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Kid-Ski Teaching Products

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have a 3 1/2 year old son and am thinking of getting him on skis this season. We have a couple of trips planned out west (Beaver Creek in Jan. and Steamboat in Mar.) and I'm thinking of at least getting him comfortable standing and sliding on skis before putting him in ski school. Does anyone have any experience with any of these products: tip lock, wedge lock, kiddie lift/harness, ski leash, kiddie ski bar. Here's a link to their website and list of products. http://www.applerise.com/merchant2/m... de=1400-AIDS
Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
post #2 of 23
Some of my fondest memories are of teaching my kids to ski. Man, the first time one of them took off on their own, zooming down the slope, yelling "Yabba Dabba Doo," was a great moment in parenting. I'm sure one of the pros will have better advice, but until then:

1) Drill a hole in tips, stretch a bungy or thereband 4-6" between to prevent tip splay (then splat). If one of the devices you mention is the rubber band that attaches to the tips, that works too.

2) Avoid check-cord or braking strap, it inhibits balance. Instead, learn to ski backwards yourself, in a reverse snowplow, so you can help with their tips, see their face, keep 'em between your skis. The check-cord will be useful the first few attempts at bridging to solo, but after that, discard it. Like training wheels they can become too dependent on it.

3) So much of what you'll be doing is teaching them to use their bodies, and developing muscles they (like adults) don't normally use, so be patient. Can't tell, must show, assist in positioning, help do, then watch do.

4) Lessons of short duration. Keep 'em warm, dry, fed, etc. It's an awful like training a puppy--when their tail stops waggin', go back one step to something they can succeed at, then quit for awhile.

Good luck, enjoy the experience!
post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prosper
I'm have a 3 1/2 year old son and am thinking of getting him on skis this season. We have a couple of trips planned out west (Beaver Creek in Jan. and Steamboat in Mar.) and I'm thinking of at least gettin him comfortable standing and sliding on skis before putting him in ski school. Does anyone have any experience with any of these products: tip lock, wedge lock, kiddie lift/harness, ski leash, kiddie ski bar. Here's a link to their website and list of products. www.applerise.com/merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=ARS&Category_Co de=1400-AIDS
Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
At 3.5, two things...

First, other than trying to get him psyched up for the experience at home, there is no need for you to do too much with him on snow. If you would like to spend that time to bond, by all means. Otherwise, let the ski coaches take care of the initiation when you get there. A good program should have him skiing on a small hill by the end of a week (I assume that he's doing multiple day lessons).

Secondly, I have used the edgy wedgy (and my home made version with c-clamps) myself on our then 3.5 old. It helped. Just be sure to not let him depend on it. Some successful teaching program use them as a part of a normal lesson plan, especially in the very beginning - first day or so, and others don't. Although I have not used a leash/harness before, I have seen others having some luck with one. I tend to think that a leash would lend itself more to be a dependency. However, it allows you to do the longer runs without breaking your back. I mainly see it being a back safer.

Just remember that even if he can "ski" on his own, any attempt on a longer runs then magic carpet will be a lot of work, for you that is. No matter how you go about leading him and what aid you use (if any). At the very least, expect to have sores in you feet and back by the end of the day.
post #4 of 23
I taught both my kids to ski at 3. You'll need lots of patience, the ability to ski backwards (as mentioned above), and the strenght to lift them on and off the lifts or keep them between your legs on a rope. I used a harness for one of my kids and loved it, but you need to be really careful with the long straps on lifts. Don't even attempt to have them try to get on the chair, just pick them up to get on and off. Make eye contact with the liftie and ask for help if you need it. Chocolate Hersheys Kisses work well too!! Finally, say goodbye to your poles!!
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by racermom
Finally, say goodbye to your poles!!
And your lower back!

I've tried all of the gadgets listed - started my boys when they were 2.5 years old. The bar worked great, but just for a day or two. The tip-lock is great, but shouldn't be used too long either. You'll be surprised how quickly they pick it up.

By far the biggest bang for the buck was the harness and leash.
post #6 of 23
I have taught my kids and lots of others at that age-

1) Fun (let me say it again FUN) is all that matters. (see comments above)

2) edgy wedgy will help on the snow. Unclip it on the flats so they can "shuffle" on their own- I don't think the ankle strap is necessary-

3) I don't really recommend leashes- they can work and will save your back but as DowhHillDave said, I too prefer the ski backwards in front of them approach (it lets you look right in their face and know what is going on for them and it is very reassuring for them to see your face) as they becoem more confident you slip further ahead and let them go further/faster before catching up with you-

4) at that age, and if you are a very strong skier, I am a strong advocate of picking kids up and skiing with them. intimidated by small pitch? pickem up and ski down it with some joyous hooping and hollering- my kids all loved the feeling of being in dad's arms and "zooming" --- YES, I know it is potentially dangerous (so is being on a leash and having dad plow into you after you fall)- so please, no ranting about it being irresponsible- each of our kids still can tell you how much fun they had as we did those types of things.

5) I am a stong advocate of letting them get used to the equipment BEFORE you go to the resort- one of our boys could click in and out of his bindings and shuffle all around the carpeted first floor of the house before he ever got on the snow. That really makes the first couple of times out less intimidating

6) did I say FUN? re-read the comments above- they DO NOT live to make perfect turns, once cold sneaks in under the edge of the mitten you have a 1/2 life of minutes- no extra lift ride, no "one more time"- go inside for the cocoa instead ( I too hate sitting in the lodge/condo/house but it is an investment)-

enjoy your trips, and the entire odyssey

good luck----
post #7 of 23
The Edgie Wedgie works great. My son also started at 3 1/2. Never tried a leash and I wouldn't.

You should check out the kids ski schools where you're going. When my son started we were at a western resort town with 3 ski areas. A local who we rented our condo from told us the main mountain in town had a lousy kids program; so we went to mountain b and they had my son and our friends son riding the lift and skiing a long beginners run on the first day. By the middle of the week they were skiing easy blues. One thing though, they do get tired. And when they get tired - they get tired fast. I had to ski down carrying him more than once. (I'm a slow learner.)

Someone mentioned skiing backwards; yes I did a lot of that. Also ,no poles for the kid, or for yourself when you're skiing with him. Having your hands free helps, expecially getting on and off lifts,

One more tip - carry a candy bar or cookie for when the kid bonks and you need to get him down the hill. Works for adults too.

Have fun.
post #8 of 23
Lots of good advice in previous messages.

1. Whatever you do it should be FUN for both you and your child.
2. Let a professional teacher do the instruction...one who is experienced teaching small children. A private lesson is often better for lesson one than a group lesson. Older kids benefit more in a group lesson. Stay out of the lesson unless your presence is requested. You can take over after they get the basics.
3. For a 3 year old very short skis....like 70cm.
4. Tip devices are available from ski shops, internet (Reliable Racing and others) and can be attached with velcro. I used them to teach 3 of my grandchildren to ski. After a day or two of skiing they came off. They beat holding the tips and skiing backward but usually some of that is necessary on the first run or two.
5. After a few runs the best device I found is a harness with nylon straps so you can follow behind your child but control their speed and assure their safety. I feel that it puts them in a controlled environment but allows them to slide freely, develop their balancing skills, practice a wedge to control speed, and even begin to turn. As they progress, you just slacken the harness so they are skiing on their own. Of course, you can reign them in if they are out of control. The harness folds quickly into a small pouch when riding the lifts. Available at ski shops and the internet. Saves the back of the instructor but more important, gives the child a way to ski safely and develop balance, a wedge, and turning skills more quickly.
6. Don't expect a young one to stay out too long. Ski for 30-60 mins depending on the weather and the child and take breaks for hot chocolate, etc.
7. The urban legend is that kids don't have fear...not so. They are just like adults...some do and some don't and the rest fall somewhere in between. Just like some will learn quickly and some won't. Be patient and don't have unrealistic expectations as a parent. Each individual learn at his/her own pace.
8. The kids can be intimidated by the equipment, clothing, and all the "rules" to start.
9. Teaching aids like cones to turn around are helpful. Your child might not be able to make a turn on day 1 but most can by the 2nd day.
10. don't be in a rush to have your child ski tougher slopes. You will know when they are ready...they will usually ask to do it.
11. Have fun.

