First run was in the sun today – on the Tichot. We spent a moment looking at pivoting. At first Derin couldn’t remember anything about pivoting until I demonstrated and then of course she remembered everything and could easily execute a pivot from the uphill ski. My goal however was to address Derin’s dynamics and the difficult part was still to come. The exercise I wanted her to do was to turn from the downhill ski – the “wrong” ski! This requires good angulation and control of the motion of the centre of mass inwards towards the ski pole – especially in the second part of the turn. Derin predictably found that she couldn’t do this. Rather than fight to get it her attitude was “I can’t do it”. I told Derin that the reason we were working on her skiing was because there were things that she couldn’t do so this wasn’t something to be surprised about. The point being that if she worked on those things then she would become able to do them. The way to approach difficult things is to spend a little time frequently on them – so after a short while we just skied down to get warm. Derin admitted that she could not copy my short pivots when skiing down.
With the Tovière chair closed the “Familial” off piste route had hardly been skied so I decided to take advantage of the emptiness and put Derin’s transceiver on her for an off piste excursion. The photo and video here is of this route – where Derin skied some very steep, deep snow and handled it very well. She moves very dynamically when staying in my tracks but has to learn to create similar tracks for herself without leaning backwards. This trail took us right down to La Daille and massive queues that we had to fight through all the way back to Tignes. We had the incredible bad luck of the Borsat breaking down too. Thankfully lift priority helped us through and we managed to get back to Tignes for the end of the lesson. Our 3hr plan (in line with the ESF classes) however left no time for a hot drinks break to warm up Derin when she was chilled – one reason why I prefer always to plan for 4 hour sessions. 4 hours gives time for flexibility in many ways and a break if needed without rushing the lesson and having to just ski from A to B instead.
On the way back to Tignes we managed to spend a moment off piste working directly on dynamics – specifically the “end of turn” dynamics. The aim here is to finish the turn by standing on the downhill leg until the body comes right over the ski and almost into the next turn. (a great way to get off the back of the ski boots) This is obviously a bit scary until you realise that it works and makes the start of the next turn easy. Normally I wouldn’t introduce this subject off piste but as our morning had been so messed up I just wanted to try to salvage something and to move Derin on with her progress. After a few static exercises – leaning up against me and simulating the move across the ski with me standing below - Derin was able to execute the move quite well when skiing and turn smoothly in chopped up snow. In the video at the end she is doing this but she started to lean sideways from the waist a little and this will be corrected next time.
No pictures of little Derin today – but she presented me with a great drawing of me skiing!
Consolidation today! After several trips around the Bollin we headed off to Tignes Le Lac and then used the beginner’s area there for a while. To change the scenery we went up the Chaudannes lift and tackled Derin’s first ever long proper blue run – with me of course holding her. She was a bit anxious about doing it herself but I reassured her that I’d be with her all the way. When Derin started to ask about going home I stopped her for a hot chocolate and sure enough after that she was fine again.
I wasn’t sure what technical information I could get across and when I tried to explain the use of ski edges I wasn’t convinced that Derin was understanding so I changed tactics. First of all we did a few exercises in making sure that Derin knew her right and left. Once that was clear we distinguished between right and left turns and right and left feet. She then understood that to turn left you push the right foot forwards. All I asked her to do as I guided her though the turns was to push the correct foot forwards. This should automatically take care of her tendency to lock the left ski on edge. Pushing the outside foot forward on a turn is the main way to alter turn radius so it’s a pretty good place to start with when learning technique.
Derin made one nice turn on her own but still felt too insecure to continue skiing on her own. This phase will just take a little more time and patience to pass - because rather than being timid her other issue is that she likes to go fast. I’ve explained over and over that she can’t just go fast without control so perhaps I’m the one making her a little bit afraid – but for the right reasons. She is covering more and more mileage along side me so that itself will grow her confidence. We will continue to add bits of technique that she can take on board. We also worked on sideslipping for controlling speed and we did some forward and backwards sideslipping. Getting used the the sideways motion of the body on skis and the skis drifting sideways on the snow is a big part of skier development – and something the body really isn’t used to from anything else.