Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chantelle, Andrew

Checking my blog it’s exactly three years since Chantelle skied – not having skied at all since those sessions. Starting with a refresher course was a good idea because she was very rusty to begin with. Although bringing Chantelle back up to speed in a solid way was the goal Andrew was clearly not standing comfortably on his skis so that bugged me enough to pull him into the session as well.



Video Scenes…

  1. Chantelle pivoting – outside ski
  2. Chantelle working on dynamics and coordination
  3. Andrew working on dynamics and coordination
  4. Chantelle on the balls of the feet – ankles extended
  5. Andrew on the balls of the feet – fronts of the skis – improved stance
  6. Chantelle – filming tendency to stem the left ski at the start of the turns



Once Chantelle readjusted to sliding again we did a basic revision of dynamics from scratch  http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/dynamics.html

Theory and understanding had to be reinforced just as much as the physical side of things as Chantelle was not clear on the issues. The link above covers all the basics so I won’t explain too much here and as Chantelle progressed well we were able to move on quickly and while doing so her confidence was increasing all the time.



When opportunities arose Chantelle was asked to sideslip and to stand on the inside edges of both feet – moving the centre of mass downhill to make the skis slip. This was to accustom the body to the side slipping skills necessary for pivoting.

There is a complete basic coverage of pivoting at the following link… http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/pivot.html Chantelle was assisted thorugh a complete pivot with me providing support for her centre of mass. On her own, the downhill pole was planted to take over my job and to support her centre of mass. After a few practices Chantelle was able to pivot neatly on her own.

Dynamics function when the ski has forward speed and generates “lifting up” power – so there is a relationship between actively falling over and the ski lifting you back up. When pivoting there is no forwards motion of the ski – it sideslips (from the uphill edge)  into the turn at the front being pulled by the centre of mass – which is supported by the pole plant and tension through the legs.

Dynamics and pivoting are opposites in ski use and function and when clearly understood then then can be blended intelligently.


Looking over the Col de Petit St Bernard into the fog above la Rosière ski station and into the Asota valley in front of Mont Blanc. There is frequently a huge fog bank in this location.


Feet /Boots

  • Ankle is a hinge
  • Weight on front of heel
  • Bending at knee and hip – feet muscles and anterior tibialis tensioning – strong ankle
  • Rolling feet from subtaler joints (between heel and ankle)
  • Feeling connection with adductor muscles (insides of upper legs)
  • Feeling core muscles from using both sets of adductors and both feet on inside edges
  • Rising up on balls of the feet – still able to keep strong ankles and roll feet on edge due to the support from the inclined boot sole

Andrew’s boots had to be canted as the were strongly under-edged. The shafts were canted outwards. Applying my own test – legs straight - unloaded – feet hip width apart – hips flexed – the soles of the boots were now flat. Shops and “experts” try to do this with you standing and flexing but this canting issue is only related to bone structure which can only be seen with the leg locked out straight.


Dynamics Part 2 – Perpendicularity

We moved on fairly promptly to the issue of “perpendicularity” – or getting into “neutral” and over the lower ski into the next turn. This is an even more important  part of dynamcis than the first part. This still didn’t stop Chantelle from being trapped on the backs of her boots at times but it did bring her more fluidity and security.  If you get over the lower ski then the start of the next turn is easy and you can use the fronts of the skis – otherwise you tend to be caught in the back seat. Chantelle had a tendency to avoid coming over the right ski/leg and so stem out the left ski – which is a “pushing out action” that we try to avoid. Much of the pivoting exercise is to cultivate a “pulling in action”.


Illusions to avoid

Centrifugal force does not exist – it is a “fictional force” – sometimes called a d’Alembert or Inertial force. Basically it’s a mathematical trick. What we really do have is “centripetal” force – acting like a rope pulling you inwards away from a straight line. All skiing actions have to encourage this “rope” action of the ski deflecting you inwards – so you move in and pull everything in. Unfortunately the illusion of centrifugal force is strong and so people respond by pushing outwards against it in a form of resistance – or pushing the ski out with the abductor muscles and even moving the body outwards to “transfer weight” and twisting everything inwards – all going neatly along with this illusion and a whole pile of commonly taught nonsense that panders to the emotions instead of overcoming them.