Good luck and have fun with your child. I taught my 4 kids (all about 40 now) and am involved in teaching my grandkids now. My 10 year old grandson and I have been taking trips and skiing together for the past 4 years. Unfortunately, he is getting better and I am getting older....but still great fun.

By the way, my background includes running a ski school (long retired now) that specialized in teaching beginners and my advice is based on professional training as well as personal experience.
post #9 of 23
Having put our daughter on skis for the first time at 3, I agree with all the previous comments. Starting a child at this age is a lot of (sometimes very hard) work, but is also a lot of fun if you're patient and don't set your sights too high.

We found a leash in a ski shop bargain bin and it turned out to be a godsend. I was still snowplowing down the hill, but at least I was upright.

I found the trick was to leave enough slack so she was on her own, except for those instances where she would get too close to the edge of the trail, a tree, etc. when I would make a very gentle course correction. We never really got off the green trails, but she was definitely more adventurous because of the leash and gained enough confidence to dispense with it entirely after little more than 10 days on skis.

Tried the edgy wedgey a few years later with our son (he was 4), but it was more trouble than it was worth, having to undo it every time he reached the lift (a frequent occurence since bunny hills tend to be very short) if it didn't fall off on its own. Not a professional opinion by any means, but if your kid can't hold a wedge, he/she probably isn't ready for skiing.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by racermom
Don't even attempt to have them try to get on the chair, just pick them up to get on and off. <clip> Finally, say goodbye to your poles!!
Actually, depending on the adult's ability, poles can be very handy when accompanying a little skier, once he/she figures out how to stand still. So, don't just throw your poles away yet. :

Poles can obviously work as pulling device on the flats with your back facing him/her. If you want your lower back, you may want to consider pulling with your poles (grips towards the child and tips towards you) vs. carrying him or pushing when your back bent. When the child learns how to keep the skis matched and pointed forward, you can now go behind the child by gently shoving with your knees and thighs while skating behind him, and yes also using your poles. Just be careful not to step on his/her skis with yours. If you do, just laugh it off with the child while you're getting up and ski on.

Now, poles can also work well as a device to help the child mounting and unmounting the lift chair. It is pretty simple. You stand on one side, hold the pole/poles/rod horizontally. Place it in front of the child. Have him extend his/her arms forward a little. Tug the "device" under his/her arms in front of the chest. Support his body by wrapping the back with your extended arm and pressing the poles firmly against his chest. When the chair approaches, just lift up both of your arms evenly. And, off you go. The same applies when you get off the lift. Anticipate when and where to land, coach him to match up the skis with the tips up and count to 3. At 3, have him stand up with the his arms still extended forward. Lift him slightly with you poles. Gently support him/her off the chair with your extend arm. Pull away your poles. Again off you go. I find this method being more effective, less scary and less painful than the conventional lifting from under the arm pits method where the child can slip through you hold by raising his arms through the heavy layers of clothing. Also, the child is now less dependent on you while always being in a natural skiing position when it counts.

Wai Chan
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by garylk
but if your kid can't hold a wedge, he/she probably isn't ready for skiing.
I taught or supervised thousands of students over a 20 year period and observed many students that had trouble learning a wedge. Adults and children of all ages. Some just take longer than others.

A wedge is an unnatural position and some kids can do it immediately (my 3 year old granddaughter for example) and some have difficulty (my 3 other grandchildren). All of them learned in time and they are all excelling although each has a different interest level in the sport.

I have seen kids that initially had difficulty catch up to the kids who did not. That is why a harness is great aid because it will allow teacher/parent and child to get the max number of miles and give the child more experience on skis. Miles on skis helps to develop their skiing muscles, balance and confidence.

One last thing....take a lesson from a pro. Interview the instructor first and qualify if she/he has experience in teaching very young never evers. Most schools have teachers who specialize and have the patience, and good backs, to teach rugrats.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr
Now, poles can also work well as a device to help the child mounting and unmounting the lift chair.
Wai Chan
Not a good idea. There is too much potential for injury and many lift operators will not allow this. They will slow or stop the chair for a little one....just ask.

