I wouldn’t want to be an Estate Agent.

Dead men walking….. ?

The pace of change in business continues to accelerate with markets being born and killed at an ever faster rate.

One of my own businesses, media duplication, started out based on copying 5.25″ floppy disks and evolved through 3.5″ disks through CDs and finally DVDs. I spent a considerable time worrying that the market would die yet we adapted to new formats as old formats died. At about the time I concluded that we’d be OK and there would always be a demand for physical media broadband internet was rolled out, digital downloads took off and the demand for physical media started to die and our most recent format, Blu-Ray failed to launch.

Over the years we’ve seen clients with businesses in markets which simply ceased to exist. Who now would buy a spell checking utility or the last time a software company posted you a demo disc ?

Which leads me to Estate Agents. Dead men walking ?  I’ve pondered the future of the traditional Estate agent for a while and don’t see how the business can survive. Sites such as Right Move, Prime Location and Zoopla are key drivers for property sales,  where do estate agents add value, and is that value really worth 1% of the value of your home ?

New ventures such as Estates Direct along with other start ups are offering pure online alternatives and lower fees to go with it. However the real game changer will be when one of the key players, think Rightmove, Prime Location or Zoopla open up their service to the public.

When that happens I wouldn’t want to be an Estate agent.

I wouldn’t want to be a taxi driver.

So I was questioning the other night on whether the car industry has really thought through the impact of driver-less cars on their business model.

For many families Driver-less tech could mean that instead of needing to run 2 or 3 vehicles a family could share just one, operating it ‘on call’ like a private taxi.

Then a friend then asked what if you take the idea one step further ? Removing the driver removes one layer of cost while optimised driving via software will minimise maintenance so reducing costs further. Perhaps a centralised fleet of such vehicles called ‘on demand’, taxi style, will create the real possibility that perhaps families won’t need to buy cars at all ?

The upshot could be the creation of an effective mass transport system that works even in rural area’s.

Take that one step further and wonder who would be interested in a business like that ? It has the potential to be huge so perhaps the car industry will fight it’s corner and try and grab this new market.

However I suspect that the prime driver (!) will be Google who would use it as another source of data collection. Where you go, how long you stay, who you travel with will all add to their existing metrics and improve their ability to sell targeted advertising. Given past form such services would be subsidised or free to make them even more compelling.

Driver-less Technology is certainly one of the upcoming ‘disruptive technologies’ which is going to have significant social consequences. Think of how the employment prospects might change in the logistics industry.

It’s not just Taxi drivers who may be out of a job….

English Skiing. Lake District & Raise.

It’s been a slow season for English Skiing, at least in the Shropshire area. Christmas day saw a dusting of wet snow on the local hills but nothing much since.

Mid February I managed a short ski tour up on to the tops of the local hills, as much as anything to test out my refitted boots.  However nothing like enough snow to ski down.

Looking further afield I’ve been aware of the ski clubs and tows in the North of England for a while and decided to make the effort and ski Raise. Pictures of buried drag lifts  suggesting epic amounts of snow gave the perfect excuse to head North in search of snow.

An early start got me to the start of the access road by about 10ish but I was warned off going to the club car park and parked quite close to the Village. A 2km walk in later and I was on the zig zag path heading up. A broken snake of skiers ahead made route finding easy.

Snow cover started at the 500m mark prompting a swap to ski boots, put skins on and start skinning up.  The conditions were a tad icy so I stopped and fitted the ski crampons which were a boon.

At the Club Hut and Tow there were already lots of skiers and much digging going on to free up the tow. By the time I’d taken a much needed breather the drag had started. Club membership in exchange for some £££ got me an afternoon’s riding on the drag providing about 120m of vertical descent.

There was so much snow that at times my head was banging against the tow cable as it dragged me up a trench that was a couple of spade widths wide. They say that drag lifts take you to the most interesting places but this was the most amazing drag lift ride yet !

The club is keen to point out that you are skiing in a mountain environment and it’s important to remember that you are effectively off piste with the assorted hazards that brings. I managed an unintentional drop off a small cornice in flat light which made to an excellent wake up call !

Mid afternoon I headed down for the long drive home. I rode East down the ridge to the club car park but there are other, steeper options to South and the ‘Sheep Fold’.

An excellent day out and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the conditions were comparable to the Alps on the day.

