By Crook Rusty
My wife and I were having dinner one night when the phone rang. It was an old friend from my past. This man was not a bosom buddy, but he had been a friend for years. We had worked in the same ski school for years, and in the last years he had worked for me in my senior program. He informed me that he had moved back to town, after his wife passed away and now was living with his daughter in Carson City.
He told me he was 94 years old and that he had not skied for 10 years, and had never used the new shaped skis. He had been an avid golfer and had lived for quite a while in Palm Springs, California. Now that he was back in town he wondered if he could still ski and he wanted to try the new shaped skis. In the old days, he was a certified instructor and was more than adequate as a skier and instructor.
I informed him that a couple years ago I had a stroke that left me with double vision, so he was asking the walking wounded for help. I asked him why he wanted me, of all people, to help him. He said that he trusted me because he knew that I was so politically incorrect that he could believe what I said and there would be no B.S. I told him if he was willing to put up with me, I would certainly try to help him as best I could. I offered to pick him up, but he informed me that he was still driving and would meet me at the ski area.
We met in the cafeteria, had a cup of coffee, and mapped out our plans for the day. I told him that being an accomplished skier was actually a detriment because he was so used to the old-school methods. I asked him to forget all the things he used to teach and do. I told him what we would do is work on some basic skills, focus on function, and have fun.
It is my belief that older people still have good thought processes and can have their mind do the work their body no longer is able to fight through. It was good to be with an old friend to try and make the most out of function while having fun at the same time. It is my belief that if you don’t understand what you’re trying to do and can’t really feel it, there is little hope of accomplishing anything.
I was able to get my buddy a pair of high-performance shaped skis, good boots, and a pair of ski poles. We were now ready to take on the mountain.
We started with a review of what the stance should be. He agreed with most everything that I said except he thought the weight should be on the balls of the feet, but he told me that being flat-footed made a lot more sense.
The first little drill that we tried was a straight run to a gliding wedge. Here we used flexion and extension. It is a known fact that many older skiers are quite stiff in their body movement. I think by finding out what body movement does for you, he could see how movement helps you with what you are trying to get the skis to do. We took at least two runs doing our change-up drill. By doing this, he could actually feel how the up unwaiting of the extension made it easier to operate the skis. I think that feeling this is very important.
We were working on relatively flat green runs. We were having a good time and no one was bothering us. We were on a long run that gave us plenty of time to work on different maneuvers. The next thing we worked on was keeping a good body stance. After we worked a little on the stance, we worked on the ability to flatten one ski. In doing this, we obviously made a long radius turn in the direction of the flattened ski.
We did this at the top of the rise and it became quite easy to feel what was going on with the skis. In the wedge, people have their weight on the two inside edges. When one of the inside edges is flattened, the other ski becomes dominant, and makes a skier turn.
It was at this stage of our drill that we started talking about a strong inside body. As we flattened the inside ski, we raised our inside hand, elbow, and shoulder to help our body cross over and change the side of the ski that was flattened. This is a simple drill, but it seems to be the biggest help to keep from stepping off the new inside ski to the outside ski. This stepping movement is old school and is referred to as the up and over move. Instead of stepping, we are looking for a flow towards the new turn. I think a lot of the really good skiers still use stepping as they have for many years. It seems to me, this simple drill can help them be more current and flow towards the next turn.
In the natural progression, we take this wedge turn into a wedge Christie. As long as we keep doing the same things we did in the first drill, we maintain good body mechanics and flow. We like to call this the silky-wedge Christy and it seems to be a very important thing. If you get it right, it can help you in most of your general skiing.
Our next drill was obviously the wide track parallel turn and by using almost the same maneuvers, we found it very easy to make a few changes. It is still important to flatten the inside ski and to keep involved all the other things that we were doing. As we go on to the more advanced turns, it all seems to fall into place. By the time we were through, my old friend and I looked around and determined we were more than likely the most contemporary and functionally sound skiers on the hill. Of course, we could have been a little prejudiced.
My friend called me the next day and told me that after the two and a half hours of skiing his legs were not tired at all. I think that was a good testimonial of how well contemporary skiing helps seniors. After 60 years of teaching skiing, it was more than likely my last lesson, and was a great way to end my career. This lesson put me on a high that lasted for weeks.
