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!

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