Today’s session was in two parts – one-on-one with katherine then an introduction to slalom with the rest of the family.
The video shows Katherine doing an exercise for Feet Forwards technique then skiing on steep terrain – with dynamics both in and out of the turns, perpendicularity, on the fronts of the skis, pushing the outside foot forwards and generating angulation to finish the turns strongly – not to mention rolling the feet and using the adductors and anterior tibialis and perching herself on one hip joint!!! The video continues with everyone’s best slalom performance.
Yesterday’s video had shown that Katherine was too much on the backs of her skis so the first subject today was “Perpendicularity”. Standing across the hill the skis are horizontal and the body vertical – perpendicular to the skis. When the skis head off downhill they are no longer horizontal but at the angle of the gradient of the slope. Skiers have a tendency to remain vertical – which puts them on the backs of the ski boots and skis.
The goal is to be perpendicular again to the skis and to the gradient of the slope while pointing downhill. This is achieved through the “end of turn” dynamics because “neutral” is already perpendicular to the slope and so in the right place for the skis coming around. The fact that the body is already there before the skis turn actually facilitates being on the fronts of the skis instead of the backs.
The sensation of being perpendicular is the same whthere standing static across the hill or sliding downhill – it’s a form of “free float” when sliding with only wind resistance to make any adjustments for. Basically this means that perpendicularity is not a deliberate “lean forward”.
The exercise for pushing the outside foot forwards is shown in the video. The arc originates in the hip joint and when skiing this simply reduces the turn radius. The foot is not twisted but remains on its inside edge. When combined with dynamics the two are used to control turn radius. On steep slopes the dynamics are greater and the push has to be more rapid – from start to end of the turn.
We continued with carving on the flat as before (and the carved traverses) – experience being the only way to develop and become used to greater forces at higher speeds.
Showing Katherine that pushing the foot forwards did not conflict with pulling the outside hip backwards was vaery important. In fact the two movements reinforce each other. I showed Katherine how the hip’s motion is activated during the trun transition – during the neutral phase. This is the best way for her to combat her tendency to rotate into the turn on her right side.
We also did a load test – first with the shoulders facing downhill and Katherine trying to lift her poles held in front of her body with me putting my weight on them to stop her from lifting. She could feel her lower back take the load. When turing the pelvis instead – against the stabilised shoulders then instead she could feel the abdomen contract and nothing in the back. This is why “chi skiing” is so important. The postural and core muscles are activated to protect the back. Turn transitions are also far more efficient.
Starting the motion of the body around the certre like this also aligns the bone structure efficiently permitting the correct use of the adductor muscles.
Katherine tends to fall off her right hip joint (and the left sometimes). We looked at how the skating stance involves the hip being tucked right beneath the body when standing on one leg. Katherine was able to do this well when it was clarified. This is how the support leg is always used in skiing and why it is inherently a one legged activity.
Fronts of Skis
I wanted Katherine to discover the fronts of her skis and this meant leaning rght over the fronts and hanging in the boots with the heels almost popping out. We skied in a snowplough like this on our tiptoes to really feel the fronts and learn to sense them.
Afterwards I explained to Katherine that the fronts pull you into a turn and as long as there is good angulation later in the turn there is no risk of going over the fronts. In fact on Ice this is the most secure stance because if the front skids then you simply stay on top of the ski – but if the tail skids you spin around and lose control.
During turns on the steep you have to generate angulation and a forcing inwards of the centre of mass towards the turn centre right through the turn so as to complete it and build up pressure to then lift you actively out of the turn at the very end. Most people fail to work the turn through like this and just yield to the pressure too early and the structure of the turn breaks down. I used the static “foot forwards” exercise again to demonstrate visually how this works on the steep slope and how most people just fall downhill when trying this exercise on the steeps instead of pulling the hip inwards and ecffectively uphill as the turn develops.
Introduction to Slalom
- Anthony 34.93 seconds
- Harry 41.02 seconds
- Emma 42.60 seconds
The introduction to slalom basically just consisted of the rules for safety in the stadium, how to use the timing and follow the gates and then an explanation (and demonstration) of a “high” line turning in below the gate. This line permits a safe approach to the course and good technique to be employed – followed by a tightening of the line and increasing of speed while still being able to concentrate on technique.
Ant did a good job and this shows in his time. Emma and particularly Harry were hampered by being on the backs of their ski boots! They were both in survival mode even at a low speed. The “gold” on this course is around 23.6 seconds.
Timed slalom is the best feedback for measuring skiing level because it simply doesn’t lie. The physical constraints provided by the poles expose shortcomings that remain invisible when turning at will on a piste.
Other constraints that help to develop skiers are bumps and deep snow off piste. With well developed dynamics and pivoting skills all of those are accessible to anyone.