Predictably, today was going to be a battle for Alex and it was. He was determined to get back into the long poles and overcome the great difficutlies they present. There was hope that improved technique itself would do the trick but the problem is that he hasn’t had enough time to drill this into being an unconscious automatism.
Video shows the disaster of “reaching and boxing” and the difference between left and right – then the Jiu Jitsu version with reduced reaching and successfully clearing every pole…
To try to bridge the gap between short stubbies and long poles I prepared a slalom course alternating between 3 stubbies and 3 long poles so that he would have a chance to recover if the long poles threw him off. Unfortunately all the good new technique went out of the window and the long poles triggered a defensive mode of functioning. Alex raises his arm and reaches forwards for defense. This complete distraction from his skiing makes him feel obliged to turn early to set up a high line – then when he defends in the poles he skids and brakes frequently after the pole. Initially we took a psychological approach – trying to just ignore the poles and allow them to strike anywhere because with body armour on they just don’t hurt that much. None of this helped Alex and his reflexive defensiveness was deep rooted. Losing the good line he managed yesterday compounded the problems and there was a lot of frustration and a few teary moments from Alex. I pointed out to Alex that frustration, anger and tears don’t solve problems and it’s best to put his energy to positive use instead. None of the other issues we dealt with already were resolved by shouting at them – that’s just a wasteful and destructive approach typical of some spoiled brats who are not very useful as role models. Character is easily spotted by how someone responds to difficulty – and always thoughtful, intelligent reflection will get you much further than a brainless rant. All the previous problems were circumvented by working out what the limiting factors were and changing the right things. Alex has to understand that he isn’t on his own here.
This photo is of Alex’s line shadowing the stubbies slightly to the skier’s right. The point is that he is clearly getting the apex of the turn far too high above the poles…
On the slope I demonstrated to Alex how to defend from the poles by simply brining the outside hand across the front of the body and turning the palm of the hand outwards – using just the gloved palm to push the pole away. The point here is that the arm is brought inwards and towards the body and turn centre – not outwards and reaching away from the centre of the turn. When punching forwards or reaching out and up this pulls the centre of mass out of the turn, causing rotation and loss of hip angulation and inclination. Alex simply couldn’t stop doing this until attempting this exercise – but even then his defensive reflex was overwhelming. Alex only made one descent with his palms deflecting the poles then he made several slow descents using his ski pole pulled inwards in front of him. He should probably have done more work without the ski poles.
Yesterday I showed Alex statically that when he used the blades he should try to get his bottom on the snow andbut also BOTH his hands – turning the shoulders relatively inwards (pelvis outwards). He didn’t try this but now he was regretting it because he was starting to see how this is the same as pulling the arm inwards – as with every other part of the body – to help to generate centripetal force from the ski.
Alex was still lashing out at the poles and relating it to “boxing” the poles. I pointed out that it shouldn’t be like boxing – it should be like Jiu Jitsu – let the pole come to you and demolish istelf against you and your relaxed suppleness. Finally the penny dropped because Alex has actually done some Jiu Jitsu at school and so he grasped the idea. From this point onwards he could stay in the course and take all the long poles correctly – though there is still a tendency to reach a little and enough to detract from good form with his technique. He was also on his final two runs able to begin to think about using his outside ski and line better – yet still keep the contact with the poles relatively clean.
Tallulah was demonstrating how she “shivers” and skis backwards and without skis. Also on film is her fist ever solo ascent of the steep slalom stadium button lift which she was determined to do on her own. She specifically brought Husk (Her Husky toy) for me in the morning so I suggested Husk would love to ski with her… Husk took care or her all day and apparently even inadvertedly had some of her hot chocolate.
Tallulah also has her moments of down time – but Husk made sure she didn’t cry for long.