Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Two Derins

Morning Derin

Derin was a bit negative to start with but we had a chat about it and agreed a plan for the morning. I explained that sometimes to get better at things we have to work seriously and that her time with me was really for learning not for playing. However, success at learning and improving can itself be much more fun than just playing and not ever really improving. If your skiing improves then skiing simply becomes very much more fun.


Fear can sometimes get in the way. Everyone has fear and being brave means standing up to that fear and conquering it – which is often the most important part of personal growth in life. Slalom can be scary, but it is the best natural teacher we can ever have for skiing and conquering our fear of it brings us great freedom… Everyone can do this – without exception – but how do we get there in practice?

When doing some of the exercises Derin was not managing to make the physical changes so I explained how to succeed. Skiing is not academic – where you just have to think. Here you have to connect your thinking to your body – it’s the real world not the academic world of the classroom. I told her to connect her thinking to her body and to focus on doing so. What happened next was no surprise to me. Not only did Derin succeed but she started to enjoy the process. Skiing is like a meditation – where the focus must be directed deep inside your own body and physical processes. This is really how fear is mastered and how people become centred within themselves. The distractions of “playing” or worrying about “what time is it” vanished from Derin and she was clearly enjoying the skiing. Fear? What fear?


Wide Stance

Technically, the main issue for Derin to focus on was simply keeping a wider stance.

I had Derin stand stationary beside me with a narrow stance and hold onto my ski pole (the same way that I do with little Derin when skiing). I pulled Derin towards me making her incline, then I pushed her away making her incline in the other direction. She could feel that a great distance had to be travelled by the body to get from the inside edge of one ski to the inside edge of another.

Next Derin had to stand with the feet very wide apart. Moving the body from side to side she could feel that the inside edge was very easy to access with very little movement of the body. This is the reason why when developing a good support for dynamics from carving it’s much better to keep the feet forced apart.

In the slalom Derin succeeded in keeping the legs further apart than usual and as a result carried more speed – but she still didn’t have the experience needed for using it strongly yet and when reaching the steep part of the slalom she reacted by losing the wide stance instead of increasing it as would have been more appropriate. The slalom however was before we had done the above exercise. Later in the video she skis with successfully maintaining her wide stance and this corrects her timing and dynamics (compared to yesterday when she was late in coming down into the turns) and smooth's out the turn initiation showing good grip from the skis. She could clearly feel the difference and improvement.

Arms and Poles

Derin has a tendency to ski lazily with the arms so I showed her how to carry them – first of all by getting her to ski with the poles held across the front of her body  - then by “walking” the poles  - stabbing them into the snow on both sides of the turn in rapid succession with only the wrist moving the pole. This exercise gets the arms at just about the right height and in front of the body. Derin had to use this wide and forward arm carriage at the same time as the wide stance with her skis.

We skied sections the lazy way – arms by our sides and legs close together with slow global movements of the body – then switched to the dynamic way with feet and hands wide apart with rapid movements of the body – and the difference was dramatic.


Derin was initially afraid of the bumps but I coaxed her into them by first using a ridge where we could, standing  stationary, place the ski tips in the air and plant a ski pole further down the ridge. With a motion of the body between the pole and the ski tips the tips would swing around and sideslip down the opposite side of the ridge. Taking this into the bumps the only thing I had to emphasise was that – just as in carving the turn initiation required a down motion – but with the legs bending much more in this case. Derin initially popped up instead – but she soon understood. She ended up deciding that instead of being afraid she really liked the bumps.

Part of the use of the bumps was to develop her pivoting skills and use of the poles, arms and angulation – without her actually realising any of this. The bumps require a close stance – feet together – because in this case you do not want to get on an inside edge – the exact opposite of racing turns.

Afternoon Derin

Derin stepped up another gear today as her confidence grew. Now she is not only parallel when she carries a bit of speed but she comfortably ventured off piste for the first time ever with no problems at all. Prior to taking her off piste I could see that her dynamics (global body movements) were good and so it was obvious that she would experience no difficulty – other then negotiating the lumpy terrain and getting used to the deeper snow in places.

Derin makes up for her lack of English creatively – saying “…it’s so up” to mean “it’s so steep” and “… up,up,up,up,up,up…” meaning “high” – with the number of ups increasing with the height! The most I’ve heard so far was about 16 ups when the Borsat chair took us up into the clouds.

Derin is picking her own line and intelligently controlling her own speed with me only giving the general direction and occasionally instructing her to go in a straight line for extra speed to better anticipate a flat spot or a climb further ahead. Her speed tolerance has increased sharply. There’s not a lot to say here because the video says it all… (We decided that she is already better off piste than Okan!)


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