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Parallel from the start

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

So,

i see some info here but i have a few questions.

We are going to start offering this and are being told we must teach it on 90cm skis "said we must ski on what we teach" no poles.

So those of you who teach it,does it really work any better than traditional methods.

Do you teach in a short ski "90cm"?

Most beginners were on a shorter ski anyway and i have found that most ,if they wanted to could be skiing a green trail  within a few hours from start of a never ever lesson.

post #2 of 22

I've taught parallel from the start lessons (aka DTP or direct to parallel) on 90cm snow blades. My current preference is on the same model 120cm skis that our rental department has. For my weight, 120cm is about as short as I can go and still be able to teach a higher level lesson. [note: I usually am able to switch back to regular gear for upper level lessons. I've found that I need to work to dumb down my skiing on the shorties because it's way too easy to do stuff on them that people on regular gear can't do]. It's not a big deal if you are on 120's and a lighter weight student is on 90s if they both have the same shape. It would not be a big deal for me to teach exclusively on 90 cm skis if I could free ski on (cough) real gear. I basically only use my 120s for teaching kids and the very rare known upfront DTP lesson. Poles aren't that big of a deal. I'd only whine about our students not having them if the lift line area was steep enough that they'd be useful there. 

 

In my experience, the teaching approach does work great with a few debateable caveats:

You need more space for DTP lessons than traditional wedge based progression type lessons

Students who are balance challenged do better with a wedge progression

Instructors need more training and teaching skills to effectively teach a DTP lesson 

Note that having a mix of DTP trained students and traditionally trained students in beyond level 1 classes creates additional teaching challenges.

 

My resort experimented with DTP lessons and stopped because the rookies were not having good success with the approach and we really don't have the space to teach all of our beginners this way. On the rare occasions I get to try DTP (e.g. in a private), it works great about 80% of the time, about 10% of the time I'll do a hybrid approach and 10% quickly revert back to wedge based teaching.

 

One example of a DTP "lesson" was a guest who approached me in the lesson area after lessons had already started. She was a cross country skier and was hesitant about the value of waiting around and going through the first time lesson. She had already taken a run on her own. A took a couple runs with her doing DTP stuff and had her at level 4 ability in 30 minutes. My personal estimate is that I have had about twice the success rate of getting students from never ever to level 3 in a 90 minute lesson than using a wedge based progression.

post #3 of 22
As Rusty says, you need a LOT of across-the-hill space with no traffic to do a good job of DTP. I wouldn't use skis that do not have a releasable binding.
post #4 of 22
What is the need for such short blades? They must be stiff to support the weight so not much bending in them? Why not a regular soft slalom/ short radius ski? Beginners should be required to have big sidecut, short radius skis in my mind... especially for a direct parallel progression?
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by razie View Post

What is the need for such short blades? They must be stiff to support the weight so not much bending in them? Why not a regular soft slalom/ short radius ski? Beginners should be required to have big sidecut, short radius skis in my mind... especially for a direct parallel progression?


Told we have 130 pairs for program and we are to teach in same skiis..All are 90cm

post #6 of 22
Without some specific terrain (an across the slope mini pipe) the fan progressions that usually accompany a parallel first method, are quite challenging. Mostly because the stopping mechanism on the downhill side of that swale is absent. This in turn makes the student's fear factor a larger concern.
The usual adaptation is a lot more shallow traversing and less time spent lingering in the fall line. Neither of these factors work well when traffic increases though. Add to that any traffic that sees the swale as a jump too temping to ski past and you have traffic moving in two different directions. Solid barriers around the entire corral is one solution but even that can be bad if it creates a traffic choke on the slope where the corral is built.

My point is there are a lot of factors involved in developing a good parallel first program. most of which have little to do with teaching methodology.
Edited by justanotherskipro - 10/26/14 at 11:04am
post #7 of 22
I'm not a fan of PFS

Can't say much more than that here

Skidbump you can pm me
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Without some specific terrain (an across the slope mini pipe) the fan progressions that usually accompany a parallel first method, are quite challenging. Mostly because the stopping mechanism on the downhill side of that swale is absent. This in turn makes the student's fear factor a larger concern.
The usual adaptation is a lot more shallow traversing and less time spent lingering in the fall line. Neither of these factors work well when traffic increases though. Add to that any traffic that sees the swale as a jump too temping to ski past and you have traffic moving in two different directions. Solid barriers around the entire corral is one solution but even that can be bad if it creates a traffic choke on the slope where the corral is built.

