Sunday, March 11, 2018

Finn 3

Whiteout, high wind, sub zero and snowing heavily – but Finn turns up with no jacket and only a fleece and Tshirt. Easily explained when we arrived at the top of the Olympic lift and I said that you can’t come up to a mountain top (9000 feet altitude) with no jacket and Finn’s reply was “Is this a mountain top?”. We got the jacket sorted out before he started to get really cold – and yes – even superhero Finn did start to get cold.


Yesterday we covered a lot of technical work so it was important to revise this today before moving on. Weather however played a role in that we had to do everything on the move – no static exercises today. Beginning with only a little sideslipping we were able to start dynamic skiing without delay but Finn looked a little uncomfortable and static. To get the legs working and centre of mass moving we went into skating turns and even combined it with extending the ankles and feet during the skate and pressure on the shins – the last things we had worked on yesterday. Using the skating action to develop awareness of the foot muscles and ankle is not something I’d considered before but it makes a lot of sense as people tend never to move enough and the foot and ankle add a lot to the range of movement. We then worked on the dynamics, both into the turn and out again over the lower ski. Thomas went off to find the jacket and we continued this revision for another several runs until the cold started to make itself noticed to Finn – when we retired temporarily to a cafe with a warm radiator to dry his fleece.

Extending the Boundaries

During the revision we also gradually increased speed, rhythm (cadence) and steepness. If Finn was still close behind me during the turns I gently ramped it all up a bit more and quite soon he was skiing at a good solid pace.

(Video is on a black run – with virtual off-piste conditions and no visibility – showing good rhythm, dynamics and control)

Foot Forward Technique and Angulation

The goal for today (which Finn was unaware of) was to get Finn skiing comfortably and competently on black runs. Fortunately, with it being such a difficult weather day today, there were only a couple of key technical issues still to be added. Indoors – while warming up, drying the now wet fleece and waiting for the arrival of the jacket, we carried out a static exercise for feeling the “foot forward” technique. Finn shows this drill being executed correctly – with the leg swinging in a natural arc and the body not turning – the foot being pushed along the ground (boot on edge) to make this happen. When you do this on skis it does not “advance” this foot in front of the other foot – all it does is make the ski turning process much more active and reduce the turning radius. In dynamic skiing it’s the combination of dynamics and pushing the foot forward (beyond a simple skating action) that determines the turn radius of the arc more than anything else. You have to do this immediately from the start of a turn on a steep slope to turn tightly – and keep it going until the end of the turn. This is the first time I’d ever done the exercise indoors – but it actually seemed to be easier to do indoors so I might do this as standard in future – probably because the floor is flat and horizontal. (Doing this with no skis on when there is a slope is more complicated – but important for more advanced issues)

Finn was able to become aware of the need to prevent the hip (pelvis) from swinging around in front of the body as the foot came around in front. To stop the hip from being pulled around (called “hip rotation”) you actually have to actively pull it backwards – just to keep it still. With the hip pulled backwards this allows the body to tilt forwards over the hip joint and create an angle at the hip – called “hip angulation”. Hip angulation is used to keep the body to the inside of the turn while increasing the edging of the skis – yet allows you to get out of the turn easily at the end of the turn. You need hip angulation if you want to be agile or do short turns – whereas longer high speed turns can be done with the body (Centre of Mass) just inclining into the turn with no angle  at the hip. I hadn’t intended to introduce hip angulation at this stage – but it came naturally along with the foot forward exercise.

Lower Back

When we started doing longer and steeper red runs Finn complained of having a sore lower back so we stopped for a moment to go indoors and look at what was happening. We verified that Finn had been bending at the waist and thus bending his lower back putting a lot of stress on it. Finn was shown how to bend at the hip instead and to tilt the upper body forward from the hip joints with the lower back kept straight and the tummy tucked in for support. I did a “loading” test on Finn so he could feel the difference between good posture and bad posture – the bad posture being felt in the lower back and the good posture causing a reflex contraction of the lower abdomen instead. During a turn pulling back the outside hip promotes this reflex protection – so this is not an issue to be glossed over or ignored. Finn was able to concentrate and apply this change in posture to his skiing immediately and his back problems faded away. Coping with his new red and subsequently black slopes in bad weather and visibility while making such changes demands a very good kinesthetic awareness and ability to focus – demonstrating that Finn has very appropriate aptitudes for this sort of activity.

Chi – Skiing

During a brief Twix bar break for Finn I began to expand the concept of Centre of Mass into a new area – the idea that all motion should start at the centre. The concept comes from Chirunning  (Tai Chi) – a stunningly boring but equally useful book. There is a fixed page on this subject at the top of the blog so I’ll not go any further into that here. Finn wasn’t ready for this yet but the reality is that it’s the most important thing he can learn in skiing, running or even for walking – to both protect him from joint problems and guarantee maximum efficiency and economy of movement.

No comments:

Post a Comment