Edge tries out Evolution 2 Tignes’ Check Up Clinic
A ski week – so many apres terraces to try, slopes to explore and amazing views to photograph… so little time! If you want to improve your skiing too, but don’t want to commit to a whole week’s ski school course, Evolution 2 have come up with a perfect middle ground solution. Their Check Up sessions take place on two of your afternoons – Monday and Wednesday – and you’ll join a mixed bag of abilities going over the technical basics you might have touched on before but forgotten. The idea is that spending just 3 hours per session sharpening your on-piste style and getting pointers on your individual technique will enable you to make the most of the rest of your holiday. Normally I’m quite happy to slide around with friends between mountain restaurants but, after each session with our charismatic instructor Florent, both I and my friends noticed a significant leap forward in my skiing, giving me tonnes more confidence. Definitely great value for just €69 in total – plus it was great fun and took me to parts of the mountain I don’t usually go.
There was a motley crew of four of us – abilities across the intermediate spectrum – in Monday’s session. We started off with a memorable exercise to get us facing down the hill and moving from the hips. Find a focal point straight ahead, hold your poles halfway down and your arms out as if you’re going in for a hug (it may have actually made us look like a line of zombies), and keep that focal point in the same position between your poles as you make your turns. I was surprised at how much movement I could feel in my waist and, as I made a conscious effort to reproduce that over the sessions, felt my turns becoming easier. Florent explained that you’re like an elastic band with the bottom half twisting first one way then the other. To help us turn quicker he made us use our pole plant to keep our top half facing downhill – so that our momentum is already taking us in the direction we want our legs to go as we start to turn. None of us had been using our poles much and adding this into each turn made a massive difference to how smoothly we were skiing. I found being able to turn more quickly, easily and controlled meant I was skiing faster too. Not only were we learning from Florent, we were learning from each other – there was always someone doing it worse than you that reinforced what NOT to do, and someone doing it better to copy from.
After explaining and demonstrating an exercise, we’d practice on a slope then Florent watched us one by one and gave individual instruction on what we needed to work on. We were also working a lot on leaning forward (reminded by his regular shouts of ‘FOW-WERD’) – another thing that sounds obvious but is so hard to get right. With a bit of difficulty Florent persuaded us to ski backwards, telling us that how our shins felt pressed against our boots in that position is how they should feel while we’re going forwards too. As half the battle of skiing is in your head, much of Florent’s teaching strategy was about instilling confidence and reminding us to have fun with it. He finished the session with a blast round the slopes – shouting ‘COME OOOON!’ he led us up little jumps, off the side of the piste, shooting up a gulley. It got the adrenalin pumping and was so much fun!
On the Wednesday session we built on everything we’d learnt, practicing short fast turns to get the skis moving, then edging with long wide turns to keep a consistent controlled speed. Now I was leaning forward more in my boots, I found I felt much more in control of my skis – my body was leading the skis telling them where to go, rather than the skis going first bringing me with them after. Florent’s constant cries of ‘FOW-WERD’ had worked! The session culminated in tackling an unpisted black, which I pulled off using my new techniques. We ended with Florent making me follow him standing tall, holding my poles in the air, repeating ‘I am a good skier’ – another confidence boost technique, but this time I actually thought I might have improved enough to believe it.
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by Katie Cooksey