My point is there are a lot of factors involved in developing a good parallel first program. most of which have little to do with teaching methodology.
Thats right, you need a green slope without much traffic or eyes at the back of your head. tongue.gif
post #9 of 22
the corral eliminates the rear view issues but not all resorts have the luxury of closing off part of their easiest beginner slope.
post #10 of 22

DTP is a wonderful thing with shaped skis or blades, whether taught intentionally or in a some of the cases (likely more than we think) self taught as it feels natural by rolling the ankles so to speak or mimic a good skier and voila you parallel.  What is amazing how rapidly this builds confidence to ski (and in a lot of cases false confidence in ability).

 

My only concern with it is leaves out a few and important fundamentals that become difficult to teach later as skiers who learned his way because they mistakenly think that they are better than they really are.  This leads to the some of the unintentional out of control skiing that is seen on occasion when a beginner gets well past his/her limits on a more difficult run because they think skiing is easy because they can parallel and a little additional knowledge of the basics is required is missing so as not to lose the control in the first place.  Injuries or frustration can be the result.

 

In the days of the straight skis, if you could parallel, you had a pretty good skill set because you need it to get there in the first place, but it took time.

 

I'm not sure what the best answer to this is.  As it is clearly about making it fun for newer skiers and encouraging them come back to skiing.  It is my feeling some more thought needs to be given to this on how this could be addressed on an otherwise good benefit sport and industry.

 

edit thought not taught...oops.


Edited by oldschoolskier - 10/30/14 at 5:05am
post #11 of 22

I regret that I only have a few moments here, but before this discussion gets too deep in, I want to mention that my objection to "direct to parallel" lies not on the technical end. There are great drills, exercises, and progressions that can be--and often are--used in many so-called "direct to parallel" lesson plans. And for the most part, they will work fine on 90 cm skis, although I prefer skis a little longer and more "real ski-like"--something in the 115-135cm range.

 

My objection is philosophical. Simply calling it, and advertising it as, "direct to parallel" ingrains the very false illusion that "parallel" is somehow akin to "good skiing" or "expert." It isn't. "Parallel" is, of course, simply a geometrical arrangement of the skis, and in truth, expert skiers' skis are only sometimes parallel. Experts' skis also diverge, and converge, usually with purpose, sometimes just incidentally. "Parallel" is no more a guarantee that a skier is skiing well than the type of skis the skier is on--and the vilified wedge is not a guarantee that a skier is skiing poorly.

 

What is important--and of course, much more difficult for the average newcomer to see and understand--is the movements, intents, and tactics that underlie the turns. There are wedge turns that involve every fundamentally critical component of "expert skiing," and there are parallel turns that involve every error in the book. And even the world's best skiers make wedges and so-called wedge christies often, particularly when skiing very slowly and making tight turns (as in a lift line, for example--or a beginner hill)--even when they are not attempting to brake or wedge.

 

So the problem that often arises in a "DTP" lesson is that the student may be taught all the correct things and, in fact, make all the correct movements, but then a little wedge sneaks in while turning. Because of the association of "parallel" as the goal, and the vilification of the wedge, the student thinks he must be doing it wrong, To "correct" the error, he makes a very wrong movement or two to force the skis parallel. And on it goes. Despite the best of intentions, "Direct to Parallel" often leads to some of the worst bad habits and dead ends in skiing. (No, it does not have to.) 

 

Furthermore, any argument in this area only relates to teaching turning. Turning, while it is the fundamental "thing" in skiing, is hardly the only thing we need to learn or teach. Even the fastest race cars need good brakes as well.... You do not need to teach a wedge to teach good turning, and the wedge itself is incidental and non-critical in beginner turns, as in expert turns. That much is true. You also don't need to teach "parallel" to teach good turns. Wedge and parallel have nothing to do with it!

 

It is far more appropriate and important as an instructor to recognize the fundamental movements of a good turn than to obsess over whether the skis are actually "parallel" or not. Likewise, it is critical that we don't saddle our students with "false goals" that in fact have nothing to do with "good" skiing whatsoever, and help them understand and develop the movements, skills, and tactics of excellence, right from the start. Those movements are the principle elements. "Parallel" or "wedge" are merely characteristics. I'd love to have time to go more deeply into what some of these principles are--and we have had many discussions about them in the past--but it will have to wait this time.

