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! 

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