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Teaching Open Parallel Skiers

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I would like to compare my ideas with those of you who are interested about
progression in teaching skiers. A group of skiers that often challenges me is the group of those who can ski open parallel. In general with wedge christie or parallel skiers I have ideas and drills to show them. But the group above is a little bit harder, at least for me, to really figure out. The issue is that, at least in my experience, here you find those who can quickly make it to the next step and you find those who get sort of stuck here for a while and I am always left with the doubt about whether it is the skier or the teacher the real "culprit".

Let's assume that we have a student or some students all capable of open parallel skiing.
What would be good sequences (drills, back-up drills) to help these skiers perform the following:

1. center stance and balance on both skis;
2. guide both skis into and throughout the turn, i.e. two footed steering;
3. move the center of mass into the direction of the turn;
4. extension and flexion;
5. pressure feet to work the entire ski;
6. progressively edge and create the proper angles with joints?

I can think of these basic elements. Of course there are other issues but, in my opinion, they could be the by-product of problems with the 1-6 above.
If you have other, let's call them, fundamental drills to add to my short list, you are more than welcome.

For example, let's look at 1. Moving diagonally on a relative flat slope, we could ask the students to make jumps. This will require them to get re-centered each time to be able to produce any functional vertical jump and balance to avoid landing in ackward positions and/or be able to ski after the landing without gross movements.
Maybe you disagree this is a good way to exercise the student balance, then please correct me. But, now comes my first doubts. How do we progress from here to increase their feeling for balance and stance?
- traverse on one ski at a time (downhill first, uphill ski later)?
- draw a line or use some slalom poles on the ground and ask them while they ski down to step on skis back and forth over the slalom poles?
Are leapers to be used at this level of skiers?

Let's start from here and see what you can suggest also about 2-6, otherwise I will write a book..
post #2 of 28

Flow of Ideas

Great discussion starter, JohnSki!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnSki

1. center stance and balance on both skis;
Skate to improve the dynamic balancing skis of intermediates. Skate on the flats. The skate on a gentle slope. Skate and then lift one leg off the ground, alternate. Skate while traversing and lift one leg off the ground, alternate. Skate in a narrow V across a gentle slope, stand on the inside edge of one ski until it turns. Allow students guided discovery time to feel the sensation of balancing on an edge.

Your one legged examples and small jumping examples were good as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnSki
2. guide both skis into and throughout the turn, i.e. two footed steering;
Hockey slips. Then do patience turns (allow gravity to slowly take both skis downhill). Now that you've differentiated two approaches that emphasize different skill blends, have the skiers ski behind you and match your "hourglass turns" (6 long, 6 short) for them to work on active steering required to alternate turn shape. Now ski behind them and make sure they've got it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnSki
3. move the center of mass into the direction of the turn;
Skating, as described in #1 also can address moving the center of mass in a diagonal, lateral movement. Working on pole plants and talking about how you extend laterally and downhill as you plant may help. Demonstrate active tipping of the ankles, knees, etc. in a static pole plant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnSki
4. extension and flexion;
Traverse while bouncing. Have students reflect the sensation it had on their skis at different heights. Bend and stretch during turns to learn what different amounts of flexion and extension do. [/quote]

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnski
5. pressure feet to work the entire ski;
Falling leaf is excellent for this! Patience turns. 1000 steps might also come into play here. [/quote]

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnski
6. progressively edge and create the proper angles with joints?
Demonstrate ankle/knee/thigh tip statically and then with pole plants. Traverse and play with amounts of edging, tipping of ankles, knees, etc. into the hill, let students sideslip while traversing then edge again. Railroad track or cowboy turns might work here. Let students explore the tipping movements they experienced in the traversing exercise during free runs or during patience turns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnSki
Let's start from here and see what you can suggest also about 2-6, otherwise I will write a book..
That's my initial offering. Let's hear from more seasoned veterans. Ben.
post #3 of 28
Start the jumps while stationary, not moving. This jump will show fore/aft balance issues before you even get to the hill.

Don't forget thumper turns!
post #4 of 28
Can someone post the definition of "open parallel" and a description of the next step after open parallel?
post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by oboe
Can someone post the definition of "open parallel" and a description of the next step after open parallel?
I think "open" is perhaps dated. The PSIA Alpine Technical Manual defines a parallel turn as a "turn made on corresponding ski edges with simultaneous edge release and engagement. The skis remain parallel throughout the turn, as opposed to converging or diverging."

The "dynamic parallel turn" represents a leap ahead of a "parallel turn" and is defined as turns "with more carving than skidding. Forces created in the turn are used to benefit the turn or the following turn."

