Monday, December 23, 2013

Connie, Eve Day 1

During our warm up I watched both Connie and Eve and was really pleased by their skiing in general. They had both retained their levels from last year and were using good dynamics with the body. I knew that with Connie devoting so much time to study that she wouldn’t be as fit and strong as she could be so the idea was to start out the day slowly and pace it carefully.



Both Connie and Eve declared that from the first day of skiing they had both experienced tired quadriceps muscles in the legs. Rather than leave this issue in the background I decided that it would be a good thing to address directly from the very start. The quads get tired when there is a failure to distribute enough of the load through the big muscles higher up in the hip area – the glutes, hamstrings and core muscles. To achieve that in skiing it is necessary to first isolate then pull the hip of the support leg backwards – without drawing either the foot or shoulder back at the same time.  This creates a supportive tension across the lower abdomen with the spine twisting slightly up towards the rib cage.

Watching both girls skiing they certainly appeared to carry out this action and both claimed to feel less tiredness in the quads when they remembered to do it correctly. I know how powerful a change this actually is so I have no doubt that their perceptions were accurate.



Eve was struggling with posture so in the interests of protecting her back we paid a little bit of attention to this issue next. The key is to pull up the pelvis at the front slightly and then release the hip joints by bending slightly at the knees and hips – while maintaining this pelvic tilt. When done this way it’s very hard NOT to get everything in the right place (neutral pelvis). Eve has a tendency to hollow the lower back – which makes it vulnerable to lateral bending and dangerous stresses and compressions. The common way to address this is by squeezing the perineum or clenching your bottom cheeks together – but none of this works and leads to the reflexive contraction of the lower abdomen caused by good pelvic tilt and chi-hips action. It’s the active lower abdomen that protects the back.

Banked Track

Connie was staying a bit too upright on her skis and was vulnerable to falling as a result. She was clearly seeing the snow surface and her turning all in 2D instead of 3D.  The turn should be perceived to be on a banked track. The ski creates the banking track as it goes along – so there is no “turning” – just the following of the banked track.  The same goes for the body which inclines into the turn. Eve was keeping the upper body too upright and her eye-line in the horizontal so I asked her to incline her whole body instead so as to help encourage the full “3D experience”.



Skating Timing

We revised skating timing – going directly from skating downhill into turning by adding dynamics (falling to the inside). The aim was to create hip angulation the correct way, create independent leg action, get the timing of the down/up leg action correct and to prepare for working on short turns. Eve found this a bit easier than Connie but Connie improved significantly with only a small amount of feedback.


Short Turns

Short turns require hip angulation to get the body down inside the turn and back out again rapidly – as opposed to the lumbering full body inclination we used earlier on to develop the 3D experience. We did a static exercise where the leg was made to swing from behind with the foot pointing outwards (as if skating off) then around to the front with the foot pointing inwards – so that the full range of rotation in the hip joint could be felt. This exercise was also meant to show how to stop the hip from following the leg around (remember in Chi Hips we actually pull it backwards instead) and to show how in this position the body can flex down at the hip joint and hold itself inside the turn right up until the end of the turn.

The point of the short turn is to complete the turn and build up pressure with the body sinking down inside the turn – then use this pressure to bring the body back up to complete the turn and to be directed across the hill. Sometimes turning slightly back up the hill at the end of the turn can enhance this action as it generates even more pressure. The important thing is that energy is not simply wasted in a braking skid – it is all channelled constructively and purposefully.

Rhythm and timing are extremely important in this action. The timing resembles a dance and depends on feeling  a form of resonance similar to a trampoline.

Eve did very well in this and Connie – who has only had two weeks of skiing in her life was able to negotiate the famous Face de Bellevarde Olympic black run with no problem.

Later on Eve took this action into crusty and variable off-piste which literally everyone else was avoiding and she skied it well.


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