Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Don (Short Turns)

Today’s video is of short turns – on moderate terrain. There are a lot of components and a great deal of body management – so in all fairness Don should have had a few opportunities to repeat this and to have been able to use video feedback on the mountain. Short turns on flattish terrain are actually quite tricky. Don’s steep skiing was much cleaner but we didn’t get that on video.


Following on from yesterday Don suggested working on short turns. The work we did for the steeps yesterday naturally leads into short turns but not without the addition of pivoting skills. Pivoting is tricky to learn and can be frustrating. Most people – even at a strong level of skiing fail to grasp the value of pivoting and that is largely due to modern ski design. Perhaps that’s why in racing the ski design is now being forced to return to less aggressive “shaped” skis and longer radius sidecuts. There is a complete section on pivoting here: http://skiinstruction.blogspot.fr/p/pivot.html

Don was taken through my standard pivoting exercises – where he was supported during pivoting on the uphill ski only. The goal here is to get the front of the ski sideslipping directly into a turn -  being supported from below either by me or a firmly planted ski pole. To get this right it needs angulation, a firm pole grip and to have the pole planted downhill and behind the feet. You effectively pivot around the pole. The pivot is controlled by the motion of the centre of mass moving downhill – modulated by using the ski pole. The ski pole prevents the body just falling downhill and through tension in the adductor muscles of the leg the force/motion of the centre of mass is used to pull the front of the ski into the turn in a controlled skid.  The ski comes around and the body must adapt with hip angulation to avoid being rotated – so remaining able to both complete the turn with the hip inside the turn (upper body facing downhill) and yet ready with the next pole already in place to lead the turn exit dynamics and flow into the next turn.

All turns in skiing other than pure carved racing turns involve an element of pivoting. People will do this unconsciously – yet will not be able to execute a pure pivot (from a sideslipping ski) when required. Most people however are taught a parody of the pivot – involving pushing out the tails of the skis – either by stemming or flicking the heels out to one side together. It usually takes a lot of work to correct those faults. Most people never feel the need to make those corrections but then find they cannot ski off piste, lose control in bumps and are annihilated on ice.

We had a few attempts at pivoting – which is best learned in small chunks to avoid frustration. I’d demonstrated the rapidity of pivoting by skiing on one ski with very short turns. I also demonstrated one ski “edge to edge” skiing with no pivot – so the difference in turn radius could be seen.

The pole is only used for support in pivoting – and its dependence vanishes as the skis gain forward speed – which engages other ski mechanics (lifting up power of the skis).

Angulation (Carving)

After a drinks break we returned to flat terrain to repeat the work we had done on angulation yesterday. Don was feeling a bit saturated with all the things he was trying to do so this would clarify issues for him. This time I held Don in the hybrid-plough so that he could actively pull the “outside” ski onto its inside edge while moving his pelvis over the top of the inside ski (brining the hip in and creating hip angulation). This time Don was able to hold a solid edge and get the ski to carve during the exercise.

We took the angulation further into carving by using a parallel wide stance and repeating the same set of movements – this time minus the “wedge”. The idea was to get the outside ski to carve due to hip angulation without the contortion of holding the horrible, demented plough shape.

Short Turns

Bringing it all together – the angulation and the pivoting – Don was much more able to execute rhythmic short turns with his pole (aided by angulation and control of rotation) leading him from turn to turn much better.

Don also looked much more controlled on the steeps on his last run – while remaining fluid. He lost some control once but had correctly stopped to “reset” and then carried on.

La Grande Motte

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