Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ian & Diane

Today was meant to be intensive and highly focused on technique – due to my messing up of our original booking. The risk with this is that it can become overwhelming – which it did do in part – but the effects of that are temporary (I know that from experience) and the full-on blitz approach is actually very effective. (I’ve had a few victims of this in the past – but mostly professionals going for exams) In any case Diane seemed to respond incredibly well to this level of intensity and left me impressed.


Watching Diane initially it was clear that she lacked confidence and was fairly rigid with limited dynamics and rotating. Ian’s skiing was quite similar but with just a bit more confidence – but limiting all the same. We started with a complete revision of dynamics – both into the turn and out of the turn. This was very necessary – particularly for Diane who hadn’t retained this from March 2014. The exercise progression and technical explanation can be found on the fixed “Dynamics” page with the link found at the top of the blog. Diane found skiing much easier and less tiring when her dynamics were improved and Ian had much more control on the steeper sections when coming over the lower ski to exit the turn. Remember to extend the uphill leg (looking for pressure) to push yourself over into the turn after you come over the lower ski (everyone forgets this!).

Feet/Ankles and Fronts of Skis

Ian was clearly too far back in his stance – though at the end of the day I tried his skis and found them to be absolutely terrible so that could have been a large part of this. (Get All Mountain skis tomorrow – so they can pivot properly) We skied backwards so that the skis would diverge naturally into a skating wedge and everyone would tilt forwards reflexively – this being to feel the fronts of the skis to establish a reference point. Although beginners are taught by me to stand on the front of the heel and rock the subtaler joint – we would now be up on the balls of the feet, ankles extended, feet muscles active and anterior tibialis active to be strong inside the ski boots. This stance enables functional pressure on the ski boots and ski fronts – plus it permits more rotation of the hip joints.

Angulation (Eliminating Rotation) (Chi –Hips)

Pressure on the ski front at the end of a turn is maintained though the use of angulation. (But forward pressure at the start of the turn is established though dynamics) We used static exercises to simulate this pressure and to cultivate angulation. It’s extremely important for protection of the spine to NOT face the shoulders downhill, but to face the pelvis downhill instead. This is covered to some extent in the fixed page for “Chi-Skiing”. The hip is pulled actively around the turn by the ski and unless it is deliberately pulled backwards in the opposite direction it ends up in front of the front ribs with postural control collapsing. (We did a load test exercise to show this effect and the alternative). Not only must this be done to prevent hip rotation but doing so facilitates the turn transitions enormously. Motion within the body must really begin here – near the core – to be most effective.


Pivoting was revised and developed. There is an extensive fixed page on the subject at the top of the blog – with all that we covered included. Ian struggled with this more than expected but this was useful as it uncovered some fundamental issues that needed to be addressed.

Apart from being unable to get weight transferred to the ski pole for support Ian had been unconsciously twisting his foot/leg into the turn – demonstrated by placing a ski pole in the ground and pulling the edge of the ski against it (heel going out when it should have come in). The slightly crouched stance was not giving enough support to the bone structure for the centre of mass to pull the ski into the turn (sideslip) – so standing more upright helps to correct this – a real commitment to the outside leg.

The body must have hip angulation – pelvis facing downhill. The tightness of the turns was causing Ian to stand square to the skis and made the lateral pulling of the ski tip into the turn difficult (to improve angulation we later worked on Foot Forward technique).

Diane meantime continued to steadily improve with pivoting and also the sequencing of all the other moves and coordination when skiing with dynamics.

Foot Forward Technique

A static exercise with no skis on was used to transmit the basic sensations of pushing the foot forward – scribing an arc in the snow with the edge of one boot. For Diane the goal was mainly to prepare her for steeper terrain – as this push forward of the ski when combined with dynamics tightens the turn radius and gives great security on the steeps.

For Ian the exercise was to improve angulation in very tight turns and to correct his development of the turn by ensuring the second half was accomplished with a continued movement of the centre of mass into the turn – moving the bottom uphill in the case of this static exercise.

Mindful Skiing

Rendering skiing “mindful” requires awareness of both the actions of the body and the structure of a functional turn. You have to know how to apply dynamics (freely or constrained with the pole) – which edge to use (pivoting or no pivoting or a blend) – shaping the turn through dynamics (coming over the lower ski to access early grip for the next turn) – building pressure through angulating and holding the body down and in to develop and work the turn. We need all of this to flow and have rhythm – something we didn’t touch upon today.

Pivoting – develop this skill separately

  1. No forward movement – only sideslip into the turn
  2. Inside edge of the foot – outside edge of the ski
  3. Pole planted behind the feet to block the rear from slipping
  4. Adductors held firm – standing up strong ball of foot
  5. Move CoM between the pole and ski tips
  6. Put serious pressure on the pole and keep moving inwards on the pole to the end of the pivot  - then stop
  7. Begin from angulated stance and avoid rotating during the pivot
  8. Pull the front/s inwards – never push the tail outwards or twist the leg
  9. When pivoting on two skis use inside edges of both feet and both sets of adductors
  10. Remember this is not an abstract exercise it is a fundamental building block – practice


  1. Even from a traverse begin turning by coming over the front of the lower ski
  2. Always hold the adductors activated on whichever leg you are standing on – right to the end of the turn
  3. Extend the uphill leg to push the body down into the new turn and feel the pressure and grip at the start of the turn
  4. Push the outside foot forward to tighten the radius – especially on steeps
  5. Pull the outside hip backwards to enable angulation and protect the back

…that’s probably enough for now!

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