Friday, January 31, 2014

Emine and Derin

Emine Last Day

Due to a late start we didn’t do the normal warm up run and I warned Emine that we would have no time for a break to watch video or have a hot drink in the middle. There was just too much to get done – but with the sun being out it was the sort of day where you don’t want to stop for a break anyway.


We went into the Tommeuses bumps to use the bumps to help Emine overcome her pivoting difficulties. First of all the situation was only made possible because she wasn’t afraid of the steep bumps. Bumps are formed by skiers pivoting. The skis are always sideslipping on their uphill edges and only go flat for a moment when pointing downhill while the edge change is made. With many skiers doing that in the same place a bump forms with the top (apex) of the bump at the place where the edge change takes place and snow isn’t pushed away anywhere.

The skier stands on the upper shoulder of the bump and has the ski tips are suspended in mid air. The pole is planted on the apex of the bump and used for support. Just a very slight movement of the centre of mass towards the pole starts the skis slipping downhill and due to being in the air it is extremely easy to swing the tips of the skis down and inwards. The centre of mass itself must be moved downhill directly between the pole and the ski tips to make this happen. Emine soon had her first ever sensation of a pivot without resorting to a twist and started to feel how the motion of the centre of mass initiated the process – not a forceful twisting action.


Back on the piste I wanted to use the first run to develop Emine’s carving. My plans had been to travel over to a wide flat piste for this purpose but we didn’t have the time now. Straight away I showed Emine how to make the edge changes necessary for high speed carved turns. Most people struggle with this even on a gentle slope! Standing across the slope I had Emine use her poles for support either side and move her centre of mass to change from uphill edges to downhill edges – a very difficult thing to get right as the lower ski always slips away when doing this statically. With a little bit of assistance Emine soon had it working. Off we went then carving down this blue piste and Emine got it immediately. The purpose of this exercise was to prepare her for slalom. Yesterday Emine’s inclination was due to pushing the skis away – not due to anchoring the skis on the ground and getting the body to fall over. Carving was being developed here to change this. One more run – on the Vert training piste and then over to the slalom – which is effectively a black run with poles! Emine did a fantastic job and was able to get it right even in the slalom course!

Slalom 29.39 Seconds

Emine’s target was to get below 30 seconds – so she made it – another 1.5 seconds improvement – and after the most rapid crash course in carving in history! In reality Emine was much faster than the time indicates because she was simply not used to dealing with all the speed and so ended up with a very poor line in the race course. Just a little work to correct this and she would be very fast already. The main problem that Emine was now experiencing was that she didn’t know how to get out of a turn effectively – because she had not yet bee taught this – so despite trying hard she could not avoid getting later and later on her turns and then losing time as a consequence. We would begin work on this aspect of dynamics next – but before that there was a small detour to make – because I figured that gymnast Emine might like the opportunity to make a big jump!


What can I say! She even waved to me on the run up to the jump!



Off Piste, Dynamics (part 2)

Going off piste I used the deep snow as an opportunity to introduce “turn exit” dynamics. Until now I’d only mentioned how to move the centre of mass into a turn – but not how to move out of one. The key is to link skating with the turn exit. You come up to come out of a turn – like a motorbike – and you come up to complete a skate. The key is to come up and out of the turn on the downhill leg – bringing the body out over the lower ski. This can be scary for people because there is then nothing below to catch them as they are already falling by the time they have come right up perpendicular to the slope. Emine managed it amazingly well and can be seen doing this on some steep off piste on the video – only she found the slope too steep and and picked up too much speed – and so this then led us on to “foot forward” technique to better control the turn radius…


Prior to working on Foot Forward technique we returned to the bumps and tried pivoting again – but with the addition of “turn exit dynamics” – coming over that lower ski. Emine immediately felt how the pivot was now much easier. She had improved the use of her centre of mass though improved dynamics and could now bring that subtly into pivoting.

Off Piste, Foot Forward Technique – For Steeps

I used a static exercise to introduce foot forward technique to Emine. With skis off and one heel planted in the snow the other leg was placed behind the body and the foot swung in an arc out from the body right round to the front – with the leg rotating and the foot changing direction as a result. This was then done with the edge of the boot making an arc lightly on the snow – until it was done smoothly. Then some weight was placed on the foot so that it had to be pushed. I explained to Emine that this is what it feels like to push the ski forwards and it had to be done all the way through the turn. We tried this on the piste and when I asked Emine what she felt as a result she described the feeling of more security and tighter turns. This is correct. Pushing the foot forwards combined with dynamics is the way we control a turn radius. We then applied this successfully off piste on very steep and difficult wind packed snow that absolutely nobody else was skiing – seen here in the last part of her video clip.


Afternoon Derin

Today was the day Derin finally skied on her own – and parallel.


The only “technical” thing added today was that she was made fully aware that she could stop with any turn – and she did this on her own. Now that she knows that she can stop the only problem is that she is now doing it a bit too much at times – though I’d much rather see that than the classic “tout droit”! Today was about building control, confidence and freedom. Despite one fall with a twisting of the knee and a binding that couldn’t properly release she rapidly recovered and the leg appeared to be fine – giving another two hours of skiing with no complaints. We worked on the psychology all the time and Derin’s response was very constructive and positive.

Just watching Derin waving to all the people she passes on the slope is – well, incredible!



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