Chantelle had been working on getting off the back of her ski boots and was making progress but needed a little help. If anything she was going too far forwards but leaving the elbows and hands behind the body in the process. I told her about the arm carriage but more importantly we discussed the correct “feeling” to search for. Standing across the hill you feel that you can stand up with no pressure on either the front or back of the boot. This keeps your “normal” to gravity. When sliding downhill the “normal” force is perpendicular to the slope and so the feeling should be exactly the same if the body is kept perpendicular to the slope. It shouldn’t actually feel like leaning forward. In outer space we float. On Earth if we remove wind resistance and then jump its identical to outer space. When sliding all we should feel is less pressure up through the soles of the feet as the slope gets steeper – the body being tilted downhill to be perpendicular to the slope does not feel like a lean – due to the “outer space” aspect. Chantelle got it and started to be able to relax her legs and use the adductor muscles more freely. When you are locked up on the back of the ski boots then you can’t selectively use any muscles.
Chantelle was practising her sideslipping and improving. She still had a bit of trouble keeping the uphill ski down beside the lower ski but at least this was no longer in a snowplough but in a diverging manner. I asked her to try putting pressure on the upper ski to start to feel the edge and let it contribute to controlling the sideslip. This was also a prelude to pivoting from the upper ski later on.
3D Banked Track
We used the small ski cross section of banked corners to get Chantelle running a bit faster and seeing how to use the slope to incline. This worked quite effectively. I explained how the ski along with the laterally stiff boot worked to generate a banked track for every turn and that on banked tracks you just follow straight ahead – there is no “turning” as there is on the flat. For all skiing other than pivoting it should be seen as a self-generated banked track.
Chantelle was unable at this stage to increase her dynamics and she still had a strong rotation and instability. Attempting to overcome this through greater dynamics was not working. I then decided to show her how the uphill leg can be extended without an upwards motion of the centre of mass. The extending leg is used to push the centre of mass downhill and down into a new turn. When there is a complete commitment to standing on the leg and pushing the body in the right direction to begin the turn – there there is security and dynamics can be increased. This also eliminates the need for any rotation and for holding onto the downhill ski for security to enable the uphill ski stemming and rotation. Gradually Chantelle connected with this and was able to change her coordination to being able to stand up on the leg and move the body – instead of stemming.
I showed chantelle how she could even just stand up on the leg while traversing and then fall over into the turn and this would still work.
We began using the pivot in earnest and although Chantelle fell over the first few times she managed the correct movements and to turn from the outside edge of the uphill ski. Gradually she realised that the foot could be on its inside edge while the ski was on its outside edge and this helped to use the adductors (foot on inside edge) to swing the ski into the turn. The coordination of the pivot and the dynamics is the same – only the edge of the ski being used in the first half of the turn is different. All of this adds up to reinforce the same fundamental movement pattern. The ski pole is used for support in pivoting – allowing the body to be controlled while keeping the ski on its uphill edge for as long as possible.
We used bumps to develop the pivot on the final descent. The bumps allow the ski tips to be in the air and so the swing of the ski tips into the turn can be much more easily seen and felt.
Prior to tacking the blue run down into Tignes I decided that Chantelle was ready to learn about pushing the outside foot forwards. We did a static exercise – skis off – facing downhill – one foot swung around behind, toes pointing outwards, then swung in the air in and arc around until in front and toes pointing inwards. Eventually the foot was lowered until the edge of the boot scored an arc on the snow. Then the boot was pressed onto the snow to create a resistance to push against. This is the feeling required when pushing the outside foot forwards during a turn. Attacking a steeper slope this is what I asked Chantelle to do when skiing with her dynamics. She could so this immediately due to her improved stance (no longer on the back of the ski boots). Asking Chantelle what she felt happening she replied that it tightened her turns – made them quicker – which is correct. Pushing the foot forwards along with dynamics is how turn radius is controlled when on the inside edge of the ski. The foot never actually gets ahead - the turn shape just changes instead.
Chantelle skied all the way down the blue run into Tignes with no difficulty.