Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Demet 3

Today we began the session by using a real wall and moving the body against it. Standing side on to the wall the inside leg was lifted – putting all the weight on the outside leg. The foot was rolled onto its inside edge then the adductor muscles in the leg engaged and the centre of mass moved against the wall – with the shoulder actually pressing against the wall. This was repeated several times on each side to reinforce the correct mechanics – no twisting and no “pushing out”. Applying this to skiing on a gentle slope there was now no trace of the stemming or snowplough. This is an important moment.



After several descents to build confidence on the gentlest slope we went onto the next gradient and once again Demet handled this well – with only one nioticeable stem on the steepest section. Then it was on to the Madeleine where this time she skied by herself and managed it competently – not falling, not going out of control and working hard at eliminating the stem/plough which was now appearing because this slope is actually quite steep for a so called “green” run.

I explained that after stretching herself on a run like this a few times it would be best to return for a short while to the easier slopes to regain accurate control of her movements – before returning to have another go.


Mindful Skiing

From the start of the session I reinforced the need to focus internally – inside the body. Focus on feelings: Feet, Adductors, Centre of Mass – in that order – every turn. Keeping the focus internal is the best way to notice things, raise physical awareness and also to eliminate tension and anxiety. Demet did a good job with this from the start and her accuracy with movements and reduction in tension were visibly obvious.



Now that Demet was skiing parallel there were new issues to address. It’s normal for people new to parallel skiing to end up in the backs of the ski boots, partly due to the accelerations and partly due to being used to being vertical nearly all the time when on their feet – and not perpendicular to a gradient. Early on in development the only thing the skier can try to do to correct this is attempt to consciously correct this and try to make appropriate adjustments. Yesterday we had done some straight running downhill – and this was partly to encourage a natural perpendicular stance without the complication of turning. Today I simply explained the issue and started to make Demet aware of it so as to help her know what to do on the steeper sections.

On steeper ground there has to be a bigger movement of dynamics (against the invisible wall) downhill at the start of the turn – but emotionally that’s the last thing your brain wants you to do – until it learns that this is what works. The movement has to be without hesitation and with a strong commitment. Demet was good at this because she now knew how to feel the pressure on her uphill ski right from the start of the moevment and to begin to trust it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Derin 7

Today’s filming doesn’t really show Derin’s capacity – but I’ll try to film more tomorrow. In Slalom Derin is losing a huge amount of time through totally failing to understand the “line”. I’ve tried to explain it several times but she clearly doesn’t yet grasp the idea so somebody else will have to try to get it over to her. I’ll put the explanation up here and then leave it to someone to translate this into Turkish.



Here’s a diagram of racing lines. Derin is taking the first line – going straight for the poles and ending up late on the following poles. She needs to be working on the second line where she aims to go wide so as to turn high above the pole and then pass directly beneath it. This second line can then be tightened up as technique improves and greater speeds can be coped with – finishing up with the third line with the turns right on the apex – to the outside of each pole neither above nor below.




Pivoting and One Ski Skiing

We did some work on pivoting but Derin is still not grasping the idea of the use of the pole for support – whcih means that she cannot move her centre of mass inwards very well and struggles with the pivot. She still has some trouble getting onto her uphill ski to start the pivot so this is a great exercise for her overall development.

When turning the “wrong direction” on one ski the problems are even greater – but she now understands how to remain on the inside edge of the foot and has successfully completed a turn in the “wrong direction” (right ski – turing right etc.) She wants to do more of this now that she gets the idea and this will help her to both use the poles better for pivoting, to stand better on one leg and to differentiate the edges of her feet from the edges of the skis better. Her overall skill set should improve quickly with this in place.



Derin was introduced to carving for the first time ever today – she didn’t know what the name meant. She was able to do the traversing exercises and on very flat ground successfully change edges just by angulating. Later on she followed me at high speed carving and amazingly she was immediately able to do this. I’ve never seen that happen before so can only put it down to her never being taught to snowplough or make any of the traditional compromises in her movement patterns.


In general Derin was following me at quite high speed and though I intentionally make it very tight and difficult for her (as in a slalom course) she was seldom being tripped up by any of this. She does need to be more aware of her body – but at 8 years old we can only ask for so much! She’s doing really well.  After each exercise Derin would ask me if we could “real ski” now! A few days ago when we skied to Tignes Le Lac she asked if we could return to Real Tignes.

Demet 2

Demet is at a fragile stage in her skiing development and it requires lots of patience. There are two important principles to observe at the moment; first of all don’t push or rush things and secondly make sure all actions are the most appropriate, accurate and highest quality possible. It’s like learning a musical instrument – if done in a rush it always ends up a mess – if done patiently and correctly it can be amazing.



This won’t be such a long blog today because we mainly revised yesterday’s work and tried to instill it more strongly. We revised the following:

  1. The skating stance with the feet rolled onto the inside edges and the adductor muscles engaged.
  2. Side stepping uphill
  3. Stepping out of the fall line to turn across the hill
  4. Assisted (me supporting) pivoting – standing on one ski
  5. Linking (dynamic) parallel turns with some forward momentum

We spent some time descending with me supporting Demet with the ski pole. The aim here was to talk Demet through the situation and to habituate her to higher speeds in security. It took a while to fully clarify with her the need to stand up on the uphill ski and then let the body fall into the turn. We did one of the static “Magic Wall” exercises where she pushed against me to help this idea ingrain itself. After working on this for a while we then returned to the safe beginner’s area where she could try to bring it all together – on her own - without worrying about the steepness. There was still some stemming of the left ski/foot but she was far clearer about the need to stand on the uphill/outside ski and to use the foot/leg for support (not twisting it) to then move the body – which causes the turn.

Skiing is a “holistic” activity – which means that it doesn’t have to be done perfectly for it to work. A car (not holistic) for example with a wheel missing will stop – but a skier can make many mistakes and still get along. What I could see happening with Demet was that she was still being a bit defensive on steeper ground and stemming but she was starting to use aspects of her new technique to replace the snowplough and was managing to remove it to varying degrees in different situations. This is how progress is normally made.

