Monday, March 17, 2014

Ian & Diane 1

Both Ian and Diane were reasonably strong skiers before we set to work to change and develop their technique. Ian was a bit more secure in his skiing than Diane but technically there was not a great separation in level. Diane had a distinct rotation at the turn initiation and was very static with a wide stance for security. Ian twisted his feet occasionally with a heel push or single ski stem and used a static and squatted stance – mainly from which to get purchase for the two footed heel push and rushing of the start of the turn. It was clear that neither skier would be able to cope with any form of challenging conditions. 

When asked about ski technique there were a few standard stock answers to explain the turns – mostly centred on weight transfer – but as expected – with the wrong mechanics. Given that both were reasonably strong already on skis the best place to begin appeared to be with “Dynamics” – especially as this directly concerns weight or pressure issues.

My camera battery was totally flat so this meant improvising with videoing from my Android tablet in bright sunshine. The quality with the digital zoom is pretty dire but at least it saved the day for establishing a record of Ian and Diane’s skiing at this stage.



The dynamics explanation and exercises – both static and moving – were standard and can be found in detail on the dynamics fixed page: “Dynamics Page”.

Diane felt the clearest difference switching to dynamics because she had been more diligently moving over the the outside ski than Ian during her previous skiing. Ian’s habitual rush of the start of the turn made it a bit confusing for him to stand on the new turning ski properly to generate the dynamics. His usual way to relate to pressure was on the “downhill” ski  - not the outside ski through the whole turn. Those sort of issues when changing already established movement patterns are to be expected. 

I wanted the session to give an overview of the three main principles in skiing – Dynamics, Skating and Pivoting. Once the basic dynamics were understood we moved on to skating. The reason for this is that each aspect supports the other so it’s not wise to try to develop any aspect too far without respect to the others. I also wanted to commence each aspect so that each would have plenty of time to develop during the week.


It turned out that neither Ian nor Diane could properly skate so we had to commence with learning how to skate. Yesterday the same method was used with Chantelle so that can be referred to for detail. Both were able to skate reasonably well after only a few minutes. This will be repeated during the week. I wanted the legs to begin to be less static and as this is how legs are used properly in skiing then a few skating exercises are an ideal place to begin. Falling forwards between the skis in skating is the same basic movement as dynamics in skiing – except the falling is more exaggerated and more lateral in direction in skiing. Once we were actually skiing I asked Ian and Diane just to observe the pressure under the feet during the turns – how it comes on and off. Ian correctly recognised that the pressure cycle feels like skating.

The dynamics is a “down/up” motion (motorcycle going down into a turn and back up out) and skating is down/up. The key is to connect them. On a trampoline you can either bounce higher or dampen by timing the use of the legs – and skiing is the same. The timing for this is basically a skating action.


Indoors it was “boots off” for a session with the feet. I showed how standing on the heel beneath the ankle permitted the use of the subtaler joint to rock the foot from edge to edge and how flexing when on the heel activated the foot muscles and the anterior tibialis (shin) to strengthen the ankle. Bending is at the knee and hip. The connection with the adductor muscles was made for the foot on its inside edge.  The major contrast with collapsing the ankle when using the “big toe” and twisting the foot (making it flat) was demonstrated.


Form a sideslip I demonstrated the pivot and turning from the outside edge. This was just to introduce the effect. Both Ian and Diane were physically assisted through a pivot to get the sensation. This was also used to explain the issue of “perception” and how our mental database is the key to being able to physically see anything – hence the main reason we can’t work things out just by looking.

Centripetal Force

Both Ian and Diane were encouraged to increase dynamic range – to fall over more into the turn. The temptation is to be very passive and just to react to forces but not to create them. We have to feel the forces driving us away from a straight line and then work inwards to generate more. Most people mistakenly think they are being thrown outwards and so push outwards to brace against this. The illusion of fictitious “centrifugal force” is almost as strong as the illusion of “fictitious balance”.


I asked Ian to stand up and stand on his turning ski from the start of the turn. His squatting stance needs to be changed. To help with this he needed to raise his hands up from beside his thighs to the “goalkeeper” position. Diane needed to avoid facing her body downhill systematically and to just follow the skis for the meantime to make her dynamics simpler and reduce rotation. Diane’s stance had already become naturally narrower due to the dynamics. Ian looked much smoother when standing up and using pressure to start the turn.

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