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…

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