 

Carry on!

 

Best regards,

Bob Barnes

post #12 of 22
One of my favorite memories from some of my earliest training involves an examiner sending a group of us a couple hundred yards downhill and then demonstrating to us how the body's moves barely change as he skied toward us progressing from a wedge through wedge christie to parallel, the main differences involving the positions of the feet.
post #13 of 22
This is going to get fun wink.gif

Bob - quick question: Do you think it's hard for someone that just learned to ski parallel to pull a wedge? Especially since he/she has already been doin it at the lift line already?

Still looking for that "blown fuse" smiley here smile.gif
post #14 of 22

I teach at a DTP resort.  We have both blades (90cm) and regular skis all in pretty good condition.   Our terrain is not the best for DTP but we are not very crowded.

 

DTP is usually a marketing decision and an attempt to convince new skiers that the path to enjoyable skiing can be quick and less painful.  Its a numbers game.  From a business point of view you try to get more people skiing to a level they can enjoy quicker even at the expense of some want-to-be-skiers having a worse experience. Retention is still stuck at 10% but even 11% would be an improvement so resorts try.  It does present some challenges for you that you either accept or move to something else besides teaching there.

 

90 cm skis (blades) can decrease the frustration time for someone whom is generally fit and coordinated.  As others have said, you can often get very good results and smiles in a very short time. On the other hand if someone is not very fit, handicap or uncoordinated, the 90cm skis without poles can be a very scary painful exercise. In the latter case, short 115-135cm skis with poles usually work much better.  The biggest problem for beginners on 90cm skis is developing the skills to stop before developing the ability to go fast on edge.  We have early season deer in the headlights crashes into sensitive things at the base of the slopes.  Buildings, people, fences, trees, ski racks you name it.  A few bad crashes are the price of DTP, rooky instructors and beginner skiers.

 

A few things to keep in mind. Don't tell them skiing is hard and takes forever to get good.  Don't force a person showing a wedge to ski entirely parallel.  You can try for a smaller wedge but don't force it.  Make sure you do not over terrain students in direct parallel. Do lots of boot work without skis on first. Do lots of fore and aft movements on flat ground,  push and pull the feet. Do a lot of foot to foot work on flat terrain.

 

A tall extended stance (hip joint and knees extended) tends to promotes the ski tips to drift apart (splits).  Conversely a flexed lower stance promotes ski tips to converge into a wedge (hip and leg pain).  The happy median in the middle allows for a slight wedge or parallel skis.  The parallel stance varies for each skier and may be difficult for many skiers in rental equipment. Such is the nature of the game.

 

You have to slide down the slope to learn skiing so, keep them moving.  Pick a pace where your students don't start to think too much or copy each others bad habits. Encourage continuous movement and a playful attitude. 

 

With direct parallel you will have many many smiles and your share of total disasters.  At our resort we tend to pass the total disasters called TLC's onto a much more experienced instructor in a smaller group.  

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by razie View Post

This is going to get fun wink.gif

Bob - quick question: Do you think it's hard for someone that just learned to ski parallel to pull a wedge? Especially since he/she has already been doin it at the lift line already?

Still looking for that "blown fuse" smiley here smile.gif


I digress....wedgie :eek....oops my bad I read it wrong ;):D

post #16 of 22

I'm surprised--this discussion has wound down pretty quickly, with no posts in the last 10 hours. Skidbump (OP), I hope you've received some satisfactory answers to your original question about the suitability of 90 cm skis for your teaching program.

 

Quote:
 Bob - quick question: Do you think it's hard for someone that just learned to ski parallel to pull a wedge? Especially since he/she has already been doin it at the lift line already

Hi Razie--I don't mean to be glib, but to answer your question, you first need to define exactly what you mean by "ski parallel" (as I mentioned above, there are a lot of ways to make "parallel turns"). And I also need to understand what you mean by "to pull a wedge."

