Today started out with revision and confidence building – partly because Liz didn’t manage to practice yesterday afternoon (following a mix up regarding ski boots and having significantly sore feet).
It didn’t take long for Liz to recover her confidence and then to move on – being more decisive in the dynamics. Once ready we went up the Solaise chairlift to the plateau and access to the Madeleine green run. Weather was excellent so it was a perfect day for getting up the mountain for the first time.
Before heading up the Madeleine we ran through the dynamics exercises again after I explained that when it is steeper we have to move the centre of mass more to generate appropriate dynamics. Standing downhill of Liz when she moved her shoulder hard against mine she could feel the pressure beneath the uphill foot. Leaving a space between us and bridging the gap rapidly she also immediately felt the pressure on this foot – but bridging the gap slowly caused the pressure to go onto the lower foot – completely the opposite. The idea is that dynamics needs to be decisive and even more so when it is steeper.
Today was really about increasing the range of everything – getting up the mountain and accessing the freedom of the bigger slopes. Liz already made a strong descent of the Madeleine before I added “Foot Forwards” technique to allow her to turn even more tightly on the steeper slopes. Foot Forwards ideas were rapidly taken on board – working from a static exercise (video scene 1).
Liz commented that her turns felt easier and smoother with the Foot Forwards technique added. Pushing the outside foot forwards tightens the turn radius by making the entire process more active. The static exercise gives the correct feel for pushing and shows how it affects the body mechanics – especially regarding the way the leg rotates in the hip joint. The foot is held on its inside edge – so this feels nothing like twisting the foot. Today’s introduction to this wasn’t about working on body mechanics – it’s too early for that. This was about actively pushing the ski forwards to make the turns sharper on the steeper terrain and improve safety. Liz managed several complete and enjoyable runs.
We ran into a problem when I asked Liz to ski down a short section by herself so I could film her progress. Until now all of her conscious attention had been focused on technique and she wasn’t able to reproduce the sort of line we had been taking all the time. This caused an acceleration and a “sit down” fall. Attempting to remedy this we did another run so that Liz could focus on taking her own line with me nearby and that went fine. However a second attempt at filming produced exactly the same type of fall in the same place – except this time when fighting to stay up Liz stood over her inside ski and lost control. The net result was a tweaked knee. Nothing too bad because she was able to continue skiing – but a real tweak all the same.
There was no technical error made on Liz’s part – it was only a mistake in line due to inexperience in reading the change of gradient. There is a tendency for beginners to panic when they find themselves going faster than expected and instead of turning uphill to slow down they react by turning downhill in an attempt to make another turn – but that just adds to the acceleration. It’s an emotional response. Technically even this would work out fine by just staying on the new outside ski until that new turn was completed but the new level of acceleration is frequently too overwhelming at this stage. I’d wanted Liz to be able to practice on her own in the afternoon on this slope as we are only together in the morning – but my advice after this was to return to the nursery slope if the knee permitted and to practise there. I suspect there was an element of tiredness too – because Liz also fell twice yesterday at the end of four hours after another day where there had been no other falls.