Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Derin 7

Today we started off by skiing Les Lanches from top to bottom, short turns, without stopping. Derin didn’t even realise that she was supposed to be tired from that – but at least it warmed her up.


Derin was keen to have a run in slalom (her idea not mine!) to compare against her time last year – which she told me had been 49 seconds (Stade de Bonnevie). Off we went to the slalom course and we had one warm up run through the poles and then Derin was filmed racing – though was told to ski safely and wide of the poles – not to try to go too fast or directly at the poles… Her time was 38.27 seconds – a big improvement on last year with no practice at all in the gates. With Derin very happy I suggested we just left it there on a high note.  Derin’s improvement in her stance – being significantly less on the backs of the ski boots  - provides her with much greater control.


After the slalom we went over to the Grand Pré where it is very flat to do some work on carving. Derin clearly remembered some of this from before and was quite good at carving turns at low speed. The importance here is to let the ski “rail” along its edges and completely remove all pivoting. This is the key to going very fast in racing. Like most skills it’s best built up progressively and accurately.


When we came across any steep slopes we worked on side slipping – with pressure on the fronts of the skis and boots. When bumps were present Derin was encouraged to pivot and actively swing the fronts of both skis downhill into the turn from suspending the ski tips in mid air over the bump before the start of the turn.

Pivoting and carving are opposite extremes and most skiing is a blend of the two – but pure pivoting and carving provide the framework and context for all of it. With pure carving the ski has no sideways motion and in pure pivoting the ski has no forward motion across the slope.

Carved tracks

Bird’s head spotted by Derin.

Lenticular wave cloud over Mont Blanc – sign of bad weather arriving!

Much improved stance – good dynamics – skis diverging – all good.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Derin 6

Easy day for Derin today on a family day trip over the Col de Petit St Bernard into Italy (La Rosiere – La Thuile). The main challenge was overcoming her fear of long button lifts – which she managed with a big smile on her face when getting to the top. When we were skiing there was no time for technical input and I didn’t want to spoil her trip by focusing on teaching – so she was just given feedback on-the-go about staying off the backs of the boots. The weather was great and there was no stress – a nice day on the mountain.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Derin 5

Today was a straightforward hard drive to get Derin unlocked from the backs of her ski boots. Most young children do this – because they can! They are light enough to get away with it without completely burning out their leg muscles.

We only did one short exercise – a sideslip while leaning forward (the Supergirl stance again). This seems to be the easiest way to connect the feeling of pressure on the shins against the boots and the grip from ski fronts – without generating anxiety.

I explained how the skis are horizontal when across the slope but when turned down the slope they are no longer horizontal and so this has to be “anticipated” with the move forwards of the body so as to remain perpendicular to the skis. Derin was shown this using my ski poles to illustrate – as the English vocabulary used here is too advanced. She understood well and made some great efforts with a lot of success. She had to be reminded frequently to focus and had to be frequently corrected – which is normal.

In the video she is still a little bit on the backs but has improved enormously. This shows that a clear and direct focus on this highly intractable issue definitely changes things and works.

Derin asked me if she could learn to ski with her feet together – so we spent a moment on that too. I placed my fist between her knees and asked her to squeeze her legs together so that I could feel the power of her adductor muscles working. She also had to roll both feet onto their inside edges inside the ski boots. Derin was asked to stand like this while I supported her and moved her body across the skis downhill and then uphill to simulate how the centre of mass moves and exploits the energy of the turns (skis and gravity). She then followed me using a much closer stance.

Once Derin can stay off the backs of her boots she will be able to do the following…

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Derin 4

Before starting the session I asked the girls what they wanted to do – just ski, or work on technique. They chose technique – though we only spent the first part of the session looking at that and then the rest of the time skiing and applying it.

From the video you can see that everyone skis well. Derin skis best when following someone but the others are fine choosing their own line. Zaynep has relaxed and fluid movements overall and skis nicely on piste. Berin is more in her comfort zone when she is carving and feeling strong feedback from her skis. Okan looks more comfortable on his skis and more dynamic than I recall. Derin was struggling to ski as well as she did yesterday when she had been focusing properly on exercises and technique – but later on managed to keep up well when following.


I chose to revise “dynamics” because when I initially watched everyone ski on flattish terrain only Derin exhibited correct timing – specifically a down / up action – which is generated by dynamcis (Magic Wall). It turns out Berin thought that an up / down movement was how to make a turn – so my observation was correct. Zaynep only reverted to obvious up / down motion when on steep and bumpy off piste at the very end of the session – which confirmed the underlying issue there for her too.

The Magic Wall was explained for moving the body into a turn – then we also worked on coming out of a turn – over the downhill ski as it lifts you up during turn completion. We didn’t do the pivot exercise (which I only demonstrated) as I sensed that everyone really just wanted to ski. Instead we did “hanger turns” which means simply completing the transition from one turn to the next turn completely on the downhill ski. Berin understood this better by following me.

