Sunday, January 31, 2016

Derin The Brave

While her big sisters were safely sheltering at home Derin the intrepid adventurer was out exploring new ski runs where she had never ventured before – braving howling winds, poor visibility and bumpy, chopped up snow on the pistes – without any sign of a complaint.

Photograph of our skis during a hot chocolate stop.

Today my job was about motivation and Derin’s task was about experience. She skied close behind me all the time and I only knew she was there because I couldn’t see her – tucked in so closely. The conditions were too severe to slow down for exercises or anything like that. The teaching just becomes one of extending boundaries and perception. Derin is amazingly resilient and adaptable. One thing that is very commendable is that she now wants to attempt everything by herself – putting on skis in the snow and skating by herself instead of being pulled over the flats. It’s good to see this sort of independence. This also means that when she asks for help you know she needs it.

I forgot to mention yesterday – when taking a photograph of Derin with her hot chocolate – I asked her to smile. She said she didn’t know how to smile. I replied that neither did I. We both burst out laughing and of course Derin had her mouth full of chocolate so predictably it went all over the place. I have to say that for a seven year old she has a well developed sense of humour.

I spotted this sign at the Tichot chairlift. I wonder what’s going on here?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Derin 2016 Day 6

Derin skied hard today. After three complete runs down the Grande Motte I managed to trick her into stopping for a hot chocolate - by pretending it was just a toilet stop at the bottom. The reason for this is that with skiing much harder now she needs to make sure not to get low on energy or dehydrated. I dimply told her I was buying a chocolate for her and she agreed.

Here are photos of Derin drinking chocolate today, Age 7 and also at age 4. Her technique has definitely improved.

Derin didn’t want to go up the Lanches chair because it worried her going so high up the mountain. However she agreed and felt that she wanted to try the slope now. This came entirely from her – not my suggestion. However her basic body mechanics are so efficient that she was able to ski the entire Grande Motte from the Panoramics at 3000m altitude without stopping several times. I didn’t want to stop this to work on technique so just worked on giving her a good line to control her speed and shape her turns appropriately – trying all the time to show good mechanics of movement myself to set her an example to copy.

The video was the only time Derin did some actual exercises – starting out the video skating into her turns and then after a few turns changing to pivoting with the skis close together. She coped with new terrain – leading the way – with not problems and good awareness of speed and control.  All afternoon she skied behind me at a good speed and had no incidents. By the way – she can jump now! I keep on meaning to video that because she is so pleased that she can do it.

Emir - Short Turns

Working on short turns again today for Emir. His struggles in this department just mean that he was work to do there. He made a good effort on all counts regarding a very difficult set of exercises…

Independent Leg Action

Proper and efficient control of short turns requires a lot of coordination, awareness and skill. It’s as fine a skill and as complex as playing a musical instrument – so it takes practice. First of all you have to be practising the right things! The work on independent leg action was to help reduce Emir’s body rotation – by isolating each leg and trying to get only the legs to rotate in the hip joints – and not have the pelvis rotate. This requires good pivoting skills already because each ski is pivoting separately. The static exercise standing on the heels with the feet swinging from side to side gives a chance to feel correctly what should be going on inside the body.

Emir needed to tilt the upper body forward much more at the hips to allow the rotation to take place. He has a tendency to block the hips and bend sideways instead. I explained that he needs to tilt forwards first then let the upper body rotate on top of the hip joint – when creating angulation.

The same mechanics also apply to carving – so the skills and awareness being developed here are universal.

One Leg Skiing (Pivoting)

The main goal of pivoting on one leg is to be able to understand how to control the motion of the centre of mass relative to the edges of the skis – using the foot in the process. Emir persisted and made good progress – using the ski pole for support and clearly improving each aspect of the skill.


Controlling Rotation

One of the key issues here is the use of the ski poles for support in short, pivoting turns. Emir has a tendency to be waving his poles around in the air instead of making constructive use of them. This indicates tension in the hips and lack of control of rotation – exactly what we had been working on. He managed good progress in the slow exercise in the video – but later when skiing (not just exercises) – he lost the angulation, rotation control and use of his poles. This caused a delay getting from turn to turn – and a subsequent tiredness. He also tended to revert to pushing out the tails of the skis a bit – not fully pulling everything inwards into the turn – although his dynamics and timing are good and strong in general.

The Chi- Hips need to be integrated into all of this too – for protecting the back. In fact pulling the outside hip back makes it easier to get into position for control of rotation and good angulation – with a clean pole plant.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Derin 2016 Day 5

Derin was showing much improved control yesterday afternoon by the end of the session – so today we started going onto more challenging runs and using the terrain more – and it proved to be a good choice. Most of our time was spent skiing and very little time was used on exercises. In reality she was being trained by just succeeding to stay accurately in my line behind me. On steep terrain I’d turn quickly and tightly so she wouldn’t pick up speed. She saw it as a fun game and was often giggling in the background. This is how things should progress – no pressure! In fact I’m having to hold her back a little to make sure she knows the boundaries of safety. We were off piste much of the time – to avoid people (there are many fast – out of control skiers – on the pistes!) She is developing far greater confidence – which was my main goal for her this year. However – technically she is also improving very quickly now. She must think about things after she hears about them and she seems to process the information in her own time and suddenly she can do what she appeared to not understand. A few days ago she was stuck in a wide snowplough and was leaning way back in her ski boots – now with only a short time working on exercises look at today’s video…

In the video Derin was actually trying to “pivot” and I’d been assisting her through the pivots one by one until now. Today I only had to say “pull both your skis into the new turn” – and she was pivoting! Using the steep sided gully for skiing for fun helped her to feel this and lots of short steep sections of sideslipping have also helped. Her skating and jumping (which she can do well now) have both helped her to get off the backs of the ski boots .

