards” means so that’s a start. Let’s hope that this one really is the key. I believe it will be!


The day before going up to help Rowdy it was the first warm sunny day of the year so I got the bike out and went for a ride in the sun and fresh air! Wow it was good but I felt like a complete lump of lard on the bike – very sluggish and slow after gaining about 10 kilos since last summer. What was interesting was that I was able to take my mind off that and just focus on the process. The previous skiing session we had worked on chi-hips and I’d explained that if you didn’t feel the core muscles and the lower abs contract then you really didn’t “get it” or even the posture. On the bike I was able to feel how the motion of the spine needs to be exaggerated to really get the hip extensors to work and the core to become engaged – it’s not a real exaggeration – it just feels like one to someone who is used to keeping those parts immobile. The more active the core was the easier it was to centre the mind as well. This is exactly what author Danny Drier describes and once again I can confirm that he is right.



Went out for a short 5km run today again working on the Chi movement pattern. It’s amazing how cross training reinforces the awareness of this. It’s the first time I’ve even felt myself running by using the hip extensors – it feels weird – like the legs are on back to front! How is it possible NOT to be aware of such big muscles. I can understand Rowdy getting lost with his feet (which are really complex – 1/4 of all the bones in the body) but until now I was unconscious of the biggest muscles in my body!

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