The International Retail Group came out to the chalet this week, which means less drinking, more skiing and more French! Their flight from Brussels was delayed by 5 hours because French Air Traffic Controllers were striking. Apparently the French IKEA workers have also gone on strike, because IKEA are making too much money and they want a piece of it. The French seem to have it right: they’re either on holiday, or striking for more pay!
I’ve been doing some more of the Smash Ski Training and it’s paid dividends with my skiing. I’ve trained the muscles to work in a more reactive fashion, by doing lots of hops, jumps and lunges. This way, the muscles are relaxed and fire up when needed, to pull you back into shape if you have a wobble skiing. The muscles get used to working without me consciously controlling them. This is essential for skiing, where your muscles need to be relaxed, and any adjustments happen so fast that if you have to think about them, it’s usually too late!
It also means I’m getting the body used to movements that are necessary to ski effectively, but which are neglected in daily activity: using the whole of the foot for feedback; increasing ankle flex; turning the femur in the hip socket and cutting out the habit of sitting back.
Whilst you may not perform the exercises perfectly the first few times, the very act of doing them forces you to use muscles in ways that they are not used to, but are essential for skiing, such as developing the glutes and hip abductors more for stability and control.
The hops and jops have made me much more aware of where I’m distributing force through my foot, as well as encouraging me to “stack up” properly over my foot. In skiing, this has reduced a-framing whilst hugely improving my fore-aft sensitivity and control. This means I’m able to finish off my turns better, and stops me from getting in the back seat.
I’ve also done some dynamic core exercises I picked up from rowing, which fire up postural muscles with the limbs in extension: another excellent crossover for skiing. And I’ve used some of the rehab exercises I learned at physiotherapy for my knee to make the leg work effectively, with greater coordination from the hip to toes. This has resulted in the whole leg working much more in-line, with the knee tracking over the foot, rather than dropping inside. On the mountain, this has had an immediate impact in reducing a-framing and improving my leg steering.
I’ve been experimenting with Overhead Squats as a way to stop breaking at the waist whilst flexing the knees and the ankles. Done with good form, its an excellent indicator of specific weaknesses and inflexibility, which can then be developed in other exercises. It is an excellent exercise to promote the proper stacking up of the feet, knees, hips and upper body, as you become unstable as soon as you go out of line. I’ve found it essential to progress to the Overhead Squat from the Overhead Split-Squat and Lunges with Dumb-Bells Overhead.
It’s been great to ski with Moray again. He’s an absolute monster, very much of the school which says the best way to improve skiing is to ski lots! Nonetheless, his observation and awareness of other skiers is phenomenal and he gave me a good one today which I will share: Don’t start turning too early on a mogul. Use the shape of the mogul and the backside trough to turn. A great place to practice this is shallow-pitch bumps: a technique known as “hot-dogging” or, more commonly… “mincing!”