Derin was rewarded with a short period of play time in the snow. She did the the very first year I taught her and it’s great to see she hasn’t changed at all!

Emir - Pivoting

I started by asking Emir if he had any questions about skiing or any specific issues that concerned him. He told me that he had trouble with short turns, so we began by filming his short turns. You can see on the video that they aren’t very short or efficient. The main reasons for this is that he is trying to turn on the inside edge of the turning ski and also is pushing the tails of the skis outwards. 


The lesson started immediately with pivoting. There is a fixed page with the pivoting exercises explained in detail here: 

Emir carried out the pivoting exercises well, adapting relatively quickly to pivoting on the lower ski through good control of his centre of mass with pole use. I explained that it was the motion of the centre of mass that was the key. Prior to this he had learned to differentiate between the edges of his feet and the edges of the skis. You always use the inside edge of the foot regardless of which ski edge you need to use.

In practice on steep terrain he still tried to stem the upper ski outwards at the turn initiation. He eventually understood that the skis need to be pulled into the turn not pushed outward. He also appreciated that the feet need to be kept below the body on the mountain so that only uphill edges are being used and the ski remains a “brake” at all times.

We did some wide stance pivots – feet across the hill from each other and legs turning independently. I explained to Emir how this was more rapid than with the feet together because with the feet close together one had to end up below the other during each turn.


Emir didn’t have much awareness of how to manage his pelvis or upper body so I decided to start to work with him of using the Chi-Hips. There is a fixed page on chi-skiing here:

The coordination for this is difficult but well worth mastering because it protects the lower back. Emir confirmed for me that he was getting it right when he declared that it made the turns easier. I won’t go into the technical side here because it is all written on the fixed page.

Correcting the use of the core of the body is more easily managed with longer turns - but becomes critical for protecting the back in short turns. It's best to start learning this as soon as possible.

I also explained to Emir that the focus needed to develop this coordination was useful because by focusing internally with the body it stills the mind much in the same way as meditation does. All movements needs to begin at the core/centre and focus needs to be centered there. The overall motion of the centre of mass is also part of this. Fixed page on Core Principles:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Derin 2016 Day 4

A few days ago I was worried about Derin’s progress as she was stuck in the back of her ski boots and very defensive. I thought it might be linked to difficulty in language and communication. However today it became very clear that there is no problem – she just needed time to get her feet back and continue with the process she has always been on since she began skiing  -  of building natural skills.

I just focused on her desire to keep skiing and kept her on moderate slopes so she could build confidence and did short sessions on technique where she didn’t have to struggle too much. This combination has paid off because it is all working. She is now more or less off the backs of the boots and is developing new skills rapidly – her confidence growing fast on the skis.

We worked mainly on adding skating to the turns – which helps to get the legs active and get off the backs of the boots. This also develops edge control and awareness of moving the body. The stepping and sideslipping exercises and skating across the flats (feet rolled on inside edge) has all helped to get this far. I was impressed at how quickly Derin was able to bring this into her skiing. There’s no worry now about communication.

Yesterday was had used jumping to get her off the boots but the big shift happened in the small border cross course where she had to bend and duck under hoops. This got her interested and moving. Today I felt that patience was really starting to pay off as she started to become incredibly responsive.

We deviated on the way home – going properly off piste on steep terrain and rough snow and she managed it perfectly! Later I took her down a big section of an icy black bumps run and although I was a bit worried about the state of it all I could here from behind me was giggling. She amuses herself in a child like way but has excellent and mature judgement for safety and controlling her own speed – which is why I can let her ski in front of me when filming.

The way Derin has been taught makes it possible for her to ski off piste with no alterations to what she is doing. It was a little bit of a test of this today and it worked so well it even surprised me!

The first photograph below is of the off piste slope she skied down…


Sophie arrived early as planned for the start of her lesson – but we went indoors first of all to deal with a few important issues. Good skiing development depends strongly on awareness of the feet and that’s far more easily communicated with the boots off!



I had a lot to try to cover in a short lesson but knew that 20 minutes working on the understanding of the feet would make the whole lesson function far more efficiently. I took a boot off and explained the use of the foot and how it interacts with the ski boot.

First of all you need to centre your weight over the front of the heel – just below the ankle joint. This permits a strong ankle – we do NOT want the ankle to bend freely in skiing. Bending should be at the knees and hips. Standing on the front of the heel the foot can be rolled onto its inside edge easily – activating the upper leg muscles (inside) called the adductor muscles. The joint used for this is the “subtaler” joint – between the ankle and the heel. Standing on any other part of the foot generally disable this joint and only the knee moves around instead with the foot unable to go onto its edge. Standing on the mid foot causes the ankle to literally collapse under load and then makes you lean on the ski boot – not a great idea. We only need to touch the shin against the front of the ski boot at this stage in skiing and being on the heel is a solid anchor for achieving this.

When the foot is rolled onto its inside edge the toes lift up and the forefoot turns slightly outwards. This is a “skating” attitude and this is what should happen inside the ski boot. Snowplough forces people to do the exact opposite – to turn the foot inward – collapse onto the outside of the foot and curl the toes down in tension.