 

Finally, and again, in your "lift line question," we must be clear whether we're talking about a wedge that is incidental, which will "happen" to even the best skiers when they make very tight turns at very low speeds, even when their intent is purely offensive, as in the tight short turns of a lift maze--or are you referring to an intentional wedge used for braking, also typical of lift mazes where there is no room (or reason) to make direction changes to slow down. Both happen in lift mazes, but they are entirely different in intent and, fundamentally, technique.

 

---

 

Not to change the subject, but did you know that your name is also the name of my cat, by the way? He spells his name without your "e" at the end--named after the highest mountain in Burma [Myanmar], but he is quite capable when it comes to skiing, both technical alpine and off-piste. 

 

Here are a couple pictures of Razi, the cat. Note that he did not learn "direct to parallel." 

 

 

 

You don't want to argue technique with him!

 

Best regards,

Bob

post #17 of 22

cool cat i can see she skis better than me :eek going backwards on slalom skis with SuperG poles :eek

 

i take issues with teaching the wedge/plow :(  http://www.askicoach.com/wiki/Razie_Ski_Blog/Why_the_snow_plow_is_bad - but i don't want to go into that again.

 

i'm pretty sure that ski teaching progressions based on the wedge/plow will eventually be relegated to the bin with "what, we did that?"... as the liability of that is understood better... and the only place it will be used in the end will be the lift line and on race courses as it is especially effective to clean snow off a race course via an advanced plowing technique called the power plow.

 

:duel:

 

cheers.

 

edit/

actually, just remembered that it's already old school for race course cleanup - we are not to clean race courses with the power plow - just parallel slips, as the plow leaves snow on the wrong side as well and it's less safe, as explained to me at a race safety course, sometime last year...?


Edited by razie - 10/27/14 at 10:12pm
post #18 of 22

R: Parallel from the start

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

I regret that I only have a few moments here, but before this discussion gets too deep in, I want to mention that my objection to "direct to parallel" lies not on the technical end. There are great drills, exercises, and progressions that can be--and often are--used in many so-called "direct to parallel" lesson plans. And for the most part, they will work fine on 90 cm skis, although I prefer skis a little longer and more "real ski-like"--something in the 115-135cm range.

 

My objection is philosophical. Simply calling it, and advertising it as, "direct to parallel" ingrains the very false illusion that "parallel" is somehow akin to "good skiing" or "expert." It isn't. "Parallel" is, of course, simply a geometrical arrangement of the skis, and in truth, expert skiers' skis are only sometimes parallel. Experts' skis also diverge, and converge, usually with purpose, sometimes just incidentally. "Parallel" is no more a guarantee that a skier is skiing well than the type of skis the skier is on--and the vilified wedge is not a guarantee that a skier is skiing poorly.

 

What is important--and of course, much more difficult for the average newcomer to see and understand--is the movements, intents, and tactics that underlie the turns. There are wedge turns that involve every fundamentally critical component of "expert skiing," and there are parallel turns that involve every error in the book. And even the world's best skiers make wedges and so-called wedge christies often, particularly when skiing very slowly and making tight turns (as in a lift line, for example--or a beginner hill)--even when they are not attempting to brake or wedge.

 

So the problem that often arises in a "DTP" lesson is that the student may be taught all the correct things and, in fact, make all the correct movements, but then a little wedge sneaks in while turning. Because of the association of "parallel" as the goal, and the vilification of the wedge, the student thinks he must be doing it wrong, To "correct" the error, he makes a very wrong movement or two to force the skis parallel. And on it goes. Despite the best of intentions, "Direct to Parallel" often leads to some of the worst bad habits and dead ends in skiing. (No, it does not have to.) 

 

Furthermore, any argument in this area only relates to teaching turning. Turning, while it is the fundamental "thing" in skiing, is hardly the only thing we need to learn or teach. Even the fastest race cars need good brakes as well.... You do not need to teach a wedge to teach good turning, and the wedge itself is incidental and non-critical in beginner turns, as in expert turns. That much is true. You also don't need to teach "parallel" to teach good turns. Wedge and parallel have nothing to do with it!

 

It is far more appropriate and important as an instructor to recognize the fundamental movements of a good turn than to obsess over whether the skis are actually "parallel" or not. Likewise, it is critical that we don't saddle our students with "false goals" that in fact have nothing to do with "good" skiing whatsoever, and help them understand and develop the movements, skills, and tactics of excellence, right from the start. Those movements are the principle elements. "Parallel" or "wedge" are merely characteristics. I'd love to have time to go more deeply into what some of these principles are--and we have had many discussions about them in the past--but it will have to wait this time.

