To kick off the session I had a quick look at everybody’s skiing. Tom has never had any input from me before and it’s been 3 years since James and William have had any.
Surprisingly Tom had a very natural movement pattern. Tom normally snowboards, rides motocross and has the advantage of having had very little previous ski coaching to mess him up. It was good to see this and as it is quite unusual. The really good part was that I didn’t have to repeat any of the the basic teaching that the others already know because Tom’s overall motion was generally correct.
Jenny’s skiing was more or less unchanged from before – anchored on two feet and with the body more or less constantly square to the skis, little use of dynamics and a small range of leg motion.
Given a full spectrum of different skiers I had to go by intuition when deciding how to approach the session. Given that there were five people and only half a day to work on things it would not be possible to focus on any one thing for long or give much feedback. I decided that “control” was the key issue so embarked upon a session that would give a broad overview of the technicalities of “control”.
One Ski Pivot
We started out by taking a ski off and skiing on one ski. Predictably the boys were all over the place.
Pivoting was rapidly revised (fortunately Tom catches on quickly) and the separation of the edge of the foot and edge of the ski was clarified. Basically you always remain on the inside edge of the foot while the ski edges change. Tom had an initial tendency to try to torque the ski around but was able to quickly grasp that it’s the motion of the centre of mass across the skis that does the trick. The first part of the turn has to keep the ski on the uphill edge as long as possible – with the edge change taking place in the fall line. We then moved on to skiing forwards and linking turns with this pivoting action so easy control could be established.
I explained that two feet can be held together in a close stance for pivoting on two skis. This is necessary in bumps and some off piste where a two footed pivoting platform can be a useful option. The key issue is that both feet are held on their inside edges and this also helps to hold the feet together.
Apart from improving awareness of edge control the one ski pivot also encourages awareness of the motion of the centre of mass and flexion at the hip to allow the centre of mass to travel successfully in both directions over the ski. The Centre of Mass motion is controlled by use of the pole – placed downhill, behind the feet when the turns are starting from a standstill. When there is forward motion the pole isn’t planted so far back. The more forward motion in any skiing activity the less the pole is used.
We used the close stance two footed pivot on bumps – standing on the shoulder of a bump with the tips and tails in the air to make the pivot easy. The turn was initiated with a flexion of the legs (knees and hips) and lowering of the body downhill during this flexion – then as the ski pivots around the bump an extension of the legs while sideslipping down the face of the bump. With some speed the bumps actually compress the legs instead of retraction being used. Tom and Andrew had a tendency to invert the timing and extend on the bumps.
Later we did a few compression turns on the flat – a very difficult exercise requiring a lot of control. William did it really well.
Two Skis - Wide Stance Pivot
Independent leg action is the aim of cultivating the wide stance pivot. This pivoting requires the boots to be across the hill from each other all the time – instead of one boot coming around and below the other. The legs rotate independently in the hip sockets and both skis pivot as before – feet always on their inside edges.
Wide Stance Short Turns with Dynamics
Next we moved on to skiing a little faster – still pivoting but now brining in dynamics. The wide stance and independent leg action permits quick movements of the centre of mass from side to side to drive the turns. The key here is to focus on the centre of mass and try to move it side to side. James was particularly good at this type of movement.
Working The Ski – Whole Turn (Independent leg extension/retraction)
On steeper ground we started to develop the independent use of the legs for alternate extension and retraction. The wide stance permits the uphill leg to extend to push the body downwards and downhill over the retracting lower leg. This not only gives a fast turn initiation but it gives grip from the start of the turn – encourages good hip angulation and a solid working/pressuring of the ski through the whole turn. The previous exercises are building up towards this so little further explanation is needed.
The independent leg action was taken into carving – wide stance – simultaneous extension/retraction. To pressure the skis for carving the “drop” at the hip, down into the turn needs to be a real “drop” – a very relaxed hip. The boys in particular all had very good timing for carving.
We added “double carving” by including pressure on the inside ski (outside edge of the ski – inside edge of the foot) in a narrower stance. William was the best at this with excellent hip angulation …
Tom has a lack of hip angulation and this limits agility…
James has good independent leg action but is also lacking hip angulation…
Jenny is slow and unable to exploit dynamics - skis not carving at all due to rigidity – the hips need exposure to more independent leg work…
Strong inclination but no angulation – limits agility…