Day two and Derin is up and running. When the slope is not intimidating or tricky she can already maintain a good speed – and even follows me off piste in varying snow without realising that anything is different. That’s exactly how it should be.
Derin until now has done precisely what all children do – that is she turns at exactly the same time that her coach turns – completely without regard for where the turn is actually made – and usually making a much tighter and slower turn. That was fine when we needed to be sure that she could turn quickly and stop to protect herself. The trick when teaching is for the coach to anticipate “where” she is actually going to turn and so time his turn accordingly! Today Derin was ready at last for the big step up that means actually following in the tracks of the coach. The goal now is to get her to take a line on the snow or ice that dictates her speed and control differently and to allow her to access increased speed – naturally – and that’s what she managed to do.
Bouncing the shins
While I was assisting Derin (pole support) going over to Val d’Isère I had her bouncing with her shins against the fronts of her boots – both during turning and straight running. The idea is to help her escape from the feeling of being locked against the backs of her boots. She managed this comfortably as we moved along.
Skating / Herring bone steps
Now that Derin had poles for the first time she could use them for pushing along the flats. To help her get up a slight incline – and avoid her tendency to slide backwards – we did a few minutes work on Herring Bone steps – the skis diverging and feet on their inside edges – skis on their inside edges and then stepping forwards. Children need to be reminded to place the poles BEHIND the feet so that they can push. They tend to put the poles in the ground in front. Basically, Derin was a natural with her poles compared to most children so it was the right time to let he begin to use them.
Later – for only a few moments we had a look at skating – but that will have to be dealt with in much more depth. The important thing is that she is picking up an awareness of using the edges of her feet and skis – and how to point the skis in different directions for different effects.
For the first time Derin managed controlled side stepping down a steep slope, keeping the uphill ski on it’s uphill edge and parallel. Like most children she has a defensive tendency to look for the familiar inside edge of that ski and so reflexively point the ski downhill by mistake. With only a small amount of correction and feedback she is already succeeding in overcoming this.
Returning to Tignes there were some steep, narrow and icy sections to negotiate – but Derin managed to ski them all unassisted – including some steep traverses. This requires good edge control and even some sideslipping – which she is managing to do naturally. She was pretty tired but it’s an impressive step up in one day! She did extremely well.