We repeated those exercises often as patience is critical with all of this, leaving just enough time to take the chairlift up the Madeleine ski run for her first proper taste of freedom. Demet negociated the steep top part by herself then I took over by supporting her for the rest of the descent. During this long descent she gradually took more and more of the control for herself and I loosened the grip on the pole. Demet was clearly making the turns happen when she followed me talking her through each action and she was not too distracted by higher speeds than she is used to. Unfortunately we ran out of time at this point as we had to get back down the mountain from the Solaise plateau – but it was clearly a productive session. Demet seemed very upbeat about her experience and seemed to enjoy the speed and sensations.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Demet 1


Demet’s session began indoors at the Blizzard hotel where we took a moment to look at the feet and how to use them properly in the ski boots. The most useful way to develop the appropriate skills is to stand on the front of the heels directly below the ankle joints. This stance permits the subtaler joints between the heels and ankles to roll the feet onto their edges effectively – those edges corresponding to the edges of the skis. Secondly, when bending the legs this stance causes the ankles to stiffen, with the anterior tibialis (shin muscles) contracting and locking the ankle joint – into the same forward lean as the ski boot! Most people actually stand in the middle of the feet and allow the ankles to collapse and erroneously use the ski boots for support instead. Bending the correct way involves only the knees and hips. (This is the default stance for initial development – but it is far from the only way available to constructively use the feet.)

The correct stance for nearly all skiing requires both feet to be rolled onto their inside edges simultaneously and for the adductor muscles (inside of upper legs) to be contracted. Many people teach the rolling of one foot onto the outside edge while the other is on the inside edge but for reasons I won’t attempt to explain here this turns out to be incorrect.


Bone structure and boot alignment were checked while in the hotel and Demet has good natural alignment – the supplied equipment not requiring any adjustment.



Warm Up DSC06348

On the slopes I checked Demet’s skiing and found her to be a snowpougher and definitely currently limited to green runs at best. The snowplough is taught all round the world but unfortunately it is totally retrograde and disruptive – so the first decision to be made was whether or not to completely start from square one or to try to make use of Demet’s current mobility. I chose the latter. She did two warm up runs to get her skiing legs back and for me to assess how she was reacting and coping with things. The goal would be to eliminate the snowplough as rapidly as possible.



Prior to skating I asked Demet, when standing with the skis parallel across the hill,  to simply roll the downhill foot onto its inside edge and use this to side step uphill. This was then repeated while traversing forwards. The next exercise was to point downhill slightly on a very gentle inclination and to step out of the direction across the hill by diverging the skis – lifting the tip of the right ski first when going right and effectively changing direction by stepping – or skating.

When skating on the flats Demet had to be asked to roll both feet on to their inside edges – and she was surprised at the difference this made to her ability to skate. For a while we practised just sliding parallel downhill and skating out of the fall line across the hill.



Demet was shown how the skis can turn quickly without having to be pushed outwards onto their inside edges in a snowplough. Pivoting was demonstrated and then Demet was assisted through a pivoted turn – standing on her uphill ski – uphill ski edge – lower (inside) edge of the foot – and then held through one complete pivot. The point of showing this early was to explain that when traversing the hill all that is necessary to begin a turn downhill is to stand on the uphill ski and allow the body to fall slightly downhill – then the skis start to pivot and change direction dowhill – with no plough required.

We then worked from traversing starting a pivot downhill and then skating back up to the traverse again before crossing the fall line. This permits a full new set of skills to be worked on without the fear of crossing the fall line and over-accelerating. It encourages both pivoting and skating – both controlled by the motion of the centre of mass.


Parallel Turns (Dynamics)

The first parallel turns were done just using the ski poles to get the skis pointing downhill in a stationary position. Then once some speed was built up, instead of skating (which permits a small fall in the direction of turning) the idea was just to let the body fall slight in the direction of turning – supported by the outside foot being rolled onto its inside edge). Prior to doing this Demet was give a short explanation of dynamics by pushing her shoulder against mine and feeling the pressure on the outside leg as a result. (Full details of “Dynamics” can be found in the fixed page accessed from the top of the blog). This static exercise allowed her to feel how she had to move her body and gave a clue as to what to feel at the level of the feet. (Skis are controlled by the motion of the centre of mass)

07-DSC06358Stage two of parallel turning is to then link up turns on gentle gradients with shallow turns (not going too much across the fall line). Both feet are held on their inside edges to support the dynamics. This was about as far as Demet managed to get today with a good level of success – before tiredness became obvious! There is a great deal of concentration required and making such fundamental changes is a lot to ask of anyone.

Moving onto steeper slopes predictably caused Demet to become defensive and to immediately revert to her plough and stemming of the skis – twisting the feet in an attempt to turn the skis – instead of using the centre of mass and supporting it correctly at the feet.

Making constructive use of this situation is possible only through giving physical support. Demet was asked to hold onto my ski pole which was held across her for her to hold onto firmly. Turning to the left she had to lift her left foot and stand firmly on the right ski – which allowed her to feel how strongly the commitment to the outside ski really needs to be. Holding the pole allowed her to be taken at the appropriate speed required for the steeper gradients. Dynamics only works with some speed – like with the riding of a bicycle.

If left on her own it is very important for Demet not to rush the development of her new skills and to stay only on those gentle gradients where she feels confident both straight running and properly using dynamics and parallel turning. The defensive plough actions must be avoided completely. Progress would be more rapid if supported one-on–one at this stage but either way there are suitable slopes at the top of the Solaise.





Saturday, January 28, 2017

Derin 6

Another cold day at altitude – hopefully the last for a while. Children don’t tend to complain too much about the cold – but when they are frequently needing the toilet then it’s a sure sign that they are cold. For this reason we spent an unusual amount of time just working on technique on the well sheltered Bollin run out of the wind. We did our first run on the Lanches and then went up Tishot (to Derin’s favourite climbing playground!) and from there up the “chair to nowhere” (Col Des Ves) – where Derin encountered her first ungroomed black run. Derin was very unimpressed with the old rickety chair which I explained was 200 years old – almost the same age as me! This chair of course goes on forever – out into space and towards the stars – with no people there and going nowhere. She was relieved to see the end coming up! We made a deal that she wouldn’t have to go back up there again if she agreed to a hot chocolate stop (to try to keep her warm) – which she did – but then after skiing down she managed to wriggle out of her deal because the café was closed early – but we then had to descend all the way down anyway to find a toliet. At almost 4:30 at another toliet stop she did ask for a chocolate cake – which although not hot (to heat her up) it was good to see her eating something.