The shaft of the boot gives lateral support – preventing the base from going flat and so preventing the ski from flattening. This makes it easier to hold the foot on its inside edge. Both feet generally need to be held on their inside edges at the same time. This will become the basis of skating.


Arriving at the top of Solaise I could immediately see that Sophie couldn’t skate. This tied in with the problems she was having in skiing in general. She had been taught all the standard stuff and had actually learned it very well – being able to tell me far more about it than most people can manage. I confirmed that she is very sporty and competent – which made it even more obvious to me that her anxiety in skiing had nothing to do with her personally but it was simply the nonsense she had been previously taught that was behind all to the trouble. (That can take work to undo though!). To introduce the skating – on the flat – I asked her to diverge the ski tips and to fall forward – just lifting/recovering one of the legs from behind and landing on it then sliding along its edge while repeating the process while standing up on it again. She had to use her feet and adductor muscles to get the ski edges to grip so that her centre of mass could move. She could feel how just falling (gravity) with the grip of the ski edge, provided all the forward momentum. If she was not good at coordinating and good a sports she would not have been able to do this. It’s for this reason I have to read between the lines when people describe to me their anxieties.

When we got up to the Madeleine slope I asked both Sophie and Olivier to ski so i could film to record their current skiing. This allowed me to see clearly the best direction to work with Sophie. It was clear that she was a stronger skier than she though – but her dynamics were totally incorrect and so making life impossible for her. I would have to tackle dynamics immediately.

(Moon above Val in the morning as I arrived in the resort.)


The approach to dynamics I used was just the standard one found on the following fixed page:

Sophie was a classic victim of standard incorrect ski instruction. I asked her how to make a turn and she said “transfer weight to the outside ski”. She demonstrated moving her body left over the left ski to turn right. Later she also accurately confirmed that she had been taught to come up to start a turn. Combine this with being told to push out the same leg to start a turn in a plough and just about every single important piece of mechanics (including the feet) was totally back to front from what really works. This is why Sophie was struggling so badly – her instruction had been fundamentally incompetent – but that’s what instructors are trained to do. They are NOT trained to think.

It takes a while to overcome all the trained inappropriate movements so we patiently carried out the exercises and slowly Sophie could feel the dynamics taking some of the strain off her legs. This is an are that is developed and extended (dynamic range) gradually. I didn’t have much time for feedback and correction and this session had to be more about “educating” and changing ideas so Sophie could go away and work on them.

Dynamics and Skating

We did some skated turns on flatter ground – stepping inwards with the skis diverging so as to get used to directing the centre of mass and feeling the feet and adductors correctly.
I demonstrated how skating and dynamics fit together for timing – in a “down/up” cycle – like a motorbike going into and then out of a turn. Skating downhill then letting more dynamics incline the body the skating turns seamlessly into skiing – timing and use of the legs remaining constant as the inclined ski starts to add an arc to each skate. I explained how this timing is the opposite from that taught in ski schools and how it is essential for building a resonance with the forces being developed and exploited. Olivier managed to feel this very clearly at one point. In the video he was still a bit static and blocked at the hips but he did get it very well on the first attempt.

End of Turn Dynamics

We also slightly explored the dynamics at the end of the turn – where the ski lifts you up out of the turn. Until this point everything has to be pulled inwards – towards the turn centre  - moving the centre of mass that way, pulling in with the adductor muscles, rolling the foot inwards. I explained the basic physics and how centrifugal force is an illusion. We have to be pulling inwards towards the centre with everything! This is where Olivier properly understood what I meant when I criticised him for pushing his skis/heels outwards! However – at the end of the turn we have to stop pulling inwards and anticipate getting our body out of the turn instead. We try to use the forces built up by the ski directing us and resisting gravity and let it lift us up out of the turn centre – sometimes adding the strength of that lower leg into the equation to push up. If we use the lifting power of the ski then we fall into the next turn more easily and the turns flow together. “Your job is to fall over – the ski’s job is to lift you up!”


We completed the session with some introduction to pivoting. I assisted Sophie through the pivot. Olivier was a bit resistant to being helped through the right sensations because he didn’t want to consume time in Sophie’s lesson – but he was not getting it right and was resorting to heel pushing instead. All the work we did was my standard approach – found here on a fixed page:

Sophie was just starting to get it and I encouraged her to persist with this as an exercise and to come back to it – because although it is initially tricky it will come with practice and is extremely effective. This will also encourage he to move away from the snowplough. At the start of the session we saw that the plough was even preventing her from doing a simple sideslip and it’s the sideslip that develops into a pivot – so practicing all of those things will help dramatically.


There was a huge amount to cover in one short lesson – but the advantage of doing it this way is that it imparts a new global perception of the subject – and that’s the best way to jump into it. Sophie did well and the only reason I could proceed so far was because she could physically relate to it all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Derin 2016 Day 3

Derin found another gear today and started skiing much better. Once again she skied throughout the whole session – not wanting a break.

Fronts of Boots

Before setting off this afternoon I had one of her sisters translate a few things for me – explaining how she has been leaning on the backs of her boots and should be at least touching if not pressing against the front of the boots instead. The leaning back so much just locks up all the leg muscles and so she can’t control very much that way and it is very tiring.

On the snow Derin responded very well and seemed to speed up almost immediately as a result while having even better control. She was able to stay accurately behind me while turning at about twice yesterday’s speed. 


Derin’s sideslipping is improving every day and she often now does it herself while playing.


