Alex was required to warm up on the slope beside the slalom poles before uisng them, meaning a few runs in control on the steep piste. Exactly as happened back in October on the glacier he simply could not control his speed and was forced into huge braking actions. The problem appers to be that he practises on plastic back home and goes so slowly that he can just drop onto the edges of the skis and wait. Trying the same on snow is catastrophic – leading to runaway speed, poorly formed turns, no use of line to control speed and then urgent braking actions to compensate. Various atempts to explain the obvious to Alex went straight over his head – until he followed me down the hill copying and then he understood. Alex was immediately back on top of his skiing to a level that permitted good times in the slalom and competent basic performance.
Early Turn Release
We only worked on one thing in the slalom and that was at releasing the turn early – immediately after passing the gate/pole. Alex was given a detailed explanation of the illusion of “centrifugal force” which is a fictitious force (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictitious_force). The fact there is no force pulling you out of a turn means that you have to act decisively and early to get out of each turn and not become blocked “resisting” this imaginary force. Until this moment of release you should be trying to build up force driving yourself inwards in the turn. If the skier waits any time after passing the pole before trying to get out of the turn then he will become late for the next turn automatically and set of a cascade of errors that lead to braking actions.
There are two main ways to get out of a turn – one being to use the driving inwards force to then lift you up and out – or to break the “resistance” altogether by retracting the legs. This second way is sometimes referred to as a “cross under” – best used when there is already great force and very little time to get out of the turn.
Natural and reflexive leg retraction from Alex as he tries to exit the turn to the left early…
The run where Alex retracted was his smoothest and most technically accurate. (First run on the video). Alex’s next run on the video was faster still – but because he managed a tighter line – though he didn’t mange the leg retraction and was losing time stivoting instead. He can still go faster despite already reaching a very respectable 24.38 seconds. It will be harder to get his time lower from here on because it depends now directly on him proggressing in technique.
Outside of the poles we worked on skating which will eventually be used to control “race timing” properly. On video I do a short demo where the skating action is amplified by the skis and great purchase is made on the fronts of the skis. The body is transported across the hill during each skate. When Alex tries this he becomes too passive – just dropping his hips into the turns and waiting - not managing to use the fronts of his skis at all. Alex needs to get this rhythm and skating action to be able to create the real timing to be able to stay solidly on his outside ski, to use the front of the ski effectively and to make the apex of his turns towards the outside of the poles and not beneath them. Alex already has very good dynamics – he now needs good skating skills and to combine this with even better dynamics skills.
Mike was having trouble skating effectively – his boots turning out not to be aligned well (though at maximum canting). I explained how to get the supporting hip pulled in beneath the body so as to act as a fulcrum for generating skating actions and angulation but we will need to look at this more carefully. In contrast Alex’s previously chronic postural problems appear to have gone away even if he tends to get onto his inside ski far too much.