Useful Links:

The club web site: http://www.ldscsnowski.co.uk/home.html

The club facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ldscsnowski/

The route I planned to take on the walk up:  http://www.outdoorsgps.com/route/show/304766_walk-up-to-raise-ski-tow      In the end I stayed North of the 1st set of rocks marked on the map as I skinned up. Please see the club web site for advice on the route up and facebook posts for current conditions.  Winter equipment including Ice Axe & Crampons  may be required.

Photo’s below:

Raise, Lakes.

Unknown snowboarder walking up.


Guys from the Raise ski club digging out the tow.

Guys from the Raise ski club digging out the tow.

Lake District Mountain Dog at Raise

Lake District Mountain Dog at Raise


Winter in the Lakes.

Winter in the Lakes. Helvellyn.



Avalanche Airbags \ Avalanche Survival Rates

I came across a blog post from Bruce Tremper regarding Avalanche Airbags & Avalanche Survival Rates.

Lots of discussion on the statistics but the key lesson is choosing your terrain. To quote Bruce:

“So at least for me, unless I’m 99.9 percent certain that the slope won’t slide, then I don’t go to un-survivable terrain. If I’m going to spend the money and carry the extra weight of an avalanche airbag pack, I want to ride in terrain where it has a chance to make a difference.  In other words, choose terrain with no obstacles, no terrain traps or sharp transitions and avoid large avalanche paths.”

Full article here:



Eurotest Training. Give yourself the best chance.

(or how take a chunk off your Eurotest time with out changing your skiing).

Over the years I’ve done my share of race training and watched friends prepare for the infamous “Eurotest” timed GS race test.

I’ve also trained for and passed a similar test ran under agreed international protocols set by the European Ski Instructor associations for visiting Instructors working with clients.

Passing these tests is a significant challenge, especially as like myself many Instructors start training for these race tests without any previous ski racing experience. This has prompted me to consider how Instructors who do not have a racing background can give them selves the best chance of success and get the most from their Autumn race training.

Below is how I’ll approach race training the next time I head for the alps for Autumn race training with one of the race training companies:

1. Recognise that Eurotest is the only part of the Instructor qualification system which is ‘measured’ (with a stopwatch!). All the other elements are ‘judged’ by trainers and this requires a change of mind set. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, get the time. RACE !

2. Structure each gate training session on the hill to replicate the race. So:

  • Confirm and practice my warm up routine as it will be on race day.
  • Practice the course inspection as I would on race day.
  • Practice remembering and visualising the course while riding the lift back to the start.
  • Aim to to set my fastest times of the day on run 1 and 2. Ideally on 1.
  • Once my practice ‘Race’ is done I’ll focus on whatever training the race coaches have for the rest of the session.

This way I get to practice all the elements of a race test day each day I train with the aim of being as fast as possible right out of the gate. It’s no good if I’m setting my fastest time on run 5 or 6 as I learn the course.

GS Course Inspection

Course inspection, GS race training.

3. Spend time getting the start nailed. 1 or 2 seconds saved (or gained) at the start is 2 or 4 percent on a 50 second run. Bad weather cancels gate training ? Maybe an opportunity to fine tune starts.

4. It’s all about ‘Line’. All those technical skills I’ll be tasked to improve are a means to an end. That end is my ‘Line’ through the course. The better my Line, the faster my time. Perhaps less helpful if I’m running last in a rutted course but worth more time if I get to run early.

5. For my skill set  and course for a given day there will be an optimum Line through the course. Being able to ski a Line accurately and consistently means I can get the best time on every run.

More on Line and what there might be learned from Motorcycle racing to follow.

Moving from Serendipity to WordPress

It’s with some sadness that I’ve had to move the blog from Serendipity to WordPress.

I’ve been a long time Serendipity user but I’ve been unable to complete the recent upgrade despite a lot help from the Serendipity forums and several attempts. My problem appears to be quite unusual and I’d still recommend Serendipity especially now they have auto update features.

I used the Instructions here combined with the Serendipity import plug-in which you can download (be sure to get v1.5) :


Hint’s and tips.

  • Install WordPress v2.9.2 (not the most recent version. You can upgrade once the install is done.)
  • Follow BOTH sets of instructions (The web page and the readme file for the plug-in) to the end, including the mysql commands (which can be done in myadmin) that need to be completed once the import has completed.

Thanks to everyone at Serendipity who have helped in the past.

