Monday, February 15, 2016

Tatyana, Sergei, Maria, Ivan day one

Unfortunately Tatyana was down with a winter bug and didn’t make it skiing the first day. Nobody in the group had skied for a couple of years so it was important just to let everyone ski for a while on easy slopes to recover the feel of it and just relax. This also gives me time to observe each person’s skiing. Of course I could immediately see all the things I wanted to change in everyone’s skiing – but avoided starting until after our first drinks break.

Everyone is having a rest from either hard work, exams or studies – so we are not focusing entirely on technique and learning. There has to be space for relaxation and play – and any learning has to add to the fun. With that in mind the following analysis of each skier’s technique is only intended to help understand and perceive the issues that will help lead to the most rapid improvements.

The video today was taken before working on technique and attempting to make changes. Everyone skis reasonably strongly.

The main common feature of the skiing was a general lack of dynamics and edge control awareness. Everyone has a strong tendency to push the skis out to the side – especially Ivan. Sergei probably had the most natural dynamics of the group but he wasn’t aware of how to exploit and develop this. Instruction began with straightforward exercises in dynamics. All the basic exercises in dynamics are explained on the fixed page found here: 

It was clear that everyone had learned to ski in the traditional way and so that the ideas behind dynamics would be very new and different. It’s not easy to change such a major thing and sure enough there were problems. Sergei was able to make an effective change when on easy terrain but the others were struggling initially, tending to bend the body into the turn instead of “fall” into the turn. There were obvious underlying issues that needed to be worked on but we had to start somewhere. I later mentioned how to “roll” the feet beneath the ankles to support the dynamics – but we didn’t spend long on any of this.

Here’s a list of individual feedback based on the above video. Having worked a little on dynamics it should be possible for each skier to now easily see the issues.

Maria: Tends to push the outside leg out – making it stiff – and rotates her entire body in the turn which prevents the centre of mass moving towards the inside of the turn. This makes her skid a lot and vulnerable. She actually moves well but needs a proper set of rules to be able to exploit her natural ability. 

Ivan: Upright, blocked at the hips, in the back of the ski boots and pushing both heels out to the side. This is a very ineffective, tiring and limiting way to ski – even with a young and energetic body it is better to replace all those defensive tactics with real skill. Ivan is strong but is being severely limited by technique. His blocked hips are causing him to to bend his spine laterally – which is dangerous to the lower back. Ivan skis with his feet too close together and so nearly falls over from time to time. He makes up with youthful energy and enthusiasm what he lacks in technique - but there's not reason not to have both!

Sergei: Good dynamics and control of rotation and good natural timing too. For Sergei it is more a matter of matter of making him conscious of this so he can develop it and use it more intentionally, to a greater extent and in more difficult situations. There is a pushing away of the skis but not as much as with the others. However when on more challenging slopes Sergei loses the dynamics because he has not been trained to use dynamics.

In general there is a lack of edge control awareness with everybody – nobody can either carve or pivot. I briefly demonstrated pivoting ( ) to show Ivan that skiing with the feet close together has to be reserved for this special technique which is all about edge control and subtle dynamics. I showed everyone how at speed it’s possible to incline very far over actively into the turn (extending dynamic range) – but in this case I was carving. Everyone will have to be taught the basics of carving before they can learn to extend their dynamic range too.

Photograph taken on the drive down from Les Arcs 1950  (The Dent du Géant in the Mont Blanc massif)

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