  • Scene 1 : Pivoting on one ski – getting there…
  • Scene 2 : Skiing parallel chosing her own line (easier than in slalom!)
  • Scene 3 : Supergirl exercise – getting on the fronts of the skis – she did very well with this and showed that she really can get off the backs of her boots.



In addition to the Supergirl exercises – leaning out over the fronts of the skis with the boots almost pulling out of the bindings – we worked on skating exercises. Both are excellent for helping people to get off the backs of the boots. The stance is refined later through working with dynamics but at this stage direct exercises are needed to prevent the skier being defensively locked into the backs of the boots.



Over the past few days I’ve been encouraging Derin to skate and to understand what it means. Today I asked her to skate around her turns with the skis diverging with a count of three skates – always starting by lifting and diverging the ski on the side of the direction that you want to go in. Three was gradually reduced to two then to one. When asked to skate directly downhill then when there was a little speed, the idea was to fall inwards between the skis with the body during each stride – she was not quite ready for this. It’s in this way that skating converts to skiing – just by adding the “Magic Wall” through dynamics. We will work on this more now because it cultivates the accurate down/up timing that is a fundamental aspect of skiing. Derin can skate of course because it’s how she learned on her very first days on skis going back four years ago – though she will not remember a lot about this. Now that she is becoming confident as a parallel skier she can return to skating for more advanced aspects. She already had the right basic timing naturally from simply using dynamics – falling (down) into each turn and then coming back up to finish. When the use of the legs (skating) is added to enhance this then real control is developed. Ski schools are trained to teach the opposite timing but that is a mistake that has been identified since the 1960s but never rectified by the educational system.


Derin being allowed to climb and enjoy the snow for a while…



The weather…



Paintings (in the Taverne café) of the original Tignes – now beneath the Lac de Chevril – the dam between Val d’Isère and Tignes…




Friday, January 27, 2017

Derin 5

Today we went straight over to the slalom where Derin would meet her sisters later on. Prior to the slalom we worked on angulation again and it looked like a little more progress was made – perhaps having her dad there to translate helped a bit. The “Chi Skiing” posture is difficult to develop but it is made harder by having the skis quite far apart – which is often the case with Derin. We have been working separately on pivoting to help to bring the legs closer together. Also, being on the backs of the boots makes it difficult to have the right posture and to stand properly on one ski – another aspect we are working on separately through both skating and pivoting.




After slalom both Derin and Berin worked together on pivoting. They first of all tried skiing on just one ski but both struggled – so we did some basic pivoting exercises which were all new for Berin. The fixed page on “pivot” is quite complete with those exercises and several more… http://skiinstruction.blogspot.co.uk/p/pivot.html. Berin managed very well for a first attempt. The key aspects are as follows

  • Understand that a turn can be executed from the outside edge of a ski
  • Separate the edge of the foot from the edge of the ski
  • Use pole support for constrained dynamics – using it to move the centre of mass
  • Eliminate forward momentum
  • Use the fronts of the skis
  • Pulling the ski inwards (instead of twisting the foot outwards) with the motion of the body and tensed adductor muscles
  • Standing properly on one leg
  • Keeping the feet close together
  • Skiing on one ski
  • Controlling body rotation (necessary for linking pivots)

The pivot is a braking action and is used in bumps, steep fall line skiing and narrow pasageways. The pole is used for support to replace the dynamics that are generated from forward travelling skis and associated movements of the centre of mass (see fixed page on dynamics also if necessary).




During our final run I had to explain to Berin that there was another way to think about skiing from the one she is used to. Berin was then introduced to dynamics – “The magic Wall” – and it was explained to her that timing was “down/up”  - like a motorbike in a turn – instead of “up/down” as taught by ski school. This might allow Berin to understand some of what was being discussed about using the pole in pivoting when there is no Magic Wall being used. Berin liked the feeling and ease of the Magic Wall. I had wanted it to be a session on skating timing, mainly for Derin – but then realised that Berin would not follow any of it without this basic background and this was also good revision for Derin.





Thursday, January 26, 2017

Derin 4

Keeping in mind that Derin is small and could get cold easily in the high winds with no sunshine we went over to the slalom training area in Val d’Isère where there was shelter. Derin wasn’t too happy about using the button lift all the time but she gradually got used to it. Another big advantage with going there is that there are no idiots hurtling down the hill out of control as there are on the pistes. Normally I try to take Derin slightly off piste to avoid those people but with poor visibility that wasn’t really possible today.

Before going into the slalom we worked on angulation – specifically turning the bottom to face uphill when going across the hill. Derin found this quite difficult to both understand and to do. The morning group worked hard on this subject too and in their blog post it comes under the heading “Chi Skiing”. I won’t repeat all of that here but instead will recommend reading that content too. In the video when working on angulation Derin was clearly trying hard but her body was rotating instead. This will take more work and clarification. When she tried really hard she could turn on the very steep training slope and avoid flying off down the hill – which is what this is all about. Often when she skis behind me she struggles to avoid running into me – which is a symptom of this issue when it goes wrong. Part of the problem is being too far back against the back of the ski boots and not using the fronts of the skis. The first step in correcting this is to develop control of the pelvis and angulation.

Derin has really clearly understood what a slow/high line is in slalom because she almost carried it out to extreme on her first run – which is actually fantastic. For her second run she was to reduce the travel across the hill and hopefully with improved angulation sitll be able to deal with the extra speed she would have. In fact she didn’t quite manage to avoid rotation or to create enough angulation and ended up missing a turn – but otherwise her time would have been great. She dealt with the course ruts (late in the day the course is in a mess) and her high speed without any undue concern. It looks like she has the ideal temperament to be a racer one day!



After the slalom we worked on pivoting for a while but the cold was now affecting Derin and her concentration was not great. The snow was now wet and icy so that didn’t help either. I insisted that before stopping she had to do at least one full pivot while staying on one ski for the whole turn – and she managed that instantly! Clearly, motivation helps!