Ski coaching by email – A view from the client side.

A few weeks ago I recounted how I coached a skier who was spending the ski season in Chamonix. As I was based in the UK we used the power of the internet & email to facilitate the coaching process.

To contrast my take on ski coaching by email, the skier has kindly written up their take on it:

When I skied with Dave at the start of the process, I was frustrated and fearful – having come back from a spinal injury with reduced nerve function in one leg. I spent my time on the snow fighting gravity, the mountain and my own fear. I was finding skiing to be a real struggle and I was at a stage where I wasn’t sure I would be able to enjoy skiing like I used to.

The internet-based coaching Dave provided proved very effective. I am a detail-focussed person, so his approach of breaking everything down into small packages (drills) to focus on one improvement at a time fit perfectly with the way I approach problem solving.

I would describe a specific problem I was having, Dave would prescribe a drill that I would spend the next day or two doing on the mountain and would give him my feedback. Each successfully completed drill was a platform for the next one. In this manner, we built up my skill set. It’s important to establish a common language to talk about specific techniques and where I was in doubt, Dave sent me links to online videos showing the technique in question.

Over a period of a few months, I went from being fearful on red pistes to spending my days skiing off piste in sometimes very challenging terrain (I only returned to pistes to do more drills). I even did a day with a guide skiing 30-degree slopes in knee-deep fresh. Probably the most thrilling and most terrifying day of my life but the most important aspect is that I enjoyed every minute of it.

I still have a very long way to go but I finished the season thoroughly obsessed with skiing again, which is always a good state to be in. Thanks Dave!

ACL Reconstruction. 12 month Rehab Diary.

ACL recovery and rehab. 1 year Diary.

Below are the diary entries I made while documenting my recovery and return to skiing after my ACL operation 1 year ago. Immediately after the accident I struggled to find accurate information on the likely time line for the rehab, and when I could expect to be skiing once I’d had the ACL reconstruction.

Hopefully this will help those in a similar situation.

I owe huge thanks
to my surgeon, Mr Crichlow and the staff at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford and The Nuffield in Shrewsbury. My operation was via the NHS and the whole process was quick and the outcome as good as I could have wished for. Thanks also to Mr Moreau for his help on the initial consultation.

Huge thanks also to my physio’s, Philip Newton and Sue MacLauchlan from Lilleshall Sports Injury Rehab with who’s help I was able return to skiing quicker than would otherwise have been the case. They did a fantastic job and I’d recommend them to any one returning to sport after an ACL reconstruction.


The accident was on the 21st March 2012 in Serre Chevalier, skiing off piste in a gully. The French doctor confirmed a suspected ACL after an X-Ray and some hands on checking. The insurance company insisted I returned home with on my scheduled flight.


UPDATE: 25th March

After some deliberation I decided to drop in to A&E on the Saturday evening I landed back in the UK. After a chat to the triage nurse who consulted with the on duty doctor, they sent be away but not before booking into the fracture clinic on Monday morning. At this point it looks like a good call and has saved a few days over seeing a GP.

I’ve been busy with the small exercises suggested by my private physio and all feels pretty good, and the rage of movement seems encouraging. For reference I’ve also taken a note of my current thigh diameter and my weight.

Much laughter from the nurse when she spotted the bill from the French pharmacy.


UPDATE: 26th March

I attended the fracture clinic at the local NHS hospital this morning. It really could not have gone better. The consultant checked the knee and made positive comments regarding the stability. I also managed to score an MRI as someone had cancelled that morning.

The knee specialist is in later this week and they are both going to check the scans and decide on the treatment from there. He did suggest that depending on the scans that the knee surgeon may be keen to do it sooner rather than later, perhaps in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve had the ‘OK’ to try and work the leg, so will try and keep the muscle tone. Surprising how much has gone already.

Fingers crossed on the MRI results now.


UPDATE – Day of ACL reconstruction operation, 4th May 2012

I’m back at home now lying on the sofa with a bag of peas on my knee, having gone into surgery at about 11am. When I woke up I *think* it was 1.30ish. Initially there was not much discomfort but as the afternoon has wore on it’s become more painful, along with increasing swelling and reducing mobility. Extension seems good, it’s the flex. Still everyone seems pleased with the way it had gone and my questions about the rehab and tell me they expect a good outcome Fingers crossed !!

Interestingly the pain is at the ‘harvest’ sites rather than the knee. (I had the hamstring ACL op.)


UPDATE: Week 1, post op.

In the end I had a straight ACL reconstruction, and the surgeon reported no damage to the meniscus etc. The first day was pretty uncomfortable, mostly due to the amount of swelling. It’s hard to move your leg with what must have been a 1/2 litre of fluid transforming it into a football !

However, a week in the swelling is much reduced and muscle tone is visible when I tense my quads. I’m happily walking up stairs on the ‘bad’ leg and have ditched crutches except for first thing in the morning. I’m able to walk 50m or so to garden pond and back again, but I’m not sure of I would like to do much more than that for now. According to the physio’s protractor I’ve 95^ of flex. She also ‘suggested’ not to be using the bad leg on the stairs – at least if we are going to follow the surgeons rehab protocol.

My approach in the 1st week has been –
Ice (Frozen Pea’s, asda 2kg packs seem best) 20 mins per hour.
Leg elevated on the sofa & on pillows at night.
Minimal walking
Using my trips up the stairs as an opportunity to try and lift\flex the bad leg (after day 3 or 4).

I’ve kept off my feet as much as possible, and focused on trying to keep the blood moving (Ankle flexing\pumping) and getting\keeping full extension, so Quad tensing while trying to flatten leg. In terms of regaining flex, I’ve tended to build it into everyday activities, using gravity to help it flex getting out of bed in the early days, and thinking about how my feet are positioned when sitting down so that I can gently increase the flex.

I’ve just chased the follow up appointment with the surgeon as it hadn’t come through and that’s scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Other than that the next objective is to get to the shops to stock on on Ibuprofen and Paracetamol as my prescription is about to run out. The buying restrictions are going to be a pain !!

Overall so far so good and each day has seen improvement.


2 Week Update:

2 weeks in and all would seem to be going OK. Swelling is much reduced and most evident above the knee when standing. I’m mostly off the paracetamol except for a couple before bed, but am continuing with the ibuprofen in the hope it will help with the last of the swelling. The actual prescription pills ran out after about a week. Still uncomfortable at night (although not painful) so tending to wake up early morning. The actual joint feels pretty good, twinges tend to be from the soft tissue around it and the hamstring area.

In terms of activity, I’m happy to walk up \ down stairs and have not used the crutch in a few days. Walking is OK, but I’ve probably not managed more than about 500 meters in one go. My gait feels a but odd, slightly stiff and heavy. Walking the dog yesterday evening became painful although that was after a more active day so I headed home a lot sooner than I planned. However I did make it to the pub later on. Proprioception seems OK, probably as a result of the work I did pre-op.

Flex is improving and I can fold myself into my car. Driving is fine and have practiced a couple of emergency stops to be absolutely sure. The op notes were quite clear in specifying 2 weeks.

My lower leg \ shin is pretty sore and has some numbness on the skin and is hot to touch and colors up red. I had my 2 week follow up with the surgeon on Wednesday and he was very happy with my progress and thought the lower leg would improve with time. Next follow up in a month.

I’m weaning myself off the regular 20 mins of ice per hour and trying to get more active now the swelling is reduced. Muscle loss is visible on the operated thigh so I’m keen to get working to address that. Next NHS physio is on Wednesday and I’m planning to have a session with my private physio for a second view.

All in all very different to the first few days. My next ‘real life’ target is to build up to walking a reasonable distance with the dog around the village.


Update – 5 weeks

Two weeks on and the knee feels ‘lighter’ allowing a more normal gait and is now comfortable at night. It’s sore at times, sometimes at side, sometimes to front when under load and in hamstring area in recent days although I’ve now stopped the pain killers. I saw my NHS physio on Wednesday who was happy for me to move on to the next page of drills and OK’d walking. She didn’t have a view as to an appropriate amount so I’m building back up and doing maybe 30 mins with a view to working up to an hour.

Interestingly the new exercises seem to include more rapid ballistic(?) leg movements (Flicks & Catches) plus ‘light’ jogging which is bit daunting. I think I’ll be building up on those carefully but having tried a little it’s not so bad. I guess the problem is it’s easy to get into a slow mode of movement which becomes habituated.

The follow up NHS treatment is odd. My physio didn’t recognise some of the exercises noted on the rehab sheet so we googled them on the day. She’s never received a copy of the surgery notes or rehab protocol except the copies I acquired. The surgeon asked me back in 4 weeks but no appointment has come through as yet so I’ll be chasing them on Monday. It’s not a problem for me, but if you were the type to let things slide I’m not sure the outcome would be as good as it could.


