Saturday, March 10, 2018

Finn 2


Our day began at the top of the Bellevarde plateau – with a steep section to sideslip down. The key here is to keep the skis close together below the body and have both feet on their inside edges (inside the ski boots) but both skis on their uphill edges. Slipping is caused by moving the Centre of Mass slightly downhill – and stopping by moving it uphill. It is very important to develop this skill because the coordination is preparation for learning how to pivot. Sideslipping is also a valuable tool on it’s own for getting down a steep slope that you don’t feel safe turning on. Later we would add “forward diagonal” and “backward diagonal” sideslipping. Each time we returned to this slope we practised this skill and eventually progressed it directly into pivoting on the steep section – to enable sharp, controlled turns with no acceleration.


Once on the main “green” slope Finn was very unsure of himself when turning. Yesterday’s finish had left it’s mark. Overcoming this problem didn’t take long. We started by returning to skating the turns in incremental steps to get the legs active once again. Fear itself can be paralyzing but skiing is all about dealing with fear. Courage is when you feel afraid or anxious – but you do it anyway – and skiing is a great way to develop this life skill. Within a few minutes Finn was back on top of things and skiing as well as he was yesterday. Now the task was to develop new skills to increase his awareness and strengthen his skiing.


To help Finn improve his turn initiation and avoid being left in the back seat when the skis accelerated downhill each turn we had a look “perpendicularity”. When you go across the hill (traverse) your skis are horizontal and you are vertical. Not many people have any trouble with that. However, as the skis turn to point downhill they are no longer horizontal but are on a slope – and the body needs to come forwards to be perpendicular to this slope. The feeling is exactly the same as when being vertical and the skis horizontal – you don’t feel that you lean forward  and in both cases you are perpendicular. If you don’t anticipate this necessary adjustment you get left standing vertically and so on the tails of the skis – in the back seat – which stops the skis from working properly.

When you use dynamics to launch your centre of mass downhill it should cause you to end up more or less perpendicular with the skis when they come around into the fall line – so this is doing the same thing really and is even more accurate – but there needs to be awareness of all of the options. Finn was tending to be in the backs of his ski boots and this was a start at dealing with this issue.

Advanced Dynamics

I decided to go from “perpendicularity” straight into “advanced dynamics” – something I wouldn’t normally attempt so early on but intuitively this seemed appropriate for Finn. With advanced dynamics it’s all about how you complete a turn – how you come back up out of the turn. You need to allow the downhill ski to lift you all the way up, out of the turn so that you are starting to fall downhill over it – which is another “scary” thing to add to the list. From here you can take over with the skating push from the uphill leg – but now it’s much easier and the turns flow together. Finn had no trouble at all both understanding this and doing it.


Eventually we got onto pivoting and followed the program detailed on the fixed page (menu at top of blog) regarding “Pivot”. Finn picked up on this more quickly than most people do. Once he realised that the pole had to be used for support then he could slip the ski sideways into a turn and complete the turn. Bumps were exploited to show how starting the turn from the uphill edge and having the ski tips in mid air makes pivoting easy and natural. “Swinging” the ski fronts inwards in front of the body requires a specific muscle action and by using a pole planted between Finns skis and asking him to lift a ski and pull the inside edge against it he could practise the correct muscular action – which has to eliminate any twisting or torque from the leg. The point is to develop the skill of pulling the ski fronts inwards – instead of the “traditional” pushing outwards of the heels – which as with the snowplough pushes away your support. “Stopping” skills are developed in this manner. The pivot is a braking manner of skiing – used in bumps, on steeps and in soft deep snow where the skis can travel sideways and you don’t want the ski to travel forwards across the hill.

Ankle Strength and Fronts of Boots

Indoors Finn was shown how to stand on his heels to bend (knees and hips only) in a manner that reflexively strengthens the ankles. When you just bend while standing on the whole foot the ankle actually collapses and the ski boot hides this and you don’t realise that you are no longer in control of your body – but then it becomes impossible to avoid ending up being thrown into the backs of the ski boots. Once Finn understood how the muscles tighten up this way we repeated this by standing up on the balls of the feet and doing the same thing this way – making the feet muscles directly active and supportive. The point is that you can then use this to press the shins against the fronts of the boots when skiing and you will be able to stay there solid and secure – using and feeling the ski fronts for much stronger turning effect. Finn was able to do this and then begin to ski and turn well on steeper slopes as a consequence.

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