Page 2 of 5 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 ... LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 45

Thread: Starting a beginner in parallel or starting in wedge?

  1. #11
    Looking for a house mtguide1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Livingston, MT
    Posts
    697
    I wonder about popping a toe out of the binding with that pole tip! I would rather see the weight transfer to the outside come as a natural consequence of movement on the inside ski. Be less trouble to fight to get to real parallel entry
    "If you are lucky enough to be on the mountain.....You are lucky enough"

  2. #12
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    2,419
    I'm with Kneale on this one, mtguide. The problem is not with the wedge, it's with the way initiating a turn in a wedge is taught. If the wedging student is taught that the new outside ski is the thing to focus on, to tip it, weight it, or whatever, they are learning to build a turn on a ski that already has itself turned in the new direction since its tail is out. Once they learn to bring that inside ski in between turns in wedge christies, their focus for the new turn will still be on getting the new outside ski out. Thus the stem entry, the tail shoving, the focus on bracing against the outside ski, and terminal intermediatehood.

    Teaching them to initiate wedge turns with focus on the new inside ski should theoretically eliminate that issue. But I don't have any faith in that, either.

    Many skiers don't keep taking lessons, and frequently they frequently ski terrain above comfort level. The temptation to whip that new outside ski around and establish a platform quickly is going to take over when they are in survival mode, and they will get down that terrain proudly. This new untaught movement pattern will get embedded and there you go, a stemmer.

    I don't think blaming the first lesson, no matter how it is taught, is sufficient to account for all the stem entries on the mountain. It also doesn't account for the upper body rotation. People figure out how to ski new challenging terrain on their own, and gut reactions work, sorta. They practice imperfectly and become stuck.

    I blame lack of skier desire to keep taking lessons. Skiers often embrace a do-it-yourself mentality rather than a take-a-lesson mentality.
    Last edited by LiquidFeet; November 21st, 2014 at 08:08 AM.

  3. #13
    Looking for a house mtguide1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Livingston, MT
    Posts
    697
    The top 6 search results on the terms "Learn to ski" got 3,500,000 hits. So, yes, people want to learn but are obviously trying to do it on their own. What prompted this post was a video posted on the Snowsports Instructors of the World FB page. Some outfit hawking their phone app drills over in Europe. The beginner's drill looked atrociously biased to a focus on the outside ski (right foot if going left) Hated it and said so. Got hammered by a guy who obviously felt people should stay in a wedge for the first 5-6years. PSIA has tow tracks for beginners in the Stepping tones, one for wedge and one for parallel. wedge is an essential skill, a fail-safe, and you need to teach it,, before you send someone into a lift line. so maybe the Stepping Stone tracks should be Wedge and "Shift to parallel as soon as possible"

    My decision point is as you say. when I ask for a left turn by flattening (eversion) the left foot/ski, and they handle that with no sweat, it's adios wedge for the rest of the lesson.
    "If you are lucky enough to be on the mountain.....You are lucky enough"

  4. #14
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    2,419
    Quote Originally Posted by mtguide1 View Post
    The top 6 search results on the terms "Learn to ski" got 3,500,000 hits. So, yes, people want to learn but are obviously trying to do it on their own. What prompted this post was a video posted on the Snowsports Instructors of the World FB page. Some outfit hawking their phone app drills over in Europe. The beginner's drill looked atrociously biased to a focus on the outside ski (right foot if going left) Hated it and said so. Got hammered by a guy who obviously felt people should stay in a wedge for the first 5-6years. PSIA has tow tracks for beginners in the Stepping tones, one for wedge and one for parallel. wedge is an essential skill, a fail-safe, and you need to teach it,, before you send someone into a lift line. so maybe the Stepping Stone tracks should be Wedge and "Shift to parallel as soon as possible"

    My decision point is as you say. when I ask for a left turn by flattening (eversion) the left foot/ski, and they handle that with no sweat, it's adios wedge for the rest of the lesson.
    Yes to that.
    Wedge should/can be used to help beginners who are balance challenged... or to slow them down if the learn-to terrain is not all that friendly. Nothing wrong with either of those, just for starters.