Update – 6 weeks.

Jogging isn’t going so well ! I went to the NHS physio yesterday and suggested that jogging was tricky and she looked surprised and suggested that it’s not in the protocol.
After pointing it out to her she shrugged muttered about impact & flat ground and we never really decided on how to resolve it.

The crux is I’m suffering some pain to the front of the kneecap. Again she’s not worried about it but walking in town at lunchtime it was a little sore, which is unusual. I’m hoping it will settle down as different types of discomfort come and go.

I’ll probably book up with my sports physio week after next and see what she has to say. Last time she was focused on reducing the swelling but I still have some. Next Friday is the 8 week point and the next page on the Rehab protocol, which includes such delights as hopping, Running, ‘Cutting’?. Plyometrics(?) and Ballistics?

The good news is I’m regaining muscle bulk and at the present rate should be back to pre injury size in just a few weeks. (edit – ha ha ha !)


UPDATE – Week 8

The knee & leg feels noticeably stronger week by week, although on odd days it feels like I’ve taken a backwards step.

I’m comfortably walking up to an hour at a time although when standing a lot at the weekends the knee can become heavy with increased swelling. I’m still icing a couple of times a day when I remember along with stretches and mobilising the kneecap.

I’m still getting some discomfort at the front of the knee when under load but it’s possible to work through it. The physio today thinks it will improve as I rebuild muscle. I’m tending to do less specific ‘rehab’ exercises at the weekend, choosing more ‘real world’ standing, walking & gardening.

I’m just back from the PFA Rehab centre at Lilleshall and my physo there is happy with the progress – at least she didn’t tell me off this time ! Last time she was concerned with the swelling and the amount of walking I was doing. The plan for the next few weeks is more of the same rehab protocol exercises but building more reps for each exercise, and more often.

My confidence in an earlier post about rebuilding muscle bulk seems a little misplaced as there has been no change in the last 2 weeks, but I hope to change that with more reps and work this week. It’s been suggested that I join the footy players in their rehab sessions at some point in the next few weeks and I may even join a gym.

As long as I don’t have to move to quickly the leg feels not much different than before, and I seem to have as much ‘active’ flex as the good leg – however I can’t yet sit on my heals. However it would be a different story if I had to run, hop, jump or make sudden movements on it.

Still not allowed any walking in the hills but I think 2 or 3 weeks should see me there. I’m toying with some simple climbing (avoiding the ‘bad’ leg) at the week 12 stage just to get some upper body exercise. I’m confident I can protect it now, but we’ll see how it feels.


UPDATE – Week 12

Half way there (ish) and the last 4 weeks have been a nice step forward.

Surprisingly (and disappointingly) my NHS physio has pretty much discharged me while on the other hand I’ve started a ‘strength’ program with my ‘broken footballers’ sports physio. These exercises hurt (!), the worse being standing from a chair on 1 leg but after a week or so the exercises are easier and I’ve gained a little muscle bulk on the bad leg. I’m trying to keep to one drill every 30 minutes. The new exercises can make the knee feel heavy and sore but generally the swelling is mostly constant and isn’t too aggravated by exercise. I’m still icing when I remember, generally after walking.

I had the OK to walk our local hill as long as I didn’t ‘yomp’ it. It’s 250m vertical over about 1.2 miles on a rough road\track and makes for an excellent place to train. Stupidly I forgot my sticks for the walk down, but even without them and going slowly it felt ok, and an improvement on the first time back on the hill a few days before. I’ll try and do this a couple of times a week, time allowing.

The second highlight was getting back on my motorbike. It’s a small super sports 250 which means that you have to ride it to get the best from it. I still don’t quite have enough flexion to move around as freely as I need but it was nice to get out and the leg felt better than it did pre op.

Both physio’s have spoken positively about skiing at the 6 – 7 month mark with puts me in the frame for a early season week in Tignes. I think a trip to Manchester before hand, say September time should be cool.

I’m not running, hopping, skipping or climbing yet but I’d say that the knee is now better that it was immediately pre op. I guess it’s now a case of diminishing returns, but easy skiing again in the next few months feels a realistic goal.

The real trick I think will be to manage my return to rock climbing.


