Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Timothy 29.50 Seconds

I noticed two years ago in Villars in Switzerland that Timothy responds very well to direct coaching. Today was the first time since then that he had any one-to-one coaching from me and it confirmed the same thing. Until today Rodion was the priority and that was sensible because at 13, with body and mind both rapidly changing his skiing needed to to be kept on track.


Fore-Aft Correction  - Off-Piste/Bumps/Carving

Timothy’s biggest problem in skiing was his tendency to lean on the back of the ski boots whenever in any challenging situation. The session began by getting Timothy to lean forwards hanging in the ski boots over the fronts of the skis – an extreme lean forwards so that he could feel the fronts of the skis when turning and that he would not fall over at least at low speeds.  Stage two was to get him to lean excessively forwards to start a turn and excessively backwards to end a turn. Part of this exercise was to show him the possible range of movement is much greater than he thought and that the front of the skis actually contribute to turning (like the front wheels of a car do).

The fore/aft movement is really to deal with the change of gradient going from a traverse across the hill into a turn downhill and then back into a traverse across the hill. Exaggerating this movement excessively helps to develop awareness and to then find the correct amount for skiing . In reality the front of the skis can really be used to begin a turn – when there is not too much pressure on the skis. For this reason it is common to begin a turn on the fronts of the feet and end up on the heels at the end. We practised this for a while. Modern short carving skis mostly eliminate the need for this sort of movement but it still makes a good exercise.

The slalom course had just been set out, fresh and un-skied so I suggested that this was a good time and place for timothy to put his new stance to the test in a race course.  In fact Timothy surprisingly had no trouble staying centred over his skis in the steep race course – which may just be because he felt the need to be aggressive there. After a few descents we decided to leave the race course and try out the off-piste.

To avoid timothy being glued to the backs of his boots in the now tricky off-piste conditions it would be necessary to make additional compensations by bending the knees and hips into a sitting position. Timothy found this hard to understand until I took hold of his skis and pulled him into a position facing downhill and then asked him to sit. Facing downhill makes it easy to adopt this stance because you don’t feel like you arte going to fall over backwards and you can still touch your shins on the fronts of the boots. The main aim here was to help Timothy to learn to respond to stress through relaxation and bending rather than through tension and rigidity – hopefully keeping him off the backs of the boots as an unnecessary compensation for steep off-piste snow. He wasn’t in the back of the boots to stay in the vertical because he would tend to do this even when going across the hill just to avoid the fronts of the skis digging in.

Following the off-piste we went into steep bumps to practise some compression turns – where once again the legs needed to be bent and relaxed when hitting a bump prior to turning. This time the skis would be pivoting and pole planting with good angulation needed. Timothy worked at all of this. We finished off with some carving – starting with just traversing on the edges. Timothy had no problem carving or changing edges from one turn to another and so was able to hold his edges in a carve from one turn to another. We skied down a wide moderate gradient with long, fast carved turns – in preparation for returning to the race course where carving is the way to generate maximum speed. We did some higher speed carving with greater inclination – also in preparation for the race course.




29.50 Seconds

Timothy progressed well in the slalom and finally set his best time when he started to understand how to incline much more strongly and earlier in the turn – so that he generated the turn instead of just passively reacting to it. He would have continued to improve from this point but we had to bring the slalom to a stop and this was a good point to do so. It was great to see Timothy so motivated by the slalom and so keen to improve. It was even better to actually see that improvement happening.

Following lunch Timothy was visibly tired and appeared to regress into the back of his ski boots again. This is normal when tiredness sets in. We just tried to do a lot of varied skiing, bumps, carving and off-piste to finish his last day on skis strongly.




The two short segments of video of victor in the slalom show his movements first of all prior to pulling back the outside hip and then when working on pulling back the hip. I did some static exercises with Victor to clearly explain the purpose and protective function of “chi-hips” movement in skiing while Timothy was busy in the slalom.


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