It was great to see Victor with Rodion and Timothy after an absence of two years. Rodion has grown an amazing amount in this time which suggested that he might struggle a bit in slalom with such big changes to his body. However Rodion surprised me with the high level of skill he has maintained and also his memory of all the detail of the content of the work we did on his skiing 2 years ago. Victor was skiing very well too. Timothy is the one who’s skiing needs most work – but he has had very little input into his skiing compared to the others.
We did a long carving warm up run to start with on an empty and freshly groomed pistes, then when back in the sunshine we started technical work with “one ski pivoting”. Although Rodion could do this excellently he wasn’t aware of the possibility of separating the edge of the foot from the edge of the ski – and standing on the inside edge of the foot while on the outside edge of the ski so this had to be carefully explained. Victor had no problems here but Timothy was struggling. We explained the pole use and movement of the centre of mass but Timothy had trouble moving his body over the top of his downhill ski even with support from his pole. This proves to be his main weakness in skiing – affecting him strongly on steep slopes and bumps.
Pivoting – one ski and two skis (close stance)
The pivoting exercises finished with some two footed close stance pivoting. The emphasis was holding both feet on their inside edges and holding both feet close together – using a two footed platform for the pivots. I explained that this was mostly used in bump skiing and in soft off-piste snow.
Rodion then impressed my in the slalom but predictably didn’t get to the end of his one run. I knew the weight and size of his body would catch him out with higher accelerations. Timothy did fine in the slalom but uses skidding to control his speed and remains very upright. When we get him moving his body across that lower ski then all of this will change.
I then took everyone off-piste on progressively steeper pitches to check whether or not Timothy would be safe on longer and high north facing steep faces. There is great chalky hard pack snow available on such slopes but if you fall you can slide a long way so I needed to be sure of Timothy’s level before taking him anywhere like that. Although technically not great he turned out to be stable and secure – thanks mainly to good natural hip angulation. The work on pivoting would come into service when we eventually climbed up to ski the north face of the Borsat. Rodion commented on how he felt the motion of the body over the downhill ski helped on the steep – where it is scary to make such a move.
We spent a little time in the bumps using the two footed pivot and working on using compression/retraction to lower the body downhill into over the lower ski and over the crest of the bump below. Timothy didn’t get it so this will have to be an area of focus for him in the days to come.
There was properly transformed Spring snow available – a little too late in the day though because it was slightly too soft to support us well. Still this was a new experience for everyone because this sort of snow is usually only ever encountered in the Spring and not everybody gets the opportunity to ski it. In Springtime the entire mountain off-piste can become like a carpet to ski on – turning it into an amazing playground. So far on all of our off-piste adventures we had been wonderfully on our own – nobody else in sight.
Independent leg (extension/retraction) and Double Carving
Up high on the Rosolin T-bar training area on the glacier we worked on a few advanced aspects of race carving. The first was independent retraction and extension of the legs in a wide stance. The lower leg is retracted to exit a turn and then the uphill leg is extended to force the body across the skis and down into the next turn. Overall timing remains unchanged but the use of the leg extension at the start of the turn is different from out standard down/up timing.
Finally I brought in the concept of double carving – by standing on the inside ski, on its outside edge but still on the inside edge of the foot – exactly as in pivoting. These are some of the additional things I want to use to get Rodion in particular even faster than before in slalom. This however tends to narrow the stance again and separation of the skis becomes more in the vertical plane than in the horizontal.