LF First let me apologize for my brevity which led to all your questions. We have a non traditional topography at our hill. We have a flat area for beginner preliminaries, straight run and straight wedge and initial wedge turns but it is all climbing and you know how quickly fatigue can set in to the detriment of learning.
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet
@JESINSTR , I'm paying close attention here. I'm very interested in your progression. Correct me if I've got this wrong. I've included some questions.
1. If you do boot work//flat work first, what's your focus for that part of the lesson? Yes we do. and becoming familiar with their gear "in a static" sort of way.
2. You side-step them up (skis on I assume) all the way to the top of a blue before they make their first straight run or first turn.
We do have a beginner area where we teach preliminaries, straight run and initial wedge turns but we have no lift capacity for beginners. it is all climbing and fatigue factor.
If you agree with JSAP's opinion (which I do) there is little else one can accomplish on this terrain because there is not enough pitch for effective and robust edge change activities.
I do (out of necessity) teach a strong breaking wedge but there is little technique value because of the mechanics with opposing edges.
3. Is it flat at the top, which eliminates the difficulty of turning around?
SO once I feel confident in the students ability to control speed on mild terrain it's chair training time and up the lift we go.
Our hill has a decent flat area at the top before the blue level pitch begins so they get a chance to build on their wedge turns for a while.
4. You start by having them make sideslips half way down the pitch, facing one way for the first half of that, then the other way.
--with a square stance, not countered - have I got that right?
Yes, the focus here is edge building and edge release in a non-subtle way.
--bending down with head up and hands forward (not sure what bend down means here??)
I start them low to the ground so that the com remains stable and under foot. This also creates the knee angles for tipping. They get taller as they get comfortable.
--shins pressed into their boots
--tip at ankle//knees to release
--do you have them stand mostly on the downhill ski, or do you find this to be too much information?
I try and let them discover where their balance is best placed. That is the key
5. How do you have them turn around on that pitch to sideslip in the other direction? Bullfighter turns? Star turns?
Any port in a storm! Usually find a flat spot on the hill
6. Next you have them work on single, forward sideslips that each stop with a turn uphill, using ankle tipping and knee rolling I assume to turn uphill. Have I got that right? YEP
7. I'm also assuming the skiers are still square, not countered. For the most part but I don't focus on that at this level.
8. Do you work them up to a steeper start for those forward sideslips, or keep the start from a shallow traverse? Shallow because we only have a few hundred yds of steeper terrain.
9. I'm assuming bullfighter turns at the end of each of these sideslips. Again what ever works. When developing this, I approached the progression based on the terrain. I know every inch of the slope because safety is first priority.
10. The pitch flattens where they make the last forward sideslip at the bottom. You are able to get them to release and turn in the other direction on that flat section. Yes. this is where the subtle edging requirement of transition are brought into the equation.
11. Do you use any specific explanation for how to start this turn before they do it?
Since they have ( I hope) developed relatively robust edging skills (and confidence) on the steep stuff. Now is the time for more subtle edge activity. There are many ways but I have had a lot of success with what I call "Stay as tall as you can for as long as you can approach" which is really a beginners way to get them to flatten their skiss and glide.
12. Poles or no poles? If they got em I have them hold them half way. I have a love hate relationship with poles!
13. How long is that first lesson? How large are your groups? The management directive is that all students get up and down the lift. 1 1/2 to 2 hrs is the window.
14. Any other specifics you want to share would be great.
JASP's point about "willfully releasing the edge" is a critical juncture in learning to turn. To me it's like the age old argument between wading into the pool vs jumping in. Because of safety and other logistical concerns we often confined beginner skiers to terrain that limit the ability to develop committed edging moves (both apply and release). I don't advocate taking a beginner class to the top of a steep pitch but there needs to be a place on a beginner hill where stronger commitment to edging skills can be developed.