Although Berin is a strong skier, particularly when carving – she tends to incline the body depending on the pressure from the carving ski – rather than being proactive and consciously moving and driving the system through her centre of mass. This is usually described as “leaning” into the turn. Leaning is passive and a reaction – you need to take the lead and this opens up a much greater field of possibilities. (make the body fall into the turn with total commitment – even before there is any pressure to lean against – it works!)

Fronts of Skis

Good dynamics is linked with the ability to use the fronts of the skis. What everyone had in common – other than limited dynamics – was that nobody could use the fronts of the skis or ski boots. Skiing backwards was used to get everyone to feel the fronts of the skis correctly. When skiing forwards you need to feel even more pressure than this on the fronts – but it can only work and be secure when the dynamics takes your centre of mass deep down into the centre of the turn. This works even more significantly in steep bumps and deep snow. The main turning power of the skis comes from the fronts. Most people fail in bumps due to being back on the tails.

Pulling In

My main concern was that everyone had relatively stiff legs – and there is a specific reason for this. Zaynep had the most relaxed legs of the group. The stiffness is linked to dynamics issues specifically because everyone was pushing the outside ski outwards in the turn to some degree (which is the opposite to moving the body inwards!). Zaynep does this mistake the least which is why her legs are the most relaxed and skiing the most fluid – but she still does it towards the end of each turn.

When the centre of mass moves into a turn the foot of the outside ski must roll inwards and the adductor muscles of the leg (inside upper leg) must also pull inwards to the turn centre – but everyone is managing to push the skis outwards – Okan in the video even stems his new outside ski outwards at the start of his first turn. Berin goes stiff at the hips due to pushing outwards and bracing against the outside leg. This is why dynamics has to be learned carefully and properly – to prevent those “reactive” responses and their negative effects on skiing. Derin is at the stage where when she is drilled and focused it’s starting to come together – but she needs her attention pushed in that direction.

Who is on the backs of the boots and skis and with stiff legs?

When the fronts of the skis are active and the legs supple and free from unnecessary tension the turn transitions can be turned into jumps…

Great to see everyone on the fronts of their skis !

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Derin 3

Derin’s Deal

Derin gets to play in the deep snow for a while – then in turn she agrees to work hard on learning technique and to ski hard.

Advanced Dynamics

Yesterday I observed that despite pulling her legs together actively Derin could not stop her legs from spreading apart. The reason for this is that the lower leg is always being used as a platform to block the end of the turn and so it is kept downhill of the body (as a support) until the next turn is well and truly started – sometimes generating a form of snowplough unintentionally.

The solution for this issue is to work on advanced dynamics – which means dealing directly with how the body gets itself out of a turn. Derin was already very comfortable with the Magic Wall aspect of dynamics at the start of a turn – but we had not looked at the end of the turn. Like a motorbike making any turn it has to come back up and out of the turn at the end – and skiing is no different. The key to achieving this it to literally come out of the turn over the top of the lower ski while standing on it.

We started the session by revising pivoting from the top ski only. After a break from that (when the off piste was filmed) we then repeated the pivoting but from the lower ski only – which is far harder as you go into the new turn and complete it on the downhill ski only (the “wrong” ski for a turn).

This new pivoting action over the downhill ski trains the skier to come over the top of the front of that ski – with the support provided from the ski pole planted in the snow. The pivot is executed from a sideslip and no forward motion.

Derin was then asked to use the same motion over the ski – weight on that leg – while also traveling forwards – so that the movement of the body would become a part of the dynamics (only for a moment to make the turn transition – not the entire turn as in the pivot). Refining this she was told to properly complete each turn to build up enough pressure from the ski so that it would lift her up over the ski naturally (last video clip). In the video it can be clearly seen how this automatically narrows her stance – which was the objective for today.

More importantly, Derin could feel the difference in her skiing and how this produces flow. She was able to ski fast behind me and in control at all times.

Lal, Delfin, Nil Day 3

Today was an opportunity to make practical use of the learning from the two previous days. Visibility was good and there was a fresh covering of light powder in places where introductory off piste was possible and safe.

The key to surviving off piste is the Magic Wall. Dynamics, when used off piste ensures that you don’t fall over. Although the girls only had the first part of dynamics – getting into the turn (we hadn’t managed to work on getting back out of the turn) – this is more than enough to give a basic competence and security. The work on the pivot assists the dynamics and reinforces it.

The first run was a bit ropey but the girls understood that the problem was that off-piste requires bigger movements and a greater degree of dynamics. The reason for this is simple. The entire base of the ski loads up due to the deep snow bending the whole ski and creating a lot of pressure. This pressure generates a strong “lifting up” force from the ski which stops you from moving the body into the turn - and tries to spit you out of it. The entire job of a ski is to lift you up – so to overcome this is deep snow you have to move the body more strongly into the turn. You cannot overdo this movement and if you end up on the inside ski by mistake then you are just skating – and yesterday we found out that skating is useful !!!

