Updated: Jul 6
Outdoor on-snow workshop
The title of the Swiss outdoor on-snow workshop that I attended was, "Swiss Technical Progression"
Delivered by Laszlo Nef
This workshop was all about the “Swiss Technical Progression’ focusing on three key areas
The independence of the legs (referred to as pedalo)
The position of the upper body
The flowing centre of mass
So let's look at each of these in turn;
The independence of the legs (Pedalo)
Laszlo began the workshop by asking participants if they knew what was meant by the term 'pedalo' and we discussed this with a partner while riding the first T-bar lift. It soon became clear that what was meant by this term was what many of us are familiar with – pedalling or long leg/short leg. The emphasis was that for all piste performance skiing this independence was the most effective way to ski. However, Laszlo did clarify that this would not be the case in bumps and powder. It is very evident when watching the Swiss Snow Demo Team members skiing high performance long turns that they allow the outside leg to go long while the inside leg becomes shorter as it bends. The pedalling analogy is commonly used when teaching skiing and I personally find that it helps many people. I particularly like it because, in cycling, we keep our feet on the pedals as one leg lengthens and exerts pressure while the other shortens/bends. And when skiing it is the same, we keep both skis on the snow and exert pressure as the leg stretches and goes longer. The best analogies are those that have a strong correlation with the movements used in skiing and this is certainly one of those.
The position of the upper body
So often when it comes to explaining the position of the upper body our learners end up confused! The phrase 'face down the hill' is so often used (as it was in this workshop) and, in my opinion, this is confusing and only sometimes correct! The upper body will certainly be facing downhill at the apex of the curve, when the skis are also facing downhill. However, what happens from there is that the skis continue to be steered, and depending on the blend of the steering elements and the size of the turn (corridor), the upper body may or may not end up facing downhill. Simply observe the Swiss demo team members skiing long carved turns and you will see what I mean – in longs their upper body follows the skis to some extent. However, in their short turns the upper body does stay more down the hill or in the fall line. Laszlo initially used the term ‘counter rotation’ but I believe what he meant was that there is a certain amount of tension in the upper body so that it resists turning completely square to the skis direction of travel. When I am teaching, and talking about this aspect, I use phrases like "the legs and skis are steered more than the upper body so that the upper body (shoulders and upper torso) is 'open' and ready for the transition into the new turn." This is also often described as rotational separation. I think that the phrase 'face downhill with the upper body' is used because it seems simple and easy to understand however, simple is not always good because it can, as I believe is the case here, lead to a great deal of confusion!
To read my full report of the Swiss on-snow workshop download the Congress ebook report for your favourite e-reader. This eBook report features 8 countries and includes top takeaways from the event. The report is FREE on my store, Google Play, and Amazon.com where it has been price matched to zero.
NB: Please note that if you download the ePub file from my store it will work with any e-Reader or App.
About the author
Derek Tate is an alpine skiing coach and director of British Alpine Ski School Chamonix. He is a mental skills coach, positive psychology practitioner and author. His recent books include, "Six Steps for Training the Mind", "Learn, Enjoy, Flow & Grow" and "Transformational Flow Coaching". You can learn more from his author page.
And to listen to Derek's Interski 2023 Review on The Ski Instructor Podcast with host Dave Burrows click on the relevant podcast link: