Wednesday 28 January 2015

Perfect Stance For You

There is no perfect standing position that fits all but there is one that is perfect for you.
You must know the rules.  First find your neutral position.  Stand with your feet (boots and skis on) about two boot widths wide, legs and body straight. Your boots may force you to bend your knees a bit.  Your weight on your big toe pads and heels should be equal. No pressing on the boot cuff at the top of the boot. Now bend forward as though you are bowing at the waist without bending your knees.  Your arms should be out at the side at at about 45 degrees and elbows bent (like carrying a large tray of glasses).  The pole bottoms should be positioned at your boot heels.
Now to the tricky part.  Bend your knees and waist until your chest hits your knees.  No pressing on the top of your boots and weight neutral on your feet.
Somewhere between these positions is your ideal neutral position.  Shift back and forth between the two positions.  Try to maintain a constant body angle with the ground.  Try different body angles to apply different pressures.
In order to start a turn you must put pressure on your big toe pad on one foot.  Pressure on your left foot toe pad will turn you to the right and the opposite for your right foot. No pressure on the cuff of your boot.  Note your position. Flex and straighten your knees to get familiar with this position.
To finish a turn, use the same rules.
As the hill gets steeper, you must bend forward more to maintain proper balance.
Bending forward allows you more rotation of your legs, more pressure on your toes and more balance.
You can control the amount of turning by tipping your knee in the direction you want to go. Called steering.
Bending both at your waist and knees allows you to absorb dips and bumps without shaking up your body.
If you feel pressure on your boot cuff, your are applying too much pressure to bend your ski, or your ski is too stiff.
Two of the most common problems are skiing with pressure on your heels and not facing both your head and shoulders in the direction you want to go.  Go slow and get the motion and position right.
It takes practice to get everything perfect.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Something different: Teaching the Blind

Snow Ghosts Are Not Friendly 
This season I joined VISAS,The Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive SnowSports, instead of the snow school where I have been teaching.  One part of the VISAS certification process included teaching the blind.  Although the lesson progression is the same, the communication is different.  Also, there are levels of blindness from total blindness to seeing something 10 to 20 feet away. Three usual strengths of the blind are their hearing, touch and balance.  These senses are highly developed.     
When we teach a blind person, we use hand signals and verbal backup instructions, while holding hands and skiing in a snowplow position. During our training, one person, the instructor, skied  backwards in front of and guiding the `blind' person.  Spreading the hand is the way to say "slow down" to a person who, without sight, does not have a sense of speed or the meaning of "slow down". Instead spreading the hand means to make a large wedge angle with your feet. Compressing the hand means the opposite, and therefore speeds up.  Pressing down on one hand meant turning in that direction.  It was amazing how well these simple commands worked. The sensation was exhilarating for both of us.  
Then we tried guiding using two 10 foot belt webs, one for each hand with the instructor behind. This did not work as well for me as the `blind' person. All my training failed me and I started to sink.  I found out how valuable these senses are which we so easily take for granted.  
Skiing is about feeling. Try the "feel your feet" part of lesson 1 in my manual with your eyes closed, then open, then closed, etc.  AR

Sunday 11 January 2015

My Ski Manual

The purpose of my beginner ski manual is to introduce you to skiing.  It guides you through the maze of equipment and then brings you to the hill.  The set of lessons then guide you through a bewildering environment and in the end sets you free to explore the fringes.  If you are interested in why the lessons work, you can read up on the background information on skiing skills and why skis turn.  
Ski lessons are long over-due for an overhaul.   New concepts and some revamped ones are included.  The lessons are designed  to take into account how skis turn,  the skills used to make skis turn and beginner issues.  
In using this manual, I have suggested that beginners can work alone or with other beginners.  Another option is an intermediate skier helping a beginner skier.  This is often a combination that is seen on a ski hill.  The limitation is that the intermediate skier doesn't usually have the tools to teach and help the beginner.  This manual offers a solution to this dilemma.   The intermediate skier could first review the methods outlined, then demo the lessons for the beginner.  If the method is followed to the letter, this can be a win-win situation. The intermediate will immediately note what is new and incorporate it  into his or her skiing.  The beginner will get a lesson that has the highest chance for success. Give it a try.  AlanR Method Learn to Ski Manual for Beginner, Returners, Refreshers,

Saturday 3 January 2015

About Skis and Turning

May your New Year be charmed!
In the picture you can see where the ski curves from the flat parts. The center is at the little bump in the middle of the boot arch.  The flat portions of the ski are about equal from the center of the ski.  One of the features of the newer skis is this short flat section that makes skis easier to turn.  The curved  wider ends make skis easy to steer.
When you put pressure on the front inside edge, as indicated on my last post, the ski is unbalanced and tends to rotate/turn around a point where the curve starts.
As a beginner, with your feet wide, you will feel the pressure on your big toe pad.  It is your job to tip your knee in or out, and to apply pressure in order to control the amount of turning.  This comes with practice in lessons 4 and  5 of the manual (available as a download below).
Remember to keep the pressure on the front of the boot cuff to a minimum.  And shift your weight to the heel to finish the turn. And smile when you get it right.