  5. #15
    Looking for a house mtguide1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Livingston, MT
    Posts
    697
    It's a total judgment call. I tend to err on the side of parallel turn entry. I f they can't handle it then step back
    "If you are lucky enough to be on the mountain.....You are lucky enough"

  6. #16
    My horse knows his own way home Little Tiger's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Australia & Colorado
    Posts
    2,986
    MtG

    Yet Austrian ski schools still use a snowplow progression... In fact they insist on snowplow, traverse, and sideslip...

    I'd guess every Austrian racer started in a snowplow... yet they continue to turn out a depth of racers not really matched on a per head of population basis. Do you think they don't consider the other options regularly? (Contemplate the requirements to even enter their full cert courses and how many folks try to do so - they have a reputation for their instructor training that is not really matched elsewhere)

  7. #17
    My horse knows his own way home Little Tiger's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Australia & Colorado
    Posts
    2,986
    To give an idea - my original instructor was an aussie that taught in Austria in his off-seasons... He would not allow me off the beginner hill until I had a solid traverse, effective sideslip, and strong stem christie turn. His argument - I needed to be safe.

    My friend was taken up to the top of the hill on her second day by a "softer, more modern" instructor. She promptly got off the side of the road, fell down the hill as she could not traverse and wrecked her knee...

    I really have no issues with being restricted to bunny hill until I could do those three simple tasks. With a traverse and sideslip I could get out of most situations if I needed to.

  8. #18
    Looking for a house mtguide1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Livingston, MT
    Posts
    697
    depends on the goal. No doubt a competent wedge is a valuable skill. Staying in a wedge beyond the point of utility is a VERY Austrian thing to do."You vill schki zah vey you are toldt or you vill be schott!" If we lived in Harbland, people would be shot for teaching a wedge. What matters is developing memory for efficient and defective movement. A wedge is a valuable tool in certain situations. A twin track carve is fine on a groomed slope and nearly useless off piste SOmetimes a stem is handy. /

    Why in heavens would I tell a never-ever to drag a pole? I don't even give them poles for the very reason I don't want them leaning on them as a crutch for poor footwork. The point of the exercise is to give the ability to be in touch with the sensations in the feet coupled with a view of conditions ahead in a way that the skier adjusts movement without conscious thought but is driven by the skier's intentions. Stem this turn arc the next and schmeeear the third and hop thru the 4th. Whatever, it is easier to move the feet under the CoM than it is to move CoM over the feet. Dragging poles is an upper body sensation coupled to an upper body exertion and does not belong anywhere in the repertoire of movement other than as a moment of recovery.

    Even the PSIA "hands out front" can drive the hips to the rear. My arms represent 20% of my mass. Add to that the force of drag and you are affecting balance artificially to no real end. Having them out of position relative to centered and balanced means they have to do something else to counter that mass. Arms and hands should always be carried in a way that is neutral to the direction of momentum. The pole touch ought to be a "flick" involving as little of the arm as possible.

    The thread is about beginners. As with training dogs and horses, drills should be set up to make doing the right thing easy and doing the wrong thing difficult. When I think about turns I think in terms of base of support and CoM and skiing inside the boot. Only in very advanced scenarios doe the pole come into play as part of the base of support. "Dragging" implies "leaning on" , it creates an artificial, contrived position focused on the chain of feeling the pole tip/hand/ arm/shoulder/ that may produce a transition and a turn, but it isn't the way I want to see someone free skiing.
    "If you are lucky enough to be on the mountain.....You are lucky enough"

  9. #19
    My horse knows his own way home Little Tiger's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Australia & Colorado
    Posts
    2,986
    Nobody was talking about getting never evers to drag a pole were they?

