Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Alex, Daisy, Mike (Day 2)

Temperature of the snow today was -24°C  and this photo of the mountains in the distance captures the stinging cold atmosphere.

Day One – revisited…

Yesterday temperatures were literally disruptive – preventing skis from sliding (especially sideways) and making it too cold for any serious attempt at constructive coaching. Daisy ran into a problem on the slightly steeper Solaise run and although for a few minutes the issue appeared to be irrational there was a good reason for it. Her boots were both too big and she had not tightened them – leaving them on the loosest setting. The fact that the boots were too big was clear from the start as she could not hold the skis on edge – but the loose buckle setting wasn’t spotted until later on.  The session however turned out to be useful because she has never assimilated sideslipping skills – which are utterly essential for control and tight pivoting actions. The entire descent turned into an exercise in sideslipping and strategy: How to negotiate an intimidating icy slope with skis that won’t grip! – looking for soft snow to turn on and staying safe. Daisy actually did very well. For the following day the boots would be sorted and the problem cured – but the underlying skills still need a lot of work!!!

Day Two – Not quite so cold!

With the sunshine out the plan was to tackle technique straight away – then take it into practical skiing.  Getting kids to focus in such an environment is a challenge in itself – but gradually both Alex and Daisy came around to the task in hand. Unfortunately Mike and Jannette were stranded on the Bellevarde Express chair for at least 25 minutes due to a breakdown – so were were separated.

I explained how pivoting was done from standing on the outside edge of the uphill ski to start the turn – but that the ski would change edge during the turn. However, key to the whole issue is that the foot from the start to the end of the turn remains on the inside edge. Both are filmed here with their first reasonably successful attempts. We would ski for a while and then pause for a few more attempts – to avoid frustration.

During simple sideslipping Daisy still tends to snowplough the uphill ski – which gets her into a lot of difficulty when moving slowly. Gradually she is being taught to keep the uphill ski either parallel or diverging (skating) so that it is always on the top edge. This should soon click into place for her.

Daisy leads the way down skiing in the second part of the video clip. Last year (which Daisy missed) is when Alex worked on the same things and managed to lose his wide stance and snowplough. He puts in small checks to break his speed behind Daisy but that issue will be easily fixed by being taught to round the turns out more and avoid unnecessary “pushing out” of the heels. Alex already has good dynamics so he doesn’t need the heel pushing action. Alex is also much better centred over his skis while Daisy is too far on the backs of the boots (which partly contributed to the problems yesterday – and helped to disguise them!). Daisy is comfortable with speed, terrain and difficult snow – so only technique needs to be sorted out – there are no emotional issues. We played in powder snow for a while and despite getting stuck on a couple of occasions she enjoyed it much better then most children do on the very first attempt. Within a day or two she will be very comfortable with this – and then will probably not want to go back on piste! (Pistes are not real skiing anyway!)

Mike was struggling a bit with the Zag Big skis – due to the unaccustomed width. The key here is to learn to skate on the flat and feel the inside edges grip solidly, using the insides of the feet and the adductor muscles. Eventually this becomes easier because most of this work is done through increased dynamics and the adductors/feet issues are only fine control. Mike had been getting “flipped” the wrong way by the width of the skis and so for example on ice the ski would flatten pulling the knee and hip out and throwing the upper body uphill – the skis skidding out of control. If the ski’s are going to skid on ice then it’s critical to hold form and not lose hip angulation – but to maintain angulation and go with the skid. During the turn it also helps to pull everything inwards (towards the turn centre) consciously right until the end of the turn.

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