Monday, January 21, 2019

Derin Day 1

Derin’s return to skiing began with a slightly wobbly few runs on the Bollin and then we were off – her request being the Fresse – which she skied well. There was a point blank refusal to work on technique and that presented no problem because an afternoon of strong skiing was probably the best thing we could do anyway. Derin promised to work on technique tomorrow.

Starting to get a little bit grownup for playing in the snow – but hey, I think I was still playing with my toy cars at age 10 and quite honestly never really wanted to stop!

Alp Day 3

Today Alp’s boots were one full size smaller – which he didn’t really notice because we told him they had shrunk a little due to getting wet yesterday. His feet were absolutely fine in the boots and this must have helped a great deal with respect to edge feel and control.

Almost immediately I started to get Alp to attempt short sections of the descent on his own. Sometimes technical development problems are actually because the person is being supported and dependence on this support prevents them from adapting and correcting properly. Today this risk proved to be justified because Alp responded very quickly and never made any serious misjudgements or mistakes.

Technically the focus was on the same things as when he skied supported – but now he was on his own – with only verbal feedback from me. Alp continued his progress on every descent – just as he had done on the previous two days. There’s still a little lack of coordination with the left leg – hence a bit more of a snowplough safety mechanism cropping up occasionally. We attempted the “blue” descent but it was icy and made Alp defensive – however, on returning to the easier “green” descent he had once again improved.

On the video Alp is being encouraged to skate/step his turns to diverge the ski tips and avoid snowploughs. I know that he works with his adductors and is generally making the right moves but it’s easy to become snagged in a defensive plough regardless. In the middle part of the video he is generally turning parallel – on day 3.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Alp Day 2

Alp began the day with his batteries fully charged up and with impressive confidence – showing mastery of all the skills and adaptation he had picked up from yesterday’s hard work.  Despite a wobbly start yesterday he has clearly taken up the challenge and is on his way – with determination. The fear of steeper slopes and speed was no longer visible so we were able to move onto better terrain and soon start using the Bollin chairlift.

Today’s objective was to cover much more mileage – assisting Alp all the way – helping him to apply new skills (never in a snowplough) and to feel the effects and feedback from his actions. During the morning Alp was given progressively more autonomy with him leading the turns and my just holding the supporting pole lightly.

Swinging the Ski – Adductors – Side Slipping

While assisting Alp I’m paying careful attention to his body position, motion of his centre of mass and which edges each of his skis is on. Without explaining I’m introducing the feeling and experience of “pivoted” turns – which is “braking” skiing and the safest way to control speed.  To help with this we would sideslip down steep sections together. Rather than allow Alp to push his uphill ski tail outwards and place the uphill ski on its inside edge Alp had to learn to pull the front of the uphill ski downhill – inwards – effectively starting the turn with the ski on its outside edge. This overall cultivates very short turns with a built in braking effect – because in all sectors of the turn the skis are on uphill edges working against acceleration. Alp did a few static exercises to learn how to use the adductor leg muscles to swing the ski tip inwards without using a twisting action. Visually, it’s hard for an observer to distinguish this from a slight snowplough – but technically it’s extremely different.


Alp is understanding how to use the edges of the skis for traversing across the slope. Side stepping, side slipping and traversing area all ways to move down the mountain – each having its place and each promoting different skills.


Alp made great progress when his right leg was leading the turn. His left leg was not so cooperative. When asked what was in control – Alp’s brain or Alp’s leg – Alp decided it was his leg that was in charge. Personally I wasn’t sure because on checking his ski boots the appeared to be a bit on the large side – which doesn’t help – especially when someone is determined to damage their calf muscle with serious pressure against the back of the boot at times!

With most obstacles we have to tackle them with a strategy leading to progressive changes. Skating gets the legs to bend (knees, hips), so does side stepping. Directly trying to bend down into a turn can help too – combating the tendency to be pitched back into the rear of the ski boot (which in this case was causing the ski to flatten and be unable to control and direct the turn). Regardless of the boots, Alp was locking his left leg rigid and using the bone structure for strength. When all the muscles are locked tight like this nothing can bend anyway. Good boots, exercises and increased awareness will sort this out. When this is fixed Alp will be able to ski unassisted.

Turn Structure

Alp is being constantly drilled to use the width of the slope to turn, completing each turn until properly slowed down. People have to be told that instead of braking defensively – as with a snowplough, we control speed by the shape and line of the turn – and through the turning technique of pivoting which naturally brushes off speed.

Yesterday evening’s moon seen from Tignes…

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Alp Day 1

Although Alp had spent a few hours on skis before, we started completely from scratch. Alp’s natural caution was immediately making him a little bit too tense and over-reactive to sliding – so we would need to proceed very progressively to allow this to settle down. Patience and lots of repetition are required.

One Ski Stepping – Direction Change

First of all we established that Alp was left handed – and left eyed. It’s useful to know this for reference. We began on completely flat terrain – only one ski on. The free foot can be used to push forward and the inside edge of the other foot and ski are used to push the body inwards so as to travel around in a circle – continually taking steps inwards to change direction. Alp was getting used to the long skis, the rigid boots, the feeling of an edged foot and the edge of the ski. Alp then removed the ski by himself and put it on the other foot – changing direction with the circle.

Our basic idea here – other than getting used to equipment – is to learn to change direction by moving the centre of mass in the direction you want to go and without “twisting” anything at all. Towards the very end of the day we used the same principle to side step uphill – just the lower ski on.


With two skis on we worked at skating forwards – the ski diverging wide apart at the tips. Tilting the whole body forward (falling forward) helps you to skate faster. Training this movement while developing awareness of the edges of the feet and skis is good preparation for climbing easy gradients – something Alp managed to master well by the very end of the day.

Skating Turns

The skating would also be introduced for turning – with a similar stepping action as with the original “one ski” exercise but when sliding downhill and with two skis on.  We began simply by picking up a little speed while the skis were parallel then stepping out to own side causing a turn and stopping completely – repeating this several times on each descent. The idea is to learn that turning controls speed and stops you if required.

Initially Alp tried to twist his body and shoulders into the turns – but when told to keep the body facing downhill and just step away from the fall line with the legs and skis he managed this very well.


The concept of “perpendicularity” was introduced to Alp – that is – staying perpendicular (whole body) to the slope, as opposed to remaining constantly vertical with the body. This was demonstrated visually so that he could clearly understand it. When accelerating Alp tends to remain rigidly vertical and on a slope this jams you into the backs of the ski boots. The solution is not to “lean forward” it is to tilt the whole body to be perpendicular and avoid leaning on the ski boots and locking up all your muscles.

Parallel Turns

We managed some slow parallel turns on the easy slope – the faster slope making Alp a bit too uncomfortable – obliging us to keep it slow for the time being. Alp was told to simply shift his centre of mass slightly across in the direction he wanted to go – if going to the left then the right ski and foot should go slightly on their inside edges and the inside of the leg should pull inwards towards the same direction. Alp managed to successfully change direction several times.


Alp tends to look at the ground and has to be constantly told to look up and ahead. There is a good chance that this is what worried him when he picked up any speed because staring at the ground makes it appear to rush at you when there is speed.


Alp doesn’t seem to know his boundaries – in that sometimes he appears to disobey instructions or ignore them. This could of course be a language or communication issue but it doesn’t appear to be. The problem with that is “safety” – because skiing is inherently a risk environment – it’s not a controlled environment like a school classroom!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Liliana 4

Blue skies again today – Christmas day in Russia! We started off a bit slow – yesterday being a day off and recovery for Liliana and Timothy with a badly sore throat.

Liliana was still lacking confidence and rotating on the steeps and failing to use her poles – and Timothy was swinging his shoulders around – so it was time to focus more carefully on technique. For Liliana posture was an issue here. When pulling the outside hip backwards it’s important to hold the front of the pelvis upwards – because it tends to get pulled down during this process as the hip moves backwards. The combination of upwards pelvic tilt and counter rotation of the pelvis to the turn (shoulders kept slightly more facing the skis – not “downhill”) is critical for postural control. Getting the hip to come back and the pelvis to remain stable allows far better hip angulation – which makes it safer to tilt further forward over the fronts of the skis with the upper body during the turns – allowing a much freer entry into the next turn on steep terrain.

Liliana understood this and progressively managed to launch herself downhill into each new turn better and to use the downhill pole for support as she pushed her centre of mass with the uphill leg into the new turn. Liliana’s skiing jumped up to a new level by the end of the day. Timothy also stopped swinging his body around and made significant progress.

Timothy angulating during carving

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Liliana–Timothy 3

Another clear, sunny and cold day – Liliana doing well but at her limits with physical tiredness. Regardless of the tiredness skill and confidence are improving rapidly. Today was more about taking full advantage of the empty slopes of “changeover day” than doing technical exercises. I could see Liliana working properly on her technique on the steeps, side slipping and pivoting more and staying in the fall line instead of locking the skis on edge and shooting off across the hill out of control!

Timothy had a low level cold so he was happy to just ski in my tracks. I filmed him with a GoPro but unfortunately the SD card was faulty – next time!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Liliana–Timothy 2

P1510002Today was mostly focused on Liliana – helping her to regain confidence in her ability. We worked on pivoting to have both feet working simultaneously on their inside edges and the adductor muscles working in both legs. Completing the old turn on the uphill edge of the uphill ski – to get early pressure on the uphill ski – independent leg action and extending the uphill leg to project the centre of mass down and into the new turn. This was done with a wide stance – the goal being to stop Liliana from stemming when in difficulty. This hip was also pulled back – continuing yesterday’s work. We enhanced this work with side slipping exercises and pivoting on the bumps. Liliana had to stand more upright to prevent tiredness in her leg muscles.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Liliana - Timothy 1

Cold but clear and perfect day for skiing. Timothy skied a year ago but seems to have a very good physical memory and is immediately at home on his skis. Liliana – slightly worried about fitness – is taking it easy, not having skied for several years. She too looks good on her skis right from the start. I took some video just for a record and picked one thing for each to work on. This wasn’t a technical day – it was meant really for Liliana to recover her confidence. Timothy had a good hard ski with me towards the end of the day.

Timothy was rushing the starts of his turns a little and his upper body is a bit too upright and far back. To help to change this I asked him to think of finishing the turn on the uphill edge of the uphill ski and to push up with that leg as he started to complete the turn. This generates pressure on the top ski in the new turn and so prevents you from rushing the turn and also gives clearer feedback to the body for standing more perpendicular to the mountain.

Lilian was worried about a weakness in her left hip and she was also showing her familiar tendency to sit a bit too much – pushing her bottom behind and losing strength and posture. We worked on turning the pelvis alone – not the shoulders – to pull the hip back with a slight counter rotation at the base of the spine. This action begins with the start of the turn and continues all the way through. The second video clip of Liliana shows her focusing on this and she looks much more upright and stronger.