While Chantelle had a tendency to rotate and twist into the turn Andrew as simply confused at the hip joints – with almost no understanding of that area of his body. There’s clearly nothing wrong with him it’s just that he’s never had to think about it. We had to work on posture – the relationship between the pelvis and the lower back – and then be able to release and flex the hips separately from this. When Andrew could do this standing on one leg then he could use the head of that femur like a fuclrum to support and pivot the entire upper body. This is how hip angulation is generated in skiing – allowing control of rotation and more accurate and powerful development of tighter turns. (This stance really comes from skating actions where the hip is pulled in under the body)

The above movement was refined and simplified on the slopes by simply pulling back the outside hip during the turn – to prevent the ski from pulling it around in front of the ribs. I got both Chantelle and Andrew to pull up against my weight in both positions and to feel how the slight pulling back of the hip allowed the core muscles to protect the body by reflex.

The order of coordination was now…

  1. Feet (balls) rolling
  2. Adductor muscles
  3. Hip/angulation
  4. Centre of mass

It’s easy to think of that specifically on the outside leg at the start of a new turn. However it’s better reversing this and starting from the centre because this alignes the femur correctly and sets everything up almost automatically.



Both Chantelle and Andrew found it more successful to stand up on the balls of the feet. Andrew’s “agricultural” skiing stance – skis wide apart and rounded back – complete vanished. The outside leg was still “resisting” and a bit locked but working on “pulling in“ should help that to ease off. For a while I had Andrew tilted far forwards over the fronts of his skis to feel them – then back off – but to still retain the fact that we need to use the fronts. When there is inclination and angulation then we are safe on the fronts.

Chantelle by now also appeared to be off the backs of her ski boots – through the combination of dynamcis and standing with a strong ankle on the balls of her feet. You can feel the subtaler joints better when on the front of the heels – but it’s hard to stay in contact with the fronts of the skis that way.


Working the Turns

The centre of mass needs to be driven inwards even more strongly as the turn develops. After passing the fall line the second half of the turn is about resisting gravity so the forces from the ski “lifting up” (and so indirectly out) of the turn are much stronger. The skier has to drive that centre of mass even more powerfully inwards – but peope who are not aware of this or who have never raced in poles always do the opposite and give up. Chantelle had this issue and was very unstable on steep slopes because of it. We managed to get some work on this in during the final run of the day.


Mindful Skiing

All the pysical details of the body parts and relationships – and the relationship with the centre of mass – must be the whole focus when skiing. What this does is it centres the mind and removes distractions and tensions. When the mind meditates like this on body awareness then it unlocks performance potential. We relate to the terrain and surrounding environment far more efficiently this way compared to allowing them to be a distraction. The main thing is that mindful skiing allows us to grow awareness and never become bored or frustrated with skiing or being on the mountain – it lets you de-stress from work and become totally absorbed in the present. That’s why it’s so important to be working with correct information.


The Rocher du Charvet on the right with Pisteur’s couloir in the shadows.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alex Pila Racing–U14 Slalom

  • Points/List/Category: GBR / BASS / CHI
  • Start & Finish Ht: 2103m & 1963m
  • Vertical Drop: 140m
  • Weather: Sunny


Applied Penalty: 177.42 (F=720)
First Run 22nd  Bib 45  Time 58.16 secs  Race points 199.44  Result 376.86  GBSKI.com



Applied Penalty: 178.38 (F=720
First Run 26th  Bib 45  Time 55.77 secs  Race points 152.16  Result 330.54  GBSKI.com




Monday, March 20, 2017

Alex Pila Racing–U14 Giant Slalom


  • Points/List/Category: GBR / BASS / CHI
  • Start & Finish Ht: 2357m & 2150m
  • Vertical Drop: 207m
  • Weather: Sunny


Applied Penalty: 173.66 (F=980)

First Run 23rd  Bib 53  Time 53.62 secs  Race points 148.12  Result 321.78  GBSKI.com










Applied Penalty: 176.33 (F=980)

Second Run 21st  Bib 53  Time 56.40 secs  Race points 133.68  Result 310.01  GBSKI.com








