Wednesday, December 13, 2017

La Niña Effect

The start to this winter was predicted to be bitterly cold and with constant snow due to the La Niña in the Pacific ocean – which apparently caused a long warm and dry summer here. So far predictions appear to be accurate… The ski stations are struggling to open up fully due to the amount of snow and weather – and the associated high avalanche risks. We handled this today by sticking to moderate gradients at high altitude when off piste. Officially avalanche risk was posted as 4/5 above 2200m and 3/5 below but I think they got that the wrong way around. Temperatures were fluctuating wildly at the the lower altitudes (snow becoming damp and heavy) while slab accumulations at higher altitude from the wind were fairly obvious. The main problem is that the base layer all over is formed from a thin layer of snow transformed into hoar frost crystals (like ball bearings) due to and extended period of extreme cold, going below -20°C.



Just a few technical pointers here… You can see the head starting off the rotation of the upper body – blocking clean movements across the skis. Knowing that Haluk is aware of those issues it strikes me that the underlying reason they persist is due to overturning. I’ve linked a short Salomon video below with racers – there are two things to notice here:

  1. their turns have their apex out to the side and not below them on the mountain 
  2. the only technical issue mentioned is the need to feel pressure on the front of the ski!

Those two issues combine off piste (or anywhere else) to direct the skier without the need to crank the skis around below the body on the majority of turns. This allows the skis to run over just about anything – even in poor visibility – with far greater security for protection of joints and against accidents. Speed can be modulated by tightening the turn radius but without changing the basic form or timing. Control over this movement pattern is quickly lost if rotation is allowed to creep in. The upper body almost has to relate to the fall line – with the sensation that all its motion is either across the hill or directly in the fall line itself. The arc travelled is independent of the motions and impulses of the upper body. This gives the sensation (when there is good angulation/inclination) of the ski pointing downhill but the bending of the front of the ski pulling you across the hill. The sensation of turning in an arc to the inside of the ski is largely eliminated.



Although we were protecting our lives by avoiding unnecessary exposure to avalanche risk, protecting our knees and backs from wear and damage from poor ski technique and generally trying to improve in all those directions – there is perhaps an even more important aspect to skiing which is perhaps surprising – and that’s “longevity” itself. Watching through this next video clip reveals some interesting insight into the connection between lower body strength and longevity…





The following photos are taken in Panasonic’s unique 4K Photo mode (8mp at 30 images per second)  I’d used a “program” setting but the images would have been even clearer if I’d set the shutter speed instead – to 1/1000th (goes all the way to 1/16000th)



This is an experimental photo taken in 4K (8mp) post focus mode. The subject and background are all in focus due to the merging of several different images taken in rapid succession with focal/aperture settings. To get the backlit subject exposed correctly the background is relatively over exposed. I need to investigate to see if HDR (High Dynamic Range) multiple image mode can be combined with Post Focus mode!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Water 5°C

Water 5°C – not easy after an hour cycling at low temperatures.



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Don (Short Turns)

Today’s video is of short turns – on moderate terrain. There are a lot of components and a great deal of body management – so in all fairness Don should have had a few opportunities to repeat this and to have been able to use video feedback on the mountain. Short turns on flattish terrain are actually quite tricky. Don’s steep skiing was much cleaner but we didn’t get that on video.


Pivot

Following on from yesterday Don suggested working on short turns. The work we did for the steeps yesterday naturally leads into short turns but not without the addition of pivoting skills. Pivoting is tricky to learn and can be frustrating. Most people – even at a strong level of skiing fail to grasp the value of pivoting and that is largely due to modern ski design. Perhaps that’s why in racing the ski design is now being forced to return to less aggressive “shaped” skis and longer radius sidecuts. There is a complete section on pivoting here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/pivot.html

Don was taken through my standard pivoting exercises – where he was supported during pivoting on the uphill ski only. The goal here is to get the front of the ski sideslipping directly into a turn -  being supported from below either by me or a firmly planted ski pole. To get this right it needs angulation, a firm pole grip and to have the pole planted downhill and behind the feet. You effectively pivot around the pole. The pivot is controlled by the motion of the centre of mass moving downhill – modulated by using the ski pole. The ski pole prevents the body just falling downhill and through tension in the adductor muscles of the leg the force/motion of the centre of mass is used to pull the front of the ski into the turn in a controlled skid.  The ski comes around and the body must adapt with hip angulation to avoid being rotated – so remaining able to both complete the turn with the hip inside the turn (upper body facing downhill) and yet ready with the next pole already in place to lead the turn exit dynamics and flow into the next turn.

All turns in skiing other than pure carved racing turns involve an element of pivoting. People will do this unconsciously – yet will not be able to execute a pure pivot (from a sideslipping ski) when required. Most people however are taught a parody of the pivot – involving pushing out the tails of the skis – either by stemming or flicking the heels out to one side together. It usually takes a lot of work to correct those faults. Most people never feel the need to make those corrections but then find they cannot ski off piste, lose control in bumps and are annihilated on ice.

We had a few attempts at pivoting – which is best learned in small chunks to avoid frustration. I’d demonstrated the rapidity of pivoting by skiing on one ski with very short turns. I also demonstrated one ski “edge to edge” skiing with no pivot – so the difference in turn radius could be seen.

The pole is only used for support in pivoting – and its dependence vanishes as the skis gain forward speed – which engages other ski mechanics (lifting up power of the skis).


Angulation (Carving)

After a drinks break we returned to flat terrain to repeat the work we had done on angulation yesterday. Don was feeling a bit saturated with all the things he was trying to do so this would clarify issues for him. This time I held Don in the hybrid-plough so that he could actively pull the “outside” ski onto its inside edge while moving his pelvis over the top of the inside ski (brining the hip in and creating hip angulation). This time Don was able to hold a solid edge and get the ski to carve during the exercise.

We took the angulation further into carving by using a parallel wide stance and repeating the same set of movements – this time minus the “wedge”. The idea was to get the outside ski to carve due to hip angulation without the contortion of holding the horrible, demented plough shape.


Short Turns

Bringing it all together – the angulation and the pivoting – Don was much more able to execute rhythmic short turns with his pole (aided by angulation and control of rotation) leading him from turn to turn much better.

Don also looked much more controlled on the steeps on his last run – while remaining fluid. He lost some control once but had correctly stopped to “reset” and then carried on.


La Grande Motte




Monday, December 4, 2017

Don (Angulation)


Magic Wall – Fronts of Skis

Today began with a warm up run over to Val d’Isère during which I had noticed that Don was not shaping his turns properly – by not using the uphill ski for grip and pressure at the start of the turn. We revised “Turn Entry Dynamics” – the “Magic Wall” to make sure Don felt the connection between the direct acceleration of the body (into the turn) and the pressure on the uphill ski. Don pointed out that the previous time he skied with me he had managed to make progress in this direction through our focus on using the fronts of the skis. When you send the centre of mass downhill – followed by the ski changing direction this automatically centres you on the middle/fronts of the skis during the turn. However to get strong pressure on the front of the ski to use the whole front half of the ski for directional effect at the start of the turn (like car steering with the front wheels) you often need to move forwards towards the ski tips at the same time as moving downhill. This modification to the trajectory of the centre of mass did work for Don and he started properly using the ski through the first half of the turns. For the moment the upper body was more or less facing the same direction as the travel of the skis – so “forwards” was obvious (not so obvious when there is upper/lower body separation!).

Consistent Control on Steeps

Stopping for a break and to warm up the feet Don clarified that his objective was to ski steeps consistently in control. I was in full agreement with that and it fitted perfectly with my observation that he really had to improve his hip angulation and control of rotation so the rest of the session would be to tackle this issue head on. This had been my original intention for the day until spotting the other issue – which was important to address first anyway. Don’s quads were worn out yesterday due to not using the fronts of the skis enough. I had thought yesterday the “being back” was only an issue for him on the steeps – but it was more prevalent than that even if not clearly visible.

I’ve found over the years that the best way to get people to feel hip angulation is to use a hybrid snowplough – with the weight on the inside ski and flattening it by moving the body (pelvis) over it – pulling the outside ski onto its edge. The hard part is avoiding the upper body from rotating to follow the skis as the turn comes to completion across the hill and this needs the body to bend in ever increasing amounts at the hip joint (outside ski). Don is doing this exercise on the start of today’s video clip. The full exercise is shown here below… including starting with the outside ski behind the body!