Update – Week 17

Since the last update it’s been a case of ‘steady as you go’.

At the 14 weeks I had another appointment with the ‘broken footballers’ physio where they measured the relative strength between the legs. The good news was the hamstrings were within a few percent, however the quads were about 35% down. Another set of rehab drills resulted focused on addressing that. All in all the physio seemed pleased and thought that it was about normal.

August being holiday season means that rehab exercises haven’t always been front of mind but my hols did give a chance to do some more walking and indulge in a little ‘rock hopping’ at the coast. One thing that became apparent is that my calf isn’t as strong as it was but over all I’m getting some confidence back in the knee.

Highlights have included a 5 mile coastal path walk, more motorbikes and return to indoor gentle indoor climbing. I’m walking my local ‘hill’ a couple of times a week and as of last week I’m about 10% down on the time I would have expected before the accident, although that was the first attempt at a time.

The knee\shin area is sore although it doesn’t seem related to specific activities. Arguably at it’s worse when on holiday! That said it feels that I’m working it quite hard with the drills and walking and at the end of each day I can feel it. There’s little noticeable swelling, and again that doesn’t seem to be affected by activity but I am still icing from time to time.

The only real ‘iffy’ moment during the last few weeks was a sideways feeling from the knee while on an uneven beach but there was no discomfort and it seems to have held together. Climbing was a difficult as it is very hard to know what’s appropriate, so caution is the order of the day.

I still need a bit more flex as highlighted by the last ride on the bike. Although it was improved since last time I couldn’t move around as much as I’d need to be fast.

The next few weeks should be interesting. I’ve an appointment with the surgeon, the possibility of a ski at a ‘dome and another strength test and physio session – all within a week of each other. Fingers crossed.


Update. Week 20.

This seem a good time to post an update. Since the the last one a few I’ve seen the surgeon, received yet another set of physio drills and did I mention that I went skiing 😉

The good:

I went Skiing at Manchester, I’m climbing a bit harder, I have a pleased surgeon who said ‘do stuff, but not too much all at once’ and last night I posted a fast time up my local training hill. I’m only getting minor, ‘puffy’ swelling if any. 🙂

The not quite so good:

It’s still sore at times & hanging around in a fridge for 6 hours doesn’t help. I’m still a weakling when it comes to quad strength. 🙁

The important points are probably the skiing and strength. Skiing at 20 weeks post op will not be for everyone. I ski to a high standard (Coach & Instructor) but was very careful. As it happens my first session was shadowing an Instructor refresher course which meant that I was able to recap from straight running, through ploughing to easy parallel. That very easy progression worked very well and seems a good, safe way to get back to it. Skiing later in the day the knee felt strong with no twinges or issues. My main focus was to avoid being wiped out by some errant slope user.

With successful skiing under my belt I was looking forward to seeing my physio to hear his view on how things are going. He put me on the strength testing machine and the results were ‘interesting’ ! While my hamstrings are now stronger than my ‘good’ leg, but my Quads have only reduced their deficiency from 35% to 30% 🙁

However the physio seems to think that if I put the work in we can get that down to 10% and skiing in the Alps is still a reasonable goal for early December. However it goes to show that despite it all feeling ‘OK’ in a dome and at home there is still a big deficiency to be corrected.

In the mean time it’s going to be a case of more strength work on the quads with a progression towards more dynamic stuff (running \ jumping etc.) I’ve a pass to ski on our plastic slope but physio’s main concern is the risk of collision. I’m allowed to climb harder which should also help with all round strength.

Next stop the Alps, fingers crossed.


Update – Week 25:

Just back from the physio. The strength machine reports that both legs are now roughly the same, with the hamstrings a bit stronger than the quads. The ‘good’ leg is a bit weaker than on the original test and as quads are usually stronger than the Hamstrings I’ll need to continue the strength work for a few weeks yet. The good news is that since the last visit (about 5 weeks ago) I’ve managed a 35% improvement in strength on the ‘bad’ leg. The new physio regime now includes a lot of agility drills plus a continuation with the strength work so it’s not over yet.

