Thanks for the reply, HiRustler, and for the added detail and clarity. Again, without actually being there and seeing your daughter and the intent and activities of her class, all we can do is speculate, at best. At this point, I would really love to see how your daughter actually skis.
I am certainly not trying to defend your daughter's instructor. I don't know who he was, or really, what he did in the class. But I have not heard enough yet to condemn him either. You suggest that he was "misdirected," and it is possible. But I'm not yet convinced that his advice was not really what your daughter needed at the time. If he really thought that carving is "bad," or truly meant that tipping skis on edge is a mistake, as you appear to suggest, I would be very, very surprised. That's just not what I'd expect any instructor, even a very inexperienced one, to actually mean (regardless of the words he may have used), so it is quite likely that there was a miscommunication (not that the instructor could not be considered at fault, at least partially, for that as well). I also know--rather well, in fact--many of the trainers for the Breckenridge Ski School, and I can assure you that what you have understood the instructor to say is not at all what they would have trained that instructor to teach.
Just so you know where I'm coming from, in any case, you should realize that no one enjoys carving turns and leaving clean tracks more than I do. And even more than that, no one has ever advocated gliding "offensive" skiing vs.
braking (as a habit) more passionately than I have--search EpicSki for "slow line fast" and other related terms if you want to know more about where I stand on these things. I am definitely not coming from a "flatter skis are better" platform. I too would be proud of your daughter's learning to ride her edges and carve turns.
But the fact is, I have seen far too many skiers, including "50 lb 8 yr olds," who can do nothing more than park and ride on high edges, riding the rails with virtually no control of either direction or speed. I'm not saying that your daughter skis that way--I don't know her and I've never seen her ski--but from the description and the instructor's comments, I cannot discount it either. Today's deep sidecut skis make it incredibly easy to do that, with very little skill required to simply stand on the sides of your feet and go for a ride. Carving is one of the simplest things you can do on today's skis--sometimes accomplished by accident by first-time beginners merely because they're out of balance. Riding the rails is easy. Controlled carving is not. (I was once run over by an out-of-control edge-locked skier who proclaimed that it was my fault because "you were in my carve, dude." Sorry, dude!)
You said, "I agree she may be overedging on moguls and steep terrain as a defensive maneuver, but she's only 8 and weighs 50lbs. She'll learn how to ski this terrain soon enough, with or without professional instruction.
Yes, she probably will. But one job of the pro is to help accelerate learning, and to help forestall bad habits. If over-edging and lack of skill blending and steering skills is, in fact, your daughter's most significant issue in the terrain she was skiing, the instructor would have been remiss had he not tried to address it.
I would not suggest that over-edging is necessarily defensive, either, although it could be. I do have an image in my mind, based not on actually seeing your daughter ski, of course, but on your descriptions filtered through over thirty years of dedicated ski teaching. I could be dead wrong, but I picture your daughter gliding on high edge angles, making clean tracks on gentle, wide-open terrain, but forcefully trying to twist her upper body around to twist her skis when she wants to stop or slow down, or to ski a path other than where her skis want to take her. It's "on" or "off"--either carve completely or twist and skid to yank the skis off their tracks. Perhaps this is not how she skis, and I'm willing to be proven wrong by seeing her in person (or on video). But if this is even remotely her style, then working on shaping skills and exploring the gray area between "off and on" would indeed be appropriate for her continued development as a skier.
If you don't mind, let me ask you a question: how well can your daughter follow your tracks (and keep up) as you make a variety of different sizes and shapes of turns, including some that are significantly shorter-radius than she can carve, and shorter-radius turns that arc back uphill? How does she do it (with what movements)? This is a good diagnostic test, as well as a tactical drill that might be all she needs to start developing the requisite skill blends needed to accomplish it. Sounds like she's a pretty good little athlete, so she might just figure out the movements on her own if you provide her the task that requires them. (Following tracks while trying to keep up, by the way, is entirely offensive, as it entails controlling direction with minimal loss of speed--even if it requires some skidding or brushing to accomplish it.)
On that note, it's helpful to understand that, while carving is generally offensive, not all offensive turns are purely carved. I put offensive turns squarely in the middle of a spectrum of intents (see illustration that follows) with pure-carving on one end, and pure braking ("hockey stops") on the other. I define "turning" as "going where you want to go"--just as you might define it in a car, or on ice skates, a bicycle, a boat, or just turning when walking down a sidewalk. Turning reflects the intent to control your line precisely,
and it is completely offensive--a pure "go" thought. Braking is defensive, of course--the intent to control speed (a "stop" thought--the opposite of "go"). Carving is offensive too, but as you and others have suggested, pure carving involves largely letting the skis--not you--dictate your line. It can be lots of fun, and it is something I very much enjoy doing. It certainly is not about slowing down or stopping, but since you've largely given directional control to your skis, it is not really about controlling your direction precisely either, is it? In "pure turns," directional control is paramount and pure carving, while nice, comes second in priority. Pure turns are "as carved as possible," but they may well involve some brushing or skidding especially when the desired line is of a tighter radius than you can carve. Pure carves happen with no more than tipping the skis. Pure turns involve considerably more sophisticated technique, including the full range of possible movements and skiing skills (edging control, pressure control, and rotary control).
The "Spectrum of Intents"
So assuming that the instructor is not completely off the mark, if I may attempt to interpret his feedback (or to offer a different perspective if he is off the mark), I'll suggest that he may have meant
that your daughter was working on adding rotary and pressure control skills to her repertoire, as well as refining her edging skills. Edging skill
, like the other skills, is as much about knowing when and how to reduce the edge angle as how to increase it, as much about releasing the edges and "feathering" the edges as about gripping tenaciously with them. These are things we can all stand to improve on, at any level, and it sounds quite likely that they would be good things for your daughter to explore--regardless of what her instructor may have said or intended.
And on that note, please do not be offended by my suggestion that you might enjoy and benefit from some instruction yourself. It is not just beginners, weak skiers, or skiers who have "problems" who need lessons. No one, of course, "needs" a lesson, but we all have things we can learn. The best skiers (and athletes in any sport) get coaching--plenty of it. I am sure that you are an accomplished skier, but that gives you all the more reason to continue learning and exploring. As you say, you may in fact be a more accomplished skier than many instructors--perhaps even most of them. But all good instructors get coaching on a regular basis too, both formally and through continued exploration and feedback from their peers. Top racers nearly always outski their coaches, but that does not negate the value of the coaching. What are you working on in your own skiing these days? A good instructor will fascinate you with new focuses, new frontiers, new sensations and movements and understandings that will challenge you and inspire you to new heights, no matter how strong a skier you are!
Indeed, HiRustler, my recommendation that you might like a lesson is intended as a compliment, based on your questions and the assumption that you are inquisitive and eager to continue learning and growing in this great sport, as all truly great skiers are.
I wish you continued success and many great turns, and I hope that your daughter will continue to thrive and learn and love this awesome sport.