Today the entire focus was on sorting out Max. Yesterday every attempt to correct his stance actually made it significantly worse so it was a very strange situation. I brought along two pairs of 3m carving turn radius snow skates – for Max and myself. The shops don’t hire out such equipment nowadays which is a real shame because they are fantastic learning tools.
Max’s ingrained movement patterns were so overwhelming that they even managed to dominate the snow skates. We battled for over two hours in a blizzard to try to find a way around this. Sometimes I had to just switch off and ski for a while to simply allow time for alternative ideas to come to mind. I would raise my inside arm in a turn and Max would set off raising his outside arm – so as to maintain his problem rather than correct it. I would push my bottom into a turn he would push his out. This went on for hours with every exercise I could think off. I even had him physically push up hard against me, leaning into me with all of his weight on his outside leg – then I would move him forwards to slide and let his ski carve an extremely tight turn against me – but he would just fall off the leg and onto the inside one as soon as the turn began. All he had to to was to stand strongly on that one leg (as in skating) and let the turn progress but it just wasn’t happening. Meanwhile we were battered by the wind and snow and both feeling very frustrated.
The solution came by getting max to stand in a very wide stance – which already creates some hip angulation and separates the legs distinctly. I asked him to extend the uphill leg to start a turn – using it to move his body across into the new turn (not to pop upwards). This pressure on a single strong extended leg would prevent him from doing his two footed twisting and he would feel the ski dictating a strong progressive start to the turn instead of his usual rapid sideways skid. The snow skates would respond instantly with very strong feedback and enhance the independent leg action. This finally cracked the deadlock and allowed Max to feel a basically correct stance and turn initiation on one leg. Nearly all skiing is “one legged” because it is fundamentally skating. Even when the feet are together it remains a one legged activity and only specifically in pivoting can two footed skiing be used constructively – but the body even then remains oriented over the outside hip – one leg!
The best description of “hip angulation” is; “having the upper body tilted forward and perched over one hip joint and able to rotate on that joint”. Until now Max’s efforts to get there were overwhelmed by his emotional need to torque the body into a turn and he simply couldn’t poise himself over the outside hip joint and stand on it while sliding. In the end he didn’t get it all perfectly by any means but he got into the ball park and so could work constructively on improving it. This is where he needs to be. In slalom he slowed it all down and worked purely on technique. Max stands better on his left leg – probably due to overpowering rotation on his right side. (Often the physically stronger side is the problem side)
Now that Max’s main issue is under control we can get back on track with everything else tomorrow. He will need to revise all the stuff we have covered so as to get the feeling of it along with the stronger stance and better awareness.
Unfortunately, although this picture looks great for hip angulation Max is sliding sideways not forwards!
Mark was quite happy patiently getting on with things in the background and he must have been listening because his skiing also improved. His skiing in the slalom is almost totally free from the snowplough already. Mark’s recorded time is not faster yet but he is skiing technically better so on a fresh course he certainly would be faster. I will need to work on Mark’s stance too as he is collapsing a bit at the waist – but his overall progress is already great. He was worried about skiing down the Face again but in the end he made easy work of it and surprised himself – as I told him would be the case! The slope conditions were better than yesterday and each time completes the run it will be easier. He can sideslip confidently now and is parallel most of the time when skiing so he is responding perfectly to all the challenges.