Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ben day 1

Ben is a nice skier, has a great attitude and learns quickly. His Giant Slalom looks stronger than his free skiing because he strongly counter-rotates his upper body too early in the turn when free skiing – far less so in the gates. Ben’s main weapon in the GS is that he works with his long legs to push the skis through from one turn to another rapidly and this is a strong point. Once dynamics involving the Centre of Mass are added and made the primary importance then the current skills should make him a very effective racer.


Morning commenced with a look at how the feet can be made active and the ankles strong and supportive. In the video you can see how Ben was flexing his ankles in skiing. When the angle of bending of the ankle is far more than the 12 degree (approx) angle of a ski boot then the stiff ski boot takes over the role of supporting the body – instead of bone and muscle. This is one strong candidate for the cause of Ben’s sore shins.

Standing on the front of the heel – directly beneath the ankle joint – then flexing is completely different. The ankle locks up with the feet muscles activating and the anterior tibialis running up beside the shin all working to strengthen and stabilise the ankle at the necessary 12 degree limit – so the leg can interact correctly with the ski boot for transferring pressure to the ski and absorbing shocks normally (bending only the knee and hip). This muscle activation is reflex driven. If weight goes back over the whole foot then when flexing the ankle will once again collapse.

When standing on the heel the foot can be rocked onto its inside edge easily because the joint responsible for this rocking lies between the heel and the ankle – called the subtaler joint – it is important to be able to keep both feet rocked onto their inside edges at most times – and for this reason I’m generally anti-orthotics because the foot needs room to move and change shape.

By the end of this first day however I started to suspect that there is another reason (or additional) for Ben’s shin problem. The “bad” shin is his right one – and this is the knee he drops into the turn severely causing the ski to grab at the front – remove all the pressure from his outside ski and then to fall. It looks like this is happening frequently and violently impacting the right shin.


Ben was introduced to dynamics (The Magic Wall) exactly in the same way that I would introduce it to a complete beginner. He was equally thrown off by it as they would be – such an alien feeling initially. This is great to see because it confirms my observation that Ben was not aware of using dynamics actively. We did all the standard exercises explained above on my fixed “Dynamics” page… (link on the menu at the top of the blog)

Gradually Ben discovered the wonder of trying to extend his dynamic range – which on a scale of 0 to 10 had been 5 initially. Below if a healthy “3” which was his objective for the first day. (0 being flat on the ground)

Ben was given the “centrifugal force” explanation of why “balance” is inappropriate and misleading as a concept when working with dynamics. We use active disequilibrium (falling over) to make the skis work and what we feel in “stability” not balance – from organized accelerations. Our job as a skier is to fall over and the ski’s job is to bring us up. Without trying to fall then we never really work out what it’s all about. (Centrifugal Force is a “fictitious force” – used for calculation methods only)

Ben was able to begin experimenting with “inclination” instead of being limited to thinking about “angulation”. Use big inclinations for fast, longer turns and angulation when turns are tight and quickness is needed from turn to turn.

Dynamics are how a skier learns that skiing is all about the active motion of the Centre of Mass. The skis interact with the Centre of Mass (We looked at what the Centre of Mass is)


There was a brief forage into the world of “skating” but we dropped that without getting too far for the time being because another fall caused by the inside leg being used inappropriately made it imperative to give that issue priority.

Pivot – Inside Leg

The following two pictures are both a fraction of a second before falling…

Ben impressed me by going through a complete program of pivoting skills in about 10 minutes – which normally takes people several years. From this he was able to understand the separation of the edge of the foot from the edge of the ski. To simplify – this means always stand on the inside edges of both feet, engage the adductor muscles of both legs (pulling sideways inwards – pulling the legs together) There is a fixed page on the Pivot in the menu at the top of the page The idea was to use the pivot to fully experience the coordination and skills then apply exactly the same coordination to carving. The photograph below shows Ben achieving this – with the inside knee pulling towards the outside knee instead of aiming for the snow!

Great first day Ben – well done!

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