Bad weather day today, -19°C at the top of the Tovière and wind up to 100 km/hr. Alex, in the true spirit of racing was not in the least phased by the weather. On arrival at the training piste there was nothing set out – but we skied down the slope and were asked at the bottom how we found it to be. The honest response was that it was good to go. While a course was being set out Alex did a few warm up runs and self preservation kicked in due to poor visibiility and today I had to ask him to ski a bit faster. His turns were in good control, the lessons firmly taken from yesterday and the skiing looking good. We sideslipped the course to prepare it – Alex twice and me three times before it was ready.
Right from the first run in the course Alex focused on early turn release and deliberate leg retraction to help this. Despite the snow being slower he was only 2 tenths of a second behind his best time yesterday. Video clip 1 is his fastest time, video clip 2 is his smoothest run when focusing hard on leg retraction and video 3 is part of his only run on long GS “stivoty” skis. We only had time for one run on those as the training area was closed early.
Alex is very stable with his skiing now and did an excellent job of attacking a course in bad weather with poor visibility and unseen ruts – unperturbed. That’s a sign of a good technical base. His times in both perfect and bad conditions are almost identical.
Alex – this is not a successful “stivot” – this is a dramatic braking action which loses you huge dollops of time. Use the ski to turn instead of turning the ski. This was on slalom skis too – which CAN carve!
After our ejection from the slalom area we concentrated on technique. Mike shared in the instruction because he is also working on the same fundamentals and it is often better to work with two people at the same time because that way different questions are asked and different issues raised. Both Alex and Mike made noticeable progress.
We all took off our skis on the slope (out of the wind) and standing across the slope adopted a “sitting” position. This is impossible without falling backwards. Repeating the same facing downhill and relaxing you come to rest on the shins – even with a stiff and strong ankle. Mike didn’t feel this at first which was interesting as it revealed unnecessary tension. I wanted Alex to understand that flexing (sitting uphill on an invisible chair) creates pressure on the boots (shins) and fronts of skis. Turning the legs and boot side on and still sitting uphill maintains this pressure but simulates the end of a turn – without rotation! I wanted Alex to feel this when skiing in short turns – always staying on the fronts but completely safe. His skiing at the moment is nearly all on the backs of the skis and this is a major area for him to develop to have much more control. Alex was able to do this successfully.
I tried to show how the leg turning in the hip causes an optical effect that makes it look like the knee is being pushed in – but it is only the adductors holding the foot on edge and the entire leg itself being turned relative to the non-rotating upper body. Never twist the knee inwards!
We did exercises up on the balls of the feet leaning forwards hard on the fronts of the skis – just to feel the grip and the deflection from the skis. Only the flexion is necessary as the turn evolves - to maintain pressure on the fronts – not a “leaning” forwards. On the contrary – in the second half of the turn you need to pull the centre of mass back up the hill into the centre of the turn to increase the build up of pressure on the outside ski and this ensures that you cannot be thrown over the fronts. We experimented with ths by making arcs in the snow with just the ski boots (static exercise).
It turns out that Alex has never actually understood the concept of skating for a whole turn. This is why in the video yesterday he just skated to start off then switched to skiing by dropping his hips into the turn. He didn’t realise that the skate takes an arc and becomes the turn. We only found out this misunderstanding over a hot chocolate at the end of the day – so it will be priority tomorrow.