Thursday, February 28, 2019

Col Pers–Alistair

Just a little input regarding dynamics – separating the inside of the foot from the outside of the ski – using the inside ski to complete the “up” move though the end of the turn then continue extending (COM) down into the next turn – early pressure – always inside of the foot! Alistair’s skiing is certainly looking better than previous years – but every time I turned my head with the GoPro he stopped turning!


Friday, February 22, 2019

Avni Day 5

Avni bravely surfaced today despite her continuing flu – with fever and all. Regardless of the adverse situation and my promise to take it really easy – we went into hardcore teaching and she skied stronger and faster than ever before – all Avni’s fault of course! She did say to me that she didn’t think she could learn anything new today but I didn’t seem to hear it.

In the video Avni is smoothly riding the outside ski from the start of the turn – instead of snatching it around and braking…


The only really new thing we did today was to begin work on upper/lower body separation – or “angluation”. We didn’t go into great depth but it is time for Avni to begin to develop awareness of this major issue.  First thing was to demonstrate how destructive the “face the body down the hill” instruction really is – twisting the base of the spine from the chest down in a manner that brings the weight bearing hip in front of the rib cage. When this unfortunate contortion occurs all the postural reflexes are disactivated and the lower back is rendered extremely vulnerable. When the weight bearing leg is loaded up the hip must be moved in the opposite direction – pulled back relative to the chest and in this case the turn. This is the “Chi” alignment – an action consciously carried out originating from the core – the “centre”. The pelvis only is organised to face downhill – not the chest or shoulders – twisting the spine slightly from the pelvis upwards in a counter rotation to the direction of the turn. Indoors we carried out static loading tests so that Avni could feel the difference when the reflexes kicked in and contracted the lower abdomen spontaneously to protect the back (generating a hydraulic sac to distribute load over the whole cross sectional area of the body instead of just though the spinal column)

Wide Track Dynamics (Independent Leg Action)

We used some wide track dynamics (bent leg extending from uphill) to help Avni re-discover early and solid pressure in her turns – this having worked extremely well for Hanish yesterday. With Avni it was more just awareness of the need to avoid snatching the start of the turn that did the job in the end.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Marni, Stephan

Most people would be happy to ski like Marni and Stephan were skiing before we changed anything and an untrained eye would be unable to detect that there were fundamental issues lurking underneath. It’s easy to suggest that the feelings of lack of control they experienced were just symptomatic of corrections and improvements being needed – but I knew for certain that major changes were required. Again, to the untrained eye , those changes would not be obvious – but to the skiers the feelings are dramatic!

We began with Dynamics and this took a while to assimilate – longer than expected. I was a little worried at this point that we might run into difficulties but it was just a slow start. We went through Dynamics with the “Magic Wall” and managed to get the basic principle across.

  • Dynamics (Into the turn – standard exercises – see the “Dynamics”  tab at the top of the page)
  • Dynamics (completing the turn building up pressure instead of giving in to it – controlling speed with “line” instead of braking)
  • Feet (on the front of the heel – shin/anterior tibialis – bending at the knee and hip and not the ankle)
  • Feet (subtaler joint – rocking the foot onto the inside edge)
  • Feet (both feet being kept on inside edges – no rolling onto the little toe!!!)
  • Feet (adductor muscles held tight)
  • Dynamics (Completion of turn coming over the downhill ski)
  • Timing (inverted pendulum – down into the turn and back up out of it)
  • Your job is to fall over – ski’s job is to bring you back up – dynamics range – out of balance – feedback driven disequilibrium system
  • Timing – from skating (exercise – skating straight downhill and then introducing dynamics to transition into skiing)
  • Wide Track Parallel – very wide stance – uphill leg bent and used to extend and push the Centre of Mass downhill – independent leg action
  • Pivot (pulling in – never pushing out – see the “Pivot” tab at the top of the page)
  • Boot Alignment (Stephan’s boots were significantly under edged – and despite finding a hexagonal key it was not possible to fully correct)

On our final run down the mountain at the end Marni’s focus on her movements was being intermittently overpowered by her apprehension. I suspect just another period of working on easy terrain and consolidating the fundamentals would be enough to strengthen confidence beyond those current issues. Confidence simply comes from competence!


Hanish had significant stance problems – unable to hold the turning ski on edge and stand solidly on the supporting leg. We worked on the following…

  • Dynamics
  • Feet (front of heel, shin – anterior tibilais contracting when flexing)
  • Subtaler (rocking the foot on edge)
  • Adductors (holding tension)
  • Skating stance
  • Skating timing (down up – same as inverted pendulum of the dynamics)
  • Pivoting
  • Wide track skiing using dynamics

Hanish’s problems were stemming from years of skidding to brake while standing on two skis – pushing the tails out while sitting back – a legacy from snowploughs. To review the dynamics, pivot and feet work that we did just read Avni’s posts because the same procedures were used.

Hanish’s boots were correctly aligned and he could stand in a good skating posture so there was nothing really to stop changes being made. Realising all of that I decided that the best approach would be to get Hanish off the “two footed“ stance and using a very wide track stance – wide enough to force the inside /uphill leg to bend – so it could be used to extend and push the body downhill – thus simplifying the dynamics. In a very wide stance the centre of mass is uphill of one ski and downhill of the other – so you can operate the legs independently. This was the breakthrough solution for Hanish’s blockage and he was able to pressure the outside ski and make smooth stable turns with no pushing out of the tails.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Watching all four skiers carefully at the start of our session it was very clear that there was no active use of Dynamics – across the board! All four were unstable and each skier was in a personal battle against themselves just trying to ski down our green training slope. From that moment it was obvious that we would have to begin with working on Dynamics. The afternoon was divided into two main sections – Dynamics and Pivoting.

There was really no time for detailed personal feedback – this was going to be a genuine crash course in the fundamentals of skiing. At the top of this page there is are tabs with all the details for Dynamics and Pivot – with demonstrations of the pivoting and explanations of dynamics – including the exercises and progressions we used. However I will give a basic list of the subjects we touched upon.

  • Dynamics – Centre of Mass into the turn
  • Dynamics – building pressure during the turn (Something Hayley struggled with a little)
  • Dynamics – coming up out of the turn
  • Dynamics – Down/Up timing
  • Dynamics – no poles used
  • Feet – standing on the front of the heel below the ankle joint
  • Feet – flexing – hip and knee when on the heel – anterior tibialis (shin) contracting to secure the ankle and prevent ankle and foot collapse
  • Feet – rocking the foot from the subtaler joint – between the heel and ankle. Rocking onto the inside of the foot – not the outside.
  • Feet – activating the adductors – pulling the knee inwards laterally – but securely and to a limited degree
  • Feet – pulling inwards with the leg against my ski pole to ensure the correct sensation (had a big effect for Zoe to stop her pushing outwards)
  • Feet  – Foot/Adductors/Centre of Mass – all pulling inwards (string pulling ball inwards away from a straight line)
  • Skating – Down/ Up timing
  • Skating – transition to skiing by adding dynamics
  • Skating – propulsion on flats by “falling forward” and using gravity
  • Skating – both feet rocked onto their inside edges – both sets of adductor leg muscles employed
  • Side Slipping – sideways, pressure on the top edge of the uphill ski – but lower edge of the uphill foot
  • Pivot – from uphill ski moving sideways , uphill edge of uphill ski, lower (inside) edge of foot – with pole support to dose the dynamics appropriately
  • Pivot – from lower ski – uphill edge of ski, uphill (inside) edge of foot (Only Zoe managed this – impressively!)

We covered a great deal of material in a very short time – but with impressive results and finishing with a non-stop descent from the summit of the Bellevarde down the OK and then down the (Black) race piste into La Daille.

Avni Day 4

Today was more about applying technique than learning a lot of new details. We had one short warm up run before launching straight into action with “Feet Forward” tehcnique…

Feet Forward

When using dynamics the way to sharply tighten the turn radius is to push the outside ski forwards during the turn. Static exercises are used to cultivate the appropriate action and feeling. When this is carried out on skis there is no visibly perceivable difference to the turn other than it is much tighter – due to the ski being rendered more active.

The static exercise makes it clear that it is linked to a skating action with the leg swinging forwards and around with no twisting being involved.  This is also the first step in learning to dissociate upper and lower body activity and prevent unwanted body and hip rotation.

Shaping the Turn – Early Pressure

Avni was rushing the starts of her turns – especially on steeper terrain, so I explained that the first half of the turn should take longer and be more progressive than the second half. There was also a tendency to stem – but hard to be clear about which ski was stemming. Avni’s knee was a bit sore too so I chose to try to sort out all of this with one thing – early pressure on the uphill edge of the uphill ski during the completion of the existing turn! When turning on steeper terrain the uphill (inside leg) during the end phase of the turn is bent much more than the downhill leg – especially if the skis are held slightly more apart than usual. This flex of the leg can then be put to use by pushing up to finish off the up movement out of the turn – making it impossible to stem that ski and ensuring a full commitment to that ski and progressive start to the turn. This made Avni’s skiing much smoother and more secure. Practice is needed – but she is doing really well soldiering through her cold and lack of sleep!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Crash course in skiing fundamentals – as much as can be crammed into 3 hours with 5 students and icy pistes!


Our crash course was mainly centred on dynamics – all a rapid input of my standard teaching process for teaching how to not be in balance. There is a tab at the top of the page for “Dynamics” which provides a comprehensive coverage of this teaching.


We rapidly covered the use of the feet and stance on the front of the heels – bending at the hip and knee with the shin (anterior tibialis) contracting to strengthen the ankle. From there we worked on rocking the feet onto their inside edges with the subtaler joints – and activating the adductor muscles on the interior of the legs. This is to give a proper support for the dynamics. Chris still had a strong urge to twist his foot and ski into the turn so we later took a rapid look at pivoting to show how inappropriate and unnecessary the twisting is.

End of Turn Dynamics

Work was done on the use of dynamics to complete the turn – taking the body out and over the downhill ski and changing the support foot as the body passes through the perpendicular.

Skating Timing

Timing from skating as well as the “inverse pendulum” was integrated and there was considerable success within the group for feeling this pressure cycle.

Foot Forwards

For Chris’s benefit to stop him picking up speed when turning on steeper slopes I explained how when using dynamics the turn radius is controlled by a combination of the dynamics and pushing the outside foot forwards throughout the turn. This was demonstrated without the skis on. Chris felt the difference – but there was no time for the appropriate exercises to be used to develop this. On steeper ground the dynamics has to be more pronounced and the foot pushed forwards strongly.


There is another tab at the top of the blog for “Pivot”.

Altogether we went through the main aspects of skiing fundamentals in a great rush but with interesting and worthwhile results. My main aim was to inspire a better way of thinking of skiing altogether and show the direction for future progress and potential.

Avni Day 3

Avni was struggling with a bit of a cold/fever so we took it relatively easy – but she was bright and cheerful as usual and managed to make a lot of progress again.

We did a warm up run to get back into things as she hadn’t skied yesterday afternoon. Then we worked on side slipping – which Avni was far more comfortable with when her left leg was the downhill one. The main objective here was to learn to also use the uphill ski with its uphill edge while remaining on the downhill edge of the foot inside the ski boot. This is mainly preparation for pivoting.

Following the side slipping Avni used the uphill edge of the uphill ski to complete turns – finishing coming up and out of the turn using that leg and hence narrowing her stance considerably – as we had worked on during the pivoting. The far more comfortable and natural stance can be seen on the video along with Avni’s first successful pivots.

Pivoting is about the skis moving sideways and although the centre of mass pulls the ski into the turn support from the pole plant is needed to prevent the body just falling down the hill and flipping the ski onto the downhill edge too soon. Later on dynamics and pivoting can be blended providing a wide range of possibilities.

Avni with Mont Blanc in the background – Italian side.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Off Piste Col Pers

Good group with a wide variation of technique but all with a common spirit and great attitude.

The transceiver check found one not switched on and then we went down “Mattis” off piste to check everyone out for planning the itinerary. Basically, Mattis is safe and comes out after a relatively short descent onto a piste. The snow was packed and breakable but everyone handled it well and there would only be improved conditions higher up on the North facing slopes.

Altogether we covered Mattis, then off-piste from the top of the Laisinant chair to the Signal, then the Grand Vallon and then Col Pers. The slopes were practically empty and conditions were even better than expected. Great company and great skiing!

Avni Day 2

After our warm up run Avni immediately had a pertinent question regarding the technique she is learning. The question was about how long to stay on the outside/downhill ski at the end of the turn. This couldn’t have given me a clearer signal that she was ready to move on. Yesterday we only dealt with dynamics regarding how to enter as turn and sustain it – but I deliberately never explained how to complete the turn at this stage. Today would be mainly about “End of Turn Dynamics”.

End of Turn Dynamics

When a motorbike completes a turn it comes back up to the vertical. On a slope, when skiing the skier comes back up beyond the vertical to the perpendicular (to the slope) and so is already falling into the next turn – thus linking the turns. You stay on the downhill ski until your body passes over it and the skis go flat on the snow as they cross the hill – an unstainable position but already providing the dynamics to feed your centre of mass into the next turn. The timing for the turn is characterised by the centre of mass going down towards the snow from the start of the turn and coming back up towards the end. 

Skating Timing

Skating involves a down/up action of the leg and body – and in fact a turn on skis is a form of skate action but taken in an arc. I demonstrated the exercise where I skated down the hill and when there was some speed started to replace the stepping with dynamics from topping over in-between the skis – eventually eliminating the step and skiing parallel – but without ever stopping skating with the legs. Avni understood what she was observing and was able to integrate a stronger leg action into her own dynamics and use the correct timing.

Rhythm and Stability

Avni was tending to kill the rhythm by traversing between the turns instead of using the lifting power of the ski during the turn to lift her up and out of the turn. I explained that the “line” of the turn is intended to provide the slowing during skiing – you don’t need to brake or traverse to lose speed. The video shows Avni working on her rhythm and ensuring the skis are still turning when coming up from the outside ski. Rhythm generates stability and ski racing is specifically about setting poles to create rhythm and then break rhythm – set to strict international rules.

Knee Pain

The right ski was tending to stem at the start of the turns – meaning the adductors were not being used. This leaves the leg insecure and was causing some pain towards the inside of Avni’s knee. Just correcting this by making an earlier and more conscious effort to role the foot on its inside edge managed to remove the pain – when Avni remembered to do it! The shimming/canting of the boots to improve grip might be contributing to this issue due to being unaccustomed to the skis being more reactive.


Pivoting was introduced with an assisted exercise and some sideslipping exercises. It’s important to begin developing pivoting skills as soon as possible because they can take time and you need to chip away at it progressively. The tab at the top of the blog takes you to a full explanation of the pivot and demonstrations… “Pivot”. The purpose of the pivot is to have a turn where there is no forward sliding of the skis and dynamics are restrained by the use of the ski pole – slowing the body falling down the hill. The skis slide sideways and are always on a set of uphill edges and thus acting as brakes. You would use this to ski a narrow steep chute and keep the speed fully under control.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Avni Day 1

Avni had one run to warm up and get used to sliding after a 2 year break from skiing. It usually takes a couple of hours to really tune in again but we didn’t have that luxury.  However, by the end of the first descent Avni was looking more relaxed and I’d had the opportunity to observe her movement patterns properly.

The video shows Avni before starting to make changes – one exercise on dynamics - and then skiing towards the end of the session.


Watching and listening to Avni made it clear that her understanding and execution conformed pretty much exactly to classic ski instruction doctrine. “Pressuring the ski” meant placing the body over that ski, almost painful pressure on the shins involved flexing the ankles and knees, “facing downhill” resulted in unwanted whole body rotation and/or stemming, the up/down and pole plant turn configuration was harsh and unstable. No wonder Avni didn’t have the confidence to go fast – I’d feel pretty much the same doing all of that! The ski boots were clearly not suitable because she had no grip even standing still – but she wasn’t aware of this being an issue. The feet weren’t being used either – something critical even at a basic level.

Had I been applying standard ski instruction all of those things would be identified as caused by the skier and I’d set about “correcting the problems being caused” – when in reality they are all caused by the teaching – every single one of them!

It was from listening to Avni that made me decide to begin the lesson with Dynamics.

Whole body rotation – (when trying to face downhill)                                                  Stemming as right ski tail skids out (largely due to feet/legs)


Our dynamics session followed my standard procedure – detailed here  The menu at the top of this page has a tab for the same location  “Dynamics”.

Standard ski instruction teaches people to be in “balance” keeping their weight between their feet or skis. “Pressuring” the ski in this scenario means moving the body centre (centre of mass COM) over that ski – left ski means move the body to the left. In physics this is “statics” and it’s only one of two different ways to “pressure” but unfortunately it’s the wrong one and I knew from her skiing and verifying with questions that this is what Avni was doing. 

The other way to “pressure” your left foot or ski is to use it to accelerate your body to the right – with all the emphasis on ACCELERATE. This is Newton’s second law F=Ma (force equals mass times acceleration) and the force at the foot is generated by accelerating the (COM) mass away from it – which in this case is towards the inside of a turn.

During the explanation we carried out static exercises with Avni leaning and pushing against me – then on to progressively building this into turns when moving.

The skis work the same way as a bike – you fall over and the bike changes shape and cuts a new trajectory in front of your COM and lifts you back up – but you MUST fall over for this to happen and you MUST have some speed. Skiing is absolutely not about balance – it is about dynamics.

Within a short time Avni was linking turns and remarking how it was much smoother, easier on the legs and no pole plant was required – all correct observations. She also realised we weren’t even trying to face downhill – which – as on a bike – is not appropriate. Later on we will employ such things – including pole use – but nothing like the way they are learned in conventional instruction. Just watch all the ex racer French instructors follow their skis – when skiing with clients  – never “facing downhill”!

Pole Use / Timing

The skier is like an inverted pendulum – as is a motorbike going around a corner – tilting over and down into the turn and coming back up at the end. Stability is generated naturally with this down/up timing and skis are manufactured to work specifically with this – and have been so since the late 1960s. When using dynamics like this there is simply no need for a pole plant as you are up high between the turns – not crouched down stabbing the pole into the ground! The stability and feedback come from the skis and legs doing the job properly!


I have a special way of rapidly checking ski boot alignment and skier morphology – something that took years of experimentation but eventually came to me in a moment of insight. We used this indoors and could see that Avni’s boots were significantly under-edged which made it hard for her to grip well and then mover her centre of mass from a good support. We will need to address this in the morning before the next session.

We worked on how to use the muscles and bone structure on the feet, and legs. First of all it was clear that Avni was flexing her ankle when bending and collapsing her weight onto the front of the ski boot – which means that her leg was not supporting her properly. This is initially overcome by standing on the front of the heel beneath the ankle joint and maintaining the stance there when flexing – causing the anterior tibialis (outside muscle front of shin) to contract and stabilise the ankle and foot. Bending is now at the hip and knee instead of the ankle and knee.

Standing on the heel the subtaler joint – between the ankle and heel - can be used to rock the foot onto its inside edge. This won’t happen if the ankle collapses and the foot collapses. Rocking onto the inside edge of the foot causes the leg to pull inwards slightly laterally and activates the adductor muscles on the inside of the leg – securing the knee.

Bringing it all together

  1. Rock the foot
  2. Engage the adductors
  3. Move the Centre of Mass


When sideslipping keep both feet rocked onto their inside edges. The uphill ski will remain on its uphill edge despite the weight going onto the lower edge (inside edge) of the foot – it’s the ski boot shaft that provides the lateral stability to permit this – hence good alignment is required.

Early commitment to the new turning ski

Similar to the sideslip use the uphill edge of the uphill ski to stand early on the uphill ski to “push " yourself into the dynamics for the new turn. This completely prevents any tendency to stem or hesitate with dynamics and gives a solid turning platform. You don’t have to change onto the inside edge of the new turning ski to be able to initiate a turn!


By the end of the session the visual impression for any onlooker is that the skiing is much smoother and secure, no harsh up/down/pole issues and snatching the turns, no real stemming or significant body rotation. Very good progress for one session!