Interested in finding out more about teaching seniors? Check out our senior summit event on March 5-6!
ski free! (Injury Free
Courtney Carmichael, PT, DPT
Michelle Appelle, PT, OCS
the most common ski injury
• ACL tear is the 2nd most common ski injury
• ACL & MCL tears = 30% of skiing injuries
• Age: 15-24 y.o. = most likely to injure knee
• Decreased fitness >> more likely to be injure
• Stretching = important for prevention
• Adequate rest breaks & hydration
• Hx of knee injuries = more likely to re-injure
• Previous ACL injury = increased risk for Osteoarthritis later
• Head injuries are increasing in incidence
Injury Prevention: Equipment
• Boots- Proper fit, wear and tear
• Skis/Snowboards- Size, tuned properly for conditions
• Bindings- DIN settings
Injury Prevention: Mechanism of Injury
• Most common mechanism of injury: non-contact:
• Landing a jump in poor form: Weight back >> boot pushing on calf >> force through tibia tears ACL
• “Phantom foot phenomenon”- Uphill arm back, skier off balance to the rear, hips below the knees, uphill ski unweighted, weight on inside edge of DH ski, upper body generally facing DH ski (If all 6 components are present at same time, injury to DH leg is imminent)
• Ski catches awkwardly in the snow or carving of the ski twists the leg.
• We can’t prevent contact related injury, we can only reduce the incidence of non-contact injuries.
Correcting poor technique
• Maintaining balance and control • Keep hips above knees • Keep arms forward
Avoiding high risk behavior
• Don’t fully straighten legs when you fall
• Don’t get up until you’ve stopped sliding
• Don’t land on your hand: break fall with uphill arm
Head Injuries- A New Phenomena
• 70% of skiers and snowboarders wearing helmetstripled (3x) since 2003
• There has been no reduction in the # of snowsports-related fatalities or brain injuries in the country (NSAA)
• Number of snow-sports-related head injuries among youths and adolescents increased 250 percent from 1996 to 2010.
Concussion Signs- Observed
• Can’t recall events prior to/after a hit or fall • Appears dazed or stunned • Forgets an instruction or unsure of the location, time, or other factors • Moves clumsily • Answers questions slowly • Loses consciousness (even briefly) • Mood, behavior, or personality changes
Concussion Symptoms- Reported
• Headache or “pressure” in head
• Nausea or vomiting
• Balance problems, dizziness, double/blurry vision
• Bothered by light or noise
• Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
• Confusion, concentration or memory problems
• Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”
Head Injuries- Action
• Keep person with possible concussion out of activity the same day of the injury
• Require clearance by a healthcare provider.
• Don’t try to judge severity of the injury
• Decision regarding return to work/school/sport- made by a healthcare provider only
• ASTM1 certified helmet- tested for safety
• Clean with warm water and mild detergent
• Don’t store helmet in a car or direct sunlight
• Do not decorate your helmet- paint/stickers
• Ski helmets are designed to withstand more than one very minor hit
• A ski helmet MUST be replaced if it has been involved in a serious crash or is damaged
ACL Tears in Females
Non-contact ACL tears are up to 8x more common in female athletes. ACL tears are 3x greater in alpine female skiers. Risk factors for increased rate of ACL tears in females are:
• Anatomical: wider hips, increased hip internal rotation, “knock-knees”, small ACL, small notch size
• Hormonal: changes in laxity during menstrual cycle
• Biomechanical: inefficient muscular control, improper mechanics during sport Understanding & preventing noncontact ACL injuries 2007
ACL Injury Prevention Programs
Decreased occurrence of ACL injuries by 60- 89%. The emphasis of programs has been on reducing high risk positions and training for proper technique. Common components are stretching, strengthening, balance, plyometrics and core stabilization. Access exercises from 2 popular programs online: http://smsmf.org/smsf-programs/pep-program http://sportsmetrics.org/
Low blood sugar and dehydration lead to impaired reaction time, cognition and decision making increasing injury rates A 30 minutes training video with printed materials on nutrition and a balance program provided to ski-area staff was effective at reducing injuries in participating resorts by 65%. Injury rates at non-participating resorts increased by 34%. BioMed Res Int 2013 Nutrition: consume small, frequent meals.