Sunday, March 19, 2017

Alex Pila Training


Mont Blanc

Spot the glider – in the bright central cloud…

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Katariina 2

Today’s session began with a warm up and brief revision of yesterday’s dynamics. The idea was to focus on the Centre of Mass and execute things in the following order…

  1. Move Centre downhill into the turn - a combination of using gravity and muscular impulses
  2. Pull the outside hip backwards slightly to align the femur and activate the adductor muscles
  3. Roll the foot onto its inside edge
  4. Ensure pressure on the front of the heel – strong ankle

Katariina expressed her need for more control on steeps, ice and bumps. Improved dynamics is the key to most of this so this would be our target for today. Skating aspects and pivoting skills are also really important – but most benefit would be taken from taking the dynamics forward at this stage.

  • Video clip 1 – full dynamics
  • Video clip 2 – Working the turn on the steeps
  • Video clip 3 – Foot forward technique – (derived from skating) – natural angulation



Katariina’s default way of skiing is currently based on looking at the mountain as “uphill” and “downhill”. She faces downhill and tries to get into a new turn by quickly getting the skis around the first part and back down beneath her to brake sideways. This all has to change and the first stage is to begin to understand “perpendicularity”.

When we ski on the flat or across a hill the skis are horizontal to gravity and the body vertical – while being perpendicular to both skis and the ground. When the skis turn off downhill they are no longer horizontal – but the body must be adjusted to remain perpendicular to the ground and the skis. Some of gravity now accelerates us downhill and most of it still pulls us directly into the ground and overall we should feel no difference standing perpendicular to the skis either across the hill or sliding downhill. We can relax and start to eliminate the fear of “uphill and downhill” and just see the slope as “flat” – with motion of the centre of mass lateral to the skis being the critical action we need to exploit.

The aim is to get the ski to grip from the very start of a new turn and not to rush the start of the turn. Perpendicularity is a basic principle of dynamics.


End of Turn Dynamics

Katariina took quite some time to get her head around this issue! She just couldn’t see it initially – but did get it in the end. There are two parts to dynamics – falling into a turn – then getting back out of the turn. So far we had only worked on part one. A motorbike falls into a turn but has to come back up out of the turn exactly like a skier. The end of the turn is where this happens. Pressure builds up on the outside ski as it crosses the fall line and then resists gravity and so as the turn develops the pressure becomes much greater and this means the lifting up power of the ski is greater. When the turn is nearing completion the skier then uses this pressure and lifting power to let the ski lift the body out of the turn right over beyond the vertical into the perpendicular – with the skis flat on the snow as they travel across the hill. This momentary position is called “neutral”. The body then continues to fall from there downhill into the next turn and the support leg switches spontaneously and naturally. The turn transition all the way to perpendicular is carried out on the downhil ski.

I demonstrated “Hanger Turns” executing exaggerated full transitions on the downhill ski with the other ski visibly held in the air – entering the next turn each time still on the downhill ski – as is seen commonly with giant slalom racing at high speed. Katariina still couldn’t recognise what was going on so I then skied linked pivoted turns on one ski so that it was really clear that the body was going over downhill ski particularly when it was the right ski and I was turning to the right on it. It was after this that Katariina seemed to get it.

End of Turn Dynamics is critical to bring skiing with dynamics into the perpendicular and to allow flow from one trun to the next without skidding and braking.


Working the Turn

Speed control and grip come from using the skis all the way through the turn – from beginning to end. Speed is controlled by “line” and direction – not by braking. This is normally learned through racing development. Race courses are set to very strict rules – with rhythms, breaking of rhythm and gate spacing to control speed. Good siers ski faster but over slower lines.

Part of Katariina’s probelem with this part of dynamics was that she was not driving her Centre of Mass into the turn after initiating it. The Centre of Mass must be forced in towards the centre actively until there is enough pressure at the end to fully control direction and speed – then this solid platform on the downhill ski is used as a support to lift up and out of the turn. Without that support the turn is not “worked” or developed and there is no platform for directing the centre of mass – no way to support the body coming over the downhill ski and no way to get confidently into the next turn.

When Katariina understood all of this she was able to work at controlling her speed by using both parts of dynamics on a steep black slope – video clip 2.


