Sunday, January 3, 2016

Dimitry Day 1

Dimitry and Alexandra had travelled a long way to Val d’Isère – from Australia and then from Italy by car. Needless to say the first morning was a little disorganised. Yuri, Anna and Eden were supposed to participate but were even more held up with sorting out preliminaries. Alexandra was clearly uncomfortable about skiing so we just took it very easy around the beginner’s area to warm up and wait until everyone was organised. The video is just of easy skiing on gentle terrain prior to developing anything new and also prior to getting their feet back properly. This is mainly for reference purposes – and for targeting the most appropriate areas to focus on for development.

Alexandra: The skiing is characterised by a twisting of the outside ski and foot into the turn, a rotation of the whole body and lack of dynamics including being too far back (back of the skis) and vertical all the time.

Dimitry: This skiing is remarkably similar to Alexandra’s – just more aggressive. As with Alexandra the centre of mass is almost going in the wrong direction and generating a lot of instability.

The problem today is that we had to wait until the group was together so it was al a little unfocused and disorganised. I like to start out using the positive qualities already existing in any skier – but there was clearly going to be quite a mixture here. When the others turned up they were clearly far stronger skiers – but technically hobbled by the same fundamental issues. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to filming everyone.

Anna: At this point however Anna’s skiing is defined by a strong up unweighting to enter a turn followed by a twisting of the outside foot and ski into the turn, lack of dynamics and no working of the ski through the first part of the turn.

Yuri: Yuri is similar and once again just more aggressive – but missing the first part of each turn and tending to push the backs of the skis out in a braking action.

Eden: Little Eden is hard to evaluate because he just likes to go straight and use my legs to stop against. He has a great love of skiing already so for him just flying around the mountain will be excellent. I’d have him drilled with a few exercises though – but just not really possible within a mixed group already. I knew he was heading for standard ski school tomorrow so had to focus on the others.

The following is a brief overview of the main things we managed to look at in a mixed up way through the first morning…


Standing on the front of the heel – strengthening the ankle. Rocking the foot onto the edge with the subtaler joint. Turning the foot away from the direction of the turn. Connecting the inside edge of the foot with the adductor muscles on the inside to the legs. Linking this with skating. Eventually linking this with the centre of mass and everything moving into the turn.


While standing across the hill we first stepped up the hill with both feet on their inside edges – but both skis on their uphill edges. This is the first stage in learning to separate the edges of the feet and skis. The boot shaft holds the skis on edge independently of the feet. Both Alexandra and Dimitry are clearly not strong skaters and so need some time to develop skating skills on their skis.

We worked on skating – diverging the skis and stepping them to change direction. This is the first step to move away from the snowplough effect of converging skis and the feet being twisted into the turns.

Later for Anna I demonstrated the direct “skate into skiing” exercise to show how the timing of skating is fundamental to skiing. This starts off with skating straight downhill and then introducing dynamics – converting each skating stride into a turn.


To introduce dynamics I exploited Eden and taught him the Magic Wall. Unfortunately he doesn’t believe in magic and is happy going straight!  The idea was to get across the fact that the body (centre of mass) is the key to making the skis work and we have to move it actively. Anna has been taught to keep the body still – but this – as with her up/down timing is another major fallacy of standard ski teaching. Everyone managed to feel the effects of trying to push against the invisible wall and nobody fell over. That’s a good start!


Just before the arrival of Anna and Yuri we worked a little on pivoting where I assisted both Dimitry and Alexandra in pivoted turns from the upper edge of their ski. I decided to do this because I saw the trouble Alexandra was having due to always trying to turn on the inside edges of her skis – a legacy from the snowplough and incorrect information. Most turns are not accomplished in this way.


I took a moment to explain and work on perpendicularity for different reasons. Dimitry was sitting back a bit and stressing his knees due to not adjusting to being perpendicular in the fall-line. Alexandra was also a bit vertical all the time. Yuri was not managing to use the fronts of his skis.

Wide Stance (Independent Leg Action)

The session was completed with a little bit of work in developing independent leg action. With the legs far apart the centre of mass has to be moved and pressure is placed automatically on the uphill ski at the start of the turn. This ensures the turn is worked from the beginning – not just with a braking action below the skier. Anna was understandably worried at this point because she lost her feeling of security from her habitual movements. I tried to reassure her that this was just because she was heading into new and far richer territory and that she wouldn’t forget any of the other stuff – but that it might actually be better if she did because it doesn’t work in more challenging conditions such as slalom, bumps or off-piste.  We went through this a bit too rapidly really – but time was running out for the day and hopefully everyone made a connection with something new at some point. Eventually all the pieces will come together and lead to a far better understanding and performance.

The reality is that anything you do in skiing should be able to be connected to any other sport that you do – if this isn’t the case then the information is wrong. It may seem hard to believe but nearly all standardised ski teaching information is actually wrong – from the basic physics onwards. Skiing should be like martial arts – where focus is centered  into your body and awareness is always developing. Visualisation uses all the senses and can only work if the actions actually make sense. I saw that Anna “felt” the rhythm and timing of her skating exercise and hope that she made the connection then.

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