Off Piste is “real skiing” – the way it is meant to be experienced – deep in nature and away from the dangerous crowds on the pistes. All I wanted today was for the girls to understand that this belonged to them too – that there is nothing difficult or mysterious about it when you have this basic technical understanding and skill.

Nil was trying hard but on steeper terrain she is currently held back by her persistent snowplough – which impedes dynamics. She could still have easily managed everything but this issue steals her confidence from her. I helped her down the steeper parts and then down a red piste when she was still uncomfortable. We used the fact I was supporting her to drill in the pivoting action – pulling the turning ski inwards instead of pushing it out into a plough – and her efforts greatly helped me to hold on to her properly during the descent.

The girls did really well – all of them. Dynamics gives freedom – but there are other parts to it and we didn’t have time to work on hip angulation and control of body rotation. Just practicing dynamics and reinforcing this with pivoting gives a great base for future development. Skiing is “holistic” so you can develop it one part at a time.

When parting company I asked Nil to be determined to focus on the movements that she now knows she needs to make with her body. When your mind is centered like this inside your own body then it can’t be focused on worries or doubts – and that’s exactly how to remove those obstacles. Once you managed to overcome the difficulty deliberately one time then you know you can do it any time and confidence grows  – but you always need to bring your focus back to your body.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Derin 2

(on the path down to Les Breviers)

We simply didn’t hang about today – skiing entire runs one after the other without stopping. Derin impressed by sticking with me the whole time even when I turned tightly. She is developing good control.

Although we kept moving due to the cold wind and generally miserable weather – and busy slopes – there was a constant focus on technique and a continuation from yesterday.

Derin working on sideslip and pivot…

Without any explanation we ended up working on the pivot due to being on a steep section of the hill where Derin was uncomfortable. The message here is that in such circumstances you sideslip when you have to and turn directly from the sideslip. This is exactly what the “pivot” is for – to be able to turn very tightly without gaining speed on steep terrain.

The trick is to stand on the uphill ski and pull the fronts of the skis downhill into the new turn. This is slightly scary to do – but it always works. Many of the things that really work in skiing are counter intuitive like this and so have to be learned. The work yesterday prepared the way for this today – the Magic wall, the feet rolling in and the leg adductors pulling in and pressure on the fronts of the skis. Despite this Derin has a strong tendency to use the downhill ski as a platform and push the uphill ski outwards into a stem/plough – instead of using the uphill ski as a platform then using the centre of mass to pull it downhill – pulling everything inwards. She understands this though and her efforts on the video show great progress when she is encouraged to focus.

Derin was also constantly encouraged to pull both legs together using the adductors – to narrow her stance. This will improve naturally when we work on more advanced dynamics – perhaps starting tomorrow…

Lal, Delfin, Nil Day 2

Bad weather day today so concentration was always going to be hard work. The girls did really well working hard all morning and tolerating the cold spells.

Photo – Nil taking her new found skating skills into turning…

Video details…

  • Scene 1: Skating turns
  • Scene 2: Skiing backwards (pressuring the fronts of the skis)
  • Scene 3: Skiing forwards – but retaining the pressure on the fronts of the skis
  • Scene 4: First ever attempts at pivoting (unassisted)
  • Scene 5: Linking pivots


We began the session at 2800m altitude in a slightly unpleasant cloud – however the goal was to ski while revising yesterday’s work, the Magic Wall and the rolling of the feet. Once out of the worst of the wind we developed this further by incorporating skating into our turns. This is quite hard work so it also helps in warming you up.

Skating Turns

First of all we skated uphill with the ski tips very wide apart and both feet on their inside edges inside the ski boots. This sets the scene for future skill development.

The goal of skating in turns is to change direction incrementally by diverging the ski tips and stepping inwards during the turn. This requires the feet to be edged correctly – which means both feet remain on their inside edges (inside the ski boots) during the turn.

The Centre of Mass (body) is moved step by step into the turn – with several small actions each being like a separate “Magic Wall” move. The skis remain diverging at the tips.

This gets the legs working and can help people to avoid being frozen in the backs of the ski boots. This also cultivates “independent leg action” – because skiing is really a “one legged” act. Dynamics (Magic wall) is practised and awareness of the feet – adductor leg muscles and of the centre of mass control are all being developed.

All movements used are the opposite of “snowplough” – which teaches inappropriate coordination and mechanics – so this helps enormously to correct for such issues.

The skating stance also teaches how to use the hip joints and posture correctly – because skiing is really a disguised form of skating. This becomes critically important at higher levels. Tomorrow I will try to remember to also use skating to work on “timing”. Dynamics provides a natural timing – falling down into a turn and coming back up out of it at the end. (opposite of standard ski school teaching) When a turn is made from a single prolonged skate then the whole body, ski and system resonate very powerfully (both use same down/up timing). This is the basis of high end skiing, off piste and racing – and beginners can feel it perfectly well.

