Alex and a clear blue sky!
From the first run of the year Alex looked surprisingly comfortable. Dynamics just works and is so natural that because he was never taught anything else he just steps straight back into it. With this in mind and exceptional powder snow all around his initial warm up run was converted into his introduction to deep snow. Now I knew that this was going to cause tumbles and loads of difficulty getting back up out of the snow for Alex – but with Mike sweeping up the rear it meant that a lot less time would be lost. Patience is needed for adaptation to take place naturally. Alex did extremely well and after only a few runs he stopped systematically falling and could both stay in my tracks – using them a banked tracks like a tight slalom – or make fresh tracks when it was steep enough. I had to remind him to use his dynamics and lean strongly into the turn because his apprehension initially caused him to stop moving inwards and that’s why there was difficulty to begin with. He listened to the correction though and applied it. Alex continued to take big tumbles when it was very steep and deep – but he was starting to actively correct this very well – stopping the skis from overpowering and spitting him out of the turn. His wet hands and feet (for various reasons) started to cause too big a distraction in the end so we finished up the day on the piste – but with bumps, ice and steeps to keep Alex happy!
Got this one wrong!
I explained to both Alex and Mike that although dynamics works for off piste, in powder the experience is much better and more playful if pivoting is used. To develop the pivoting we used the Tovière bumps. The main idea was to show how the the pivoting is done with the ski tips in the air to enhance the effect and make it more obvious. This encourages the “pulling inward” because it is very visible and so it also discourages the pushing out of the heels. The key is the placement of the skis across the top shoulder of the bump and the pole planted firmly on or below the apex of the bump. The pole helps the body to angulate and to lead the centre of mass downhill between the pole and the ski tips – while helping to delay the edge change. This allows both skis to pivot directly beneath the feet from the uphill edges..
Practicing this on the bumps both Alex and Mike showed improvement but we couldn’t hang around due to Alex’s freezing fingers. When we had to ski down the Face de Bellevarde, which had some interesting bumps on it for a change – then Alex was still aggressively edging his skis and running out of control. I made him sideslip down the fall line and then throw in a pivot on a bump and immediately resume the sideslip. He quickly picked up on this and understood that fall line skiing is “braking” skiing and so never accelerated out of control again all the way down the main faces.