Sunday, January 12, 2014

Luke, Leonie, Florence, Tibo - Angulation

Luke, Leonie, Florence and Tibo hit the slopes today for the first time this season.  Starting off on wobbly green runs they were all handling reds by the first drinks break. By lunch time Tibo had hit the deck a few times and despite wearing a rucksack strongly resembling a parachute Florence also had a hard full frontal landing on ice.  Luke was initially clearly muddling up his stance and Leonie was just taking time getting back into things. Before lunch I decided on a common issue (angulation) to work on that would be relevant to everyone and hopefully bring significant results fairly quickly. Failing that it would at least get everyone started working in a useful direction. Every turn is an opportunity to ingrain either useful or destructive habits.

Skiing Summary (Critique)

Tibo tended to ski in the backs of his boots trying to remain vertical and with a rigid outside leg, no angulation and excessive rotation. He was surviving just from using some basic dynamics but looked very precarious – particularly due to the rigidity. 

Florence had little control over speed and tended to stand up to start the turn, pick up speed and then complete the turn with a rotation and skid to slow down again – very little control of line or turn shape, pressure or edging.

Leonie  skied with too much rotation, especially of the hips. This lends towards an inability to feel comfortable at speed or to turn sharply.

Luke skied down without finishing off his turns which indicates that they are not being constructed properly. Usually people do this unconsciously to avoid dealing with the pressure build up at the end of the turn.

Watching everyone – one by one ski down towards Meribel the main common denominator was an absence of angulation.


Initially my only instruction to everyone was to pull back the hip on the outside leg in the turn – the support leg during the turn. This was just to get everyone thinking and trying to work towards improved and functional angulation.  Static exercises were used to begin to penetrate the subject a little more deeply. First of all I had to teach what classic “angulation/anticipation” meant. With skis off and standing next to a wall the skier faces 45° outwards then leans the hips and shoulder against the wall. The outside hip is pulled back so that both buttocks are now against the wall. The shoulders are kept in line with the pelvis. Everything above the pelvis is loose and relaxed with the hip tucked in beneath. The shoulders are said to be “anticipated” (anticipating not the current turn but the next turn) and there is an angle made at the hip called “angulation”. The upper body is loose but unfortunately offers no protection for the spine which will be often twisted at the base in the direction of the shoulders.

This angulation was then modified into “chi-angulation” which is when the shoulders are kept from “anticipating” and remain in the same direction as the feet. Only the hip is pulled back to get the buttock against the wall. This is like winding up the body from the middle instead of top down from the shoulders and the spine twists in the opposite direction – having an effect of opening the abdominal area (instead of compressing it as with anticipation) and activating the core muscles (as in chi-running). This contraction of the core muscles provides a hydraulic sac through the midsection – distributing vertical loads passing through the body over the whole cross-section instead of the loads being taken up by only the spine itself. By pushing hard against me everyone except Florence could feel the core muscle contraction (and also the absence of it when the shoulders were anticipated)

Later on I also pointed out that pelvic tilt is necessary and an associated relaxation at the hips (sitting slightly). The movement of the hip being pulled backwards is significant – it’s not a subtle adjustment – and it takes place during the transition between turns.

Video of everyone struggling at angulating during sideslipping


Florence was finding her confidence being rattled by her lack of control on the ice so I reassured her that ice is uncomfortable for everyone unless they have a strategy to deal with it – which principally involves just getting over it and turning on fresh snow. A wide stance with good angulation makes getting over the ice easier so this presented a good opportunity to practise angulation in this context free of the complexities of turning.  Tibo can be seen to be struggling with being grabbed by the back of his boots and his rigid leg that has tyrannical control over his brain. Surprisingly this also exposed Luke as being locked up against the back of his boots. Florence and Leonie were simply struggling with keeping the angulation. The way to do this is to set up carefully and then move the centre of mass downhill slightly to flatten the skis and also to release the skis slightly by rolling the feet downhill and also the knees – for fine tuning. The hip however has to stay held in place because this is how rotation is controlled.


For Tibo and Luke we also did some fore/aft coordination work – skiing on the fronts of the skis a little – just to make them aware that the front part of the ski exists and needs to be used. I explained how the body has to make adjustments to remain perpendicular with gradient changes and accelerations when turning and that this is an active process. There is a strong tendency for people to try to be vertical all the time but the goal is perpendicularity with the slope.

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