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.
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.