Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ian & Diane 2

Although both Ian and Diane had understood yesterday’s session they were only having a partial success with the dynamics. The ingrained movements from about 15 years of skiing were constantly dominating. Both were rushing the starts of their turns and displacing their skis sideways to some extent. Diane was using rotation and frequently an upper ski stem.  Both still had inactive legs although Ian was standing more upright in general and managing to keep the hands up.  The main problems all take place during the turn transition and initiation so It was clear that we would have to focus on eliminating the undesirable movements by making the body do something very clearly different at those points. Both Ian and Diane described how they worked on “leaning” into the turn yesterday – which indicated to me that they had not fully appreciated that “dynamics” is not a reactive leaning – it is an active acceleration of the centre of mass. This was why the were still struggling. They should have focused on generating pressure.

Extending the Leg – Turn Initiation – Dynamics

The key for both Ian and Diane would be to stand strongly on the new turning ski from the very beginning of the turn. One way to do this is to powerfully extend the uphill leg – not to pop upwards but to move the centre of mass down (hill) and in towards the centre of the new turn. We tried this first of all because it combined clear dynamics with pressure. To facilitate the action I suggested a wide stance and we practiced this statically – moving the body from side to side. Even standing still Diane tended to twist her hips when moving from side to side as if she was twisting into a new turn. To counteract this I asked her to pull her hip backwards as she extended the leg.

In action this didn’t bring much success because both were still rushing the starts of  the turns – so the extension action was not sure enough to replace the undesirable actions.

Standing on the Leg – Either Edge – Gravity

The next exercise was just to stand up on the uphill leg prior to starting the turn. If the stance is quite wide then the fact that the uphill leg is more bent to start with when traversing means that even to stand up on the ski requires a similar leg extension. If this extension is done either during a traverse or at the end of a turn it is then it’s only involved in the “preparation” of the next turn. The skier can stand up on the uphill edge of the uphill ski and this is also useful because then the ski cannot be stemmed or pushed outwards . The turn is initiated by letting gravity make the body fall into the new turn while all the support remains on this leg. This exercise had more success in general.

Traversing – Hip Angulation

We worked for a while on traversing on the downhill ski while padding the uphill ski up and down. To hold the ski on edge better I explained hip angulation. This is when the upper body is tilted forwards at the hip joint and then perched on top of one hip from which it can pivot around securely. If hip angulation is used on the lower leg while traversing this helps to keep the upper body centred over the foot. The typical “face downhill” issue is related to hip angulation – but in reality most hip angulation happens naturally from skating. The point is to stand securely on the hip joint and on one hip at a time. To make a turn the commitment has to switch from one hip to the other during the turn transition across the hill. Skiing is one leg at a time!!!!!

Skating to Skiing

“Skating to skiing” exercises were repeated several times. Skating directly downhill dynamics is introduced to allow the skating to convert into skiing. Care must be taken to prevent the ski (and emotions) from overwhelming the skating action. The ski tries to flatten and twist but has to be held in the skating attitude by the feet and leg muscles. Any tendency to rotate will cause the skate to wash out – the movements have to be lateral to the skis.  Diane made a lot of progress with this and gradually started to move her body instead of pushing away the skis. Ian also made a lot of progress and started to get the legs to work rhythmically.

Turn Shape

The important issue overall is to commit to standing on the uphill leg 100% from before or at the start of the new turn. The first part of the turn must not be rushed – it is rounder and longer than the finish of the turn. Both Ian and Diane had a strong tendency to try to force the skis around and then get security form having them downhill. The security has to be established by standing on the ski right at the start. It’s the way the turn accelerations are progressively organised from the beginning of the turn that generates security. A strong stance at the start of the turn is critical. Stability on one leg comes from the way the ski organises accelerations – as happens on a bicycle – but it has to have the stabilisers removed to work!!!!

We used a banked track to help to improve dynamics. I explained that the ski and lateral support from the boot worked to create a banked track for every turn on even flat terrain. The ski travels forwards and this is how we need to perceive it from the start of a turn with our dynamics . It resembles a velodrome scenario– not a skid on a flat surface – every turn (except when pivoting).

Ian in particular managed to stand much more strongly on his ski through the first half of the turn though Diane also made a lot of improvement in eliminating the rush and snatch at the start of her turns.

Towards the end of the day I introduced the exercise of lifting up the inside hip and arm during the turn. This was mainly to prevent Diane from seeking security on her inside leg – which she has a tendency to do . When she does this it is visible because the inside hip does the opposite – it drops. This is partly due to her tendency to rotate so all of this work in general will eliminate it. The exercise was also good for Ian because he confused it initially and then needed to exaggerate it more – so it was helping to develop his awareness.


Chi Skiing

I introduced the chi skiing posture control due to it being an effective counter measure for Diane’s strong tendency to rotate. There is a fixed page on Chi Skiing here: “Chi Skiing

The concept was introduced through walking exercises but kept simplified for skiing – just pull back the hip on the supporting leg – and allow the spine to be involved. This also protects the lower back from the dangers inherent in skiing – which is to some extent unnatural (as is cycling). The body is designed for running and walking – but not in Nike running shoes on the backs of the heels.


On the final descent we spent some time pivoting on the small bumps – working with a pole plant (support) and swinging the tips of the skis inwards to follow the motion of the centre of mass. We didn’t spend much time on this because it had been critical to prepare the ground for better dynamics through the rest of the session. Without the support from the outside leg from the start of the turn good dynamics is impossible and this is the real number one issue in skiing.

When turning it is important that all muscular effort and motion is towards the centre of the turn – not pushing or resisting outwards (against the effects of imaginary centrifugal force). Generating the forces that drive the skier inwards is an active process. When the skier moves over into the turn there is a delay before pressure is felt (unless there is a strong push with the uphill leg) and most people panic in this moment. They then stand on the lower ski and stem out the upper ski until it resists and pressure can be felt before committing to it. This tendency has to be eliminated. The ski is a powerful tool but it has to be trusted and the skier must be proactive with generating pressure through the initiation of the turn – with a strong stance on the ski and dynamics and inclination – not just moving later by reacting to pressure. The body must always be displaced – not the skis!!!!!!

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