Biomechanics of Injury
Ligament Dominance: knee collapses inward during sport because the athlete is relying on the ligament and joint structure to absorb forces instead of muscle control. To correct: train for proper technique Quadriceps Dominance: knee remains more extended (straight) because the athlete is over-active in their quadriceps and underutilizing their hamstrings. To correct: incorporate hamstring strengthening Leg Dominance: most of the weight is on one leg during ACL injuries. 20% decrease in strength in one limb leads to injury. To correct: train for asymmetries, incorporate single leg exercises Trunk Dominance: trunk tends to be tilted to the side during an ACL injury. Poor trunk control will lead to fall during skiing/snowboarding. To correct: train with core stabilization North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 2010
Training is most effective when resistance exercises are similar to the sport in which improvement to sought. Train by strengthening the same muscle groups used in skiing/snowboarding. Incorporate anaerobic exercise by utilizing interval training. These are short duration, high intensity exercises to mimic activity on hill. In order for training adaptions to occur, we have to exercise beyond a level that our bodies are normally accustomed to. This is why it is necessary to progress an exercise by increasing the sets, repetitions and/or resistance.
Time of Day
Most skiing and snowboarding injuries occur close to noon or at the end of the day. Injury rates increase when skiing/riding greater than 3 hours with a break. Rest and replenish your body during your break to reduce injury risk.
Vermont Safety Research
Serious knee sprains in the on-slope staff of 20 ski areas was reduced by 62% by with a video-based training video that utilized education on proper fall technique and avoiding high risk behavior Am J Sports Med 1995
• Avoid high risk behavior: Don’t fully straighten your legs when you fall, don’t try to get up until you’ve stopped sliding, don’t land on your hand, don’t jump unless you know where/how to land
• Routinely Correct Skiing Technique: Maintain balance and control, keep hips above knees, keep arms forward
• Recognize Potentially Dangerous Situations: Uphill arm back, off-balance to the rear, hips below the knees, uphill ski unweighted, weight on inside edge of downhill ski tail, upper body generally facing downhill ski
• Respond correctly to loss of control: Arms forward, feet together, hands over skis
• Conditions: Be aware of changing snow conditions that can contribute to injury risk, wear proper goggles in low visibility
• Equipment: Properly tune equipment at the beginning of the season
• Responsibility Code: Share with others to improve safety on hill Lots of valuable information at: http://www.vermontskisafety.com/
You will explore teaching concepts and content that you can directly apply to the trail and the slopes. Participants will also learn valuable tips on summer cross-training programs to facilitate agility and flexibility. This event is open to all levels. If new to mountain biking, put yourself in the shoes of a beginner and learn something new; your riding and teaching will only improve!
Join Artie Castro and Doug Fagel for the 2nd Annual Surf to Snow event at one of California’s best beaches! This one day education event helps to develop crossover skills that translate to improved skiing/snowboarding performance. Participants will learn valuable tips on using surfing as a crosstraining tool to strengthen agility and versatility on the slopes. This event is open to all disciplines and all ability levels; from first timers to advanced level surfers. The group will be camping Friday and Saturday night at nearby San Mateo Beach Campground.
It’s hard to believe that the PSIA/ AASI-W Senior
Program is entering its ninth season! We continue to develop new clinic topics aimed at inspiring “a lifelong passion for snow sports” among the senior skiing public and give our members the tools they need to provide top instruction to this clientele. All our senior educational and accreditation
clinics are open to instructors of any age, who are interested in becoming more proficient at teaching seniors.
In spite of the less than perfect season, the Senior
Program still had a successful year. I’d like to extend my
congratulations to the 12 instructors that achieved L2 Senior Specialist Accreditation at our events at Diamond Peak and down south at Bear Mountain. Special thanks to Dan Kleiner and Blaine Lomen for making the event at Bear Mountain possible. I’d also like to extend my congratulations to the 12 instructors that successfully completed the L1 Senior Specialist Accreditation at Convention at Mammoth. Great job!
If you’re looking for a fun event that explores two of America’s greatest ski resorts, our “Senior Summit” is slated for March 1st and 2nd at Squaw Valley/ Alpine Meadows. It was an outstanding new event last year. Our thanks go out to Cindy Livermore, who suggested the format. We are always open to new ideas. If you have a suggestion for a senior clinic topic please let me know through the PSIA/AASI-W office.
New this year on the calendar will be our inaugural L1 Senior Specialist Snowboard Ac- creditation. The Senior Committee’s goal is to expand our senior clinic offerings to instruc- tors of all teaching disciplines.
Whether you’re looking for a fun way to get educational credits or you want to get bet- ter at teaching seniors and get a Senior Specialist Accreditation pin, check out our clinic
descriptions and calendar and come ski with us, and whatever else you do, KEEP ON SKIING & RIDING!
Pray for snow.