Weather dominated the day with the whole Solaise sector closed until 1pm. Wind at the top of the Bellevarde was so strong that little Eden had trouble moving at times. Eden was a little frightened by it and by the driving snow – but all it took was a minute of proper explanation for him to relax and start to enjoy it. I simply asked him if the only part of his body exposed to the cold – the tip of his nose – was “really” sore or just feeling a little sore. When he thought about it he realised that there wasn’t really a problem. What adults need to look for is the skin going white due to it actually freezing – but his nose was a healthy pink. Eden responds very well to logical explanations and communication that connects with his own feelings. He is bright and keen to learn. Our first objective of the day was to get down off the ridge where the air was accelerating over the mountain. We would then have to ski a little just to warm up again.
It was necessary to do a little bit more work on skating. Learning is easiest when each subject is taken in small chunks. I had told Eden to ski with his skis either parallel or diverging. Yuri was surprised to hear about the skis diverging so this led us into the skating exercises. The terrain was a bit too steep for the easy exercises I really wanted to do so I just asked everyone to skate uphill twice towards the end of every turn. This is to cultivate the feeling of connecting with the forces of the turn and leg use to “come up” at the end of the turn – and also to make a clear change of leg support for the next turn. A strong skating action lets the body go from one leg to the other easily. The new turn should then start with standing strongly on the uphill leg – from the start of the turn. This also makes it slightly harder to cheat by twisting the skis into the turn.
Eden amazingly went from full Pizza snowplough mode to being the best skater of the group! With a bit more attention he would be already skiing well.
Anna was quite strong too but her lower ski kept slipping away at the tail indicating that she wasn’t rolling her feet onto their inside edges.
Dimitry had a hard time staying more than a nanosecond on one foot at a time and was twisting his lower ski into a direction change instead of stepping it in sideways.
Alexandra was struggling with a sore calf muscle on the inside of the left leg. This was most likely due to getting quite far in the back of the boots due to struggling with the snow conditions. This type of problem just worsens as the pain increases as it makes the skier even more defensive.
Yuri also took micro–steps to begin with but improved when he realised that he had to stay longer on each leg. There is a lot of feedback I could give to Yuri about his skiing that I’m having to hold back on as I can’t deal with it in the context of the whole group and have to remain focused on objectives common to everyone.
Our short excursion off piste threw everyone into complete confusion – but we have to start somewhere!
Yuri, Anna and Eden were assisted through the basic pivoting actions as where Dimitry and Alexandra yesterday. I emphasised the motion of the centre of mass into the turn – forwards and downhill between the ski pole and the ski tip for Alexandra’s benefit to help her work towards coming off the backs of her boots. Full explanation of the pivot is found here… http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/pivot.html The key is separating the edges of the feet from the edges of the skis – through increased awareness.
I explained to Anna that this (turning from the uphill edges) is when the feet can legitimately be held together in skiing. This is used by bumps skiers and in deep off piste where having the feet wide apart can destabilise the body – as everyone probably experienced off-piste!
Angulation – Core Strength
We completed the session with our first attempt to address “body rotation”. I explained how “angulation” at the hip is generally seen when body rotation is controlled properly. Basically the pelvis needs to be turned to face the outside of the new turn – but without the shoulders following it. This tenses up the abdomen and gives a strong support for the back. It does a lot of other things too. Just facing the shoulders downhill during a turn twists the spine in the opposite direction and destroys the lower back. Activating the core muscles in this manner should be the first movement in any turn – along with the global motion of the core driving the skis. A fuller explanation of this principle can be found here… http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/chiskiing.html