Foot Forward Technique

The video clip of the “foot forward” technique is fairly self-explanatory. This action tightens the turn radius when combined with dynamics and it improves angulation – which is naturally derived from skating – thus making tighter turns and grip more efficient on steeper terrain.  When terrain is very steep and dynamics have to be quite big then a more rapid pushing forwards of the foot ensures a more powerful and rapid turn. The combination of dynamics and pushing the foot forwards is how we alter turn radius (when not pivoting!)

We didn’t have time to go through pivoting because the dynamics had taken a bit longer that expected – but this was clearly useful and necessary. For bumps the key lies really with two footed pivoting – and the dynamcis are controlled through the use of a pole plant for the most part.

Most skiing is a blend of pivoting and dynamcis – bumps and carving being at the opposite extremes of each.


Mindful – Functional Skiing

Working the turn, building and using the forces and developing the “line” – with conscious understanding of the principles – are key parts fo functional and mindful skiing. All of this is governed by directing the Centre of Mass and being aware of it – like the gymnast spinning or rolling around it. In skiing we use it more like the point of a pencil – drawing our line in 3D space.


Mont Blanc 4810m (Seen from Val d’Isère)



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Katariina Day 1

Today’s session began with a look at Ketariina’s current skiing. In the video below the first clip shows the skiing before working on anything. Clip two is a very good first attempt at “pivoting” and clip 3 shows Katariina using basic dynamics…




Katariina’s skiing was a typical “ski school” product. We discussed what she was doing and it is all visible in the video. The turns were started with an up movement and transfer of weight to the uphill ski and towards the outside of the turn. The upper body was kept facing downhill. Combining those things causes the body to remain very upright and static, the skis to be pushed outwards with the hips following in rotation and then a sideways drifting and irreversible instability to set in.

The fastest way to correct the worst aspects of the above is a direct introduction to “Dynamics”.




The above link takes you to the fixed page explaining dynamics and the exercises that we covered. Everything was standard protocol. The goal was not just to change physical actions but to bring about a fundamental change of understanding and perception as to how skiing works. Your job is to Fall Over – and the ski’s job is to lift you back up. The turn is a consequence of this “dissipative, feedback driven, disequilibrium system” as it is described in modern physics.

I took time to explain the underlying mistakes of physics (d’Alembert fictional forces) and how this leads to “Statics” (balance) being used by mistake in ski instruction instead of “Dynamics” – the physics of “Disequilibrium”.

The immediate feedback from Katariina was that she found it very relaxing to ski this way – but she seemed worried that it was too easy! Early on it is important to just follow the skis with the body and move laterally – as on a bicycle – because this is the development of a fundamental isolated basic component of skiing – a very critical one. Attempting to face the upper body downhill easily confuses the mind (spatially) and muddles the learning process. Katariina found this out for herself later on when we included some work on the hip and angulation. Relaxation comes about because the unnecessary battle between the body and the skis caused by “balancing” is removed.  Forward motion – speed – is needed for the lifting effect of the ski to function. Comparisons with cycling and motorcycling are accurate.

After explaining that “centrifugal force” is a fiction and giving the example of the ball on a string being swung around the head – we translated this into skiing terms. The Centre of Mass moving into the turn is like the string giving a “centripetal” – “inwards” force on the ball. The skis maintain this inwards force but we have to do everything we can to help the ski – everything moving and pulling inwards – the exact opposite of what katariina is doing in her first video clip. When we work with the ski in this way there is no waste of energy or strength or conflict with the system – which is why if feels naturally relaxing.

Photo – overlooking the dam at Tignes



During the work on dynamics I explained that “timing” was “down/up” instead of “up/down” because we move the body like an upside down pendulum. A motorbike goes down into the turn not up! Skis have been manufactured since the 1960’s to function with this motion. Correct timing comes naturally from dynamics.

We needed a basic introduction to skating and after finding out that Katariina can skate we just went straight for a direct approach – skating straight downhill with the skis diverging and then falling inwards between the skis on each stride to create dynamics – morphing the skating into skiing. Katariina did manage to demonstrate a natural feel for the enhanced down/up timing with the combination of skating and dynamics. We aim for “resonance” here where the combined effects create even more power and stability. This timing of course is the complete opposite of the ancient and irrelevant up/down timing taught in ski schools – dating from a period when skis were totally dysfuctional and jumping was the only way to get them to do anything. Even then skis were never as bad as all that!

Part of the reason for skating is that it teaches the need to use the inside edges of the feet and the inside muscles in the legs (adductors) – a subject that we were about to go into more in depth. 



We started working on the feet a little bit before skating but afterwarrds we looked properly at this indoors over a relaxing drink.

  • Standing on the front of the heel – below the ankle joint
  • Flexing with the ankle going strong – bending only the knee and hip
  • Anterior Tibialis (Shin bone muscle) tenses – stability in the ankle
  • Feet muscles activated
  • Sub taler joint (between ankle and heel) rolls the foot onto the inside edge
  • Adductor muscles tense up to create a supportive structure right up to the hip
  • Later ‘'Chi Hips” – pulling back the hip is added on one side to align the femur better
  • Starting from the centre of mass this all operates in one action right down to the foot
  • Both feet are kept on inside edges (to be explained in the future relative to pivoting)


Mindful Skiing

When skiing we have the overal motion of the body concerned with directing the centre of mass – then all the detailed internal aspects. The more we focus on all of this the more we develop awareness. Along with awareness comes a form of “mindfulness” which pushes distractions out of the mind and keeps us focused on our acts. This surprisingly increases our ability to deal with the external environment – it’s like all the instruments are switched on and all sensors functioning. 

Visualisation can only function in the mind when actions make “sense”. Once we understand the right patterns of movements and feelings then we can reinforce this through active visualisation.




The above link gives full detailed demonstrations of pivoting. I demonstrated one in front of Katariina and asked her to try to spot what is different from other skiing issues – but predictably this was impossible for her to spot.

Katariina had a very brief introduction to pivoting and did extremely well with this – a subject that most people find intensely frustrating. I assisted her through one single pivot and then explained how to use the pole for support instead of me and she immediately executed a good pivot first time – better than when I brought out the camera!

When skiing with dynamics the ski moves forwards and the speed allows it to lift the centre of mass and create support and interaction. When pivoting the ski does not move forwards and so the pole is used for supporting the centre of mass. The centre of mass still controls the turn and and the same muscular actions as used in dynamics are once again exploited here.

Part of the goal here was to reinforce the “pulling in” muscular actions and coordination common to all effective skiing.


Chi Skiing


We spent some time on an introduction to “angulation” and the use of a counter rotation of the pelvis in skiing instead of “facing the shoulders downhill”. I carried out a “load test” with Katariina where she stood side on to me and turned her shoulders to me and tried to lift my weight – feeling it in her lower back. Then instead of turning the shoulders she turned the pelvis towards me – and when taking the load this caused a spontaneous reflex contraction of the lower abdominals to protect her back. Failure to pull back the hip during the turn causes the hip to rotate (pull around) in front of the ribs and for posture to collapse. This in Katariina’s case is exacerbated by her habitual tendency to tilt the pelvis downwards at the front.

Changing the “hips” takes place during the turn transitions – but as we have not worked on turn transitions yet it was not surprising that she found this a bit confusing at this stage. My point was that angulation and hip rotation control are critical for developing higher levels and better control on bumps and in tight turns and on ice – particular concerns of Katariina.

We used a few small bumps to get the ski tips in the air and then exploit this for easy pivoting.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Basak, Erdem

Basak only managed to get around to having a session on her final day – when there was a major storm and when taking care of a knee injury from earlier on in the week. Despite all of those disadvantages, including poor visibility and lumpy snow she did manage to change her vision of skiing in a single session. Erdem, a first week beginner also responded very well.

The video first shows Basak sking with “statics”, pushing the leg out (stemming) and moving the centre of mass to the outside of the turn – this was prior to any explanations of dynamics or skating. Two slow motion turns are included to show this more clearly. Next up is Erdem making a good job of using dynamics and skiing parallel – prior to working on his fore/aft stance (unfortunately he wasn’t filmed prior to instruction). The final clip is Basak using dynamics – though still tentatively at this stage.




Considering the howling blizzard and Basak’s knee problem we decided to start the lesson with a complete basic introduction indoors in warmth and shelter – where it could all begin with the feet.

First of all I checked the alignment of Basak’s ski boots and found that she was slightly under-edged. Someone had canted the shafts of her boots inwards to match her slighlty knockkneed stance. The problem is that this is a habitual stance – not her bone structure. Checking the legs unloaded – legs completely straight and looking at the soles of the boots shows that this adjustment is in error and not respecting her structural morphology. Unfortunately I had misplaced my key for making such adjustments – but the canting should definitely be returned to neutral before using those boots again. The error that exists makes skating and gripping correctly harder – and makes snowplough and stemming easier or even difficult to avoid.

Here is a list of the main points…

  • Pressure on the front of the heel just below the ankle
  • Bending from knee and hip with anterior tibialis (shin muscle) activated and feet muscles working – strong ankle
  • Rocking the feet inwards on edge with the subtaler joints – between ankle and heel
  • Linking the adductor muscles (inside of upper leg) with the rocking of the foot
  • Linking the foot and adductor muscles to movement of the centre of mass – all leaning in against a wall
  • Forefoot turning out during the rocking instead of twisting inwards
  • Both feet rocking inwards actively at all times
  • Shins just touching the fronts of the ski boots

Both Basak and Erdem were previously standing on the middle to fronts of the feet and collapsing the ankles when flexing – which is disguised by leaning on the ski boots but leads to many support and coordination problems.

The feet were explained within the overall context of dynamics so that lengthy explanations would be avoided outdoors in the blizzard!




We covered most of the skating exercises up until replacing the actual skate with just the dynamics. The above link covers those exercises in complete detail. Basak in particular had to be taught how to skate but picked this up rapidly – thanks to the work done already on the feet and adductors.




Our lengthy explanation of dynamics is fully covered here in the above link – with the “Magic Wall” included and the exercises.

The deep snow was making learning dynamics a little tricky because the skis were threatening to overpower everyone and lift them out of each turn prematurely. Erdem had one significant fall with this early on. When developing a turn it is important to continue to drive the body into the turn right to the end Coming around the turn we have gravity changing from pulling us inwards to pulling us outwards so during the second half of the turn we must act against this if we want to stay in the turn. With basak standing across the hill and holding a ski pole across her body I had her try to pull me uphill. This is how hard you need to work against the forces pulling you up and out of the turn downhill – until you are ready to give the turn up. Both Basak and Erdem understood this and applied it well – improving dynamics.

Basak had a tendency to rotate her body when turning right and also to stem her left ski out. Simply focusing of rolling the foot on its inside edge and using the adductors and centre of mass managed to bring this under control – this being because both sets of movements are mutually exclusive.



Both Basak and Erdem being new to dynamics had to be made aware of the need for perpendicularity. Launching the body downhill across the skis brings it perpendicular to the mountain – ready for the skis to come around. Thsi is a critical movement in skiing because failure to get perpendicular causes you to end up on the backs of the ski boots. In the video clips both skers are still in the backs of the boots – but later on Erdem had made good progress in correcting this.




I mgave a very brief demonstration of pivoting to show that it did not matter what edge of the ski was used to begin a turn. My aim was to combat the brainwashing of the snowplough that forces people to think that they have to somehow get the ski onto its inside edge to turn. Pulling the ski inwards was also part of the demonstration – once again showing that everything goes inwards and nothing is ever forced outwards.



Basak very clearly explained how she had been taugh to come up – stem and then sink down around the turn – an up/down timing. Correct timing is “down/up” corresponding to a motorbike going down into a turn and back up out of it. The upright body is like an inverted pendulum and it swings down into a turn and back up out of it. We didn’t have time to specifically work on this but the point was to clarify that this happens naturally through using dynamics and it suffices for the moment to simply avoid trying to create an up/down timing.


Mindful Skiing

When you use the correct movements you can apply all your focus to them and this pulls your attention inside of your body. The connection internally with your body then provides calmness and freedom from distraction and anxiety – making your interaction with the environment more reflexive and efficient. This is what skiing should really be about – but without the correct details and mechanics it is impossible.