Pressuring the Ski Fronts

The girls skied backwards because this automatically makes them lean forwards from the feet and so they can begin to feel the fronts of the skis (usually for the first time ever!). Notice that they spontaneously diverge the ski tips also – into a skating stance. When the girls later turned around to ski normally down the mountain they were asked to just try to maintain that same feeling of pressure on the ski fronts – and this can be witnessed successfully in the video. Once you know the feeling there is no mystery or confusion.

Using the fronts of the skis is much harder to do at higher levels – remembering that most directional power comes from the front – as in a car or bicycle. The steepness of the slope makes it psychologically hard for people to cultivate this skill and when steeper very good basic skills are needed. We are already working on those skills.


There is a complete explanation with videos for “pivoting” in the menu at the top of the page. The girls were each assisted/supported through one pivot so as to acquire the correct feeling – the video shows their first attempts solo – without support. It’s a skill that takes time to develop – like learning to play a musical instrument well – and is accordingly rewarding. We only do this for a short while at a time to avoid frustration. Normally only a few short sessions brings good progress.



When we had a brief break to warm up and recover from the cold each of the girls ended up with a lollipop – pure sugar. This merited a short lecture on nutrition!  While I’m not likely to take away a kid’s lollipop there’s probably no better time than childhood for learning about the value of nutrition.  Lal proved to already be very aware! The UK has 10% of all adults now diabetic and 35.3% pre-diabetic. 67% of all adult males are now overweight – and they are calling Alzheimer’s “diabetes 3”. Personally I’ve avoided sugar and most carbohydrates now for three and a half years (being in ketosis all this time) and have never been so free of illnesses before. I used to catch colds, flu, gastro etc – every season – but have had nothing at all since the change in diet – not even an aspirin. We eat only organic at home and cook with coconut oil, animal fats or butter (raw if uncooked) and use olive oil for salads only. This is all about getting the fat burning system working in the body and the benefits for sport and health are enormous!

I was expecting carnage at this point – but they held it together…

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Derin 1

Wow, what a change in Derin! Her English is great – she is bigger – she speaks instead of being shy. However – she still wanted to ski on the Bollin and to play in the snow. We agreed to compromise on both issues – ski on the Fresse (bottom being the Bollin) and if she got to play in the snow the deal would be to also work hard on ski technique. We both kept our sides of the bargain.

Derin was filmed first of all before working on technique. She is on the backs of the ski boots and skis and rotating her body in the turns (following the skis too much). There is not much sign of dynamics or any clear awareness.

The second skiing clip is after one session of work. The difference is obvious… Now that Derin communicates the gates to progress are truly open… (but she still gets to play!)

Supergirl Turns

We did a quick revision of the Magic Wall / Dynamics with various supporting exercises, then went indoors for a moment to work on the feet. Derin was able to understand how the foot rolls onto its inside edge and then how the adductor muscles of the leg (inside of the leg) are connected to this. It’s important to roll both feet onto their inside edges at the same time (Derin thought the inside foot went onto its outside edge). I placed my fist between her knees and asked her to roll both feet on their inside edges and then squeeze the legs together against my fist – so she could feel her adductor muscles. This feeling should be aimed for all the time when skiing – but the outside leg in the turn feels like the adductors are pulling inwards towards the centre of the turn.

The outside leg feels the foot rolling in (on edge) – the adductors pulling in – the centre of mass pulling in to the centre of the turn – all helping the ski work towards gripping and turning inwards. With the appropriate exercises Derin could understand this.

The Supergirl exercise was to get pressure on the fronts of the skis – which works best when combined with the feet/legs/dynamics – so the final video clip was Derin successfully putting all of this together – Supergirl turns!

Supergirl stance – putting pressure on the ski fronts by leaning forward from the feet.

Rolling the right foot (inside the boot) onto its inside edge – pulling inwards with the adductors of the right leg and pushing the body against the table to the left (Magic Wall / Dynamcis)

Lal, Delfin, Nil Day 1

We began the first session with skiing on a green run and filming straight away before working on changing anything. I hadn’t realized that Lal and Nil hadn’t skied at all this season or we would have had a complete warm up run before filming. The first series of clips in the video show the skiing as it was at this stage.

The Magic Wall (Dynamics)

Nil was stuck in a snowplough, Lal was unsure of herself and Delfin didn’t have a lot of control – so I chose to try to pull things together for everyone by working first of all on dynamics – using the “Magic Wall”. There is a full explanation of this accessed from the menu at the top of the page. Basically – everyone thinks that “balance” is the goal of skiing – but that’s incorrect. We need to actively fall over in skiing – like falling over sideways on a moving bicycle. Skis are designed to react to this falling over and to bring you back up – so you actually can’t fall over this way. This issue is highly counter intuitive – so the “Magic Wall” is a way to turn it into a game and allow children (and less technical adults) to understand.

We carried out the basic exercises – both static then with speed. The second series of clips is of turning across the hill from a straight run downhill – just by falling actively to the side – there is no attempt to turn anything. Nil lost her snowplough immediately – because dynamics is exactly the key to parallel skiing. Lal became smooth and relaxed and Delfin was easily in control. After this exercise whole turns were made one at a time – then they were linked together and everyone was then skiing with dynamics.

