Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Luke & Leonie Day 2

Our warm up run started out where we left off yesterday – working on dynamics – moving the body out over the downhill ski into the next turn. To try to reduce the fear of moving the body over the downhill ski we focused initially on “one ski” pivoting. The key is to always stay on the inside edge of the foot while the edge of the ski being used changes during the turn. This helps to develop a feeling for edge control and a sense of motion of the centre of mass – which drives the pivoting action.

Luke struggled initially to complete the turn on the outside edge without falling back onto two skis. I explained that this was due to failing to keep the centre of mass moving into the centre of the turn as the forces and geometry of the turn altered. This is a critical aspect of awareness regarding control and function of the centre of mass.

Focus then moved on to developing this aspect of evolving the turn correctly with the centre of mass through the turn, specifically regarding “hip rotation”. It turned out that nobody – except perhaps Tibo – could complete a short turn without the hip rotating outwards and pulling the centre of mass along with it. Skiing off piste on steep terrain made this issue very clear.

Emphasis now moved away from coming out over the outside ski (into the next turn) to staying down and inside the turn – prior to coming out and over. Both actions are linked – with the body shape that permits the hip to be held inwards also permitting an easy motion out over the outside ski.

Wide Stance Pivots

We used wide stance pivots – feet across the hill from each other – to cultivate the feeling of the legs rotating independently in the hip sockets with the pelvis being held stationary.  This was practiced with static exercises – with Léonie inventing a new “Charlie Chaplin” version which successfully allowed her to stop her pelvis from swinging around (Video clip).  The idea is to maintain most of this leg rotation even in close stance pivoting because it prevents the hip from swinging out.
More general turns were executed with ski poles held horizontal in front of the hip joints and by preventing the poles and pelvis from  turning during the turn.

Wide Stance Carve/Skating

We took the same mechanics into carving and then added the full skating action – with limited success.

The limited success prompted me to introduce the “Exercise From Hell” – which is even hard to describe let alone carry out. It’s a snowplough with the body and weight moved over the inside ski. The inside ski flattens and is used as a sideslipping brake and support to control speed. The outside ski edges strongly and carves a turn – initially with the ski behind the body and eventually with it in front. The hip has to adjust to this all the way through the turn or the pelvis ends up rotating and the hip is forced outwards. Here the leg swings in a arc from the hip joint. There is still  leg rotation but combined with a fore/aft and out-to-the-side swing. In effect, the rotation in the hip joint is in all three axes – X,Y,Z. This is probably why it’s the “Exercise From Hell”.

We then went off and skied off piste with everyone working on their hip awareness. The thing is, it’s a chicken and egg situation! Moving the body actively into the next turn creates the freedom to organise the hip correctly – which then allows good security in the turn and the ability to move actively into the next turn.

It’s important to remember that holding yourself inside a turn with strong hip angulation and the skis on the uphill edges does not make the start of the next turn difficult – because with pivoting there is no need to “change edges” to start the next turn.

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