Teaching a little one does not require poles for either teacher or student. They just get in the way.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by garylk
if your kid can't hold a wedge, he/she probably isn't ready for skiing.
Just to following up with what bsimeral was saying, in the more modern way of skiing, not everyone has to start out with a wedge. With the right technique, the shaped skis do allow beginners to match their skis right off the bat. This topic is somewhat controversal and should be another thread. With that said, with 3 and a half year olds, the wedge is probably still the best way to go because of their tendency to brace for control.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsimeral
Not a good idea. There is too much potential for injury and many lift operators will not allow this. They will slow or stop the chair for a little one....just ask.

Teaching a little one does not require poles for either teacher or student. They just get in the way.
How can it be dangerous (to the child) if the pole tips are away from the child? And, how is it less dangerous to potentially drop a child while the lift is still moving. Besides, I didn't suggest not to slow down the lift while you're doing this (if it is slower-downable at all -- some older lifts aren't). I have used this method at a number of resorts, large, medium and small, and have not been stopped (or negatively commented) once by any operator yet. Also, (maybe I'm just lucky) as far as I can remember my success rate has been 100%. I have been through 3 children of my own with this method.

When it comes to a need for the poles, I never suggested that they are necessary. Some schools do prefer them more than others, even for never evers and munchkins, like Mont Tremblant and the neighboring resorts for instance.
post #15 of 23
Some company makes a strap that a kid can wear. Its sort of like a harness with a handle on the back. To put the kid in the chair all you do is pick him up by the handle and set him back in the chair. It also allows you to hand on just in case he tries to squirm under the bar.

Anyone see this device and know where to get it?

I just found one.
http://www.applerise.com/merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=ARS&Category_Co de=1400-AIDS

This is neat and helpful.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prosper
... Does anyone have any experience with any of these products: tip lock, wedge lock, kiddie lift/harness, ski leash, kiddie ski bar. Here's a link to their website and list of products. http://www.applerise.com/merchant2/m... de=1400-AIDS
Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
I taught my daughter at 3 1/2, using some of those exact products. Based on my experience:

Tip lock: Get it. It depends on the kid, but kids that small likely need some help with strength and co-ordination. We used the tip lock for awhile, occasionally experimenting without it. Some worry they become too dependent on the lock, however, at the start of her second season, we just stopped using it, and she never seemed to notice.

Wedge lock: I had one of these and never used it. If I were you, I don't think I'd buy it. However, it might depend on the kid. My daughter was fairly careful about the whole enterprise: she wasn't comfortable until she understood that she could slow herself down. Other kids -- based purely on non-scientifice bystander obervation -- are heedless speed lovers who might schuss into the parking lot. Usually not repeatedly, though.

Kiddie lift/harness: Quite useful. Basically, it just puts a handle on the kid's back, so you can lift him with one hand like a loosely-packed and wiggly duffle bag. This comes in handy in chair loading, getting up from the ground, etc.

Ski leash: Never used one, didn't miss it. They seem to me like they would impede learning. On the other hand, based on the description and explanation, the Apple Rise one might not be as bad as some. Also, see above re the kid who won't stop. I'd probably pass.

Kiddie ski bar: Definitely useful with a 3 1/2 year old. Three reasons: (i) instills confidence sliding around in the yard, and for the first few times down the bunny hill, (ii) helpful even after that for moving the kid around the flats, into the lift line, etc. and (iii) maybe depending on the kid and you, it might be possible to maneuver him down something more interesting than the bunny hill early on. Apple Rise pushes the last point, though it didn't really work that way for me: a little too scary for the kid. Careful about this! You really don't want to ski carrying a child all the way down a run (I know, I've done it).

A few other things:

If you're reasonably adept yourself, you should be able to take just about any kid down the bunny hill on their first day with the bar ... which pretty painlessly and quickly transitions to the kid skiing the bunny hill him or herself. By "bunny hill," I'm thinking of the smallest chair lift at a typical area. Areas vary, of course, and some don't have a bunny hill at all, or only a rope tow. You're on your own with the rope tow. I rode them a few thousand times myself when I was a little kid, but I'm glad never to have been forced to deal with one with my kid.