The Feet (Eversion)

The Magic Wall is hard to achieve if the feet are not being used appropriately – I could see problems with everyone in this respect. We went indoors to be able to remove a ski boot each – and it was impossible not to allow the girls to have hot chocolates with cream. If the weather is really bad tomorrow the same thing might happen! What’s most important is the everyone can feel able to concentrate when trying to learn new things.

With the foot out of the ski boot the goal was to stand on the front of the heel just beneath the ankle and rock the foot onto its inside edge – turning the forefoot slightly outwards. This is how the foot is edged so the ski digs in and grips to make the turn – and it allows you to push hard against the Magic Wall – which when static (not actually skiing) is my shoulder usually. The main thing is to understand that you don’t try to twist the foot in the direction of the turn – you just roll it on edge inside the ski boot.

The second series of clips in the video are with both the Magic Wall and the feet being rolled on edge (specifically the outside foot in the turn – rolled onto its inside edge.)


Part of my objective from the beginning was to get Nil skating – to move more rapidly across the flats and to climb. I never mentioned this to anyone but as soon as Nil understood how to use her feet she discovered how to skate naturally. (final clip in the video). Skiing is literally a mix of skating and dynamics.


The girls were told to focus on the body parts as much as possible when skiing and try to avoid being distracted by everything else going on. The way we train the body is to keep attention on it and this usually leads to increased awareness and more new things. Most people do not know what to focus on so they are busy thinking about other things – were the chairlift is, who is skiing at the side, how fast they are gong, etc. Keep the thoughts “centered” and that makes the mind focused and relaxed. All the external issues will be handled without focusing on them directly. It’s important to stay on green and blue runs to work on new things – to avoid all those distractions.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Return of the sun–Lac d’Annecy

First time the sun has been out for weeks – so it was off early to the Annecy lake and in for a swim (4.5 °C) then a dip without the wetsuit to finish off. My cold adaptation is poor at the moment so it was painful – especially when returning for a second dip after thinking it might be easier when the body had recovered from the first shock – it really wasn’t. Christiane by using cold showers at home had no problem at all going into the cold water and swimming with just her bathing costume.

The feeling after the water was like someone had pushed a reset button – all stress and fatigue vanished! We both used the hyperventilation breathing procedure designed by Wim Hoff (The Iceman) and it does work. Neither of us were even shivering afterwards.

I went for a 20k “time trial” bike ride after and ended up working in a fast moving peloton that spontaneously emerged on the cycle path around the lake. It felt exactly like being in a proper race – really good! Tested new carbon racing shoes – bought for 75e instead of 200e and the difference is phenomenal. I always thought the extra price would be a waste but there really is a huge difference – the contact of the sole of the foot along the whole length of the shoe to the heel never being lost.

The 40 minute spin knocked my system back into ketosis (measured the following morning).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tignes–after the storms

Outdoor parking…

5m deep hole to reach and free a pully…

Struggle to regulate the netting for the race piste…

Monday, January 15, 2018

Katariina–Val Thorens

Program for (daily) solo “mindful” practice sessions…

  1. Focus: Dynamics – out of existing turn (or traverse) by moving the centre of mass (CoM) over the front of the downhill ski.
  2. Focus: Dynamics – once the CoM crosses over the skis stand firmly on the uphill leg to get grip and pressure from the very start of the new turn.
  3. Focus: Timing – once the CoM crosses the skis it goes Down into the new turn – using the lower ski to bring it back Up to complete the turn.
  4. Focus: Feet – both feet pronated – standing on fronts of the heels – adductors tensed and lower abdomen contracted.
  5. Focus: Pivot – try single pure pivots (no forward sliding) or each leg. Try single pivots on the “wrong” ski. Ski on one ski. Always inside of foot no matter what edge the ski is on.
  6. Focus: Posture – pull pelvis up at the front and release/flex at the hip joints. Pull the “outside” hip back (left hip when turning right) to stretch the abdomen slightly on that side and activate the protective reflexes. Stabilize the shoulders – only a slight twist in the lower spine.
  7. Focus: Angulation – sink down into the turn as it progresses to deal with increased forces as gravity and slope geometry combine against you. Make sure the left hip pulls back when required to allow you to bend.
  8. Focus: Purpose - Working the Ski – make sure the turns are completed and there is feeling and feedback all the way from the start to the end – with clear movements for each turn transition.
  9. Focus: Mindfulness – every turn must have attention firmly rooted inside the body. This drives down fear and anxiety and facilitates the counter intuitive acts that skiing requires – the active “falling” when instinct says “balance”, the constant “pulling in” when instinct says to brace, resist and push out.
  10. Focus: Fractal Dimensions – mindfulness in this complex activity leads to constant shifts of perception – sometimes big and sometimes little but always changing and evolving – always stimulating – always when least expected and always a surprise.

The video is in three sections…

  • Clip 1 shows basic dynamics – just moving the CoM into the turn
  • Clip 2 shows a competent pure pivot
  • Clip 3 shows a combination of all the elements in the above “program” being applied and setting the scene for fundamental development


Skiing is unfortunately subject to commercial marketing and pressures. Form the alcoholic party atmosphere, bad nutrition and inevitable sickness and illnesses experienced in the resort by almost everyone – to the complete nonsense that skiers are taught “en masse” guaranteeing that almost nobody will escape this shallow paradigm – it’s all a great shame and lost opportunity.

For skiing to serve us well it has to be seen as a “moving meditation” and shared with others only on this level. Achieving this state of mind and skill requires a specific understanding and discipline and the mindful state it generates is common to all valuable and worthwhile activities. What makes skiing unique in this domain is the spectacular, outdoors, winter environment it involves us with.

Watching Katariina ski before beginning our session showed me immediately that she had slipped back and away from the work we had done a year ago – due to the social pressures of “keeping up” with fast (but not necessarily very good) skiers and the social demands – the opposite of “mindfulness”. The skis were being pushed out to the sides and dynamics had almost vanished with the turns not being constructed with any inherent purpose. Katariina’s goal was to have the ability and confidence to attempt to ski with others off piste when fresh snow came – but the underlying social pressure appeared to dominate everything and focus was removed from the act of skiing itself. Asking Katariina to explain back to me the understanding gained from last year she was vague and not able to articulate it. It’s not possible to be mindful and purposeful in your actions when you are unclear of what to focus on – other than not getting lost, following your friends, trying hard to keep up, getting scared, getting tired, finding the café etc. etc.

The beauty and value of skiing are greatest when you are totally absorbed in the activity – your mind, body, equipment and environment all functioning in coordinated harmony and when you can empty your life – for a moment – from daily stress and worries. There’s nothing “perfect” about it – it’s about exploring an endless process of discovery and creativity. Either that of you just hack your way down the mountains until you eventually get bored, frustrated or your body falls apart.

Pistes are a blank slate and unfortunately they do not reveal any rules, structure or discipline necessary for developing real skills. Skiing is “holisitc” in that you can remove parts of it, get parts wrong and still “ski” – or at least call it skiing. The holistic quality can also be used constructively to allow us to change one bit at a time and develop skills progressively. The skier who is working on skill does not need to hack fast down the mountain but instead has to bring purpose and feeling to each turn. The process resembles “Tai Chi” in that everything in the turn shape and function to the smallest detail is done carefully and with great attention. Everything that actually really works well is counter intuitive and so this care and attention is specifically directed towards overcoming all the obstacles of impulsive, instinctive tendencies that block our progress. The skier ends up taking a “slower line” as if there were slalom poles in the way – creating “form” on the empty page of the piste. Put this skier in a proper race course once skill is developed then the reality of skills shows through with no question – and the same goes for off piste skiing.

During the session we looked at five main aspects of skill but also had to reinforce the overall objective – the shape of the turns, the line taken, the purpose of this, the feelings to observe and the mindfulness inherent in putting it all together. While Katariina was following me during skiing she was not fully aware of the line I was taking – or the reason why. We had to take time to specifically describe this and get Katariina to apply this by herself. The turns on the last video clip of the three show this line and the function of all the movements being developed.


We began with a basic revision of “dynamics”, repeating my standard exercises of getting Katariina to push her shoulder against mine. I left a gap between our bodies and used the analogy of jumping across a stream – the movement of the body required being such that the aim was to avoid falling into the stream so total commitment was needed. The static exercise was repeated with me both uphill and downhill of Katariina and she later had no problems using this to turn from a straight line down the fall-line, then to make whole turns and then connect them. This part of dynamics resembles a motorbike going over into a turn. Dynamics is the physics of “disequilibrium” – we are not using balance.

Motorbikes have to come back up out of turns – and so do skiers. This is the key part of any turning. It’s in this “transition” between two turns that all the magic happens. The trick is to stay on the lower ski as the turn finishes and let the ski lift the body up and out of the turn so that as you go across the hill your body becomes perpendicular with the mountain and the skis flat (this is idealized and not completely necessary). Getting to “perpendicular” as you cross the hill is only sustainable for an instant because the moment you crossed the vertical (to gravity) you already began to fall downhill. This point of this however is that you now guarantee the dynamics into the next turn. This is the biggest single aid to competent off-piste skiing in any snow and also in slalom racing.

For more advanced dynamics you move specifically over the fronts of the skis – while most people actually move over the backs of the skis unconsciously. (But this requires well developed skill and angulation where appropriate.)

Good skiers use the support of the skis to move their centre of mass. Poor skiers push their skis about and have no awareness of their centre of mass. Some people discover that they do move their bodies as if on a bicycle and they get by reasonably well – but they are most often directly (incorrectly)criticized for this.