    However you did mention that you disliked an instructor focusing on outside foot of snow plow/wedge.... I was just pointing out that another school of thought focuses on many of the aspects that PSIA teach instructors to dislike about the snow plow and also teaches a traverse (that I'm told PSIA doesn't like also)...

    There are various methods -each with aspects that bear watching I would say...

  10. #20
    – Starting a beginner in parallel or starting in wedge?

    It depends – on the available terrain and the balance of the student. As for balance, you can tell after their first straight run glide whether they are candidates for so-called Direct-to-Parallel. But just because they seem like good prospects does not mean that you, the instructor, have enough appropriate terrain to do the progressions, such as “1000 steps” to walk/ glide/ shuffle around a turn with slightly diverging skis with every “step”. If your beginner area is too narrow or too steep, you cannot introduce them to turning in that "parallel" manner because they pick up too much speed in the fall line.

    We are preparing for our first parent orientation for the school program that will begin in January, and part of that is managing the expectations of parents and children, bringing them in line with reality. For those who seem fixated on skiing “parallel” from day one, we assure them that we teach as much parallel as possible. In our newsletter (and later at the orientation meeting) we explain that “as much as possible” means less than 100% of the time; that they have to conform to the Code of Responsibility the first rule of which is to Remain in Control at All Times, and you cannot be in control at all times if all you know is how to be “parallel”. That is why the children are taught to be very good with all aspects of the wedge (gliding, stopping, turning) – we want to keep Ski Patrol inside their huts drinking coffee!

    To manage parents and kids, over the years we have developed a cook-book approach to “getting to parallel”. We established 9 skier levels, each with its description of performance standards that the child must meet to be placed into the next level. Our levels are generally consistent with those of the ski schools we use, so there is little conflict there. The performance of correct initiation movements is the “test”, and the ski schools we use have no problem “teaching to the test.”

    To address your question of which to use (parallel or wedge) in this reply I will repeat part of the descriptions of each class level to make the point that the key element is a proper initiation (not ski position) and that the proper initiation movement must be routinely observable in the child’s movements before being eligible to join the next higher group. These initiation movements are our answer to a discussion in another forum called, Instructors: do you teach moving forward at initiation? If so, how? Or why not? To the 193 replies to that question, we could add our simple approach: slight directional extension/flexion through the turns by flattening the inside ski.

    To the parallel-obsessed parent/child we reiterate that we are less interested in the positioning of the two skis (parallel vs. wedge) than we are in the movements that are made to begin a turn; that you move your body forward and toward the direction of your turn; you make the move by flattening the ski that is in the direction of your turn (flatten old outside/new inside ski); you flatten that ski by extending or straightening your uphill leg and/or flexing or shortening your downhill leg; that these are the movements that move your body toward the next turn, and will move you into the next higher class.

    To the parallel-obsessed, we tell them that if they can keep their skis “parallel” while making this movement, fine; if not, that is fine too. It is OK to let the skis go into a little wedge. We believe that this attitude toward the contentious wedge-parallel debate takes the pressure off so that the children can focus their attention and energy on learning the initiation movements, rather than on worrying about whether their skis are in a wedge or parallel position.

    Our message is, Wedges are OK. As you get better, the wedge will slowly disappear, becoming parallel. Wedging is just an early parallel. The forward directional movements to make a turn on skis are the same regardless of whether the skis are parallel or wedged.

