Monday, February 27, 2017

Don, Jennifer, Marcia, Wade Day 3

Wade was out before the start with a twinging knee from yesterday’s misadventure. Fortunately it doesn’t appear to be anything serious but it’s best to aim for rest and recovery – with lots of ice! 

Photograph on the Pissalias glacier…



My Homework

For my own homework I had to find out what “Motte” means regarding La Grande Motte. It’s just French for a flat topped mound. Also the origin of the English “moat” where a castle is built on a mound with water surrounding it.

Wikipedia had the answer for the meaning of “Isère” from Val d’Isère…

[Quote]… The name Isère was first recorded under the form Isara, which means "the impetuous one, the swift one."[3] Not originally a Celtic word, it was very likely assimilated by the Celts in ancient times. This word is related to the Indo-European *isərós, meaning "impetuous, quick, vigorous," which is similar to the Sanskrit isiráh with the same definition.[4] It was probably based on the reconstructed Indo-European root *eis(ə) (and not *is), which incidentally has not been found in the Celtic languages of the British Isles.[4]

The word Isara figures in the etymology of many other river names, from ancient Gaul and its neighboring lands. Examples of this are the Isar River in Germany, the small Franco-Belgian Yser River, or even the ancient name of the Oise River, Isara (the French adjective isarien still exists in the language and continues to describe anything related to the Oise). In non-Celtic countries, we find the Isarco, a river in Northern Italy, the Éisra and Istrà in Lithuania,[4] and the Jizera in the Czech Republic.

The Isère's course measures 286 kilometers (178 miles)[1] and runs through a wide variety of landscapes: from its source near the Italian border in the western Alps, it crosses the Pays de Savoie and the Tarentaise Valley, cuts between the Chartreuse and Belledonne mountain ranges, follows the Vercors Massif, passes through the Dauphiné province, and finally meets with the Rhône at the foot of the Vivarais.

Lower Isère valley (basse vallée de l'Isère) in the north of the Plain of Valence.

The upper valley of the Isère is called the Tarentaise, and its middle valley the Grésivaudan. …[Unquote]



Shaping the Turns

Stable, warm weather meant the Val d’Isère Pissalias glacier was our destination for today. Watching everyone skiing it seemed appropriate to work a little on context and strategy rather than specifically on techinque. Even the steepness of the glacier was exposing a loss of control of line and speed common to all three skiers. Some of the problem was definitely technical but most of it was lack of awareness of how to use “line” and how to shape turns to control speed and also how to develop and exploit the forces in the turns.

We began by sidestepping uphill. Both feet were on their inside edges but both skis were on their uphill edges. The uphill foot therefore had the foot on its lower edge but the ski on its upper edge. This separation of the edges of the foot and ski is very important: It’s the basis of successful edge control for pivoting. The ski is prevented from flattening by the vertical shaft of the boot against the leg – and the lateral stiffness of the ski boot. Sidestepping was just being used to develop this feel.

From sidestepping uphill we moved on to skating across the hill while stepping up onto the uphill ski with each skate. Our aim was to stand up on the uphill ski (uphill edge) after the final skate onto it and fall downhill with the centre of mass into a turn. The ski being on its uphill edge and being solidly stood on means that there is no way it can be pushed away outwards – it can only be pulled into the new turn. In addition the lower ski is lifted so it can’t be used as a platform to push that top ski outwards either. By the means detailed above a turn is made with full committment to standing on that one ski – especially through the start of the turn.

During the skating the ski tips are diverging and this also works against the tendency to stem with converging ski tips. We skied for a short while with reducing the skates to two and then one at the end of each turn – to try to return to the natural skating rhythm of skiing.

Good skiers don’t brush off speed, they take a line that meanders down the mountain by crossing the slope and almost turning back up the hill – building forces through angulation to close off the turn and then using those forces to lift the centre of mass up and out of the turn and over the downhill ski with stability – into the next turn – while simply standing now on the new uphill leg. There’s no “weight transfer” there’s just a change of leg and commitment to a new outside leg. There’s a "pressure” transfer though and this can be enhanced by really stomping the new uphill leg into the snow as the body prepares to move downhill.

Later on with Marcia I asked her to angulate – (statically) holding her ski pole across in front of her -  pulling against me. The point is that it’s not “pulling against” me that counts – during a turn it would be a pulling into the turn to resist the effects of gravity toppling you out of the turn and the ski lifting you up – building up forces and directing you consequently across the hill. You only release those forces when you are almost turning back up the hill. This way you can feel all the components of body mechanics, the overall motion and the effects of the skis – and this demonstrates real mindful and effective skiing.


Don’s “near miss”

When everyone skied down being filmed there was anything but mindful skiing going on. Don had a spectacular “near miss” which we won’t mention other than in the context of mindfulness. Real mindfulness not only makes the turns fiercely controlled but it enhances awareness of your surrounds – it doesn’t generate tunnel vision. There’s a tendency for people when being filmed to be focused on “doing their best” for the camera. The focus is not directed internally and on feelings and the result is very clear. While Don narrowly avoided catastrophy the others were not a whole lot better. Earlier Don had been the one shaping his turns the best – so perhaps tiredness was creeping in.

Jennifer pulled herself back by focusing on dynamics – as on day one – but also by realising that this is also what committment to the outside leg is all about. She repeated the static exercise of pushing against my shoulder to feel the solid pressure on her outside leg.

In the video Marcia was working hard here on her line and on developing her turn purposefully. She was more mindful and focused internally than before. In the sencond clip she loses angulation due to anxiety – but this is because of the emotional anticipation of skidding sideways and so throwing out the bottom to protect defensively. This is a vicious cycle of events promoted by her previous stemming. Practice of good movement patterns on easy terrain will help to overcome all of this – but turns must be shaped and those who just bomb down the fall line skidding must just be allowed to disappear into the distance for the meantime.



Who has her bottom sticking out (turning to the right) ? Who has “angulation”?



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