Saturday, 15 February 2020

About Lesson 5, The Skill of Blending



View west at the  Golden Hind
The Skill of Blending Skills
The sequence of lessons 3, 4, and 5 is deliberate.  Lesson 3 is about the finish of a turn, Lesson 4 is about the initiation of a turn and lesson 5 is about putting the previous 4 lessons together and adding the concept of skiing with the skis-side-by-side, parallel to each other.  In most beginner lessons the first goal is for the student to make a series of snowplow turns. I have found this practice counterproductive as I believe that once you have made 1  snowplow turn you have made enough. I use the snowplow as a teaching tool, not as a way to ski.  Unfortunately, if you show some people the snowplow turn and have them make a series of them, it can become a way of skiing. It is then difficult to switch to a more efficient way of skiing with your skis parallel to each other. So lesson 5 is designed to make use of the rudimentary skills, previously learned, in order to begin parallel skiing.

Blending Progression
Blending begins slowly starting with a short run with the skis parallel and at a 45-degree angle to straight down the fall line, the steepest hill angle.  There is a conundrum. If the angle is too great the student may go too fast, but if the angle is not steep enough it will be too difficult to apply pressure on the toe, in order to initiate the turn. The angle of 45-degrees in not written in stone, it should be modified greater or smaller, depending on snow conditions and hill steepness in order to make the first turn easily.
As subsequent turns become smoother and easier, the distance covered with the skis parallel can become shorter, and the speed increased gradually.  What happens is that as the speed increases more force is applied to the outside ski.  At some speed level, it will become easier to have the ski on the inside of the turn follow beside the outside turning ski.  The other progression is to try and keep the shoulders and head facing down the hill in the direction of travel.  The students’ balance on the skis should be centred so that pressure on the toe and heel can be applied quickly at the appropriate timing.
The last step in this lesson is for the student to make the turning continuous one turn after the other, by eliminating the short parallel skiing between turns.  The upper body should be facing down the hill in the direction of travel.

Sub-Lessons to  Beginner Lesson
The lessons should probably be named steps, but I wanted to stress the importance of the skills learned in each lesson.  The point is that the lessons are really the first lesson in learning how to ski on the technical side. Perfection is not expected at each stage. The purpose is to introduce the skills and to immediately repeat the process several times, with each time improving performance.

To Speed After Blending
The last lesson, 6, is added for you to experience the sensation of speed on skis.  For some people there can be a background fear of speed, but skiing in a tucked position, on a gentle slope, will give some sense of what speed feels like, often the fun part of skiing. In the tucked position with your feet wide and your elbows on your knees, you can’t fall far and hurt yourself. You know how to stop 3 different ways and how to turn if necessary. This is really a test of confidence in your new-found abilities.  You pass this and you are on the way to being a downhill skier. Time now, to have some fun now.
Miles to Imprint the Beginner Lesson
The next step is to get some mileage. Ski all the green level hills. And then try some blue.  If you find you are having a problem, the best attack is to repeat the lessons and find which one is giving you problems. In the future, you can use the lessons as a test of your skiing competence.

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