Derin’s edge control has improved enormously and she can now side-step uphill without difficulty.

Skating – Herringbone step

Derin now has good coordination for stepping uphill in a skating stance and for some skating on the flats. The leg coordination is now there and she can identify the grip from her ski edges. I had to explain what the edges (of the skis) were – because I realise that she didn’t know. Most of the time she doesn’t let on when she doesn’t understand.

Invisible Wall

We revised the “Invisible Wall” and she had forgotten how it works. However once pushing her shoulder hard against me she remembered how to move her body again. Today was a positive step forwards. It’s taken the previous two days really just getting back up to her previous speed and then starting to learn new skills and awareness. Much of the things she heard a few years ago will have been mostly forgotten so now she is learning what they really mean.

Lenticular Wave Cloud forming above the Grande Sassière

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Haluk, Derin, Emir day 1

Derin, Emir and Haluk - Off Piste. It’s two years since I skied with Derin and two years since Emir skied. Both have grown a lot – but neither have forgotten how to ski. The video below is with everyone focusing on moving the body over the lower ski to exit the turn…


Last time I was off-piste with Derin she was still too small for the deep snow. Now she has grown a lot and the difference is clear. It’s good to see her enjoying herself. She understands the the “scary” part is also the fun part because it’s a challenge we can deal with and each successful turn gives a sense of freedom.

Derin has always had good timing – she learned that very young and never lost it. However she has always been stuck in the back of her boots so the task today was to try to begin to change that. First of all I showed her how a seated stance facing downhill didn’t make you fall back in the boots – you can still keep pressure against the shins. However I really wanted her to work on the exit of the turn – and the two ways to use the lower ski for the job. You can either stand up and fall over the lower ski – or you can use the power in the previous turn with the ski loaded up and anticipate the new turn by using this power to bring you up and out of that turn. This second way is how turns are linked and the first way is how to either start a turn from a traverse or fro a jump turn.

As it happened we ended up in steep, crusty Spring snow and so jump turns were obligatory! Derin really understood this and had good fun learning to do them. Later on she also did a great job of linking her turns (coming over the lower ski) on steep slopes with more supportive snow . Just doing this successfully helps to centre the skier better and get off the back of the boots.

We finished with doing a little bit of work on piste by leaning dramatically forwards to feel the fronts of the skis. I explained that the fronts need to be used for efficient turning and not to be afraid to use them. Most people can’t use the fronts because the are afraid to – but that’s because they don’t exit turns correctly and so don’t get down far enough inside the new turn to be safe on the fronts of the skis – they just get kicked out of the turn (over the fronts).


Emir’s skiing looks even better and stronger than before even though he hasn’t been skiing. He also needed to work on coming over the lower ski so this worked out perfectly. He was very confident and competent so there were no worries there. Next time I’ll look more carefully to see what else he can work on.


Haluk has always been a bit heavy in his pressure cycle and it appears that this is partly due to needing to emphasise the turn exit more strongly over the lower ski. I pointed out that to protect a sore knee there was nothing better than getting the body early into the new turn and the stress loading is completely different on the knee as a result. Just failing slightly to get in far enough causes a sort of battle of forces where you can’t slip effortlessly into the turn and the leg takes a big load instead. The other aspect of this is related to what I was showing Derin about using the fronts of the skis – which relates to how you sink into the turn and also making the apex of the turn out to the side (as in racing) and not directly beneath (all those things are connected). Nobody in the group is able to control rotation or down/up motion (through angulation) to be able to modulate this accurately at the moment – but this is something to work on next time.

Derin 2016 Day 2

Derin skied for another 4 hours non-stop today. Staying on blue runs is allowing her to gain confidence and speed naturally. It’s the only way really that I can get her to improve at the moment. She’s a little bit over-cautious about most things and especially anything new. Her favourite word is “scary”! On the other hand she wants to ski – and doesn’t want to stop for a break – so she maximises the 4 hour session.

It’s a bit hard to get her to work on basic skills because as soon as she finds something difficult she doesn’t want to work at it – but then I see her trying again in her own time when she feels up to it – so she is listening and wants to progress. Some other things just seem to require a lot of repetition – but that’s fine.

Yesterday she couldn’t sideslip or side step uphill – today she could do both. This along with greater speed and being able to follow me now on blue runs is adequate progress.

My only concern is that she is leaning far too far back in her ski boots for support and is using the right leg all the time. When turning to the left the right leg is fine and the skis almost parallel nearly all the time – but when turning to the right she stays on the right leg and pushes out the left ski into a “stem” (like a snowplough). This is due to not feeling strong on her left leg.

My tactics so far have been to get her to jump between turns – to try to get her off the backs of the boots and into a narrower stance – but she is so stuck backwards that she can’t jump. We will continue to work at this. Also, we have stopped frequently to work on “pivots” on one ski – where I assist. Then she has tried lifting the inside ski and made it work a little. I tried to get her to pull the ski inwards into the turn instead of pushing outwards but she didn’t understand that. I’ll try to work through that more clearly with her.

We worked on her feet – indoors initially with the boots off – rolling onto the inside edges of the feet and feeling the muscles on the insides of the legs. She had trouble doing that on skis but slowly it’s coming.  When skiing I emphasised moving the body (centre of mass) into the turn – and rolling the feet – to try to overcome being on the backs of the boots and stemming.