Don’s second video clip shows the improved angulation in his general skiing – but we still had to add one thing before making this effective on steep slopes. Foot Forward technique had to be introduced. There is a good video with Mark yesterday doing this so I didn’t film it today. We initially did the exercise on flat snow and Don could feel the co-ordination centering around the hip joint. Moving onto steeper snow there has to be an active effort at the end of the foot swing to stop rotation and the body coming out of the centre. This was done to emphasize the need to work harder at the end of the turn to deal with the geometry of the mountain and build up of forces.

It occurred to me that I should really have 3 phases of dynamics in my teaching – the “Turn Entry”, “Turn Development” and “Turn Exit”. Here we are concerned with the mechanism of “Turn Development”. The increased hip angulation is necessary to prevent unwanted rotation of the upper body.

Don could feel the reactivity of the ski and the support from pushing the foot forward. (the bare boot on the snow develops the feeling of pushing in the exercise)

The final video clips are Don putting this together on steeps and learning how to exploit it. If you make a mistake and pick up speed – then bail out by checking the speed and then resume – don’t pretend all is acceptably well and allow the extra speed to continue. Skiing is all about the discipline of shaping turns in a functional manner.

Note that with this new level of upper/lower body separation the torso is facing downhill during turn transitions – so moving forward onto the front of the ski needs to keep this in mind. There are of course subtleties involved in handling this that we are not quite yet ready to look at.




Sunday, December 3, 2017

Don & Mark part 2




Mark, remember I said a few days ago that getting the body functioning correctly automatically puts the hands and arms in the right place? Well, when working on the Foot Forward technique in the first frame of the video here – you weren’t even thinking about the arms – and for the first time they were in the right place (not so when skiing!).

Don suggested a tour to the far reaches of Val d’Isère, partly to escape the vast hoards of really badly skiing students who had just been bussed into Tignes. With clear skies and no wind he couldn’t be refused. However this did mean that there would be less time spent on technical work. Along the way we did manage a little bit of technical input. Mark did a good job of skiing in my line to get the sense of shaping the turns and avoiding rushing the starts (ie. flicking the tails around to get the skis below you and brake etc). I explained the need to mentally remove gravity from the picture and imagine the terrain surface to be flat and level – then to think how the ski would be used the same from the start of the turn to the end. Einstein’s Relativity shows that gravity is not a force – it is a geometrical effect – and we can play with this geometry. In outer space you would consider yourself floating – but even falling of a cliff is identical – with only air resistance giving a sensation (and the splat when you hit the deck). In skiing our universe tilts on its axis to the perpendicular of the slope. We either enter this amazing new universe or we fight it and remain vertical “normies”.  Vertical skiing is the sport’s equivalent of chronic political correctness – fine for the professionally offended millennial generation (there is no wrong way to ski etc.) – but nobody else. “Triggered” skiing is immortalized here in song… it’s very tiring and “there ain’t no rest”…


In the video Mark was a left leg normie – due to the left leg being tired – but the other leg was getting it right.

Meanwhile Don was having a Tartiflette moment. The trouble with eating Savoyard food is that it induces hibernation – particularly at this time of year.

Mark will remember the Foot Froward lesson from the video without me explaining too much here. He picked it up very quickly. He could feel the increased “solid” grip and the tighter turning. Pushing the foot forward doesn’t make the foot go ahead when skiing – it tightens the turn instead – just increasing reactivity and decreasing turn radius. We looked at the issue of “rotation” and how it makes this Foot Froward action impossible – the body having to be placed facing downhill – and how the action is exactly like a skating action – totally on one leg from start to finish.

We all made it back together  to Tignes with time to spare – Don appearing to have a second wind as the Tartiflette began to wear off.

Mark – remember to take out your inner-boots and dry them in your room each night when skiing – gets easy with practice!









Saturday, December 2, 2017

Don & Mark Part 1

Another windy and cold day with no new snow – only a rearrangement of existing snow. The inclement weather however made it more important to ski to stay warm instead of focusing heavily on technique. Mark needed that just to get some decent mileage in with all the stuff he is working on and Don had no complaints either – getting an extended opportunity to get his ski legs back.

The video clip was taken towards the end of the day when working on “stomping” on the uphill ski during turn initiation – to generate early pressure and commitment to one leg. This action rendered both skiers more solid and more active on one ski instead of two.



Dynamics

With each skier being very different it was important to find some common ground to work on together.

Don’s timing and rhythm were looking nice from the start – always something that’s good to see. However, my job is to look for the cracks and find key to open the door to new levels. For Don the most relevant issue appeared to be his need to sink more into each turn at the hip – to build pressure during the turn. This is a normal problem for any developing skier but for Don extra weight makes it a bit harder – though when mastered the extra weight is often advantageous. During the first part of a turn the inside edge of the ski is at a shallow angle to the snow and there is not a powerful lifting up/out effect from the ski – plus there can be an impulse to throw the body downhill combined with gravity making the centre of mass fall down the hill – so it is easy to get moving down and into the centre of the turn. From about the fall line onwards (second half of the turn) the angle of the ski to the snow increases greatly and you have to switch to resisting gravity instead. Now everything is either working to pull you up or out of the turn (note: this is not centrifugal force). Although there was initially an active motion into the turn the hard work isn’t yet done – that is the job of driving the centre of mass still inwards (back up the hill) during the second half of the turn. This is actually the hard physical part.  You can do it by just inclining the entire body into the turn or by flexing at the hip. For shorter turns you must flex at the hip and this is also required to limit body rotation issues. The high forces generated when someone is heavy can make it easy to just cave in to them and not work at this. However when this is understood the weight can be used to direct the body – through the skis – very effectively. The difference is that when done correctly there is an easy flow instead of a battle.

Mark wasn’t ready to work on the same aspects as Don – so his time was best directed towards coming out and over the lower ski. It turns out that he really wasn’t clear about this. I supported Mark standing with his skis across the hill and pulled him over the lower ski to feel what it should be like. It’s a scary thing to do until you learn that it works.

The two aspects being worked on here actually go together – the pressure builds up during the turn by holding yourself into it and then it is used to lift you up and over the lower ski into the next turn.


Skating

Skating incrementally around the turn is a great way to develop both functional use of the legs and stronger dynamics (driving into the turn). We had to work on the act of skating itself for a moment – especially standing on the inside edges of both feet regardless of which ski edges were in contact with the ground. Both Mark and Don initially had very feeble steps but gradually confidence and the range of motion in the legs increased.   We reduced the number of skates per turn from 3 to 2 and then to 1 – which confused Mark for a moment. Each turn made on a ski is like one skating stride. We tried skating straight downhill and then adding dynamics to convert the skating to skiing – but even on quite flat terrain both Don and Mark did a sudden switch from skating to a braking version of skiing. This will take more practice. My goal really was just to cultivate more active function of the legs and to show how skating is the basis of skiing. In Mark’s case the aim was to reduce stiffness at the hip joints and get the legs flexing and extending. In both cases the goal was to spend longer parts of the arc on one leg.


Stomping

When parallel skiing both skiers were still failing to be strong on the uphill ski and to use it for pressure and grip at the start of the turn. We simplified the matter by just stomping on the ski before allowing the new turn to start. This is an emotionally challenging thing to do because people want to stand on the ski below the body until they feel some other pressure beneath the top foot once it is already around the turn to some degree – hence the reason they fluff the starts of all their turns and then just jam the skis into a brake further around. The stomping worked for both to bring the “one leg” feeling as in skating.


Don starting a new turn – definitely NOT coming over the top of his lower ski. Removing the ski (lifting it) is still valid – with the focus on the stomping – but things really come together when you get the feet closer and come over that leg.










There is good inclination towards the end of the turn but looking at the hip you see there is no angulation. The pole is held forwards but gets no closer to the snow when coming over the skis. Stronger hip angulation is needed and correspondingly the arm should only be about waist height – leading across the skis into the next turn when ready and then contacting the ground.









Rotation – obliterating hip angulation!












Instead of coming over the downhill leg this is caused by blocking the dynamics by keeping the leg downhill as a crutch – obliging the top ski to stem – then once it picks up pressure from resistance from the inside edge then finally transferring pressure.







Friday, December 1, 2017

Mark 2

Mark continued his improvement today but the main focus was in soaking up a lot of information for a more complete understanding of the fundamentals of skiing. We covered a great deal of ground due to Mark being quick to understand complex issues. Now there lies ahead a long road of skill development – which takes time for anything of quality.



The day began with a warm up run crossing over into Val d’Isère and then instead of sticking to my intentions I allowed the plan to evolve according to needs. I’ll generally only stick to a plan if nothing else pops up. Mark had been asked to ensure engaging the uphill foot and leg prior to starting the next turn and prior to the edge of the ski changing. Although this was working to some extent there was an issue frequently blocking Mark in his turns and causing him to revert to tactics that he was trying hard to avoid. Yesterday we had only worked on the idea of moving the body into a new turn – but we hadn’t yet looked at how to get back out of a turn using dynamics.


Turn Exit Dynamics

When a motorbike goes through a slalom on a road the transition between each turn is marked by a passage through the vertical (with reference to gravity). Things are more complicated for a skier due to being on a slope. Turn transitions are marked by a passage through “perpendicular” to the slope – which in this case doesn’t coincide with gravity. Most skiers unconsciously back off  when they reach the vertical because they know they will begin to fall downhill if the go all the way to perpendicular – and remaining on the downhill ski to achieve this seems to be undesirable. The reality is that we do need to get all the way out over the downhill ski – until it is flat with the body momentarily passing over the top of it. The ski’s job is to bring you up and so it’s the downhill ski that needs to be used to get you there. This implies commitment into the next turn and so anticipation of the intended trajectory – it’s a flow. Moving out over the lower ski then allows the uphill foot and leg to be engaged naturally – pulling inwards to the next turn – being led by the centre of mass.

Mark was only given a single demonstration and he picked up the idea straight away. The video clip shows the improvement this brought – working on both aspects of dynamics – exit and entry – one leg to the other.

One of the tweeks later on was to take extra care to maintain the “pulling in” with the foot/leg all the way until the body passes over the perpendicular above it at the end of the turn.



Pivot

One of the difficulties mark was having was due to a desperate need to begin each turn on an inside edge. This is a legacy from being taught in snowplough. I use the term “pivot” specifically to relate to the mechanical pivoting action of the ski – not a torque or “steering” applied by the skier – and it is achieved by using the outside edge of the ski for either just the initiation of the turn or anything up until half way through the turn. There is a detailed explanation of the pivot here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/pivot.html (this is on the menu buttons on the top of this page).

The main goal was to reassure Mark that here was absolutely no need to push the ski out – away from the body – to find an inside edge. Most good skiers eventually employ this action without ever being aware of it. When skiing in powder where the snow permits a pivot this is how short turns are made and it is the key to skiing moguls and to keeping your feet below you in steep couloirs. It’s a fundamental part of skiing but completely ignored. Bump skiers and instructors are trained to push their ski tails outwards – which is simply incorrect. Overall body mechanics remains the same as before – pulling everything inwards and using dynamics – no coordination changes – only the degree of movement and the edge of the ski being used.


ChiSkiing (Hip Angulation)

During the first clip in today’s video you can see how much Mark is rotating his whole body during the last few turns. Especially on the left leg the leg/body is straight and rigid  - with no angles or relaxation at the hip joint. For this we need to develop a certain amount of hip angulation and upper/lower body separation. We didn’t spend much time on this but it turns out that Mark has already been taught the classic version of this – so it was important to show how dangerous it really is when executed that way. (fortunately he wasn’t doing it anyway!)  In normal ski instruction the shoulders are turned to face downhill with the upper body twisting against the pelvis – turning to the right the shoulders would be countering left. This brings the left hip/pelvis around in front beneath the left lower ribs and compresses them. When you receive a load shock when like this your posture collapses and the load goes straight through your lower back – wrecking it. What I call ChiSkiing is when you do the countering with the pelvis only instead – causing the spine to slightly twist in the other direction and stretching out this same part of the lower abdomen. Under load this causes the abdomen to contract and protect the back. There is a detailed section on this here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/chiskiing.html


Pole Use

The pole is used for support – to control the centre of mass motion – in the pivot. It is a critical part of pivoting. This is the only time you use a “pole plant” with any load on it. This action is only truly solid when there is no forward travel of the skis – they are in pure sideslip mode.

For “normal” skiing we have the “pole touch”. The hands are held in the “goalkeeper” ready position – both visible constantly in peripheral vision and they normally don’t move from there (In racing there are exceptions). The body moving down into the new turn is what makes the pole contact the snow and it is positioned with only a flick forwards with the wrist. The handle is best held firmly between the thumb and middle two fingers – to allow the wrist action to be free. In forward moving skiing this is only a kinesthetic feedback mechanism.