The rule is simple. You have one job – to fall over. Your ski has one job – to bring you back up. You fall in the direction you want to turn. Any twisting of the body or skis in that direction – or pushing out of the skis to brace against – will prevent the skis from supporting you. The centre of mass does the driving.

Dynamics brings us natural timing and rhythm. You go down into a turn and back up out of it – like the motorbike. This creates a simple pressure cycle – which in racing or deep off-piste generates a “rebound” effect – which people enjoy. Ski schools teach the opposite  (up – down timing) – the only explanation for this being stupidity.


Most people can manage to produce basic dynamics – providing the ski equipment is set up reasonably well and they are not still trying to push the skis out into a snowplough (yes – I do not teach beginners snowplough because it develops inappropriate muscle coordination). To support good dynamics we need to be aware of what to do with the feet and ski boots. The answer is simple – you stand on the front of the heels just below the ankle joint and then pronate both feet inwards – onto their inside edges – and keep them like that.

Why? Well that’s not so simple to answer! The pressure on the front of the heel (at least taking this as a base position to work from) is to prevent the ankle from collapsing inside the ski boot and also to give accurate control over foot pronation. You can also use the foot muscles to stand up on the forefoot but that is more challenging to do. The main thing is not to let the boot support you fore and aft with the boot shaft due to a collapsed ankle – you have to use your own muscles to stand up.

You pronate the feet inwards so that the inside edges of the feet are always used – as they are tied to the adductor muscles on the insides of the legs and connect with the core muscles and lower abdomen for strength. While the inside edges of the two feet are kept active this (surprisingly) lets us correctly access all four edges of the skis independently – but that becomes clear only with “pivoting” experience.

Katariina could feel the improved support from engaging the feet and adductor muscles in this manner. The point is that the outside ski always has the foot rolled onto its inside edge – the adductors pulling inwards and the centre of mass pulling inwards – everything working inwards.

The ski (turning) is actually deflecting you inwards away from a straight line at any instant – this is correctly called “centripetal force”. You need to help the ski by working in the same direction – inwards. Most people from the snowplough onwards are actually pushing/bracing/resisting outwards and are never taught or discover how to pull inwards. The “centrifugal” (fugal – outwards) force they feel is an illusion and does not exist. In mechanics this is called an “inertial force”. Google “inertial force” and you will find “Fictitious Force”.


To clarify the correct use of the feet we had to revise the pivot. There is a fixed page on the pivot in the menu at the top of this page and it includes demos – so I’m referencing that page here instead of writing it all out again.

Katariina initially stood on her uphill edge (uphill ski) and lower edge of the foot correctly during the pivot  - but then tried to push the tail of her ski out and torque her foot and body into the pivoted turn (which is a pure sideslip of the front of the ski). With the ski on its uphill edge you simply cannot push the tail of the ski uphill so this makes the inherent problem very clear. With some assistance Katariina was able to feel how the centre of mass guided the front of the ski down and into the turn and around to support her from below. The second video clip shows her doing it on her own with pole support – though there is still a slight attempt to twist the tail out. This is the instinctive urge to force things which has to be overcome – through training.

This point of this motion is to develop the skill of always “pulling in” when all the impulses are to push out. It doesn’t matter what edge the ski is on - whether pure pivoting or pure carving the same overall movement pattern is used. The “pulling in” at the start of the turn is actually fed directly from the turn transition with the centre of mass coming out of the previous turn and continuing over the skis towards the centre of the new turn – the skillful skier being able to exploit this actively – though the “pulling in” always takes some courage to overcome instinctive impulses.


Before we can have good hip angulation we need to be able to control postural issues. When active and when the body is under load this nearly always requires a tilting upwards of the pelvis at the front (even for me with a flat lower back). The body is then tilted forwards from the hip (the head of the femur) and the pelvis/lower back area is held as a solid unit.  In simplest terms the hip angulation is really caused by the tilted upper body pivoting around on a single hip joint.

Regardless of the apparent simplicity this turns out to be the most confusing area of ski technique – perhaps because skiing is unnatural in many ways and because the largest and most versatile joints and largest muscles in the body are involved.

Typically skiers are taught that when the ski comes around to complete the turn they have to keep the shoulders facing downhill. This is referred to as “winding up” the body (to be later released like a coiled spring after rebound). This is also why most dedicated skiers end up with destroyed lower backs. What happens is that the ski coming around pulls the pelvis with it and and compresses the side of the pelvis against the front of the ribs. While this is all happening at the maximum pressure and load during the turn there is a huge force passing through the body. Postural reflexes are completely involuntary and are controlled through pressure signals on the feet – so with the spine in this compromised position the system fails to work and all the protective muscles and contractions are blocked – the entire load going directly through the spine instead of being spread out through the whole midsection of the body.

Our solution to this ubiquitous problem is actually quite simple – yet impossible for most people to discover (I’ve had major back surgery three times now and the last one failed!). What you do is you actively pull the outside (of the turn) hip backwards (counter rotating the pelvis slightly) so that as the turn closes there is a slight stretching between the rib and the pelvis instead of a compression. When the body is loaded with force the reflexes now work. It’s important to avoid the shoulders also counter-rotating along with the pelvis. The lower spine actually slightly twists in the opposite direction from the conventional way.

