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.

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