Kerim, Alp, Lal, Iram day 5

Today it was windy and humid, which means “cold”! It is important to continually be active when outside in weather like this so we began with a warm up on the lower section of the Face de Bellevarde to work on angulation. Steeper terrain helps to develop those skills because that’s where they come into use. What I hadn’t explained to anyone was that I was basing this instruction on something I had developed over several years from understanding running better…


Chi Skiing

There’s a fixed page here which is really a summary of chirunning http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/chiskiing.html for anyone interested. However the application to skiing is specific and probably more important. Normally people are taught to face their shoulders downhill towards the completion of a turn to produce angulation at the hips. This unavoidably twists the spine as the ski pulls the outside hip forwards in front of the rib cage. The problem here is that the ability for postural muscles to work reflexively is inhibited and so most skiers end up with serious lower back problems (I have had major back surgery three times!) Instead, the children were taught to pull that outside hip backwards – causing only the pelvis to end up facing downhill and to fully preserve postural reflexes. What they don’t know is that this causes the spine to twist slightly in the opposite direction – but this actually strengthens the core muscles when that outside leg is loaded up with pressure. We didn’t go into any of this detail. The task was to pull that outside hip backwards and everyone understood that. The aim was to prevent body rotation , create angulation and control of speed and turn development, give improved grip on ice and improved confidence.

Everyone felt the muscles in the midsection working and I explained that all movement – both globally (centre of mass) and internally should begin from the centre of the body. This automatically controls the skis (centre of mass) and aligns the bone structure for using the feet and adductor muscles in the legs.


The work on angulation was carried out prior to returning to the slalom with the aim of each skier hopefully being able to control a better line in the course. We were also working on using the fronts of the skis to get off the backs of the ski boots.



Kerim was more stable and holding a better line so then with added dynamics he managed the fastest time of the week  at 35.26 seconds.

Lal also improved her time and managed a personal best of 40.75 seconds. She fell on her first descent due to pushing the skis out sideways sharply at a turn – then catching the inside ski as she was drifting sideways. Remember – always pull inwards instead of pushing outwards. Keep the line high and use angulation.

Alp was struggling with the idea of “line” and eventually managed a good slow line – which although being a relatively good line was not fast (he would still be late on the steeper sections). This allowed him to focus a bit more on technique but he was still quite far back in his ski boots. Alp’s posture is not holding him correctly on his left leg – where he cannot keep his upper body stable on the head of the femur of the left leg. If I had more time I’d have worked on him personally to correct this – but it also takes a lot of physical awareness of the individual to correct posture. Alp was overall slower than he was at the start of the week – but only by a few seconds. The corrections he has been working on would gain him up to 12 seconds when accomplished.

Iram also had a go at the slalom and was working on the same things – improving rapidly over just a few runs to reach 32.91 seconds.


End of Turn Dynamics

After a little revision and practice of pivoting we went on to explore another facet of Dynamics. This is explained at the bottom of the fixed Dynamics page http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/dynamics.html but it simply means completing the turn on the downhill ski with the body coming up and out all the way to perpendicular while still on this ski. Until now we had only worked on aspects of dynamics regarding the start of turns – but the end of each turn is actually even more important as it is what facilitates the start of the next turn. Developing this skill taks a little bit of courage – expecially in tricky snow off piste – but it is essential part of dynamics and racing cannot be done without it. Pivoting is intended for tight, braking turns with no forward speed (across the hill) of the skis and the use of pole support. Dynamics (generated in combination with forward motion – as on a bicycle)  is the opposite and is intended for racing or difficult off piste where skis cannot slip sideways.


No photos today – miserable weather! The children were great to work with and hopefully seeing their own efforts on this blog will encourage them to work in the right direction in the future. I left them with the message that skiing is NEVER boring if you are focused within your own body and on the quality of your movements. It’s not about “black” pistes – it’s about what you feel and the skill you have built to replace inappropriate emotionally driven actions.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Derin 3


Following our warm up run Derin was taken straight to the slalom course and introduced to slalom for the first time ever. She wasn’t familiar with a button lift either so that was the first challenge to overcome. There was no difficulty for her to understand the timing apparatus or the actual course and the basics of how to make use of it. We carried out a run together where I showed her how to take a good but slow line (Line B in the earlier blog posted today!). Our situation was ideal because there was practically nobody there as it was lunch time for most people. For the first proper timed run I wanted Derin to follow me as I filmed her and I was once again going to lead on a slow line – but she didn’t understand this and just headed off through the course like a Tiger – much to my surprise. She did seem to remember how to get that good line and managed to keep things under control and finish her first run correctly and was quite happy with it. The button lift scared her more than the slalom – despite it being on a “black” slope.



Sara and Gerard who own and run the slalom training facility…


One Ski Pivots

More time was spent practising pivoting and also attempting to do this on one ski. Persistence is needed here. We did static exercises where I held Derin so she could feel how to move the body and there was gradual improvement as she practised. Skiing is a blend of dynamics (racing) and pivots (containing speed) – with the racing turns starting by using the inside edge (outside ski) and the pivot turns starting by using the outside edge (outside ski). The pivot is used in bumps and for short turns at low speed – and for containing speed in fall line deep snow (has a braking effect – opposite of racing). It’s necessary to develop both of those key skills because most skiing is a blend to the two extremes.

We skied a steep off piste run (Familial – Tovière) and Derin had to side step back up the hill to the lift at the bottom. Along with skating to get up to the ramp in the slalom stade and this side stepping she is developing good edging skills that she has lacked up until now.  Our final run was down from the Grande Motte and once again Derin stayed right in behind me as I did short racing type turns at qutie high speed using dynamics and timing associated with line “C” (previous blog entry!)




Kerim, Alp, Lal day 4


During our warm up run I decided to try to help both Alp and Lal get off the backs of their ski boots. Skating should achieve this but they simply don’t have enough time for that to work so a more direct approach is necessary.  The main reason for people becoming glued to the backs of the boots is that they are trying to keep their bodies vertical (in relation to gravity). When skiing we need to adjust the body constantly to be perpendicular to the slope. This was explained using my ski poles to show the relationships – so that when our skis point downhill we must come forwards so as to remain perpendicular to the skis and slope. Just moving the body downhill at the start of the turn contributes to perpendicularity when the skis start to come around.

Just as an exercise we all leaned hard forwards in the ski boots, hanging over the fronts of the skis while skiing – to show that there was no reason to fear moving forwards. In fact the only way to use the entire front half of the ski is through being able to be perpendicular. Lal especially tends to only use the back half of her skis – which is why she appears to be so tense.

In the race course the idea is to focus on the body and technique first and foremost. Alp had done a good job of that yesterday so now everyone had to make an effort.

Lal improved her time to 41.2 seconds and Kerim to 36.93. Alp was slower than yesterday – for reasons we will look at shortly.




Other than technique the main goal in slalom today was to learn about “line”. In the diagram below there are three lines. Initially everyone was taking line “A” – going directly to the pole and turning late after the pole. This is disasterous. The goal for today was to manage line “B” where the turn is made beneath the pole and the line remains high then drops down directly at the outside of the next pole. This is still a slow line but it avoids problems and permits good technique to be used and developed. Alp messed up only because he reverted to braking as he passed beneath the poles. Lal didn’t seem to manage to change her line significantly and only Kerim seemed to both understand and manage to make an obvious change. Line “C” is the ideal racing line where the apex of the turn is to the outside of the poles – not above or below the poles.

The “C” timing is also used for difficult snow off piste or travelling fast over bumpy terrain so it is very useful in general skiing and makes skiing far safer and more in control.





The exercises and slalom took up most of our time and left one hour to get up to the top of the Bellevarde and to ski down the Face (Then get up to the top of Solaise for lunch). The idea of skiing the Face caused some anxiety initially – but everyone managed without incident and we skied the whole slope non-stop – the children following my line. Before lunch we had some time to start looking at more technique.



Tomorrow we will spend more time on this because lack of “angulation” is what generally makes taking a good line in slalom impossible and also makes it hard work to ski steep pistes in control. Each skier in turn stood with the skis across the hill and extended the two ski poles towards me so I could pull against them. With the bottom turned uphill during the “pulling” an angle is created at the hips and a strong resistance can be generated. The idea is for each one to feel exactly what it should feel like as forces build up during the second half of a turn. We need good body position during turning to allow the skis to direct us across the hill. Part of the problem in slalom was that nobody really knew how to do this and so they all ended up skidding down the hill to the next pole and consequently getting later and later in each consecutive turn. We will work properly on this tomorrow.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Derin 2

Today Derin started to seriously work on technique.  In the video are some of her first proper attempts at pivoting. She was taught to do this naturally when I originally skied with her holding onto a pole but she was not aware of the physical mechanism. There is a fixed page above in the blog on pivoting here - http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/pivot.html


We also worked on improving the “Magic Wall” (Dynamics) and I explained that we use the ski pole for support when pivoting and we use the invisible Magic Wall instead of the pole when it appears when we are moving faster forwards.

Derin also worked on her stance – starting with having the boots off indoors and using the feet – both rolled onto their inside edges and both sets of adductor muscles contracted (the muscles on the insides of the upper legs). Oddly enough this stance works best in all situations – pivoting, carving and everything inbetween.

When skiing down from the Grande Motte at the end of the day Derin skied close behind me as I made tight fast turns on a narrow track. Her only complaint was that her feet hurt by the end and she was exhausted – but she did realy well and impressed me.



Cable car – Grande Motte for the first time…


Today and in 2014…















Mont Blanc in the background…

Kerim, Alp, Lal day 3 (Introduction to Slalom)

Today we went straight into revising and then practising the skating/timing exercises that we had worked on yesterday. Careful, mindful skiing was the intention because an introduction to slalom was about to follow…



Perhaps only Alp managed to really remain focused in the slalom – because he avoided his sudden “braking” actions. The reference times are as follows:

  1. Alp         35.90 seconds
  2. Kerim    37.20 seconds
  3. Lal         42.16 seconds

Our first job was a course inspection with all of the rules and safety guidelines explained. Impressively, everyone listened and understood without any difficulty. The operation of the timing system was demonstrated and how to manage difficult situations such as falling on the course. From then on the children were on their own while I filmed from the bottom – and it all went without a hitch – each managing two runs and no falls or mistakes – everyone improving their time on the second run. We didn’t spend too long there as slalom can gobble up your time and there were lots of other things to do also.

Now that everyone is familiar with the course we can return there during the week and apply technique to measure the effects of the changes – objectively – against the clock! Depending on size around 22 to 24 seconds is a very good time – so there is a little bit of work to do here! Keeping things in perspective though the times of all three were great for a very first ever attempt at slalom.

Slalom is really just a measure of skiing efficiency and effectiveness. Focusing on the body – on the physical skiing technique – is the key to succeeding in the race course – as it is in all skiing. Now that the distraction of learning how to use the course is over the idea is to return to the course and work on locking the focus onto the body and thinking only about the skiing – not the course! Not only will this improve the movement patterns and the mental approach but issues such as “line” have to be confronted and learned. Nobody can learn an efficient line just by skiing on an empty piste with no physical constraints to deal with.

After the slalom was over it was time to get in some skiing mileage – including off-piste. We managed a wander into the wilds from the top of the Borsat and then retruned to the top of the Bellevarde. Today’s final run was non-stop from the top of the Bellevarde down the Fontaine Froide red run (partly off-piste) then down Santons gully right down to the village at the bottom. Lal said she thought she was going to faint from tiredness when in the Santons. I skied them very actively with tight turns all the way and they all followed this very well (Alp only having one fall today on some ice). Hopefuly they learn from this how to work their skis and bodies and to save outright speed for the race course. There are already too many people who just ski very fast, badly and out of control with no regard for the safety of others, no skill and no awareness.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Derin 1

Derin started out very cautiously but within a couple of hours was skiing strongly. She didn’t want to stop for anything so we managed the full 4 hours without a break.

I tried to work a little on “pivoting” at slow speed but found that communication didn’t seem to be strong and so decided to just ski Derin and bring her on by keeping her in close behind me and calling out instructions along the way. She did remember the Magic Wall and when skiing behind me at a proper pace she was completely parallel. When going slowly or asked to ski in front she is much less confident and clear on what to do and so tends to stem her skis a bit and get onto the backs of the boots defensively. Hopefully we can work directly on this through technical exercises in the next few days. Today however was very useful by getting a lot of mileage in and filming Derin skiing very well behind me.





Kerim, Alp, Lal day 2

Yesterday was a long intensive technical day, but today turned out to be a full on skiing day – leaving all but one (Kerim) worn out by the end of the morning. No more being confined to the green training piste – we began the warm up on a blue run. When I asked each person what they had been thinking about during the warm up the answers were impressive – feet, pulling in, moving the body, magic wall – and for Alp “not braking”. Given this response we then immediately went up to the top of the Tovière and skied down a steep red, then cutting over onto the steep route on the “Familial” off piste (with bumps) and then over to the race piste down to la Daille – a proper black run with protective netting. All this went without a glitch – no falls and no time lost.


Skating, Timing, Independent Leg Action

The above – including riding back up the Funicular took us until 10:36am so I decided to make a complete shift over to technique for a while. If we can cover one important subject per day while fitting in some strong skiing then that makes a useful approach. I asked about “up/down” timing and Kerim was the only one who seemed clear that he had been taught to go up to start a turn and down to finish. This is “standard ski school” but unfortunately completely wrong. When a motorbike goes into a turn it leans over and comes down – coming back up to finish – and the skier needs to do the same. Just the Magic Wall alone gives some of this correct timing – but using the legs in a skating action makes this clearer.

We first of all tried the “direct method” where I skated off straight down a shallow slope and then when there was some speed began to fall inwards between the skis with the body (Magic Wall) and the skating transformed into skiing – again by magic and without stopping the skating. Only Lal managed to do this while improving her timing – so we left this exercise aside.

The video shows the results of a series of exercises we used to develop skating timing and independent leg action… Kerim manages really well and Lal overcame initial difficulties to do well also. Alp was so far stuck on the backs of his ski boots that it was pretty impossible for him to succeed.


Skating obliges you to come off the backs of your ski boots – which is why Alp is struggling here as he is superglued to the backs. This is partly why we are doing skating exercises – to help overcome this sort of problem. The others also tend to get defensively stuck on the backs of the boots so it is good exercise for everybody.

We began with side stepping uphill and seeing how the edges of the feet and edges of the skis can be differentiated. This was something we had also looked at yesterday during the pivoting exercises. The downhill ski uses its inside edge and also the inside edge of the foot – but the uphill ski uses its outside edge yet remains on the inside edge of the foot too. (The shaft of the ski boot and its lateral stiffness permits this to happen).

The idea was to then skate across the hill using those edges and on the final skate step up properly onto the uphill ski (outside edge) and while standing on it fall downhill into the next turn (Magic Wall again). The effect on Lal was huge because she could not do this and throw her skis out to the side like she usually does – and after a few goes she got it – turning solidly on the outside ski from the start of the turn (Through good use of the Centre of Mass) and preparing this from a push up from the lower ski. Kerim managed it even better.

I’d already explained that real skiing is on one ski – which is why it relates to skating and this is made possible through dynamics – hence the Magic Wall. Putting this together makes the legs functional and the timing generates stability and a correct pressure cycle to make the skis work more efficiently and effectively.

We finished the session with a very long run from the top of the Borsat back down to Val village through Santons and apart from Alp wiping out at least three times there were no incidents. Lal declared it the most difficult blue run she had ever come across! I’d agree!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kerim, Alp, Lal



Kerim, Alp and Lal are all 11 years old – so that’s a good age to start taking on board some real coaching. Not having skied for a year we first of all had a couple of warm up runs in the Training Zone (closed off green run). Alp was much dismayed that he couldn’t go straight to either the snowpark to jump or straight down the Olympic black run on the Face de Bellevarde – but it was clear that he was being slightly over-enthusiastic at this point. The best way to test someone’s understanding is to ask a few simple questions – like… “How long do you think it takes the racers to ski from the top of this mountain back down to the village on the Face race course? “. The two answers were 2 hours and 1 hour! (1 min 50secs is the right answer – and 4 minutes on a mountain bike in the summer!)  When I asked for someone to explain how to ski – there were two briefly mumbled attempts and then complete silence.


Here’s all three during our second warm up run and all looking a bit wobbly at this stage…


Alp is in the backs of his ski boots, he stems, rotates (upper body into the turn) and throws in a huge braking action especially at the end of his right turns. There’s an almost complete absence of dynamics and he pushes his skis outwards in his braking action and during the turns. Turn initiations are snatched and rushed and his inside arm tends to end up behind him during the turns.

Kerim is slightly on the backs of his boots but at least manages to avoid rotation – though he has no upper/lower body separation. He has no use of dynamics and is pushing his outside leg away – sometimes stemming and nearly always making the leg rigid as a result. He actually has a good natural timing which will have to be developed.

Lal is very insecure – standing on two feet – hard on the backs of the ski boots, stemming and rotating, no use of dynamics.


Dynamics, Skating and Pivoting

I decided that as they could all ski it was best to start with dynamics to try to increase confidence quickly. The top of this blog has links to fixed pages for each of these three subjects – the skating being referred to as “Beginners” and the other subject headers being more obvious. I won’t repeat all the detail here.

For dynamics we used the “Magic Wall” explanation and everyone got it – Kerim was first to get it right. All three found it made their skiing feel much easier – as of course it should do because it is extremely fundamental and none were using this key aspect of movement until now.

For skating Alp was shown briefly how to skate more strongly – but it would help even more if he finished his hamburger at lunch. If nothing else just eating a bit more would give him the weight the needs to go faster on the flats – so then less skating would be necessary! The key here was to get everyone feeling the inside edges of their feet and to begin to become aware of their bodies. To hold a ski on edge it is necessary to stand on the edge of the foot because the edge of the ski is displaced to the inside. Good mechanics requires both feet to remain on their inside edges with the adductor muscles on the inside of both upper legs pulling inwards. We worked on this for a while. The skating action also helps to take the skier off the backs of the ski boots and we discussed this issue – transferring pressure to the shins with the adductors pulled inwards.

Having already learned to move the centre of mass (near the belly button) into the turn (trying to fall over against the magic wall) the idea was to roll the foot over in the same direction – to the inside edge. This was the beginning of learning to “pull inwards” – the opposite of all the stemming and pushing the skis sideways outwards etc. Until now even the centre of mass had been going outwards and then everything else was just a compensation.