Not only does this protect the spine but it hugely improves the turn transition and all of the actions with the adductor muscles, feet, “pulling in” and motion of the centre of mass.

Once the mechanics are understood then the practical application needs to be developed. We carried out a static exercise with skis off to show how to sink into the turn as pressure builds to prevent the turn from washing out and developing into a braking skid instead. This “shaping” of the turn and “working” of the ski sets up the correct forces and movement patterns to render everything functional.

Katariina had better postural control – and so angulation (and consequently control over rotation) – on her right side.

Forward Pressure

We had a brief look at using the fronts of the skis – more for clarification at this stage because it’s one of the hardest skills to develop. You cannot pressure the fronts of the skis strongly in off piste or racing unless you have very good angulation (in shorter turns). The power of turning that comes from the ski fronts is exceptional but the angulation is needed to get securely down and inside the turning arc – or the ski fronts will spit you straight out of the turn like an unwanted, dead cat. Most people – because they fail to some degree with angulation – compensate off piste by skiing on the backs of the skis and boots. The reality is that it’s only is very heavy goop where the skis fail to float and move at all that there is any advantage in getting on the backs of the skis and stressing the leg muscles and joints.

When you do actively use the fronts of the skis then yes – you do stand strongly on the forefoot and you do press hard against the shin – but not with the ankle collapsing inside the boots. Master angulation first and practice on the piste before even attempting this off piste or in a race course. This also helps greatly in bumps but the pivot must be used for bumps – the ski starting each turn clearly on its outside edge.


So you only ski a few weeks every year and part of this means enjoying the social side of relaxing any food and diet constraints! Perhaps not a great idea unless you like being ill while out in the next blizzard. Perhaps most people just get ill due to the sudden decompression of stress form their work environment. The immune system seems to go to sleep too when that happens. However I’m more concerned with “longevity” in skiing terms and the ability for people to enjoy the sport into their nineties instead of crapping out completely with heart attacks, strokes, cancer or just artificial hips and other bits in their 50s and 60s. While efficient and correct mechanics contribute enormously to longevity in sport it’s not the whole story. Nutrition is even more important.

It’s not the holiday blowout that makes the difference it’s what’s going on the rest of the time that counts. About 15 years ago I stopped drinking alcohol just because the social pressure to drink in skiing areas is practically compulsive. The best way to stay on top of this is to dissociate yourself completely then nobody bothers you about it. However the epidemic of debilitating colds, flu, stomach flu, bad backs, aching joints etc has more to do with never ending carbohydrate consumption than any other factor. The number one culprit for degenerating the spine is sugar – yet sports people are sold glucose supplements everywhere. People are addicted to bread, pasta, pizza and pastries – but have no idea what they are eating – which is basically an alien lifeform – with 42 chromosomes and 330,000 genes  (in contrast to a human with 25,000 genes). My own take on the gastro and other viral epidemics in ski stations is that the proteins in those products – particularly “gliadin” – open holes up in the intestines and let opiates like gluten straight into the bloodstream (and brain) and also viruses! Since stopping eating any of that junk three and a half years ago I’ve had none of those bugs – or if I had any of them at all the symptoms were so mild as to be practically unrecognizable. I’ve been ketogenic all this time and will never go back to eating carbs and vegetable oils – except I might steal a chip from someone occasionally or eat a square of sugared chocolate when skipping lunch – none of which knock me out of ketosis (fat burning metabolism).

The other issue is that even if you eat non starchy (carbs) vegetables they are likely to be devoid of nutrition – with mineral levels being as much as 50 times lower than nature intended due to chemical fertilizers – and this is even if you avoid organic pesticides and herbicides. How many people realize that 47% of all fatal heart attacks are in people with no cardiovascular congestion? – it just simply magnesium deficiency. How much magnesium did you get today? Somehow having 10% of the UK population flooding doctor’s surgeries with type 2 diabetes (a stunning 35.3% have pre-diabetes!!!) is seen as a medical epidemic and not a dietary one – precisely because it’s not junk food as such that’s causing it – it’s the medically recommended diet that leads to it. Nobody can eat a low fat, vegetarian diet for long without gong crazy – they rebound and yoyo because it’s all hormone controlled and you can’t beat hormones. They end up obese despite all their efforts. The other biggie is iodine! Nearly everyone is iodine deficient due to bromine being used ubiquitously as a fire retardant in household products. The bromine displaces iodine in the body. If you supplement iodine then it lines the mucus in your nasal passages and throat and acts as a powerful disinfectant for your body. (Think of that next time you are in a closed ski gondola) Iodine is also your frontline defense against prostate and breast cancer – ever wonder why there are epidemics of those too?

Why is skiing generally seen as an excuse to leave your brains at home and mess yourself up – in every possible way? Time to avoid the crappy commercial paradigms and move on.