Ponte di Legno, Italy
Yesterday evening we all arrived having driven through some miserable grey weather – but for Finn’s first ski lesson Thor took a back seat and we had blue skies and sunshine. The only drawback with this is that it made Finns’ skis sticky and so interfered somewhat with our plans.
The video clips show Finn’s first attempts (ever) at all of the following: side stepping, straight running, skating – and parallel turns! Yes! Forget snowploughs! Each item filmed here is a genuine first attempt!
Finn started out by getting an explanation of the parts of the ski, their function and how to get in and out of them – including cleaning the soles of the boots. He did a great job of properly carrying the skis quite a long distance on his shoulder. Starting on the snow with just one ski on we did a fair bit of walking around to develop familiarity with the equipment and Finn was clearly at ease with this. He took naturally to the idea of stepping to change direction and continued with this on flat ground when two skis were used. We did a few “star” turns on the spot to make sure he kept his steps small and avoided crossing the skis. When side stepping up the hill Finn had no trouble understanding the slope and keeping his skis parallel across the slope to prevent himself from sliding off. He has good spatial awareness.
Finn didn’t have strong skating skills so we had to look at how to skate – through diverging the skis and pushing somebody ahead – then doing the same by falling forward and accelerating instead (in the video this is why he is holding onto the pole – which was first of all used to push me with. Once Finn understood how to skate on skis he was then able to step uphill quickly by going forwards (herringbone steps) instead of side-stepping.
For turning with stepping the idea is to step the skis in small increments diverging first one tip ( the way you want to go ) and then pulling the other tip back towards it with the next step. The skis are only either parallel or diverging – never converging as in a snowplough. This is where skating comes into turning. The turn is effectively led by the motion of the centre of mass – even from this very beginning stage. It doesn’t matter which foot the weight is on – just the ability to momentarily stand on one foot at a time to be able to step.
Finn was comfortable with the explanation that we turn to control our speed and that any turn if completed brings you to a stop. Right from the start Finn simply completed a turn when he needed to stop.
Finn had a few problems linked to not wanting to stand properly on his right leg (stepping right) and also trying (instinctively) to turn his left ski inwards into turns – causing the left foot to twist onto its outside edge instead of the inside edge. We worked on this and even had the ski boots off indoors to look at the proper way to use the feet – rolling the feet onto their edges instead of twisting them into a turn. We linked the rolling of the feet (to the right) with a movement of the centre of mass (belly button) to the right. When stepping I emphasised that the idea was to push the belly button across the skis in the direction we want to turn (not by twisting the body). I did a small test with Finns eyesight and proved that he is left eyed as well as left handed. It’s normally the dominant side of the body in skiing that causes the most problems – because excessive force (or dependence) tends to be used on that side.
By the end of the day Finn was competent at using the button lift and skiing all the way down, skis parallel and by himself. This is a good base to move forwards from tomorrow. The skis need to be waxed or changed and we have to stay on top of the natural tendency towards inappropriate mechanics of movement so that no poor habits are given the opportunity to take over!
Meanwhile Ayesha was suffering badly from metatarsal arch problems in the forefeet. I strongly suspect that the problem is (at least partially) postural – coming from the hips being advanced forwards and locking – forcing a flexing of the ankles and pressure on the forefeet. This makes it impossible to ease the load by standing on the heels other than by leaning on the backs of the ski boots – which damages the calf muscles. I explained that a slightly “seated” stance is needed to bend the hips and knees but straighten the ankles. The other issue is that the ski boots – being men’s technical boots – could be forcing against the calf and causing or at least exacerbating all the other problems!