Perhaps half days are just too short and she needs to get more chance to ski in general. She seems to have plenty of energy. The following video shows how far she is currently back in the boots and how the turns are different in each direction…

Monday, January 25, 2016

Derin 2016 Day 1

Derin wants to be an artist when she grows up. I think she’ll be a good one because she clearly has her own way of seeing things and is very thoughtful. I can’t remember what I wanted to be when I was seven. However, if somebody asked me today what I want to be the answer would be “seven”!

We started off very slowly so that Derin would have the time to get used to sliding again. She’s grown a lot since last year and with big changes happening to the body there can be lots of surprises. By the end of 2 hours she was back to where she left off a year ago  - and comfortable coming down green and blue runs. Her stance was a bit defensive and in the backs of the ski boots but I didn’t comment on this because she just needed time to get her confidence back and then the rest will be sorted out later when she begins to learn new things. We tried a few new things to see how she would get on and she is now old enough and physically aware enough to be able to learn accurately and rapidly. It looks like a lot of progress will be made this year.

We started with “sideslip” and skating which are in the video below. Here is Derin with her first ever proper skating actions…

Where things are potentially frustrating we only spent short periods at a time focusing on them. One of those things was “side stepping” up the hill. This is because Derin doesn’t have any clear awareness of edge control – of either the feet of the skis. Bit by bit this was improved – both stepping up the hill and through skating exercises. In both of those, and the sideslip, I emphasises using the adductor muscles (inside of the legs). For example in the sideslip the idea was to squeeze the legs together – to keep the skis close together. In the skating the issue was to diverge the ski tips – but still squeeze the legs inwards – to pull the skis onto their inside edges. Derin got it – which is how she managed to skate. Initially she let her knees go outwards when diverging the skis but she was able to correct this. The exercise she still found the hardest was sidestepping uphill – but she still improved there. I noticed that she likes to think about those things a bit on her own afterwards and she listens more than she appears to. Once a few of those skills begin to develop she will start to understand their value and will become both more confident and more interested.

We also did a few “pivots” from the uphill ski – with me assisting. Once she can sideslip well and properly feel the edges of the skis we will be able to develop this properly. Meantime she skis using only her inside edges – which is fine because she mostly pushes the ski forwards and moves her body into the turn rather than making a real snowplough by pushing the ski outwards. The key is that she naturally moves her centre of mass (as she was always taught) so the apparent “plough” is not a big concern – it will soon disappear. She also has very clear “independent leg action” which is another good thing.

Derin was a bit tired by the end of the afternoon – but that’s because she didn’t want to stop for a break so we skied for the full four hours. It was a nice day – almost Spring in the sunshine – so it was good to stay out and make the most of it. I want to teach her how to use her feet properly so at some point we will have to go indoors as the boots need to be off for this.

(Huge windslab on the ridge of Mont Pourri)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Olivia & Ben

Olivia came to me after experiencing the all too common beginner’s nightmare scenario – one brief session on a plastic slope and then off up to high altitude with the boyfriend’s eager encouragement:  “Of course it will be alright…” ! Luckily no permanent damage was suffered other than general trauma. At this stage I was wondering about the odds of pulling this situation back together because trauma is usually very long lasting – which is why it’s the favourite technique used for “mind control” programming! Of course that means I’m in the wrong job because I’m always trying to prevent trauma when causing it is clearly far more lucrative and usually government sponsored.


We started off indoors – knowing this would be a concentrated 3 hour session – without taking time for everyone to run through the feet exercises properly. I checked boot alignment which was fine (though Ben’s boots were too big). It’s important to see how the feet are used in skiing. You don’t turn the feet into the turn. You stand on the front of the heels (below the ankle joint) and you rock the feet onto their inside edges. This engages all the muscles in the feet and the adductor muscles on the insides of the legs – giving a strong base. Flexion is only from the knees and hips – the ankle goes strong by reflex when the stance is centred on the heel. This is not the only way to stand but it is the best way to get started properly. When the foot rolls onto its inside edge it turns slightly outwards – the opposite of of what happens to it in a snowplough – which often forces the foot onto its outside edge. The need for using the inside edge of the foot comes from two things – the displacement of the inside edge of the ski by several centimetres from the mid axis of the foot and the tendency for the ski to flatten itself (to lift you up) when moving forwards due to its geometry. All of this requires a clear awareness of the function of the feet and leg muscles. I also explained that when standing on the middle of the foot the ankle collapses during flexion and then the boot masks this by holding you up – but this is not a desirable situation as the boot is not designed to hold you up and the legs are designed to hold you up. It’s the shaft of the boot running up the leg that provides lateral support and prevents the foot from being flattened in general and allows you to hold the ski and foot on edge.


Outdoors Olivia saved the day when she told me that she was a strong skater. From that moment onwards I know she was going to be fine. The ridiculous snowplough had done its worst – but she had survived that ordeal and now could be rapidly freed from all of that nonsense.

We went through all the beginner’s exercises from scratch with a view to changing ideas – basing everything on moving the centre of mass through skating actions. Those exercises are documented here:  Neither Olivia nor Ben (intermediate skier) had any significant problems so the fixed page above is enough of a reminder for those exercises.


The main dynamics exercises – both static and moving – were carried out without incident or problems. The only correction needed was for Ben for failing to adjust to the perpendicular when heading off downhill and being stuck in the vertical – and on the backs of his ski boots!

