Saturday, January 31, 2015

Derin 2015 Day 5

Mindful Skiing

Due to the cold we only stopped for a minute to film Derin working on skating step turns. This is normally considered fairly advanced technique – but I consider it to be fundamental and to be taught from the very beginning. Skiing is really a variation of skating – most professionals even fail to understand this simple reality. People who unfortunately learn to ski in a snowplough almost never find this out – but Derin has never been taught to snowplough…

Pivoting Skills

Today started off on the Lanches ski run – going up to altitude before the weather deteriorated as predicted.  Although the whole family turned up the priority was to proceed with Derin’s coaching. While we were skiing to warm up I noticed that everyone in the family was looking constantly for the inside edge of the ski to begin a turn – with various stemming and other issues cropping up. When everyone was together I asked what happens to the ski to begin a turn and Derin immediately responded by pivoting her uphill ski downhill on the uphill edge – exactly right. Unfortunately I had to then try to explain that to everyone else – but due to general signs of impatience there wasn’t a lot of point developing the subject. I was really surprised to see that Derin had remembered this movement from previous years because it’s how she initially learned to ski – using the opposite edge of the ski from that used in a snowplough. The thing is that I’ve never properly explained this to her and made it clear to her what she is doing with respect to the alternatives – and how everyone else does the opposite to her. Her mother was the only other one to pick up on this on this occasion and to obviously manage to make it work ! 

Centred Stance

During the continued descent I had to correct Derin constantly to try to get her to keep contact with the shins on the front of the boots. When she is reminded she manages this quite well – otherwise she tends to fall onto the backs of the boots. She just needs constant feedback and correction here to re-centre her stance. If she skis without correction then this can set up a life-long bad habit and problem – so it has to be dealt with properly and constantly. Unfortunately I can’t explain too much here as she is so young – so I may have to invent a new way to explain how to be “perpendicular” to the mountain!


Later on (after hot chocolate!) we did a lot of jumping between turns. This is to help re-centre Derin and stop her from leaning on the boots. It also brings the skis closer together and gets her uphill ski back parallel and on its outside edge – ready for pivoting. To encourage the pivoting we even started to do some “jump turns” where the pivot of the skis into the new turn is done while in the air. This scared Derin slightly on steeper terrain – so when that happened we reverted to step turns where there is more feeling of pressure and security.


Derin had a brief lesson on skating – holding onto a pole across in front of her and trying to push me (me providing resistance) with her skis diverging and gripping with the insides of her feet and the ski edges. She rapidly improved her grip and strength (but there is still work to do on this). Keeping the pole across in front of her I then moved out of the way and told her to now push forward as if I was still there. This is what produces skating!

Skating Step Turns

We had already started to work on skating step turns earlier – which is when you change direction by stepping from ski to ski by diverging the skis and then stepping them back together again – always stepping to the left to go left or right to go right. We had already worked the previous session on doing this with one step to initiate a turn – diverging the new inside ski off downhill into the new turn. Derin was able to do this well and it is in the previous blog post and makes her look like a little ski racer. After her skating lesson she could then skate through whole turns – as in seen in the video clip above.

This is a major skill to develop because it is all about directing the centre of mass by using the grip from the skis and using the legs properly. Derin actually copies my movements very well and picks up remarkably clearly on some quite difficult physical movements. I only need to explain a little to her and she almost immediately understands.

Mindful Skiing

The overall goal with Derin is to use her obvious intelligence, capacity and courage to help her to become a “mindful” skier. This means that she will know very clearly what to do with her body and be able to focus on it – much in the same way as someone becomes a martial arts master or excels in yoga. The idea is to learn to centre the mind and body – to develop internal focus. Don’t underestimate the capacity of a child in this respect! Derin is already doing very well.

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