The sun came out today – and there was about half a metre of powder snow – which Alexandra wasn’t too excited about!
Dynamics – Part 1
Today we were off up the mountain promptly and returned to the Solaise sector. Alexandra was probably relieved to find herself back on the Madeleine ski run, but this had been my intention after seeing her struggling yesterday in difficult conditions. We needed a simple well prepared piste to work on things properly for a while. Today’s weather window with cold and sunshine was ideal too. Dimitry bravely attempted the powder – and made progress even over a 100 metre stretch.
Due to organisational issues the only person I’d properly taught dynamics for going into a turn was Eden so it was time to run through this properly and with exercises for Dimitry and Alexandra. We did the static exercises with each in turn pressing a shoulder into mine – first of all with me standing uphill and then downhill. The idea of pushing against me is to make it clear the effect this has on pressure on the feet and skis. Pushing hard against me causes all the pressure to go on the ski furthest from me. Moving slowly towards my shoulder puts pressure on the ski nearest to me until the shoulder is pressed against me. Accelerating quickly towards me causes an immediate pressure on the further away ski. This shows how the way the body is moved determines the reaction at the level of the skis. Accelerating the body downhill puts pressure on the uphill ski – to start a turn. The pressure is then maintained for the whole turn because the ski causes further accelerations and deflection of the trajectory of the body.
Alexandra found the static exercise quite difficult initially – which is interesting. The inability to get pressure on the appropriate foot/ski partially explains why Alexandria has not been comfortable on skis until now. This was soon corrected during the exercise. When executing the dynamics Alexandra was still too upright at the hips with hands held low and in the backs of the ski boots. I asked her to tilt forwards at the pelvis to help to correct for this and to free up the hip joints. She managed this well and when the improved posture was adopted she immediately stood more centred over the skis and perpendicular to the mountain. There was already a definite shift in her level of skiing- even if her self-belief and confidence were probably still lagging a bit behind.
To augment the “one leg” mechanics of skiing we started skating exercises across the slope. Skating from the lower ski and stepping uphill while moving across the piste. This type of exercise is critical for several reasons. The static exercise we did earlier showed how all the forces basically end up on one foot. If the skier cannot coordinate the feet and legs and use edge control well enough to grip to skate properly then nothing else is really going to work. The skating up from the lower leg in fact was meant to take us onto Dynamics Part 2 – which is about how to exit a turn – while Part 1 was about how to enter a turn. As both are so closely connected there are many aspects linking them.
It became clear that Dimitry couldn’t hold the grip for skating. I’ve checked the boot alignment so the problem wasn’t there. He still had hip rotation so I asked him to pull back that hip – as we had worked on briefly yesterday. This appears to be his major limiting issue. We did the exercise with me holing his poles and pulling him downhill while he stood across the slope. With the pelvis facing downhill he was very strong and with the pelvis facing the ski tips he had almost zero resistance. It’s clear that Dimitry has no physical impairment of any kind – it’s just a lack of appropriate familiarity in the hip/pelvic area.
Dynamics – Part 2
Dynamics Part 2 is about exiting a turn. I showed how the turn finishes like a motorbike rising up out of a turn – into “neutral” facing across the hill with the skis flat for an instant – then falling down into the next turn. The pendulum motion of the body across the skis automatically shifts weight from the lower to the upper ski. The skating exercise was meant to encourage the up motion from the lower leg – even though at this stage it was moving the body uphill and not in the other direction – out into the perpendicular out of a turn or traverse. I demonstrated the “hanger” turn which is where the skier almost enters the next turn while still on the lower ski. This is seen frequently in giant slalom racing turns as the body flies over the skis from one turn to another. From this point we took the video seen above and both Dimitry and Alexandra managed some real changes. The flow over the skis, rhythm, use of the energy from the skis to lift up the body at the end of the turn, better posture, better angulation, better centering over the skis is visible for both skiers. The most important part is that both felt the resonance from the correct timing. Resonance is when energy magnifies a physical response – where optimum efficiency lies.