Tuesday 22 January 2019

The Genesis of My Manual

Early Morning Mt. Washington CA
This problem was put to me by Ryan and Jen, two of the best ski instructors on Mt. Washington (Canada). We were at the halfway point up an 8-minute high-speed chair ride.  How does a bicyclist going fast around in a circle, leave the circle at speed?  I had 2 solutions right away. The connection to skiing absorbed my skiing for the next year.  
Have you figured them out yet?  Most cyclists find a solution subconsciously and with experience work out both solutions.  On a bicycle, you can steer it under you to get your weight relocated on the appropriate side or you can peddle harder and accelerate out of the turn.
 I have written about one solution previously, the Dynamic Transition. The other solution, accelerating out of the turn, I left alone.  This is the stuff that should be examined by those interested in the dynamics of ski racing. On skis, you can’t peddle faster but you can certainly accelerate.  This is far beyond beginner skiing.  But it is where I found a different way to ski.  
I had been taught most of the pieces but had never been able to assemble them in a usable fashion. The clue was to steer your skis under you similar to when biking.
The concept of steering skis is not well thought out or applied. It is certainly not given space in most ski journal and videos on the internet.  What I found in the year following my epiphany was that steering skis is the easiest way to make them turn.  The design of shaped and softer more flexible skis are a great enhancements. They allow a skier to shape and engage the front portion of the ski and thus control the size and shape of the turn. My first attempts at steering skis were part of the fun of skiing that I was missing.  I tried steering my skis under me while going fast on a short uphill. My skis flew out from under me landing me on my backside, but it was such an amazing and unexpected happening that is spurred me on. 
When should we have learned how to steer skis? Why was this technique not included in our lexicon of ski knowledge? The way we teach skiing hasn’t really changed much in the last 50 years. It was time for a change. Making skis turn is simple.  If you tilt your knee in the direction you want to go and you lean forward to apply pressure on the ball your foot, the ski will turn. There is a but, you must learn to get your body in the right position to make it happen. I found that the 5 basic skills that we learned are most important to make this simple move. I place equal emphasis on these skill in my lessons. I also changed the rules on how beginner stand and move.  
My years of teaching beginners became criteria for determining the best approach. I like the progression approach where each lesson builds on the previous.  I like the idea of making every minute count and every motion skill related. All the backup information is in the manual.
My lessons are skill based and beginner oriented. They are fastest, most complete and safest path to parallel skiing.  AlanR