Saturday, December 26, 2015

Luke & Léonie day 5

Final day of the 2015 Xmas trip. Following a warm up run we went straight into technique in preparation for slalom. Unfortunately the slalom piste hadn't been groomed the night before and so was not in an appropriate condition for setting speed records regardless of how many technical improvements were achieved.

Front of Ski

We had used wide stance carving already for working on independent leg action (retraction/extension), improving control of body rotation and foot forward/hip backward techniques. We revised and worked on improving the power of the extension of the uphill leg to maximise pressure and movement of the centre of mass out of one turn and into the next.

Today I wanted to add to this the pressurising of the front of the ski. The idea is to stand on the front of the heel, push forwards against the shin and strongly engage the front of the ski – more by use of dynamics, dropping down into the turn than by any leaning forwards. It’s the edged ski biting into the snow in front that creates the pressure on the shin.

I explained the timing of the slalom with the apexes of the turns being at the side of the poles not below the poles. This prevents all of the forces combining at the end of the turn (also permitting the front of the ski to be used more strongly). Gravity and momentum/ski generated maximum forces are separated by using the momentum of the body across the hill to get the maximum force against the ski at this apex (skis pointing almost directly downhill) and then reducing the gravitational force at the end by avoiding holding onto the turn too long. Timing requires training because the natural tendency is to hold onto a turn far too long. (This timing is perfect also for tricky off piste - because it stops the sudden overwhelming build up of pressure at the end of the turn giving a more progressive and smoother pressure gradient through the turn)

Taking this into slalom allowed at least the opportunity for everyone to stay upright on an otherwise icy hard and difficult course. Tibo however was able to engage his skating experience and actually improve his best time down to a respectable 28.99 seconds. Florence also improved her time despite the poor conditions and managed 39.64 seconds – breaking the 40 second barrier. Florence was surprising today – being the first one down the large Tovière bumps, first down the steep Familial off piste and first down behind me on our rapid non-stop final descent of la Grande Motte.

On the bumps I pointed out that the tips of the skis have to be forced downwards when pivoting into the trough. Unfortunately nobody has quite understood the role of dynamics in the bump – using the bump to cause compression – spitting the body directly down and out of the existing turn and into the next almost faster than the brain can follow. Similar perception issues to slalom exist here in that when people are not used to those physical constraints they are usually far too slow to respond and the quickly become late in their actions.

On icy slopes I explained that it pays to stand up on the ball of the foot to bring the pressure to the centre of the ski and to use the front of the ski – so if there is a skid the tail doesn't slip from beneath you and spin you into a rotation.

Our brief venture off piste in Spring snow concerned us more with how to navigate grass on a steep slope. This was an excellent opportunity to practice jump turns. 

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