Today’s goal was to improve carving and to get Alex back into slalom. Alex set his benchmark on his second run at 29.78 seconds – obtaining the “bronze” level and only 0/35 seconds from the silver.
Most of the technical focus today was on Mike, but Alex was doing a good job of soaking up information and made some really big changes by the end of the session.
Even with the Ski stuck out far to the side like an outrigger Mike was initially unable to hold the ski on edge when sliding. Gradually it transpired that he was twisting his foot inwards and going along with the torque of the ski in this sense – instead of holding the heel of the foot inwards and making the leg resist the torque so that the entire system would turn instead. In addition to the foot being twisted the hip was also being pulled forwards. All of this would pull Mike’s centre of mass outwards and cause the ski to break off the edge and go into a pivot. The keys to correcting this were first to be aware of the foot issue and then to actively pull the hip backwards – without the shoulders coming back along with the hip. Mike rapidly remembered both of those actions and was able to employ them to lower the centre of mass down and into the turns more effectively. Alex, while picking up on all this stuff in the background did a brilliant job and literally transformed his skiing. I was sorry not to have managed to film it – but I’m sure he can reproduce it. Gradually Mike was managing to feel the proper carving power of his parabolic Zags falling into place as the old bad habits were thrown off (again!) The hip action from “Chi Skiing” is the key that dramatically changed things for Alex – so it will be interesting to see where this takes him in slalom. (We also applied the hip action in pivoting on small bumps!)
I explained some tactics for slalom to Alex, but at this stage it’s more important just to strengthen basic technique. The main limitation for Alex has been his lack of dynamic range – which is only ever increased by accident when his lower ski slips away. The hip alteration he made was given in the context of using it to allow him to get his bottom nearer to the snow – and this seems to work very well for Alex – dramatically increasing his dynamic range and bringing his skis closer together naturally. Instead of using his inner ski as a stabilizer he now gets his stability from his dynamics.
The tactics I explained to Alex were to make his turns round (not to go straight to the pole and then turn too late) but pass by the pole very closely. I also explained that the apex of the turn needs to be towards the outside of the turn not at the bottom of the turn – which makes the linked turns appear like skating straight down the hill going from one outside leg to the other.
Both Mike and Alex had a go at “carving” off piste – which is essentially “freeride”. You “ride the ski” with pressure through the turn and the wider skis don’t just sink in and stop. instead of the ski tracking purely on the edge the entire base is deflected by the deeper snow – but the technique is the same as racing.
View of Tignes Glacier from Toviere