    Skiing Class 1:
    Required to Pass: Skier can walk, stop, climb, straight run, straight gliding wedge and has been introduced to beginning gliding wedge turns using a balanced athletic stance. Develop excitement for a new sport.
    Skiing Class 2:
    Required to Pass: Skier can perform controlled, linked wedge turns down entire 2 hill: speed control w/turn shape. Emphasize narrow wedge w/slight directional ext/flex through turns flatten inside ski. Perform braking wedge.
    Skiing Class 3:
    Required to Pass: Skier can perform controlled linked wedge Christies down entire 3 hill. Speed control must be achieved through turn shape emphasizing a narrow wedge & slight directional extension/flexion through the turn. Body and ankles must move in direction of new turn. Width of stance will vary only slightly between wedge & skid.
    Skiing Class 4:
    Required to Pass: Skier can perform controlled linked Wedge Christies (match at fall line with skidded finish) down entire 4 hill. Speed control must be achieved through turn shape emphasizing a narrow wedge & slight directional extension/flexion through the turns. Note: Body and ankles must move in direction of new turn.
    Skiing Class 5:
    Required to Pass: Skier can perform advanced linked, wedge Christies (a match before the fall line with a skidded finish) with a pole touch down the entire 5 hill. Speed control must be achieved through turn shape emphasizing a narrow wedge and slight directional extension/flexion through the turns. Note: Body and ankles must move in direction of new turn.
    Skiing Class 6:
    Required to Pass: Skier can perform linked, open, skidded parallel turns with a pole touch down the entire 6 hill. Note: There is no wedge or stem opening in this turn. Speed control must be achieved through turn shape emphasizing directional extension/flexion through the turns. Note: Body and ankles must move in direction of new turn.
    Teaching Objectives:

    5. Parallel initiation (forward side slip and parallel garlands emphasizing flexion/extension movements toward direction of intended turn….
    Skiing Class 7: Work on bumps, more dynamic skiing, simultaneous steering
    Skiing Class 8: Work on off-piste, crud, powder, steeps, trees

    I mention Classes 7 and 8 to say that the stem turn is taught in Class 8 because it is a useful maneuver in challenging conditions. If the child has not figured out on his own how to start a turn with upper body rotation by the time the child has reached Class 8, it is taught at that time.

    The performance standards described above are how we resolved the debate over which ski position is “better” for starting a beginner. We believe that neither is “better” than the other, for beginners. We emphasize the movement, not the position of the skis. In answer to your main question, use whichever is necessary (usually the wedge) or appropriate (more emphasis on parallel for better-balanced individuals, assuming you have enough gentle terrain for it).

    The Truck Driver (or Steering Wheel) drill is not permitted in our program because it teaches upper body rotation to start a turn and, worse yet, moves the body toward the outside of the turn. Beginners should not be taught that method of turning. To start a beginner’s turn, we teach lower body movements toward the inside of the turn under a comparatively less-rotating upper body. Starting in Class 3 and continuing in Class 4 the legs & feet need to “rotate” more than the upper body “rotates” which with some practice has them skiing into and out of “counter”. If they get to Class 8 without learning upper body rotation, we teach it there, because in challenging conditions it is sometimes necessary for an advanced skier to make the most powerful and quickest turn possible.

    To get out of Class 5 they must be extending the inside leg to initiate their turns, in a very narrow, almost unnoticeable, wedge, matching well before the fall line, and they must be skiing into and out of counter. At that point, achieving basic parallel is usually just a matter of mileage.

    That is a summary of our cook-book approach to learning to ski, as it relates to the positioning of the skis. The Parallel Position finishes its evolution from the wedge in Classes 5 and 6. I hope this summary helps to answer your first three questions.

    Your fourth question is, What are the elements of the Intermediate Plateau? My initial answer is, in general, failure to initiate properly: failure to move the body forward across the skis downhill in the direction of the turn. The plateau shows up in Class 4, as the wedge narrows and the skier must commit more to moving the body downhill to start a turn. That move is fear-laden and some never overcome the fear of moving over to the other side of their skis, momentarily out of balance, hoping that their new outside ski will catch them. More discussion on the plateau will have to wait for later, and it may be unnecessary after seeing the other responses here to that question.

    Can this thread be cross-referenced to other sections of this forum, perhaps to the “Village Ski and Ride School” section? This thread involves the same period of time in a new skier’s life as the question I posed here last season, How to Teach Initiation (to beginners) found in the Ask The Coach section of this forum. I hope this reply is helpful to you, Mtn Guide, and will appreciate any critique from readers.
    CJ (Madison)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •