Thursday, January 30, 2014

Emine and Derin


Our warm up run was a quick descent into Val d’Isère. Emine was secure and confident in her skiing behind me so there was no need to stop.


The first thing to do today was a quick bit of revision. Emine was clear about both dynamics and skating. We did the “skating into skiing” exercise again – skating straight downhill and introducing dynamics to turn it into skiing. Emine had retained yesterday’s information well.

(Emily Harrop, UK junior Super G champion)

When revising the dynamics I explained the Centre of Mass a little bit more. The tip of a pencil is something that you can feel when drawing but it isn’t part of your body. Your skis are the same in that you can feel what they are doing but they are not part of you. The centre of mass is also a point that you can learn to feel and move – even if it comes out of your body. Skiing is about moving this point around and everything else just supports this.

Chi-Skiing – Centred Skiing

I asked Emine to tell me what part of the body provides the power for a punch. Being a martial arts student I was curious to hear her answer. She said “the arm”! Well the power for a punch comes from right down at the hip – through the core of the body.

If everything is loose between the ribs and the pelvis then the body is not connected up properly. In skiing as in punching the whole body is used so it all has to be connected up properly. The key to getting this right in skiing is to simply pull the hip backwards on the ski that you are standing on – the outside ski in a turn. Only the hip should come backwards, not the shoulders. When turning left the right ski is being used so the right hip is pulled backwards. This creates a tension across the stomach area. I had Emine push her shoulder against my shoulder when doing this to be able to feel the tension as the core muscles contracted.

Pulling the hip backwards also gets the body into a better skating stance and allows better angles (hip angulation) to be created. A full page of detail on “Chi-Skiing” can be found at this link “Chi Skiing”. I call it “Chi Skiing” but perhaps it could also be called “Centred Skiing”. 

The first move you should make in turning is this adjustment of the hip – moving and aligning everything from the core at the same time as you move the centre of mass to make the turn happen.

When Emine worked on this she tended to forget her dynamics and skating so after a while I told her to put it aside and concentrate on dynamics. The main thing is to get started on perhaps the most important subject in skiing – the hips – and protecting posture, the lower back and knees!


While skiing I noticed that Emine’s feet were too close together for her to have effective dynamics. I told her to widen her stance so as to be able to get a bigger range of dynamics. With the feet close together the body has to travel much further and for a longer time to get from one inside edged ski in one turn to the inside edge of the other ski in the next turn. Legs wide apart makes the edge change almost instant.

Slalom 30.93 Seconds

Emine used the wide stance in the slalom and gained almost another 3 seconds on yesterday’s time.


Emine has a great competitive spirit which makes up a lot for her present lack of technique and strategy. Unfortunately we don’t have much time to build on this but we will make the most of the time we have. Currently Emine is throwing her skis sideways and twisting them a bit to get into the turn – which compromises her ability to anchor the skis on the snow and move her body instead. In the photo above of Emily Harrop the ski is anchored and Emily’s body has moved inwards – but in Emine’s photo the opposite has happened. To cure this we will need to work a little bit on “carving”.


I asked Emine if she knew what “carving” was and she answered no! Without understanding carving you simply can’t go fast in racing and this is the main area that Emine needs to develop next. We worked at leaving railway line tracks in the snow by traversing on two edges, feet rolled uphill (one foot on the inside edge and one on its outside edge). I had to correct Emine from trying to use her knees – only the feet roll and the centre of mass moves across to edge the skis – there can be a small amount of knee angulation from tightening the muscles on the inside of the lower leg in the traverse. Emine started to understand the feeling of carving. We will work on this again on flatter terrain because it will help Emine a lot in slalom. 

Off Piste

We had a short off-piste run again today and Emine had no trouble whatsoever in difficult snow. This means that she can really move her body well when there is no choice – because in this type of snow there is no choice.


We ran out of time for working on pivoting but we rushed about 20 minutes of pivoting exercises together. I supported Emine through several pivots and then encouraged her to put weight on her pole for support instead. She had a tendency to keep the centre of mass uphill and try to twist instead of angulating and using the ski pole to get the centre of mass downhill and into the turn – as is needed for a pivot. The pivot is controlled not by twisting but by a movement of the centre of mass lateral to the skis. Emine is such a fighter that she tried to force and twist to get there – but everything in skiing, martial arts and music works by skill not by brute force! We have to keep the fighting spirit to overcome fears – but we have to be smart with our actions and use our brains not just muscles! Using brains means recognising that nearly everything is done better in an almost opposite way from whatever your emotions initially suggest.


Afternoon Derin

Derin had new and much shorter skis today – and the difference was massive. From the first moment her level of control was clearly on a different level and her problem with the left leg had gone completely. I had suspected her other skis from the very beginning and wish now that I’d listened to my own intuition sooner. Most people think short skis are inappropriate but it’s really the other way around. Short skis are easily the best way to get clear feedback – clear information – through to the body so that it can understand what is going on in a natural way. Derin’s response to the little skis was perfect.



I developed a little game that Derin liked. I would tell her to go to sleep on the chairlift and then pretend to be a voice inside her head telling her “you are a very good skier”, “You are not scared”. Her part in the game was trying to catch me out saying the phrases by opening her eyes. Hypnotism is just a form of “suggestion” and we all do this to ourselves through our own self dialogue. Making a game out of this is an entertaining way to change your own self image. I also made up a song along the same lines that Derin would sing along with me as we skied.

Psychology grew out of Hypnotism – Freud being a hypnotist himself initially. Derin has an interesting psychology in that if given a rational explanation to do something she might not want to do then she will comply and get on with it. She turns out to be quite easy to work with. The problem up until now was that she was genuinely afraid due to the lack of control her other skis were giving – and thankfully I was able to respect her fear and appreciate that there was something wrong.  When told that fear has to be confronted and beaten – and that it is a normal feeling – she has no problem confronting it.


Technically there was nothing added to Derin’s skiing today other than I got her jumping as a game to take her off the back of her boots. Despite the trouble with her previous skis she actually did pick up some useful skills when working on them and this became apparent with the strength of her solo parallel turns today. It was great to see her confidence growing again.

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