Warm up and Revision
Today started off with a warm up run then some revision of yesterday’s technique for the benefit of Ella who had missed some due to having to quit early. We looked again briefly at the issue of “foot forwards – hip backwards” so that Ella would have the opportunity to understand and try this on fresh pistes.
Independent leg action – retraction.
Prior to taking everyone into the slalom I decided that it was about time to introduce some more advanced technique. We had been working on independent leg action to cultivate hip awareness but now it was time to relate this to dynamics. From a wide stance across the hill the lower leg would be retracted to bring the body out of its turn (or traverse) and when the body passed the perpendicular to the hill the upper leg would extend. This is a very rapid move to both get out of an existing turn and into a new one. Despite this use of the legs – with an extension of the support leg at the start of the turn – the Centre of Mass still comes down through the turn start and up during the retraction at the turn completion – this being because we have to factor in the overall changes of inclination of the body (motorbike analogy).
Wide stance independent leg use allows for very rapid access to edge changing compared to close stance where the body has to move a long way with dynamics to engage the edge of the new outside ski. The main feelings to be looked for here are very early edge grip from the uphill ski and immediate pressure as the Centre of Mass is actively pushed downhill. Hip angulation is retained as was the case for the wide stance pivots.
Overall the action is equivalent to a single skate from the start of the turn to the end but with a deliberate retraction of the load bearing leg right at the end of the turn – creating a fast lateral movement of the body across the skis. We worked on all of this for a few runs before attempting to take it into the slalom.
I explained that the basic problem in slalom involved being able to avoid “resisting” by bracing and holding onto turns too long – which makes you “late” on a gate and then propagates the same problem down the rest of the course. You have to learn to retract and escape the turn much sooner than expected – immediately on passing the gate. Training for this early action is what allows flowing skiing in other situations off piste such as in bumps.
Tibo 30.57, Luke 31.79, Ella 36.66, Léonie 37.99, Florence 40.36
Léonie has clearly improved. Tibo’s skating background is starting to pay off – and the slalom removed most of his odd lurching motion – but he is failing to adjust for the slope to keep his body perpendicular (probably the source of the lurching issue!). His ice skating was of course on totally flat ground and this is currently his biggest weakness now – his body tending to remain in the vertical – which gives the impression of leaning backwards. Luke just forgot everything when in the race course – same as he does in bumps and steeps etc. The game here is to be focussed internally and not to be distracted by the environment. Focus on what the body is doing – centering the mind works along with rooting actions with the centre of mass - or the centre of the body. Florence was lacking dynamics, inclination and angulation. Those things only come by exaggerating movement much more. Contrary to expectations this – when done correctly - generates security.
Rather amazingly for Christmas we found properly transformed Spring snow. Everybody felt confident enough to attack the steeper slopes with less hesitation today. Even if rotation issues are not fully resolved they are certainly much more clearly understood.
Ella had to address her postural issues to protect her back. She tends to allow the pelvis to dip at the front, hollowing the lower back and then twisting it during turning – which is a very dangerous combination. The key is to be able to separate body parts and be able to tilt the pelvis up at the front to achieve and maintain “neutral pelvis”(neither tilted up nor down ideally). Many activities tend to pull the pelvis down at the front – such as walking and running as the leg extends behind the body. It’s for this reason that the default action should be an active upwards tilt – making the body “thin”. Once the pelvis is set then a slight sitting action is needed to free the upper thigh muscles surrounding the hip – otherwise they tend to be locked due to the pelvic tilt action. Either sitting or tilting the upper body forward from the hips provide appropriate and safe postures for various aspects of skiing.
The actual postural muscles cannot be operated by conscious choice. They are activated by reflexes mainly through pressure under the feet. This is why good movement and timing are critical. Control of the pelvis is just another aspect of management necessary to help the body function efficiently on all levels.