Saturday, July 16, 2016

Alex 2016 Tignes Slalom Training day 2

Today we started looking carefully at Alex’s technique and initially it looked like a long and tough job to sort out. Eventually it mostly boiled down to one basic problem – he did not realise that standing on the outside ski at the start of the turn really means standing on it. To figure out that this was the problem we had to go through several exercises that Alex found very difficult.
  1. Step sideways through a mini slalom in ski boots – the feet always pointing in the direction of travel and the pelvis always pointing downhill.
  2. Pivot from the uphill ski, uphill (outside) edge of ski, downhill edge of foot – into a clean turn standing up on one ski.
Alex found it hard to separate the body parts for exercise one and would turn his body and forget to direct his feet. Part of this exercise was to have each change of direction initiated with a pulling back of the outside hip – but he frequently used the wrong hip. This exercise really is a visualisation of real skiing – so it shows that Alex is not perceiving the fundamental issues properly. This will have to be repeated each day now until the correct movements are automatic. Alex did not believe that racers face downhill with the torso during turns – so I have attached a photo sequence here to show what really happens. He also did not believe that there should be flexion at the hip… both photos are here to demonstrate…

Alex struggling on the exercises…

One main reason Alex struggled to stand up on the uphill/outside ski was that he was looking for grip from the inside edge. For this reason I chose to get him to work on the pivot so that he would understand that there is no need to rush the ski around and get them onto the inside edge. Alex had great difficulty staying on the outside leg through a controlled turn initiation. Skiing through the slalom on one ski was impossible for him for this reason.

Alex was also unclear about why not to push the skis outwards. I demonstrated that you cannot twist a ski downhill with either the leg or body when standing on it on it’s uphill edge – which in the video clip above he was clearly doing Gradually Alex began to feel this and develop the confidence to pull inwards to the turn instead of push outwards. I demonstrated the differences to him so that he could identify them – and also see how similar pushing out and pulling in look to the eye and how easy it is to make mistakes here. Very few professionals are even aware of this.

From this point onwards Alex was able to tackle slalom by standing up on his new outside leg at the start of the turn and pull it inwards – which automatically sorted out most of his hip and rotation problems, tightened his turns and improved his range of motion and timing. He only fell over in the video because he was late for the gate. The two images taken from the video below show how he is much more symmetrical than before.

Towards the end we focused to getting more pressure on the fronts of the skis - enabled though better angulation - just to tighten the line a bit more and make Alex more secure. His best run of the day was his final one when doing this. 

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