From a practical point of view I’m comfortable skiing on plastic but teaching beginner snowboarding was a bit uncomfortable. Last weekend was spent yomping around Snowdon including some scrambling and that was fine. Still can’t sit completely in my heals 😉

If you are Midlands based I’d recommend the Sports Injury Rehab guys at Lilleshall ( http://www.lilleshall.com ) who have a lot of experiance fixing PFA footballers coming back from ACL ops. Better still thay are about to move into their swanky new building that’s going up there. The cost is £35 per session and I’m doing a session every 5 weeks or so which keeps it affordable. In return I’m given a list of drills to do at home and an assessment of where I am in the recovery.


UPDATE – 7 months.

So the moment of truth came last week in Tignes on the PSB. I originally booked expecting some nice sunshine and easy piste skiing on the Glacier. Instead it snowed constantly except for the sole sunny day on Thursday. Despite promising the physio to take it easy with no off piste & no bumps it was impossible to resist. Actually given the number of people on piste I reckon the off piste was probably safer wink

To compensate I tended not to ski much after Lunch and the knee held up very well. By then there was generally some mild soreness but it’s hard to say if some of that wasn’t psychological. I tended to feel more tired than usual but presumably I’ve lost some of my usually fitness over the Summer. I was always conscious that this was the first week back and backed out of stuff I’d usually have gone for.

By day five I was probably back to skiing 80% of normal but scored a couple of epic powder lines and some good speed on piste. Fingers crossed I’ll regain the rest over the next couple of trips. Mostly it’s a question of confidence. snowHead


Update – Month 8.

Just back from my second full weeks skiing and all went OK. Fast on piste, steep off piste, soft bumps and some powder. I skied mostly all day and while the whole thing wasn’t discomfort free, it was fine while actually skiing and the bad one didn’t hurt any more than the good one !

I also had a day on a snowboard. Rubbish hire kit aside it was all good. My main concern was riding the lifts as the operated knee is my leading leg. Having a few kgs of board swinging around didn’t seem too appealing but in the end it felt fine. With hindsight I’m not sure I’ve heard of knee damage for boarders while on lifts.

The next step for me will be a return to technical training and\or GS race training. In my mind I don’t feel quite ready for that right now but I’d think that would be reasonable by the end of the season.

I injured the knee on a off piste week last March and at the time thought it would be doubtful that I’d be there this year. As it happens I’d have no hesitation booking up and skiing the same lines again.


Update – Month 10.

My Surgeon discharged me today after the final check up. He suggested continuing to build strength in the ‘bad’ leg until it’s as strong as the old one and told me not to damage it again !

I was going to book into the physio one last time in the Spring so I’ll be sure to do this and get them to measure the respective strength of both legs on their fancy machine. I suspect there will be nothing in it despite the difference in bulk between them but that they both would benefit from some more work.


1 year update (or there abouts).

Just back from a run out on the motorbike which is probably the final ‘test’ for the repaired knee. Pre Winter I lacked enough flex to be able to properly place my foot on the footrest and moving around on the bike was hard, partly due to the lack of flex but also due to lack of strength. It’s a 250 super sports bike so requires a certain amount of input to get the best from it.

Todays short ride was perfect. As much (or more) flex as the ‘good’ leg, no probs moving around on the bike and I’d be confident to get back on track and chase lap times.

The last couple of days the knee has been pretty sore down the out side of the knee while walking, but I’ve been back to working it at the behest of my physio. Hopefully a case of no pain, no gain….

Email Ski Coaching !

Chamonix Coaching. Winter 2013.

This ski season has seen me helping a skier spending the season in Chamonix. As I’ve been based in the UK this year we used the power of the Internet to facilitate the process, communicating by email.

We skied together at the start of the process which gave us a useful starting reference from which to progress. Ongoing video wasn’t available so the skier provided their own feedback in response to tasks and questions from me.

The nature of email communication dictated that I optimised the coaching process to match the way we were communicating to get the best outcome. After some consideration I decided that helping the skier to develop their internal feedback skills would be a good focus. This would help them more accurately assess their own skiing from the feelings they felt and be able to make changes for the better. Later we moved on to investigate specific technical skills plus the line & tactics needed to ski a given slope.

Practically, this tended to involve setting a task on easy runs along with some questions. On completing the task the skier would come back with the answers and we’d discuss the result via email. If other skiing issues had come up we’d address those and from there the next task could be agreed and the process repeated.

At the end of the season we skied together again and much progress had been made. So much so that we spent most of the time hitting the off piste up on the Grand Montets 🙂

The process has proved both interesting and thought provoking but most importantly successful. It also perhaps highlights some of the differences between Coaching and Instruction.