Olivia was stronger on her turns to the right . On her left turns (pressure on right ski from dynamics and ski forces) she was tending to try to force the ski into the turn with a slight twist and this would take the ski off its edge causing her to fall onto the left ski and into a bit of a snowplough. Rather than bog things down with this point I felt it was better to move on as she was gaining both confidence and speed at this point and this itself can resolve such issues.


Other than just moving the centre of mass I explained that pulling your focus internally, into the body, has a way of calming the mind and removing anxiety. We need to focus on using the centre of mass but also to centre our thoughts inside the body. Of course this only works when information and understanding are correct. You cannot visualise (all senses) anything at all when it’s based on nonsense – and so you become even more distracted by external things and the anxiety spirals out of control.


We only touched on pivoting for half an hour so that there would be a basic awareness of it. I advised both Olivia and Ben to read the information in the link above to understand this better. I physically assisted both of them through a few pivots so they could experience the correct feeling.


Other things we worked on were; Skating forwards (falling forwards and lifting the feet), Traversing, Sideslipping all relating to the use of ski edges and the centre of mass. 

Ben's lack of grip was probably due to the hire boots being completely useless. 

Both did very well with the range of exercises and made great progress with the dynamics. Patience is still needed to build confidence because dynamics require (literally) a leap of faith into each turn.

We didn't have time to discuss timing or further aspects of dynamics that are important for security but it was a really good start. I hope it showed Olivia in particular that she has all it takes to be a good skier and to really enjoy it properly. Patience is needed at each stage of development though! 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Yury (Day 3)

Yury had not so far had any direct input. He was the strongest skier of the two families and to help him progress he would need more individual attention so I was glad that he was getting the opportunity this afternoon.

Despite claiming not to be a “fast thinker” Yury tends to let his thoughts run ahead of him and he “second guesses” everything. Fortunately he has obviously also learned to listen very well too. I think that having  been a lawyer/accountant confronting Russian mobsters then those qualities are probably the only reason he is still alive. (I noticed the same intelligence in little Eden)

Yury wanted to show me his skiing – as it was before he tried to change anything. I already knew exactly what it was like but wanted to film it anyway – and to humour him to start the session off. The video below is a “before and after” example – with me filming from behind for the ”before” part. Yury will be able to perceive the differences when he looks at the video because he now clearly understands them. “Understanding” is more than an intellectual issue – it involves recognising something with several senses – and in skiing that principally means both feeling and seeing the differences. The intellectual part however is vitally important towards clear understanding and without it you can’t visually perceive (see) the difference – you can only see that something indefinable has changed.


Yuri asked me to describe his skiing “before” changing anything. The problem here is that I don’t like risking demolishing someone’s self belief – even if that belief is mostly based upon delusion. However I told Yury straight that basically everything was wrong with his skiing. His was using no dynamics, missing the entire first half of his turns, had no angulation or control and was wearing out his legs and body rapidly. That’s just a framework of the situation without going into any detail. In fact, though it’s not so clear in the video, when I watched Yury ski just before filming his centre of mass was going in the wrong direction completely, relative to his skis,  so it’s no wonder his legs were tired out as this would destroy most people. It’s also really bad for the back and all the joints. Sports education training and practice should always support good health – but misguided education universally nearly always results in the opposite.


Yuri listened very well and did a fantastic job of changing his entire perception of skiing. This is truly not an easy thing to do. I had to go into some depth with explanations and it was the clear explanations that helped Yury to see things differently. Most people just accept the exercises and give the impression of “getting it” – but Yury really got it! Perhaps being a motorbike rider helps in this process.

There’s not really a lot to write about the dynamics here – I used my standard protocol and Yuri responded appropriately. There is a fixed page for this here: which will be improved upon in the future.

I emphasised the end of the turn dynamics for Yuri – because this is the key to “effortless” flowing skiing. By “effortless” I mean “not fighting yourself and the laws of physics”.

We also started to work on body management…

In the photo Yury is learning to push his foot forwards through the turn and generate hip flexion in the process – creating strong angulation and flexibility. He is actually combining this with pulling the hip actively backwards in the opposite direction to protect his spine – in his case a bulging L4/L5 disc being a problem. Disc degeneration is actually a nutritional problem but it is aggravated by poor postural mechanics. There is nothing more aggressive for the lower back than skiing without the awareness of how to protect yourself. The outside ski actually pulls the leg and hip around in front of the upper body just as the pressure load is maximised – but to protect the back the hip needs to go in the opposite direction. This protective measure has to be learned to compensate for this unnatural aspect of skiing.

When Yury skied down the short section for the second part of the video he commented that he felt no strain on his legs and he felt grip even from the start of the turn. This is absolutely correct – it is what happens when the dynamics are right. The session had achieved its goal and Yury could now understand the list of criticism I handed out at the start, with the assertion that he was wearing himself out by fighting against himself and the laws of nature.  I think that Yury can look forward to better skiing in the future and not having to worry so much about strengthening his already strong legs for the job. 

Dimitry & Alexandra day 4 (After a two day gap)

Dimitry and Alexandra had clearly found the bad visibility and complicated snow conditions (with heavy snowfall and high winds) detrimental to their skiing on the previous day when they were skiing without me. Both had become defensive and had reverted to their “survival” mode – even though the weather and piste conditions were now much better. Dimitry set the ball rolling for this morning session by describing how his “outside” leg just locks out completely stiff during the turn – especially the left leg, and asking what to do about it.


When we “resist” with our muscles it involves a blanket tensioning of all muscles in a limb. Holding the arm out straight in front if you contract all the muscles you will find it impossible to bend the arm while maintaining this contraction. In practical terms this is “fighting against yourself” instead of the efficient selective muscle contraction required for example for lifting a weight with an arm curl action. The stiff leg in skiing is an example of this “resistance”.

Part of the stiff leg comes from an attempt to stack the bone structure up in a way that minimises muscle use – but in this case the action is self defeating. The main cause though is inappropriate timing almost totally caused by having initially learned to turn in a snowplough. From the snowplough (or parallel) the skier is taught to push the leg outwards/away to begin the turn – to place the ski on an accelerating inside edge to start the turn and to transfer weight weight by both standing up and leaning out over this leg. Anyone who is intelligent enough to accurately succeed in carrying out the instructions for this manoeuvre will end up traumatised!  “Trauma based mind control” is well known to be exactly how to brainwash and manipulate people. Perhaps the CIA could just drop all their expensive drug based mind control programs and just use the snowplough instead? Just a thought. (Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the first ski resort ever built in France was by the Rothschild Illuminati – still recognisable despite morphing into communism in 1848)  My point is that once infected with this virus it’s very hard to eliminate. Still, there is a far  better chance of getting rid of a stiff leg than of getting rid of the Rothschilds.

Down/Up Timing

The dynamics we had worked on a few days earlier were all about changing this timing for the correct and natural “down/up timing” – which is easily seen by watching a fast motorbike going down into a turn and back up out of it. Bikes use the same principles as skis – they change shape as you fall over and cut a new trajectory in front and below you so as to bring you back up. The principle is fundamental and exposes the fallacy of standard ski instruction.

We worked on exercises – flexing and extending the legs while traversing the piste and then flexing down into a turn to complete the traverse. For developing the down/up timing we also had to revise "pivoting" and avoiding that aggressive early edge change as is characteristic of the snowplough. 

Both Dimitry and Alexandra had a strong tendency to flip the timing back around to the Rothschild version. Alexandra is a self-confessed high maintenance Russian princess – but in reality she is very cool, with a sense of humour and is very aware and genuinely motivated in personal development. (It was of course Rothschild’s agents who killed the Tzar – who had annoyed them by saving the American Union from its planned disintegration in the American Civil War – hence Russian princesses have not had an easy time in recent history.)

For Alexandra the real problem was interestingly the very opposite of Dimitry’s. Alexandra actually could not stand solidly on her outside leg. In fact you couldn’t get more opposite in terms of reactions. The timing problem was identical due to previous training – but the outcome was a problem of the opposite extreme. The important thing here is not to confuse cause and effect. The cause is the same and it’s the wrong timing. Had both been taught the correct timing originally then neither problem would exist. Alexandra had been reacting to the horrible insecurity caused by he wrong timing by sitting down defensively – whereas Dimitry was reacting by trying to force his way through in a typical masculine response.

Regardless of anything going on with his skiing – you won’t find a better smile anywhere than Dimitry’s!  Alexandra is making my sunglasses look good too – so much so that I was worried about losing them!

The “up” part of the correct timing is of course really the key for linking turns in a relaxed manner – because you use the forces built up on the lower/outside ski to lift you up and out of the existing turn – and so you freely pass over the top of that downhill ski and naturally switch legs in the process as your body topples downhill into the next turn. Both Dimitry and Alexandra had been at this point before and with a few short dynamics exercises they had the feeling back again.

It was during the exercises for dynamics that the underlying problem of Alexandra’s “sitting down” issues became clear. Standing uphill from me she could not stand up on her uphill ski while leaning downhill and pushing her shoulder against mine. I tried a few different ways of supporting her but nothing was working – until I found a most appropriate analogy! I asked to to imagine that she was shopping and had to shoulder somebody out of the way. It worked – the determination came out immediately and she was strong on her “outside” uphill leg – precisely as required to move into a new turn. Then she started to feel this when skiing.


I explained to Dimitry and Alexandra that nobody is ever as good a skier as they would really like to be. The same goes for any skill really. What’s important is the process of developing and what you take from it. Overcoming the obstacles in any challenging learning process – where perception and risk are involved – is immensely enriching. Skiing is also like dancing – it’s a self expression in a wonderful natural environment – so this makes it even more rewarding. People can sense this and they know there is something pulling them in this direction – so any positive step along the way feels really good. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Eve & Charlie day 4

Eve and Charlie’s last day with me coincided with a blizzard dumping 35cm of snow on us during the day and winds recorded up to 119 km/hr. Although I tried to work a bit on technique the degrading weather made that impossible and left us only the shelter and improved visibility (light contrast) of the trees as a final refuge.

I had remembered the SEP Field. “Somebody Else’s Problem Field” which renders something completely invisible to people. Yesterday I’d been looking for this term  (From The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) to describe how visual perception is selective and cannot see something that isn’t understood.

In the morning Charlie’s skiing looked strong and he had retained everything from his breakthrough yesterday. Eve was struggling with the invisible powder bumps on the piste. Charlie had a bit of a speed control problem due to being too far back. Eve was too two footed and needed to get her feet apart. Both needed to sense the front of the skis more. Eve was comfortable with her two footed platform in deep snow where speed was slowed down by the snow itself and she also understood how to increase the dynamics to make a stronger turn for controlling speed. However, this two footed platform is not ideal for chopped up snow with invisible bumps. We worked for a while on a wide stance with the “end of turn” dynamics remaining the same as usual but the uphill leg extending to give immediate grip and pressure (without popping up). This wide stance also allows easier lateral motion of the centre of mass across the skis and a fully independent leg action. I didn’t want Charlie to try this because he already has his feet apart  - which is why he was more comfortable in those conditions than Eve.

I explained “racing” timing – keeping the skis more in the fall-line for difficult snow. This involves making the apex of each turn out to the side instead of directly down the fall-line. The result is a spreading of the load during the turn avoiding one massive and overwhelming loading at the end of the turn. Using good dynamics this still controls speed and also allows stronger use of the fronts of the skis as they are never overloaded. We didn’t really have the conditions to work enough on this though Charlie was doing very well on the piste.  Eve stayed true to form with her two footed stance off-piste in the deep snow, but Charlie almost immediately reverted to his old timing and compensations as soon as the snow was deep - especially as he became a bit more tired. That’s unfortunate because it cut the day (and holiday) short as it ended up with a badly strained knee when a binding failed to release on a fall while Charlie was consciously struggling with timing issues. Both Eve and Charlie were doing extremely well and making fast progress. I hope that Charlie recovers quickly and returns eventually to drill in the movements he was just starting to really enjoy and needs to be secure and safe in his skiing in the future.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Eve & Charlie day 3

My aim today was to get dynamics working well both on and off piste – but we really only managed the first for Charlie though Eve was able to enjoy the deep snow. Although most of the technical work was focused around bringing Charlie up to speed this helped Eve to straighten out quite a few things too. Charlie mentioned that they both struggled to turn quickly enough in narrow pistes – so as this fitted in with the objective to cultivate “fall-line” skiing for off-piste it was a good place to start. However I realised that both had postural issues so the posture and core would have to be sorted out first. At least that’s what I thought! By the end of the day it was looking more like correcting the dynamics was sorting out the posture. However, it’s always best to tackle a problem from several fronts as this can generate a form of self-organisation – which is actually the basis of all learning.

Chi Hips

It took abut 2 hours to get across the message that we refer primarily to “inside” and “outside” skis when turning – not to uphill/downhill  - except when addressing a specific point in the turn. Accordingly, when I was demonstrating how to place the body, pelvis and outside hip to create angulation and was using my downhill ski to represent the outside ski at the start of the turn – Charlie interpreted this as being inside hip of the turn and so inverted the entire process. However, when he understood correctly it didn’t actually change much that his hip and pelvis were doing.

The useful part that came out of this was that both Charlie and Eve realised for the first time that the body is set up over the outside ski from the start of the turn. I’d said and shown this physically about 5 million times already but it never penetrated. The result was that both Eve and Charlie told me they felt the turn transition happening by itself. I hadn’t told them this so the feedback verifies what I was seeing – that they understood how to organise the body internally during a turn transition. This is all about protecting the spine – but the effect for improved technical skiing is huge too.

I explained how in running correctly the load on the leg (pushing off) is when the leg goes behind and takes the hip behind and twists the spine right up to the 12th thoracic vertebra. In skiing the leg is pulled forwards and pulls the hip forwards – corresponding with the greatest load and pushing up out of the turn. This twists the spine in the wrong direction and exposes the back to great risk. The “Chi Hips” is about forcefully resisting this pulling of the hip in front of the body to protect the spine.

The first part of the video today shows this finally being achieved.

Frozen cable car cables over in Tignes – seen from Val d’Isère…

Foot Forwards

Until now we had been only toppling laterally across the skis – keeping it simple. Teaching the “foot forward” connection would somewhat muddy those waters but it had to be done. The static exercise photographed shows how the outside leg – starting behind the body – slides around and passes in front – and the hip has to be pulled back and flexed to prevent it from also passing in front of the chest. This static exercise imparts the clear feeling of core control in the context of actively pushing the foot forward while pulling the hip backward.

Eve had to work to control her tendency to hollow her back by tilting her pelvis up at the front – but she would most often move her shoulders back along with the pelvic tilt and so cancel out the effect at the abdomen.

Charlie would continue to find it hard to stop his hip pulling in front of the body towards the end of tight turns – but it appears that he was actually pulling it back and that something else altogether was going wrong. He was falling off his outside leg and onto the inside leg – causing the outside hip to move outwards giving a visually similar appearance to the hip rotation he was trying to avoid. We did a few exercises to try to overcome this – pulling up the hip and shoulder on the inside of the turn. This was however done before Charlie fully understood “inside of the turn”.

Off Piste

Self explanatory! Eve did very well with flowing dynamics and a close stance. Charlie managed to give a perfect demo of absolutely everything going wrong simultaneously. We would have to get back to work on “end of turn” dynamics again back on the piste after a pit stop.


Out of desperation I tried something different to try to get the message of “coming over the downhill ski” through to Charlie. I had him stand in an angulated manner with a ready pole plant and chest over his downhill ski in a static position. Then I stood below him on the steep slope without skis and grabbed the material of he jacket at chest level and simply pulled his chest downhill over the skis  - and jumped out of the way! I wasn’t sure what would happen to him – but he simply fell into a rapid pivot. From this moment it “clicked”. He could now flow over his skis connecting the turns. I got him also to understand that the “up” motion is from the lower leg at the end of the turn – stabilising the body coming out of the turn over the skis. Traditional teaching uses an up motion from the uphill leg instead and kills the dynamics from the turn and stops the skier using the power from the skis to enable the turn transition. This is the final clip in today’s video – and when using the correct ski for coming up and when flowing the centre of mass accordingly – the postural problems vanish.