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.

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