Monday, March 26, 2018

Ben day 2

Day 1 was all about introducing dynamics – great fun and very illuminating!

Day 2 was about dealing with the practical realities and starting to manage the consequences of dynamics. It was no surprise that this is where Ben started to find things difficult but once again his attitude, enthusiasm and effort were all great – the persistence starting to bring results towards the end of the day. Most of the specific issues we are dealing with took me between 5 and 30 years each to fully appreciate and explain – so I’d be slightly disturbed if somebody could grasp it all in just minutes!

In the parallel slalom course (video) Ben is experimenting with inclination. The issue now was how to tame the dynamics and make them constructive. Ben’s usual way of crossing over his skis would need to change also and his way of generating angulation…

Feet (part 2)

While indoors in the morning we looked at how to use the balls of the feet for skiing. First of all Ben was shown how to activate the muscles in the feet – placing the foot on the ground on its outside edge and holding it like that then stretching the ball of the foot down to make contact on the ground – then standing on the whole foot with this tension being held. This activates the muscles in the feet and fully controls pronation. From there you can raise the heel about a centimeter off the floor and support yourself on the ball of the foot – keeping the foot that way through a range of movement – hence preventing the ankle collapsing in the same manner as standing on the front of the heel.

We didn’t actually get around to applying this in a practical manner in the skiing during the day – we are not at this stage yet – but at least Ben knows how to use any part of his foot now.

(Inside knee much better. Shoulder excessively counter rotated – subject of today’s coaching)


Ben’s current skiing involves a counter rotation of the upper body near the start of each turn – facing the shoulders outwards – with the intention of creating early angulation. This way allows him to get strongly into the new turn without using much dynamics and is effective up to a point but has serious limitations. The unnatural movement pattern is more clearly visible when free skiing and is often referred to as “park and ride”. This leads Ben to be forced to retract his legs at the end of a GS turn and transition with a movement over the backs of his skis as he counter rotates his upper body to start the next turn.

Trying to explain how angulation works to Ben was difficult because of the confusion his current movement pattern brought to the table when attempting to change it. Initially I thought that working directly on angulation would do the trick – then thought that skating would help communicate the issue but eventually discovered that his underlying trouble was with the part of dynamics that we had not yet looked at – how to finish a turn. We were later able to identify the “cause” of the blockage in this way – instead of wasting more time focusing on issues that were really just the effects of this underlying cause.

Meanwhile – we did work on angulation.

If you turn your shoulders to either face downhill or to the outside of the turn you twist your spine in a way that is destructive (Looking down from above – same direction as the shoulders.) Basically, as the ski comes around in front of the body the hip joint ends up in front of the rib cage and angulation is either limited or something weird happens – which in Ben’s case is his inside knee issue). The shoulders facing downhill also causes the postural muscles in the core to fail – for which I used a loading test – getting Ben to turn his shoulders and lift up against my hands/weight – it can be immediately felt in the lower back.

Correct angulation is achieved by pulling back the hip on the outside ski so the the pelvis faces more outwards or downhill than the shoulders. This twists the base of the spine in the opposite direction – preventing the hip being pulled around by the ski, letting the postural muscles (lower abdomen) work and allowing a far deeper flexion at the hip and so correct angulation. This is probably the most important thing that can be learned in skiing – protecting the lower back, facilitating excellent technique and also protecting the hip joints themselves.

In simple terms you pull back the outside hip from the start to the end of the turn – not the shoulder. You change hips during the turn transition.


Ben had trouble skating and connecting skating with skiing due to his persistent counter rotation. We tried several exercises but it wasn’t breaking through. Ben himself however discovered an important thing when borrowing my skis. When going along the flats he pushed both skis outwards simultaneously in a diverging skating action and with then carving allowed them to be pulled back in together – making two separate arcs. This is commonly done on skates and can be used for propulsion. If you just take one side of this – then that would be how the body and leg should work together – also explaining how angulation actually develops with a leg skating out to the side and then coming back in front of the body.

We used the static exercise seen in the video to show how the leg actively pushes the ski forwards and then pulls it inwards in front of the body– not just for a skating action but this is actually what controls turn radius – making the system far more active.

Dynamics (part 2)

Finally this nut was cracked by getting Ben to try to come over the front of his downhill ski at the end of the turn. It just seemed impossible for him to get over the ski and this was verified when using “hanger” turns – completing the turn transition and momentarily entering the next turn all still on the same downhill ski.

The point is that the angulation and skating can’t be successful until this second part of dynamics is mastered. You have to be able to let the lower ski lift you up out of the turn over the front of the ski and then fall over it into the next turn.

Just like a motorbike drops down into a turn then comes back up out of a turn the skier has to do this too – it’s the slope that seems to complicate the matter – but not if we realise that we need to be working in the perpendicular to the mountain – something to be developed…

Ben started to get this turn transition by the end of the session (final part of the video) and he started to look much more natural – about 75% of the way there – which is a huge step to make.

Some photos of Hirscher with dynamics – inclination…





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