As to the "next step" beyond a "parallel turn," the PSIA stepping stones recognizes many skill blends to work on with the goal of moving a skier from a parallel turn to a dynamic parallel turn. Typical "next steps" include having them apply earlier pressure redistribution and earlier edge changes; having them turn both skis at the same time; and work on getting their CM forward and laterally in each turn. Of course, adding the cummulative effect of these types of exercises produces a more dynamic parallel turn that is more carved than skidded.

Ben
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
The term "Open" parallel turns refers to the fact that at this level the two skis are held parallel and in a somewhat "open" or spread-apart fashion throughout turns.

This is a stage where instructors usually place more emphasis on carving.
While skiers may still skid most of their turns, they begin working towards carving them.
post #7 of 28
Thank you, bbarr1000. Extremely great and clear and useful post.
post #8 of 28
Forget progressions!

Anyone teaching groups or individuals "progressions" is missing the boat.
post #9 of 28
From the skills side of it, an open parallel has an emphasis on low edge angles, with turn shape that comes from continuous foot and leg steering. This requires a tall centered stance with the feet staying under the body. Little inclination is involved.

If I teach a task or drill I always try to have it progress into real skiing so the student can have the experience of the practical side of the exercise and how to incorporate it into their everyday skiing. I think of it as introducing new movements and lead this into an understanding of the relationship of the movement to real skiing. Later, RicB.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Forget progressions!
This begs an explanation, Rusty. What boat do we miss in using them? (Please describe the alternative to progressions.)
post #11 of 28
The Love Boat.
post #12 of 28

whtmt

From what you describe I like to introduce more dynamics to their skiing. It's been my experience that at level 6ish skiers remain much too static in a sport, which requires continously changing dynamic balance and movements.

So fo me, I want to start by building some increased angles in their movements to improve edging along with increased flow and rhythm toward each new turn. I like to let them feel their skis securely under foot while having them try to move their CM actively in the direction of the new turn.

To do this I like to use the 1000 steps turn on very mild terrain, say green or low blues. The turn dynamics in the 1000 steps turn does 5 of the 6 items you note. It forces them to actively move their CM in the direction of the new turn, it provides foot to foot movements, which increase balance on each foot while actively using extension and flexion. The real trick is to get them to continue stepping aroung the turn without a break in their flow and rhythm. Doing this exercise on low level terrain and at very slow speeds is a real challenge for them at this level.

This exercise sets them up for some other movements that we haven't mentioned yet.That is the development of upper & lower body separation, which allows them to start developing a stronger inside half. The stronger inside half will help them develop increased angles (ie-angulation), which in turn will strengthen edge engagement at this level as higher speeds occur. Having them actively control their movements, but to retain slow speeds at this level is critical, so they can begin to master the new movements. If we let them go too fast then correct movements will be masked by their speed. Good luck with it and have fun.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
The Love Boat.
Either that or a Hatteras sport fisher.

It WAS a nice meaty piece of bait on that hook. Maybe someone out there will bite.
post #14 of 28
I, of course, said that somewhat tongue in cheek.

somewhat

In order to get a customer"s love, one must determine their motivation, understanding, and movements.

Consider two folks in a LTS lesson. This is a true scenario

The first is a fit 20 something, former college hockey player, who has moved to Colorado and wants to devote his free time to skiing. The second an overweight, unathletic, Nebraska housewife, who wants to ski one day a year with a church group on their annual ski weekend.

Progressions for these two? I say no. Watch their every move carefully and be creative about the next step. Every student, situation, scenario, day differs.

The key to PSIA-RM's GCT (Guest Centered Teaching) is to identify a student motivation-understanding-movement and THEN facilitate motivation-understanding-movement.

In the case of the open parallel skier. I would suggest "canned progressions" where A+B+C= open parallel is a recipe to merely plug what the instructor believes students at this level need to succeed as opposed to A+C+Z based upon what transpires during the course of a lesson.

So how does a functional open parallel turn occur? First I would suggest successful instructors do not teach turns they teach movements. It involves "sames". Tipping and turning occuring simultaneously not sequentially. Movements beginning in the feet and legs precluding upper body rotation.

I always like a little mantra given to me by Jen Metz who is an RM examiner and Director of Training at Winter Park. She has students think "metal-plastic-metal". It is merely simultaneous release of both skis onto the plastic between the two sets of edges. It makes life easy!
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
Forget progressions!

