Archive for the ‘Instruction’ Category
Monday, March 8th, 2010
This was written as an e-mail to a friend and I thought I should put it up. If you have alternatives or suggestions feel free to post a comment.
Your steering power should come from rotating the femurs within the hip socket. My favorite exercise to demonstrate this is having the students take off their skis and walk a line. Instead of walking it straight though I want them to zig-zag across the line while having the hips stay oriented down the line. Usually I hold the student’s hips in place (just facing forward) while the student rotates their legs to turn. This feels really really weird at first but introduces the notion that all of the turning can be done below the hips. Once on the snow I have them focus on whether they are feeling the same sensation in their turns (usually not) so then I ask them to twist their toes/legs just a little extra up the mountain at the end of each turn. This usually brings that feeling back and they can work from there on building in more leg rotation to their skiing. The turns will start to use more bone power instead of muscle power which translates into less fatigue at the end of the day! Be warned though that at first this feeling is really weird and you have to do it for a few runs and then it will start to feel better and work itself into your skiing.
Feet and Pressure:
Most skis are designed to have pressure applied at their center right under the skier’s ball of the foot. When pressure is applied here the tip of the ski automatically digs into the snow and initiates the turn. Most skiers however tend to “sit back” and apply pressure to the ski through the heel of their foot. There are several things you can think about to help this (using the ball instead of the heel) happen in your skiing that all have the same effect. You can pretend there is a grape between your shin and the front of your boot and squeeze it (or a $100 bill that you don’t want to lose). You can stand on your toes in your boots or pretend there is a thumb tack on the back of your boots. You can also pretend you are “digging your shovels (wide part of the ski in the front) into the snow”. My favorite is the “child-proof medicine bottle cap” borrowed from my coach last year. These bottles open by “pushing down, and twisting” so when I start my turn I imagine that I am pushing down on the balls of my feet and then twisting from the balls of my feet. Any of these work and usually lead to a much cleaner parallel initiation.
Instructors say that you need to extend (get tall) at the beginning of the turn and flex at the finish of the turn. I refer to this as “diving” into the turn because you don’t just want to get tall, rather you want your body to move down the mountain (to apply pressure to the fronts of those skis right!?). The steeper the slope the more aggressive your “dive” will need to be for your skis to work the most effectively. I like to combine this with the pressuring of the ball of the foot mentioned above. After students try and feel comfortable with the dive and the bottlecap moves I have them combine it by asking them to dive off of their top foot (or new outside leg) just at the beginning of the turn right when they are reaching down for their pole plant.
Hands hands hands:
Speaking of pole planting… most people are lazy about this one and drop their hands. In reality though your hands need to be up and forward and the pole planting motion should come just from your wrist. If you swing your arm, your body will eventually get behind and you will no longer be pressuring the front of your ski. I like to think of the appropriate hand position in two ways. The first is like you are pushing a shopping cart – your hands are not super close together or far apart .. but far enough to push it effectively. The other way is like you are reaching to hug Santa Claus or a really fat man. An exercise to demonstrate the effectiveness of good hand positioning is to stand on the slope with your hands down by your side and then have someone quickly push you. Then have your hands out in the Santa Claus position and have them push you again. Your body will be much much more stable with the second push.
Friday, April 17th, 2009
One of the reasons why I love working as a ski instructor at the resort I work at is the clinics. Here anyone who wants to improve their skiing has the opportunity to do so through clinics hosted by instructors that are better and actually quite amazing at teaching.
Today we had our last clinic and it was actually just myself and another kid who I sat my Level I exam with. We covered:
- Hanger Turns
- Sailor Turns
- Hop Turns
- If you start with both skis facing down the fall line:
- Pick up the inside ski
- Pressure the outside ski so that it turns under you from the outside ski of one turn into the inside ski of the next turn
- Step down on the new outside ski (because it is stronger this hooks the turn and changes the turn shape)
- Pick up the old inside ski (step 2) and repeat
The point of this exercise is to develop pressure of the inside ski by enabling it to start the turn instead of relying on the outside ski for turning strength. Also, once you are doing it correct, your position will be more forward with counter in order to stay in the correct balance.
- If you start with both skis facing down the fall line:
- You should be applying pressure on your inside ski facing down the hill while your outside ski should be loosely lifted off of the snow
- Pick the outside ski up more (bring it up along your leg) and then push it or kick it like in a dance move out to the side while still keeping it in the air
- Place it down into the snow so that the tip is pointing inward (like the outside ski of a wedge). Applying pressure to the newly placed ski will cause the skis to go sideways underneath the body towards the next turn.
- When the skis are under the body, pick up the old inside ski and as the old outside ski continues on its path in the opposite direction of the body, lift up the old inside ski and perform step 3 and repeat.
The point of this exercise seems to be similar to the other one in that it is providing us with a new way of thinking about turns. If you are watching someone perform this exercise it should look like they are swinging their feet underneath them and when the feet reach the edge the extension occurs from the lifting and placing of the outside leg. This exercise worked really well when we removed the lifting and progressed into just feeling like we were “stepping down” on our outside leg right in the middle of the fall line. The difference I experienced was that I truly felt my outside leg was longer and more extended than when I just enjoy freecarving.
- Start on a relatively flat surface with your skis facing slightly downhill in a static position:
- “Hop” from the balls of your feet and using your ankles to get into the air with a downhill pole plant
- When in the air, rotate the legs under the body to land in the opposite direction started
- When landing, be sure to lean forward, pole plant down the hill, and edge set the edges into the hill by rolling the ankles up the hill just a little bit
- Look up/down the hill for added balance
This requires everything. Balance and pressure need to be forward in order for the skis to not slide forward when landing. Rotary needs to be used in the air. Edging needs to be used when landing by rolling the ankles just slightly up the hill and really setting the skis so that there is no skid. These seem to be kind of a pain which is probably why we joke about them so endearingly.
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Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
I just passed my L2 Teach Module! Honestly I am kind of exhausted and I probably have ten canker sores in my mouth from internalized stress (ie it didn’t get too much into my brain and affect performance which was good).
My weaknesses and things to work on include:
- Actively steering the inside leg and bringing it in to avoid a lead change.
- Actively steering both legs.
- LOOK UP!!
- Keep forward (pretend you love the mountain).
- Extend and retract in the bumps .
- The left pole plant is slightly slow.
- Flex in the demos – loosen up the boots.
It was pretty cool because my examiner (Debs) was from Kirkwood which is where I learned how to ski when I was a “Mighty Mountain Kid” and she did work there fifteen years ago so she could have actually had me as a student.
Considering I went into this season hoping to pass my Level I Exam and accomplished that in December, I feel pretty awesome about passing the skiing portion of Level II. I still need to pass the teach portion but I will do that next season just because I want more up my sleeve before I go into it – more teaching experience, and more ideas from other instructors.
Tonight the Ski School is having a party which is a formal so I have to dress up. I will ask the boys for feedback and let them pick my dress I guess. I’ve already been told I am not allowed to pre-game (because then I won’t make it out of the house and will be put to bed at 9 p.m. like what happened on New Years).