No poles for the kid.

If you're using the bar, you can't really use your own poles. When I went without the bar, I always carried my poles. They are useful in the line (keep that kid from sliding over everyone's tails!), helping across flats, and here and there.

You'll get some practice skiing backwards, but that's easy on the bunny hill.

You need patience, in the sense you have to be able to survive going 'round and 'round the bunny chair a dozen times while the sun is shining and the slopes above are covered with fresh snow. Other than that, it's not that bad, and it has its own rewards.
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr
How can it be dangerous (to the child) if the pole tips are away from the child? And, how is it less dangerous to potentially drop a child while the lift is still moving. Besides, I didn't suggest not to slow down the lift while you're doing this (if it is slower-downable at all -- some older lifts aren't). I have used this method at a number of resorts, large, medium and small, and have not been stopped (or negatively commented) once by any operator yet. Also, (maybe I'm just lucky) as far as I can remember my success rate has been 100%. I have been through 3 children of my own with this method.

When it comes to a need for the poles, I never suggested that they are necessary. Some schools do prefer them more than others, even for never evers and munchkins, like Mont Tremblant and the neighboring resorts for instance.
I am glad you have been successful. However, in 50 years of skiing, many of them as a professional, I have seen some bizarre lift accidents. In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, I would not use poles. Maybe I am overcautious but when I was responsible for a ski school we tried to avoid anything that could cause a potential accident.

When teachng a rugrat I still feel it is best to have the accompanying adult with both hands free. This is not an absolute, just my opinion.

I will continue to use a "hands free" method for my younger grandchildren.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr
Just to following up with what bsimeral was saying, in the more modern way of skiing, not everyone has to start out with a wedge. With the right technique, the shaped skis do allow beginners to match their skis right off the bat. This topic is somewhat controversal and should be another thread. With that said, with 3 and a half year olds, the wedge is probably still the best way to go because of their tendency to brace for control.
You are right. I didn't say it in my earlier posts but if a child, or adult, is progressing and making "natural" turns I don't teach the wedge. They can be taught that or will even learn on their own and use it in tight places just like adults.

Many years ago PSIA insisted on a strict progression and no one could possibly progress to the next level without mastering the current one. Of course, that is not true but it was an ideology that was inherited from ski schools in Europe.

Little kids learn more by imitation and doing and strict progressions never meant much to them anyway.
post #19 of 23
Prosper,

I'm in the exact same situation. My daughter will be 3 1/2 in December, and will be going with us for a week at Windham and killington. She has been on skis for a totoal of about 10 minutes over two seperate days last season (Once on plastic skis in the side yard, and once on real equipment at the ski area - she made one staright run and was done)

Here's what I have been doing and will be doing.

We have been talking it up, getting her excited about skiing
We have had her out on rollerblades (yeah, go figure) about 5 times so far, and have been working on pointing the feet where she wants to go, and general balance. It's pretty amazing what she can do, and this will help a lot when it comes to skiing (skis will seem incredibly stable and slow compared to rollerblades).
We have had her in her skis on the family room carpet, just getting her used to the weight and feel of the equipment, and how it works. I plan on doing more of this, and maybe the same thing out in the yard.
I try to get her to go around in a circle without walking on top of the skis too much, and try to get her to do it by pivoting around the tips, so that the movement pattern is similar to making a wedge (she hasn't really gotten that part yet!).
I do have a solid plastic tip lock that pops apart in the center. I have been told it's the best way to go for really young ones because they can't cross the tips. However, I have never used one of these before, and will be doing some experimenting, to see how she does. Tip locks do not need to come off between runs. Just push, pull or carry the kid throuh the lift line and lift onto the chair.
I will be getting a harness for her and a back support belt for me (I have a herniated disc - L4-L5). But agree that skiing backwards in a catcher's position (as opposed to bent over, but then, I'm 6'2") with one hand holding the tips together is the best way to go. I just know from lots of experience, that about 2 minutes like this, and I'm in excruciating pain. For you, use the shortest skis you have (I have some 150s).
Don't take your ski poles. A 3 1/2 yea old is light enough to lift up and put on the chair with you, and I've seen instructors and parents stab kids with poles getting on and off lifts. You will be picking the kid up a LOT. Poles will just get in the way. Also, trying to use a pole for the kid to hold onto next to you while skiing is a bad idea for 2 reasons: 1) the pole is too short and your ski tails will tangle with the kid's skis (instructors use bamboo for this, but I haven't even done bamboo in more than 5 years because of #2), and 2) the kid will lean on the pole and you'll be holding the kid up all the time, and that is just as hard or harder on your back than skiing backwards.
If I can get my daughter to keep her balance and ski a straight run with the tip lock, I'll put the wife front, then our daughter, then me on the reigns behind her. If the harness is attached at the waist and/or below, you will be able to steer the kid a little bit. If the kid can hold a wedge, you'll be able to do more steering. There is actually some good in this. As you turn the kid, because they are not expecting it, they will let the weight go to the outside/turning ski, as opposed to leaning in.

