Alex turned up this morning half asleep. That’s quite a normal phenomenon on the third day of skiing. The only problem was that he’d completely forgotten everything he had learned the day before.
Today the focus was Giant Slalom so Alex had his new GS skis and shoulder/arm protection. Clearly he went into his first GS run thinking only about carving and going fast because his skiing immediately regressed to be exactly as it was before all of our work yesterday.
We repeated yesterday’s exercises – standing on the uphill ski and staying on it when initiating a turn. Alex had returned to rushing the turn, forcing the ski around and failing to use the centre of mass so that the ski would take him around instead. We worked on this and he improved again. Once again Alex told me that he didn’t understand what I meant by “stand on the uphill leg” at the start of the turn. Well – it means exactly that – just stand on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Finally; I asked Alex to stand side on to me and fall against me – during the falling and floppiness he could feel the weight coming on to the leg nearest me. Then I asked him to stand on his other leg and push hard against me - those are the feelings we are looking for from the uphill leg at the start of the turn – and then all the way through the turn. The sensation is like skating – one leg at a time – but taken in an arc. Despite all of this Alex then asked if this was the same a putting pressure on the ski – the dialogue he is picking up from his school. Stand on a leg then show me how you “press” on anything! You can’t. Gravity is doing all of that. Pressure is complex – it is influenced most of all by speed as the ski deflects you through a turn – it is influenced by gravity, the geometry of the slope, muscular impulses, dynamics, the ski carving or pivoting. However there is nothing much complicated about “Stand on your leg”!
The real issue here is that we are trying to “pressure” the Centre of Mass – if we choose to discuss pressure. All skiing is about the relationship between the centre of mass and the ski. The ski responds and works with the centre of mass – a feedback driven disequilibrium system. All good skiers and athletes are aware of the centre of mass – a spin or roll take place around the centre of mass. You project the centre of mass in skiing and the skis will support this. Standing on the uphill leg and projecting the centre of mass downhill into the new turn is scary (which is why people mostly don’t do it!) but it’s what actually works and is where the fun of skiing really comes from. The following video shows Alex skiing much better in GS after sorting this out – and getting more use of the fronts of his skis (instead of being stuck on the backs). He is actually becoming well centred on his skis now – but that also comes naturally through reflex by standing appropriately on the outside leg. Alex also understood to stand up between the turns – thus generating even more range of pressure on the Centre of mass – and the ski. Alex understands that if there is not enough time or distance between turns he can retract the lower leg (or both) to get out of his turn – but this is best practised after the basic and principle movement pattern is fully developed and integrated.