There’s definitely an improvement in the hot chocolate handling in the last two years!
Red Run – Blizzard!
Today was a blizzard at altitude but it was time to get Derin up a nice long red run for the first time – and with the snow scaring most of the reckless idiots off the pistes and new fresh snow instead of ice then today was the perfect opportunity. Derin was in fact the only small child to go up the Grand Motte – but not only did I have confidence in her, she’s also light enough to carry down the mountain quickly on my back if things ever do get out of hand. It turned out to be a perfect move and Derin skied the whole of the Lanches run without a single fall or problem – improving all the way down.
Initially where it is quite steep at the top Derin’s legs were getting tired because she was leaning back against the ski boots quite severely. We stopped so that she could sit down for a minute to recover and once again I explained to her the need to press the shins against the boots and not the calf muscles at the back of the legs. This not only takes all the strain off the muscles it makes skiing much easier. Quite impressively Derin succeeded in doing this much better for the rest of the descent and only needed a few more stops before the bottom.
The purpose of the run – while making the most of the ski conditions – was to stretch Derin a little bit further. She is at a stage where if this is done correctly she will respond with significant improvement. The main thing is to avoid taking it too far and to always be there for her when she needs support. Feedback and correction are important and ensuring that we are building on the basic foundation of the body movements that she has been cultivating from the very beginning – namely – the movement of the centre of mass. (Though she is not aware of this – she does it reflexively and naturally now).
After the epic red run Derin needed to feel slightly less challenged so we remained on the Bollin and worked specifically on exercises to strengthen her skiing and continue her overall improvement.
One great way to overcome the locking of the legs in the back of the boots – which stiffens then and wears out the muscles – is to practice jumping. The idea is to first of all do it standing still, bending at the knees and hips and then jumping up straightening the body. After that we do it when moving in a straight line. This also helps to bring the skis closer together – so for Derin I would get her to do one jump just before turning to naturally narrow her stance a little. In the video clip she is filmed just a little while before she understood how to straighten the body with the jump.
Stepping – repeatedly lifting the inside leg and padding it down on the ground.
The next exercise is quite tricky and until today I wasn’t even sure if Derin could understand it – but she actually did it really well. The idea is to just lift one leg then put it back down again. This also causes bending of that knee and hip – but also improves the coordination for standing on one leg and ski. Once this is done then the next stage is to begin a turn with lifting the downhill ski and putting it back down again – repeating all the way through the turn (where it becomes the inside ski). Derin understood what I meant about “inside and outside” skis with the aid of a diagram in the snow. In the video the first time she is filmed doing this she actually picks up the wrong leg – the outside one! Then she repeats the exercise getting it right next time.
The video for today ends with her skiing with both the stepping and jumping – showing great all round improvement while showing off to her big sister!
The images here show Derin starting to resemble a racer already! With stepping the skis naturally diverge at the tips and her weight goes effectively onto one leg.