 

Carry on!

 

Best regards,

Bob Barnes

:thumbup:
post #19 of 22

Another example of literal interpretations being too rigid...

...step in a circle without diverging and converging feet occurring. If you can actually do that please film it because it is hardly what we do normally and I would love to see it actually done.

Regardless of which way the school leans a hybrid approach is quite likely since timid skiers will want to ride the brakes as they awaken their sliding skills. Intermediate doing complete weight transfers will make converging and diverging steps when doing 1000 step activities and experts have learned long ago to use whatever it takes to translate their intent into action.

So don't worry about the shift to a parallel first idea, it's actually an opportunity to explore a new method, not a concept to fear.

post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
 

What is important--and of course, much more difficult for the average newcomer to see and understand--is the movements, intents, and tactics that underlie the turns. There are wedge turns that involve every fundamentally critical component of "expert skiing," and there are parallel turns that involve every error in the book.

 

exactly

 

 "Direct to Parallel" often leads to some of the worst bad habits and dead ends in skiing. (No, it does not have to.) 

 

agree
 

It is far more appropriate and important as an instructor to recognize the fundamental movements of a good turn than to obsess over whether the skis are actually "parallel" or not. 

 

Absolutely agree.  

 

I've gone both ways (wedge vs DTP) and had success both ways, but my feeling is that it totally depends on each student which approach will perhaps have a more immediate positive effect.  Myself I do not like the notion of putting on super short skis and then thinking the student will be able to muscle the skis into parallel submission somehow.  The great thing about wedge turns is that the skier learns from the get go to use their sidecut to make the skis turn themselves, in a relatively safe and controlled way.  They don't try to twist the skis to muscle turns out of them.  IMHO a good first lesson includes instruction on releasing the inside ski to cause a turn to happen on the sidecut of the other ski.   Long ski, short ski, doesn't matter.  A short ski might make it easier in that first hour while they are fumbling around trying to side step, walk in a circle and so forth, but if they get used to muscling a short ski around, they are avoiding how to properly use the ski to begin with.  

 

My opinion about DTP or wedge is that the vast majority of the time, a wedge progression, if taught properly, will be more effective and they can still be led from there to parallel, sometimes within the same first day, but like Bob said, so what if they don't?  Focus on the fundamentally important movements and parallel skiing will come very naturally.  

 

Where a wedge becomes debilitating in the long term is if they learn to brace against the outside/downhill ski too much and don't learn to release it to start a turn.   That can become a chronic stem that will plague them for years or decades unless they teach themselves to release properly, and in my view it won't matter whether they learned DTP or wedge to start out, if they didn't learn to release their ski properly, then later on, stemming and rotary issues are going to show up, parallel or not.  So in my opinion, teach them to release their inside ski to make a turn.  It doesn't matter whether they are in a wedge.  If they are doing it that way, then I say big thumbs up and nice parallel skiing will come out of it when they are ready.

post #21 of 22
I agree with everything borntoski mentions above. The since PFS teaches the student to just turn their feet when the eventually graduate to skis that movement pattern won't work. And since they never learned how to use the ski design to turn so this becomes a point where they either have relearn everything from the beginning with built in bad habits or decide the sport is not something they continue with.

Bob also made great points that elements of the wedge become useful in advanced skiing in bumps and steeps.

PFS is part of my skis schools program but that part I have elected to not participate in. There still is plenty of work teaching Psia wedge based progressions and a portion of our staff don't have as much experience doing that as I do. It ain't going away here so I've learned to coexist with it.
post #22 of 22

Thanks for the encouragement Bob.  After nearly 50 years of teaching I have seen things come and go but  skiing still means sliding on snow in good balance and control. Teaching balance, weighting the correct foot properly, steering the skis control and pressure on the skis and edges covers most of what we need to teach.  DTP, GLM,  French  Projection Circulaire, and all the other things I have taught over the years it still comes down to balance in the boots over a sliding ski and control it through the turn.  How we can teach and encourage the student is the skill ALL instructors.  My pet peeve is a student who insists the boots fit fine and the buckles should be between the ankles.  Have a good season. 

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