Lal was keen to learn how to turn very rapidly so we had a go at the “pivot” – which is essentially using the outside ski on its outside edge to initiate a turn. You simply cannot do this and push the ski outwards away from the body – you can only pull inwards following the centre of mass. I demonstrated then helped each skier physically through a pivot on one ski so they could feel it correctly. It’s good to start all of this right from day one because it then has time to sink in during the week as pivoting skill takes practice – as do all “pulling in” actions. Their original teaching had all been with “snowplough” which trains the use of the wrong muscle groups – pushing out – and the wrong overall mechanics – leading to “balancing” on two feet instead of disequilibrium and dynamics – the “magic wall”.

Alp understood the criticism about the “braking” and that he should look for speed control from the turn shape and line instead.


Mindful Skiing

All three were told to focus on the body at all times – not on external distractions. Fear especially comes from being focused on distractions and is overcome by pulling the focus back into the body. Feet, Adductors, Centre of Mass, Pulling Inwards – those have to be the key focus. Learning to be mindful doesn’t only develop skill it develops a discipline that never becomes boring, frustrating or limiting.

Less wobbly here after working on new skills for a while – but most changes are progressive and take time – though they might already feel radical to the skier.




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

David 3

Today, with the weather clear and some fresh snow around, it was time to put David’s newly acquired skills to use and take him up the mountain for his first attempt at a green run. During his first proper ski run we managed an excursion off piste which he handled perfectly.



Once being confident that David could handle things well the goal was to generate mileage with David following me – showing him the line where he could manage the best control and keeping him away from other skiers as much as possible. Feedback from me mainly concerned reinforcing the most relevant points that we had worked on yesterday. This was not going to be a highly technical day as David needed to turn as often as possible to work through all the information that needed to be processed already. Had there been difficulties we would have focused differently but David was doing extremely well and handling the steeper slopes and higher speeds very effectively for only his third morning. The intense groundwork covered yesterday was really paying off. Although I didn’t capture David’s best moments off piste on video I did manage to record some interesting ones! David applied both sideslipping and pivoting on steep pitches very effectively.


End of Turn Dynamics

The only new technical issue that was brought up was “end of turn dynamics”. When there is forward momentum it is necessary to complete the turn by supporting the body with the lower leg/ski when crossing the hill – bringing it out to the perpendicular. This is a failry scary act but it guarantees easy entry into the next turn and easy engagement of the new supporting leg and ski. The body comes up and over the lower ski – resembling a motorbike coming up and out of a turn. This generates stability and directs the centre of mass across the hill and down into the next turn. David responded very well to this concept and was able to tighten his turns accordingly and survive strongly off piste. There was also a brief explanation of how this movement completes correct “timing” but there was no time left to demonstrate how exactly it also connects to skating. The important thing was that each new concept was grasped, applied and put to constructive and appropriate use sucessfully. David needs to get to work on sorting out his obvious stance problems which we clarified yesterday but he did a great job of working around that today.


Grande Motte summit in Tignes.


Mont Blanc with a little more that its “hat” on.



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

David 2

With David’s knees bowing outwards there would continue to be a significant obstacle to rapid progress so the first task  for today was to attempt to sort that issue out. People can develop many issues regarding how the legs, pelvis and upper body stack up. Mostly those issues are postural but they can also be functional and depend upon experience. The first task was to find out exactly what was going on with David. We tried static exercises with the hips and posture which revealed confusion there – but there was also a confusion regarding the skating action.


Supporting Leg

The still image in the video clip shows David in the correct position and posture – but that was the only time he was really able to manage it. The goal is to get the upper body perched over one single hip joint. This involves preparing first with pelvic tilt, tilting the whole upper body forwards from the hips, pulling the supporting hip backwards relative to the shoulder, lifting the unsupported leg (knee forwards), hip and shoulder. The chest should be relaxed and the arms dangling freely. What’s important is that david could do this correctly – his problem is that this is all just alien to him. The hip has to get into place this way to tuck under the upper body and support the whole body solidly. You can then let the upper body pivot around the head of the femur like it is a fulcrum. Skating involves this action naturally with each stride.



In the video (prior to the still image) when David tries to adopt the stance on one leg, on skis, his posture collapses. When he skates (after the still image) he turns his upper body to face inwards on each stride instead of outwards. This last thing reveals the source of the habitual movement that is the cause of the coordination confusion. Basically there are both functional issues and postural issues to be corrected.



There is a very special reason for pulling back the hip when you stand on the outside leg in a turn. If you end up with just the shoulders facing downhill then the hip will actually be pulled forwards below the fronts of your ribs and your postural reflexes will not function and protect you. If instead you face your pelvis downhill more than your shoulders then the lower spine twists slightly in the oppoiste direction – stretching the lower abdomen area and clearing the hip away from the front ribs – allowing the core muslces and postural muscles to work correctly. There is a fixed page on this subject here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.co.uk/p/chiskiing.html

We applied the Chi principles in skiing and there was a moderate but definite improvement in David’s confidence. The results were still not consistent though.

Generally we were initiating a change of direction by starting with moving the centre of mass, then engaging the hip and the foot. The reason for moving the centre of mass first is to get the body to move over the downhill ski as it travels into the next turn – but I deliberately did not mention this so as to avoid complicating the issue at this stage.



Pivoting was taught so as to provide the understanding of the option of using the ouside edge of the ski to turn (very tightly) and to help to develop “pulling in” skills. The fixed page for pivoting is here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.co.uk/p/pivot.html


Standing Up

Regardless of all the components we had worked on David was still finding it extremely difficult to stand on his supporting leg (including during pivoting). In all fairness this was only day two and he was in reality doing very well – but the mission was to rapidly attain a level of competence so there was no letting up with the pressure. The postural and functional issues are also amplified by emotional/defensive reactions, lack of adaption to accelerations, lack of recognition of the adjustment to perpendicularity when sliding and lack of experience of feedback from skis and equipment. Despite all of this David was tantalisingly close to getting it right. We tried “stomping” the supporting leg into the ground before starting the turn but that didn’t work. We tried adjusting more accurately to perpendicularity – which had a small effect. I then tried supporting David (using a pole) so that he could properly stand just on one leg as I guided him through a turn – and that did seem to work. Skiing is a one legged activity – as is skating – but good skiers don’t make this visible.

The underlying problem was that all of the above issues were conspiring to ensure that as David moved his centre of mass he would collapse his stance on his outside leg and then support himself of two legs instead. With the weight now on the inside ski he would try to twist the outside ski into the turn in desperation. Altering the order of the procedure by first standing up strongly on the uphill leg then moving the centre of mass into the turn gave David the chance to create some smooth, strong turns and feel the skills that he has been working on – with the skis making the turns for him.

The video shows David’s last descent of the day and he makes a strong first turn on the steepest part of the slope. After that turn he gets a little back – on the back of the ski boots and loses the full support of his supporting leg making the following turns less effective and secure. Just getting one turn correct is a big achievement and a solid reference point.

Monday, January 9, 2017

David–First Day Beginner

David’s only experience of skiing prior to today was on indoor snow in England – not managing to turn confidently in a snowplough. We started over from scratch – in the sun at the top of the Solaise.




Prior to going out on the snow we went indoors and removed the ski boots to look at how the feet work. First of all David flexed normally with weight distributed over the whole foot and he could feel the ankle bend. Placing the weight directly beneath the ankle on the front of the heel, bending was totally different with the ankle reflexively tensioning – leaving the bending to the hips and knees. With weight on the heel you can also accurately feel the foot rolling from edge to edge due to the function of the subtaler joint between the heel and the ankle. In contrast attempting to roll the feet on edge with the ankle flexed just causes the knee to be levered from side to side with a dangerous twisting action. Rolling both feet on to their inside edges activates the adductor muscles on the insides of the legs – this playing a key role in skiing. In skiing we want the ankle strong and the feet to roll on edge – both feet inwards.



The reason the adductor muscles and feet edges need to be used is because the edge of the ski is not centered beneath the middle of the foot – it is displaced far to the inside. The sk iactually works by lifting the skier up – but if those adductors are not employed then the ski just flattens on the snow instead. This actually turned out to be a hard area for David to work on because he had a tendency to allow his knees to bow outwards – probably pulled outwards by the skis flattening. I checked the equipment/leg alignment indoors and there was no trace of bowleggedness or misalignment – so this issue is caused by a habit – not by bone structure. (This may be occuring at the hip joints)

The shaft of the boot running up the leg is what really stops the ski from flattening – and this is dependent on the lateral stiffness of the ski boot. The feet and adductors just assist holding the skeleton in place with the bones stacking up correctly.


Skating in circles – One ski – Two skis

The action of skating – with skis diverging – helps to promote correct body mechanics and coordination. Grip with the ski edges is essential so if a person cannot skate they will not ski. We began by going round in a circle with just the outside ski (relative to the circle) on and stepping inwards to turn incrementally. The goal was to get used to the ski and how to use it to displace the centre of mass. There is a full section about this on a fixed page in this blog; http://skiinstruction.blogspot.co.uk/p/beginners.html  David rapidly improved for all the exercises.

Skating in circles to learn how to change direction with the centre of mass was continued with two skis on.

Straight line skating was also strengthened with an exercise where David had to push me along on the flats. Acceleration in skating is achieved by continuing this process without the weight in front. In fact the forward propulsion actually comes from gravity – repeated falling forwards actions.



We worked on side–stepping both uphill and downhill on a short steep section.

To proceed from here we would have to descend back down to the main beginner’s facilities and slopes at the bottom of the Solaise.



Straight Running

Instruction recommenced with simple straight running and an explanation of “perpendicular” and “vertical”. The feeling when standing across the hill and so vertical to gravity is exactly the same as when standing perpendicular to the slope when sliding downhill. You adjust to the slope and do not try to “lean forwards” relative to the skis and boots. Initially David reflexively moved into vertical when straight running downhill but he soon corrected this once it was explained.


Straight running into stepping/skated turn

Changing direction from the straight running was first accomplished in both directions by skating out of the fall line.


Straight running into parallel turn

Within no time David was able to make a turn just by moving the centre of mass in the direction of the intended turn – instead of actually stepping. His first attempt at a parallel turn was successful.


Button Lift

The button lift was mastered without incident and this brought to an end the tiring need to climb uphill – though at the initial stages the climbing served to develop a feel for the ski edges and coordination.



The chairlift was once again handled without any problems – despite it having a tricky acceleration on the exit. The path down from the chairlift is normally descended by snowploughing but David easily mastered the art of controlling his speed thorugh the use of diverging skis instead!


Parallel Turns – Dynamics

Parallel turns were worked on by engaging the uphill leg (adductors/inside edge of the foot) and standing up on that leg prior to moving the centre of mass into the new turn. David had mixed success with this due to his tendency to let the knees come outwards and skis flatten. There was a supporting explanation and static exercise for dynamics (including the Magic Wall) http://skiinstruction.blogspot.co.uk/p/dynamics.html 

Correction for the apparent bowleggedness was introduced by moving onto the front of the foot, pressing against the shin and pulling the knee directly inwards. This is an attempt to correct or compensate for an inappropriate habit and appears to be effective.

We worked on “pulling in” as a counter to the illusion of “centrifugal force”. All actions through a turn should be pulling in towards the centre but most people instinctively push outwards instead.

The skis were too long to allow clear feedback so I requested that they be changed for tomorrow.


Traversing – Side-slipping

Traversing was worked on including carving with the edges locked on solidly. Side-slipping was introduced by moving the body out over the downhill ski to flatten the the skis enough to remove the grip.



The tendency to twist the ski into the turn was one of the obstacles David encountered. This is partly a result of the introduction he had previously had to “snowplough”. The ski is controlled by the centre of mass and the other actions which support the movement of the centre of mass. The ski turns you – not the other way around.

Pushing outwards – also a derived from the snowplough was another obstancle already mentioned here – but this too has a defensive emotional element.

Collapsing the supporting leg and falling onto the inside leg: This is a normal issue for beginners because it takes a measure of overriding of the emotions to stand solidly on the uphill leg and then allow the body to fall downhill.