Good luck to us this year!!
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and experiences. Some of you mentioned that you have used some of these teaching aids with your kids. Anyone have some of these aids that you don't plan on using anymore? I'm willing to give them a good home.
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prosper
Anyone have some of these aids that you don't plan on using anymore? I'm willing to give them a good home.
I would sell you my Edgie Wedgie but it seems to go for $10-11 everywhere online (I think they were about $15-16 at the time). With shipping it's probably more than it's worth. Ours is in like new condition though.
post #22 of 23
A few thoughts:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH
(skis will seem incredibly stable and slow compared to rollerblades).
I should say so. If a kid can go down even a modest grade on rollerblades, skis will seem like, well, child's play.

Quote:
Tip locks do not need to come off between runs. Just push, pull or carry the kid throuh the lift line and lift onto the chair.
They don't have to come off, but I typically did undo my daughter's: if for nothing else, to give her a little practice walking on her own in the lift line. Not a major thing.

Quote:
But agree that skiing backwards in a catcher's position (as opposed to bent over, but then, I'm 6'2") with one hand holding the tips together is the best way to go.
I never had to do this, though I guess it depends on the kid. I did ski backwards sometimes, but I never had to hold any tips.

Quote:
Don't take your ski poles.
I'm sort of on the fence on this one. Early on, I used the Kid-Ski bar, so I didn't have poles, but I used poles quite a bit later, without any trouble. I suppose it depends on how confident you are about your pole handling. For what it's worth, I don't consider myself a remarkably deft person, but I never had any trouble with tucking poles under an arm when necessary.

Quote:
Also, trying to use a pole for the kid to hold onto next to you while skiing is a bad idea ...
I found this useful, but not for ordinary skiing ... only for when you need to maneuver the kid and control his or her course, like when pulling into a lift line. Otherwise, you'll end up in one queue, and your kid may end up in another, standing across the tips of some guy two in from the back of the line.

They're useful in the line also, to keep the kid next to you. And no: there's no significant danger of poking someone with the tips, if you hold them in your hand.

Actually, I still sometimes use the poles with my daughter (now 7) to help get across flats. It forces her to get up enough speed, plus I carry momentum a lot better than she does!

Quote:
... the kid will lean on the pole ...
Not if you refuse to hold them up. They'll learn not to lean on them pretty quickly.

I never used reins and never missed them. Kids are reasonably smart about knowing they're not supposed to ski into lift poles and the like.
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjjohnston
I never used reins and never missed them. Kids are reasonably smart about knowing they're not supposed to ski into lift poles and the like.
Sure, they know they're not *supposed* to ski into immovable objects, but that doesn't seem to stop them. The "crowned" beginner run, which has more snow in the center than on the edges (yes, probably an east coast phenomenon) has a fall line that will take the uncontrolled beginner off the side of the trail, into the woods, or into a fence or lift tower. It's all quite comical until it's your kid or a kid under your watch

We all have our personal experiences, and I'm just giving mine, and stating what I plan on doing.

Geez! Only one month to go until we put her on skis!
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