For our warm up run we worked on consolidating yesterday’s dynamics. On the way down to La Daille Defne asked to try some fresh powder and showed that she hadn’t forgotten how to pivot in it from her last holiday. She really enjoyed skiing in it and was delighted. She felt no fear. Later on when we had gone back up the mountain we went off into a very slightly steeper section of powder of the same depth and she froze completely. I shouted back up the hill for her to just traverse across to the piste. Defne was upset about not understanding why this fear had suddenly come across her. I told her that it doesn’t matter and that any time something like that happens she must just head straight back to where she feels safe. There is no pressure and I’m not here to force her to do anything I’m here only to help. She was actually also worried about me not getting to ski in the powder so I quickly put that idea to rest too.
Derin had managed to apply jump turns and pivoting very well to coping with steeper terrain so I decided to work on the mechanics of jump turns for a while with Defne. (We had a drinks stop first so that Defni could recover her composure). The aim of the jump turns is that the body faces downhill and only the legs turn in the hip sockets during the jump. It’s a braking turn that gives a great deal of control and will get you down any slope safely. This is the extreme version of pivoting with independent legs and no pressure at all on the skis during the turn initiation – so the skis cannot get stuck at the start of the turn. We did the exercise with the skis off to develop the coordination. There are quite a few components to this exercise so concentration and organisation are required to get it right. Because Defne couldn’t do it immediately, instead of concentrating and adapting she started to question the correction and feedback and also the exercise itself. Her body language (turning her back at the end for example) was very negative and her response varied between “I can’t do it” – and collapsing on the ground and “I am facing downhill and I am bending etc.” There is a lot that can be done here but it needs a cooperative and willing participant in the learning process. I explained to Defne that few things in life are easy and just fall into place without effort and the only worthwhile things are those that we do gain through effort. I filmed this mainly to let her see that my feedback was accurate…
In this photo the body is meant to be facing downhill with both feet at the same height on the hill and the legs turned in their sockets to one side and flexed at the hip joints. One pole should be used!
After abandoning the off-piste and the exercises (both for different reasons) I had to think what direction to take with the coaching. It was possible that there was a common cause for those issues and that this cause was the locking up of the hip joint – making steeper off-piste scary and the exercises very hard to achieve. I had intended to work on the hip anyway so it was as good a time as any to start. This task seemed a little daunting because the scope for confusion and frustration here is greater than with anything else that we had done. I decided to go straight for the hip joint and did this by first asking Defne to stand with skis parallel facing across the hill then to turn the shoulders downhill. I asked Defne to feel her spine twist. She did this correctly . Then I asked her to face forwards and just pull the hip backwards. She could feel the spine twist in the opposite direction and understood this immediately. With no trouble she was able to ski with this and practice it for the rest of the run. At the end I videoed her and she added the flexing at the hip by herself because she said it made it easier to pull the hip backwards. This is the key that freed up Haluk’s skiing at a higher level – but perhaps it’s also the key here. We need to practice this a bit more and then go back and see the effect it has on all of those other things.
I asked Defne to work on the dynamics that she had built up already – which she already knows is applied by thinking about one leg only through the whole turn from start to end – but now adding the pulling back of the hip for the whole time the leg is being used.
Derin skied off piste for the full 3 hours with no drinks break. We had a 15 minute argument at one point when she was sure that we had taken a break and that she had even eaten a KitKat – but it was all in her imagination and she eventually realised it.
In the video she is now cutting my tracks to go faster and only putting one leg down into the trough – which is good racing technique! At the end of the clip she does her first ever kick turn.
Derin remembered from yesterday the “But my body is me!” comment so I added today that “my body is also her” – because we are all made of the same things and are in the same universe. She objected and pointed out that my body could ski on one ski and hers couldn’t.
We covered a lot of ground in steep terrain and through trees, mainly getting useful mileage into her body. She would follow my tracks and that’s as good, if not better, than doing slalom and me explaining – as long as it’s working!
We had a few attempts at the pivot on the “wrong” ski and eventually I had her do it holding onto my ski pole. This worked because she had the time to feel things correctly and the security of me supporting her properly. Tomorrow she will be able to do it on her own and ski on one ski only.