Thursday, March 24, 2016

Brian - Alex 4

First thing we noticed today from the top of the Glacier chairlift was the horrendous air pollution trapped in the valley below – reaching right up to just below our own altitude…

Today we focused mainly on the two extremes of “pivoting and carving” to help cultivate the common underlying skills. Empty slopes for the most part allowed us peace to work unhindered.

Wide Stance Pivot

We continued with the wide stance pivot again today – mainly to address issues of rotation. Alex was able to coordinate pulling her outside hip back (counter rotating) during the pivot. Brian managed to hold his feet better on their inside edges during the pivots. Both were working at coming over the downhill ski to initiate the turns – borrowing from the work done on hanger turns.

Alex still has a fair amount to hip rotation to remove but it was reduced enough to allow reasonably well coordinated pivoting with independent legs.

When Brian pivots there is a dropping inwards of the hips when on the turn to the left and then on the turn to the right he is not staying on top of the left hip strongly with posture collapsing slightly. The body is simply not poised correctly on one hip joint at a time. The first half of the pivot is actually not happening!!! Until watching the video in slow motion I thought there was a pushing of the feet to the side – but the problem is something else – the skis mostly do not actually pivot from the uphill edges – instead they slide forwards and there is an edge change made with almost a hop to ensure that it happens before pivoting occurs. This is why Brian is not managing to pivot effortlessly, smoothly and this  probably contributes to the other anomalies with the hips .

Foot Forward Technique

Alex was introduced to Foot Forward technique to learn this key aspect of turn radius control. When  there is forward sliding of the ski then the turning effect can be greatly amplified by actively physically pushing it forwards. The static exercise used to teach this action also contributes to a better understanding of control for hip rotation. Alex could manage this more easily with her right leg than the left.  When on steeper terrain combining dynamics with pushing the outside foot forward ensures a  tight turn with good grip and stability. Whether mostly pivoting or pure carving the outside foot needs to always push forwards to work the ski and make the turn more proactive. Increased dynamics and push forwards of the foot means decreased turn radius.


We approached carving by attempting to skate in the fall line but it was very clear that Alex couldn’t get the skis on edge when there was any speed. The skis were instantly pushed off their edges and into a pivot. This is probably a legacy of being taught snowplough as a child.

We resorted to the Medieval Torture method of combining carving with the snowplough. Alex actually managed today – drawing from the efforts made yesterday. She eventually appeared to understand when realising that it’s not a strong muscular effort that’s required – it’s all in the positioning of the centre of mass. In the effort to get to this realisation I held Alex up as she pushed against my shoulder and held onto my ski pole – so that I could slowly guide her through a carved turn on her two skis. Returning to the carve/plough exercise it was clarified that the weight goes on the inside leg and it is used as a sideways drifting brake to slow everything down.

Eventually – on flat terrain by the end of the day Alex started to join together shallow carved turns for the first time. It was also clarified that the inside foot stays on its inside edge while that ski goes on its outside edge. This is complicated at first but if compliments the pivoting and everything else and the edging depends on the motion of the centre of mass.

Off Piste (Aborted)

We aborted an attempt to go off piste over Col Pers because Alex was not in a relaxed frame of mind – and the entrance to the Col was steep and tricky with a lack of snow cover so I decided to wait until she is more ready for this – another time!  The icy traverse was probably a bit discouraging – though there would be no more ice or traversing once over the ridge to the North side and away from the direct sun.

Front of Ski

Re-focusing on Brian’s skiing and wondering about his trouble keeping the inside edges of the feet engaged I asked him to ski with much more pressure on the fronts of the skis. I wanted Brian to be able to counter the hip while sinking down and control hip rotation aided by holding pressure against the shin. Pressuring the front of the ski this way make it easier to counter the hip and so keep the leg aligned properly and the foot on its inside edge. When you get slightly back instead the hip tends to rotate and pull the leg and foot out of alignment. This did change Brian’s stance (in video) and removed the bulk of the postural, hip and feet issues and also timing issues in the turn transitions. There was still not enough counter rotation of the hip but we can work on that now.

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