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CANSI NEWS RELEASE - XC Ski Your Best DVD Production - Oct 19th, 2006
"Although the production of the CANSI DVD began in 2004, its roots originated in 1976, the year CANSI was established. The film is based largely on the instructor's manual, which has evolved considerably over 30 years. In 2004 CANSI Ontario was approached by XCZone to develop a video on technique. The added dimension of a film would match words with visual images and greatly aid those who are predominantly visual learners. This project also presented an opportunity to bring skating technique up to date by soliciting feedback from CANSI
I had no prior experience in producing a film and I thought that we had everything to gain by forming a partnership with Dave McMahon from XCZone, a professional filmmaker and an elite cross-country skier. If we prepared the script, scheduled the instructors and got them to the film location, XCZone would produce the film.
The first step was to develop a concept and to get the backing from CANSI Ontario followed by obtaining approval from CANSI National and the Technical Committee. The concept was straightforward, a film for instructors that would depict CANSI's technical explanations, global demos, mechanical analysis of manoeuvers and drills. This film would be very different from many others because the skiers would be instructors and not national team level skiers. Approval for the project took some time.
Producing a CANSI film could mean sharing our technical knowledge with people outside of our membership. Furthermore, CANSI and XCZone did not seem to be likely partners in the technical arena. At the time XCZone was advocating skating movements straight down the track while CANSI advocated rotation of the torso and hips to assist in weight transfer. We were treading new ground and people were uneasy about how these two organizations would come together. In the end CANSI with its strong leadership took a leap of faith and became serious about committing to this project.
We prepared a plan, a production schedule, a budget and wrote an agreement between XCZone and CANSI. The most time consuming part was condensing the CANSI Manual from over 200 pages to 20 pages while retaining the most important information and being concise with technical explanations. And so the consultation process started with CANSI instructors providing comments on technical information.
After six months and hundreds of e-mails and many drafts later the script was ready and we starting shooting the following December at Mount Washington and that winter in the Gatineau Park. In all, we had five photo sessions.
The launch of the DVD was planned for the 2005/2006 season, but it was delayed so that we could re-film the downhill maneuvers and drills sections. Keith Nicol from Newfoundland flew into Ottawa in March '06 for a photo session at Camp Fortune in the Gatineau Park. I discovered that we required clear and sunny skies to obtain the best visual images. On a shooting location exactly a year earlier six CANSI instructors were gathered to film for the whole day in glorious spring ski conditions. At the same shoot location XCZone was shooting another film with a parachutist on skis coming down one of the downhill slopes and making an abrupt turn with other skiers skiing in unison beside him. This was quite the extreme, a group of tame CANSI instructors with the likes of characters in a James Bond action film. I viewed many of the Ski Your Best drafts in Dave's studio in Chelsea, Quebec. He has a large screen and state of the art cameras and computer equipment. I watched him work matching the script with the visual images and music and I was amazed with his skill and ability. He spent countless hours committed to developing this film. It was a challenge for him because his task was to produce a film through CANSI's eyes.
CANSI changed a lot of the visual images as we went which made his job difficult. We sometimes differed on the terminology and the image angle that we wanted to present, something that made me realize that CANSI had definitely impacted the way in which I analyze technique.
One of the realizations that I came to working on this film was that technique is technique whether you are an elite racer or a recreational skier. The difference between the two skiers is found in the technical application and the developmental stage of the skier.
The drills section of the film proved to be difficult to depict. Drills help to isolate one aspect of skiing and sometimes what the skier was doing wasn't obvious to the viewer. At other times the drills themselves made the skiers technique fall apart and we learned that we were not that great at demonstrating some of the drills. We needed to practise doing the drills and in the end we selected those drills that presented the best on film.
The first chapter of the DVD describes technique somewhat differently from the manner in which technique is presented in the instructor's manual. First, skating and classic technique in the DVD is presented together to show parallels and commonalities. Secondly, instead of using power and propulsion as one of the skills, the element 'Movement Initiated from the Body Core' was used to reinforce the multi-role aspect of the hips. In our research, coaches were emphasizing compression of the torso and forward knee and hip drive to enhance power and propulsion. The hips can also greatly aid in improving weight transfer and balance of the skier. This explanation/terminology was just another way of explaining the mechanics of skiing to complement the instructor's manual.
The interpretive meaning of Ski Your Best in my mind is to help instructors clearly understand technique so that they can better apply this knowledge in a practical setting and be more effective teachers. We had fun times and laughs in producing this film and it brought us closer together as a group for the common purpose of furthering CANSI's mandate. Through this film, we are sharing our knowledge and passion for teaching and it has brought CANSI more recognition in the skiing community for which it was designed. Enjoy!" - Michael Lalonde, CANSI