Mark skis with his hands down by his sides and the right hand disappearing behind his body when completing a turn on the left leg – due to excessive rotation. Cultivating hip angulation, upper/lower body separation (ChiSkiing way only!) and thus combating rotation will enable a more functional arm carriage.


Centering

Visualisation of skiing is only possible when you are working with the right movement patterns and information – because all the senses are involved in visualisation. If your actions are not compliant with the laws of physics or nature then forget visualisation. The goal of skiing is to bring your focus away from your daily concerns and distractions – being able to focus entirely on what you are doing. Working with accurate information generates constructive feedback and internal dialogue which facilitates this process – called “centering”. It allows us to be fully in the moment – to fully experience it – and in skiing that puts us in contact with the incredible natural environment that it is engaging with. Now you can choose to do this – or ski with crap snowplough/balance bullshit and just focus on your hangover – as you unconsciously hack down the hill desperately trying to go faster than all the other numpties. It’s a choice!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mark 1

Mark has skied for two winters and has only been exposed to standard ski instruction – involving snowploughs and “balance”. Despite his obvious persistence and determination the outcome is classic “survival skiing”. Nearly everyone would say in this situation that the issues were just because Mark needs to do it better – but the reality is that he is accurately doing what he was taught. The problem in the teaching. Time now to unravel this knot and put things right.

The video clip starts off with Mark prior to any changes then the second two clips show the first changes beginning to come through.



The basic premise of classical teaching is to place the skier in balance (1) – with the skis spread into a “snowplough” giving a “polygon of sustentation” – meaning the centre of mass has to remain inside this polygon. Weight transfer (2) to the uphill ski is said to start the turn. An “up” motion (3) of the body is used during this initial weight transfer. Unfortunately the results of this complete heap of nonsense is a disaster – only generally mitigated by people successfully ignoring it – and this being mostly done unconsciously. 

  1. “balance” is a complete fallacy. Dynamics is used in skiing – the opposite.
  2. The “weight transfer” causes the centre of mass to move in the wrong direction – making all skiing next to impossible.
  3. The up motion of the body prevents the skis from working – the timing is the wrong way around.

Mark was barely managing to circumvent it all by using shoulder rotation, heel pushing, twisting his feet, leaning on the back of the boots and generally doing a good job avoiding breaking something. I had planned on a reasonable period of warm up and getting used to skiing again – but cut that short to get straight to work sorting it out.

Shoulder rotation – lack of support from the left leg… 


Dynamics

We went straight into dynamics with my standard explanation and exercises. This is found on the fixed menu at the top of this page or here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/dynamics.html 
The idea is to accelerate the body (centre of mass) directly into the new turn – to drive it pretty much as far from equilibrium as you dare to. For this forward speed is necessary – as it is on a bicycle. The skis sustain the process. Your job is simply to fall over – the ski’s job is to bring you back up.

Notice – this means as on a motorcycle that you go down into the turn and come back up out of it. The timing is the same as walking or skating – the arc made by each outside ski being a stride.

When someone is used to twisting the feet and skis and using rotation there is often very poor support for the dynamics to take place. For this reason we quickly moved on to looking directly at the feet.


Feet

The main issue here was to centre the stance over the front of the heel – just below the ankle joint. This trains the skier to flex at the knee and hip instead of collapsing the ankle. Keeping the weight off the front of the foot during flexion causes the anterior tibialis muscles (outside of the shin) to tense up and for the ankle to go stiff and supportive. Now the leg supports the body and not the ski boot during flexion. Pressure on the fronts of the boots is only to affect the function of the ski – not to take over from the ankle.

Standing on the inside of the heel you can now rock the subtaler joint and so rock the foot from edge to edge. This is how the feet are controlled – rocking BOTH feet onto their inside edges simultaneously. On the turning (outside) ski this slightly turns the forefoot counter to the direction of turning.

Rocking the subtaler joint has a chain reaction right up to the hip through the adductor muscles (inside of upper leg). Tensing those muscles on both legs activates the core for stability and readiness. The knee moves inwards laterally by a small amount during this process. If in contrast the ankle is flexed and the knee pushed in there is nothing to stop it from fully twisting inwards and breaking. The photograph above of Mark skiing shows the knee actually outwards due to the foot being twisted in the direction of the turn.

Boot alignment was checked and found to be adequate but not perfect – leaving the skis slightly under-edged. Next set of boots need to have a canting device in the cuff.


Skating

The above actions of the feet and legs are a natural part of skating. This extends even further into postural issues with the hip being tucked in beneath the pelvis when standing on the skating leg. The elementary skating exercises can be found here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/beginners.html


Pulling Inwards

To encourage Mark to work towards moving everything inwards in a turn we did what is normally a “pivoting exercise” where I blocked his ski tip from sideways motion with my pole and he tried to pull the tip with force against the pole. This simulates the way the leg needs to work – opposite to the sort of action that pushes the heel out. This helped mark significantly – especially when then refreshing the dynamics with the centre of mass.


Illusions

We had earlier discussed d’Alembert’s fictitious forces when working on dynamics. Centrifugal force is one of them! The “pulling in” is to work with the ski to generate “centripetal” force (towards the centre). The way visual perception works means that you can only actually see the things you understand. I’m sure that after today’s session many new things in skiing are visible to Mark who was very quick to understand each aspect presented.


Conclusion

Today was day one for real skiing for Mark – so patience is needed. Very good progress was made and can be seen clearly in the video. This progress will accelerate as more aspects are dealt with – such as fore/aft motion, pivoting skills, body management for protecting the hips and lower back and whatever details we can manage to refine.

Mark needs to develop the skating skills and particularly the ability to sustain the pressure on one leg at a time – for the whole of each turn. All the twisting and heel pushing has deprived him of any opportunity to develop this basic skill over the previous two years.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hitman

Talloires: Water 7°C

Went for a short swim afterwards with no wetsuit for keeping the Cold Adaptation / Ketogenesis levels up. New wetsuit from Wiggle is great (half price at the moment) - just no chill at all even at this temperature. Takes a bit of getting used to squeezing into a triathlon suit and I'd have sworn blind that it was far too small - but it's perfect. The huge level of flotation takes some getting used to as well. 

Despite the low temperatures the sun was out - and was warm against the skin. That's a really nice feeling. However the cycling route around the lake was already in the shadows and so required the full kit. The flashing 2000 lumen light is great - you can see all the reflective road signs for about half a kilometer in front of you all flashing back at you like a demented rave scene. I did worry about drivers potentially having epileptic fits - but that would probably only improve their driving anyway.

Wonderfully - the bASECAMP (www.base-camp.bike) café was open in Talloires and not only does it make the best coffee but it really does make an excellent base for exploiting this phenomenal area. The 40k (mainly cycle path) around the lake is ideal for winter cycling - being flat and exposed to the sun (for drying the path). Hill climbs (like up the nearby Col de la Forclaz) are fine but the descents are usually too chilly. The way to circumvent that problem is to wear only summer gear - which prevents you from being soaked with sweat in those temperatures and this stops you even losing your core temperature on the descent. However - it's a bit too much to then combine this form of Cold Adaptation with the swimming side of things in freezing water: It's either one or the other in that respect. Today we tried swimming BEFORE cycling and it seems to be better that way around. It's tough holding the swimming together after a workout on the bike - but no problem cycling after the swim - even when cold.

Of course - all of this is specifically to develop the Hitman look - 3rd photo below...



Cultivating the "Hitman" look...




Saturday, November 4, 2017

Alex Autumn 5

Yesterday's training course was fast with wide turns - necessitating extreme edging angles. Unfortunately Alex's clothing wasn't providing adequate protection at this level and so he was being whacked all over by the poles in areas where there was no padding or shielding. Today Alex rejected wearing articulated leg guards (fear of not looking like everyone else!) to protect above the knees so there was no option other than to set a slower course with shorter (closer) turns and less width so as to reduce the risk and force of any pole impacts. This would mean that edging angles would certainly be less extreme but would provide the opportunity to develop some body management issues and consolidate all the technique worked upon during the week. 

The slope is very icy and on the second part it is steep so Alex is doing very well staying out of trouble let alone improving rapidly. The slow motion video shows some arm management issues (defending against the poles) and the body reacting to this - with consequent impact on technique. The full speed clips are later on - showing how those aspects were improved. 

Full password protected technical report here:










Thursday, November 2, 2017

Alex Autumn 4

Tough day for Alex today - getting hit on unprotected body parts with the poles on several occasions. The positive side is that he appears to be getting faster - but that also brings new problems...



Password protected technical report here: