Monday, April 15, 2019

Billy, Patrick 1

Beautiful clear weather – but a cool Foehn wind at altitude. Billy and Patrick needed a good, easy, long run to find their skiing legs again after a year without skiing. Other than providing an appropriate line for them to follow on the piste I was watching carefully to see how they were moving and how they understood their skiing – ignoring the inevitable shakiness during the run.

The video initially shows the boys skiing before we began working on technique and changing things. Then in the slalom the boys are already beginning to work properly on technique. They both started off near the 42 second mark on the course and both ended up near the 37 second mark – this 5 second difference at this stage mostly coming from getting used to the course and gaining confidence – but also from conscious application of technique already.

Initial Skiing

The boys look different from each other on their skis but for one reason only. Billy has a wide stance and this creates “independent leg” use. Patrick has a close stance and is much more two footed. Other than the difference in stance everything else is very similar. In the slow motion clips you can see that Billy pushes outwards the tail of one ski during his turns and Patrick does that with both skis. The main goal to begin with will be to change this. Both boys tend to get caught on the backs of their ski boots but this and many other details are not really worth mentioning because we will be going straight to the cause of all the issues and avoid correcting “symptoms”. One additional purpose of filming at this stage is for later comparison after changes and progress have been made.

The boys have a good natural aptitude and feel for things so they will learn from here on how to make the best use of those attributes. Another thing very visible to me is that they are both fast learners in general, well disciplined and adapt well. They are also competitive so will push each other forwards in slalom!


Despite both boys being keen on science I decided to avoid explaining anything with physics and went straight into “magic”. The boys have previously been trained to displace their feet and legs (outwards) when turning – but real skiing avoids this totally. The body has a point between the pelvis and belly button which we call the Centre of Mass (CoM) – you can see this as just a single point that can be moved around in space. Skis really work entirely due to this point being moved – not the feet or legs being moved. In other words – you try to move your body not your feet.

There is a complete explanation of the principle of dynamics and the exercises used today – plus the “Magic Wall” imagery used to teach the boys – here at this link “Dynamics”. There is also a menu tab to this fixed page at the top of the blog. Please refer to this as we applied all of it today prior to using the slalom course.


After checking the ski boots for accurate fit and already having one boot off each we looked at how the feet are used in skiing. For the time being the aim is to stand with pressure on the heels (front of heels directly below the ankle joints). When bending and avoiding pressure on the fronts of the feet you are forced to bend only at the knees and hips and this causes the ankles to stiffen and strengthen reflexively. Secondly, the joint for rocking the foot onto its edges (inside or outside) is between the ankle and the heel and when standing on the heel it is easy to feel this working clearly. The boys were asked to rock the right foot onto its inside edge beneath the ankle (Magic Foot) and to lean against the table to their left (Magic Wall). In addition to feeling how the edged foot held them strongly against the Wall they each felt the “adductor” muscles on the inside of the upper leg. The message here is that everything “pulls inwards” and nothing pushes outwards.


Today was really about familiarisation with the slalom and the environment. The key to success in slalom and making it a useful part of all skiing is in training to be able to focus on the body and eliminate distractions. Most high level skiers are simply the product of extremely brutal natural selection (leaving only a handful) out of hundreds of thousands of racing club children. However, even those skiers can be beaten through intelligent “conscious” programming of the body and mind – and nothing is more enjoyable or personally rewarding while providing a lifetime of inspiration, open ended development and passion.


We very briefly began looking at skating. The point here was to use the diverging ski tips to rock both feet onto their inside edges and feel this when skating. Later on in racing (and all skiing) the boys will understand that both feet are held like this constantly while skiing – even with the skis parallel.

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