Anyone teaching groups or individuals "progressions" is missing the boat.
I agree with you Rusty Guy. When I teach my students, I always tell them the following:
==================================
I am teaching you movements. It is unlikely that after 1-2 hours with me performing these drills you will ski much better than you are right now. But, if you practice these movements on your own, develop muscle memory, and the right groups of muscles, you will be on the path to better skiing. There is a bad news and a good news to skiing. The good news is that once you develop muscle memory it becomes like riding a bycicle, i.e. you will never really forget. The bad news is that you need also those muscles to be in shape. I will do my best to give you the right movements to develop the proper muscle memory, but you have to do your homework and develop the muscles to perform the movements to ski .
=============================
The problem with progression is that in 1-2 hours simply it is too hard to teach a worthwhile progression to most people. In particular when they lack
a minimun common set of athletic skills. However, I think it is difficult to avoid teaching some form of progression. For example, let's say we determine the skier/skiers in front of us are true level 6 skiers. What do we teach them first? Do we try to enhance their balance and stance first? Moving the center of mass to the inside of the turn? Develop edging ability? Teach them to properly pressure skis? It seems to me that it is difficult to really isolate this components. For example, traverses on one ski develop balance, but also edging skills, Shuffle turns and 1000 steps almost develop them all at once. Then, I am not so sure whether I am teaching movements or a progression.

I hope some of you will have something to say here. I think it is getting really interesting here. My favorite form of skiing is steep skiing. Before I try skiing 45-50 degree slopes I want to know that I have all the basic suitable skills (movements) ready. It goes without saying that you don't take a skier on a 40+ degree slope to blend some move into their skiing immediately. Yet, what would be the progression here: hop turns, pole plant, upper body looking always down the slope, practice on less important terrain? It seems to me we are just teaching movements and checking them before sending the student on the slope which is the progression in his/her current level of skiing.
post #16 of 28
Again I think it depends upon their goals.

Imagine a skier who IS making simultaneous movements to release the skis. The movements are starting low and then they flow! A skier in this situation can certainly take those movements anywhere.

Is it carving they are seeking, how about bumps, what if it's everything/all mountain, what do they want to do first?

I just spent two days in a bumps clinic at Mary Jane. The focus was certainly not on tipping movements.

JohnSki you mention shuffle turns. I have seen that help students and I have seen it create a monster. I have coined the term "carving death move". It can infect skiers. It is pushing the inside foot six inches forward to start a carved turn as opposed to merely tipping the foot/leg. I often wonder when I see instructors having students shuffle whether we are teaching the "right" movement.

In clinics I urge instructors to ponder the efficacy of every drill and I tell my students to keep asking why, why, why.

What is it we are trying to create with this exercise or movement? It is a key ingredient in facilitating understanding among our students.

Gotta go teach. We have 266 school kids coming this morning for lessons!
post #17 of 28

Sometimes yah just move em.

Last week I had a group of level 6, 12 & 13 year old kids with the temps in the single digits. Every one of them was reasonably athletic and every one of them was skiing stiff like a robot while banking their parallel turns. At this particular moment I did not care if I introduced bad movement patterns or not I just wanted to upset the robot movements and stay warm.

All I did was say we are going to have some fun and try all kinds of crazy things on skis to the tune of Sponge Bob Square Pants. Diverging step turns, converging step turns, hop turns, stepping turns while skiing backwards on very easy terrain, one footed skiing, skating into turns, skating out of turns, dancing on skis, side slips with hops, 360 degree spins on snow, mambo, chandells and more.

Not once did I stick with anything very long, try to instruct them on the proper movement sequences nor did I let them cop out.

During the hour I had them there was much teasing, laughter and show-off movements from the entire group. On the last run down the hill I said. "What did all of this have to do with skiing better? I want you to just ski this run with parallel turns and answer that question at the bottom." At the bottom the answer was; "It was easier and much more fun than before". They were lacking in playfulness, a largely overlooked skill. I had ditched the robots, their skiing was much more dynamic and we stayed warm.

I fear next week there will be a stampeed to my group.
post #18 of 28

open paralell

This topic is personally of interest to me as I was looking at my form ( or lack of) as video taped by my wife last sat. I have progressed to be able to ski the blues at Sugar Bowl, HEavenly, Sierra etc. Feeling confident and somewhat aggresive. THEN I saw my self on film. Yuck!!!! My stance is wide, I mean really wide, but mostly paralell. My whole body turns with the skiis, I am leaning pretty far forward, and it doesn't look like I am getting on edge at all. I thought that I was tipping my feet on edge most of the time but oh what a difference a picture makes. This is my second season and I have progressed but oh so much more work. Thanks for the tips, I will keep on learnin.
Mark
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Teaching in the single digits ain't that bad.. Over here, I have recently taught with a -15F temperature. That is not pleasant at all.
I did not feel like talking, they did not feel like listening, so we agree to have them copy my movements and I would have explained those to them during our stops at the main chalet, i.e. every 15 minutes. In the end, they were not unhappy with the format of the lesson. My feeling is that once you learn a movement, sooner or later, you'll blend it in your skiing anyway as long as the skier is willing to challenge him/herself, and move out of the "comfort" zone. I remember my first time in a steep run by mistake. I did so many hop turns down for lack of better skills. Lucky me somebody taught me what appeared like a weird skill earlier on. It was not really that steep in the end, but back them in my early days on skiing if felt like the most memorable chute. I even told my parents I skied an extreme line which got my parents very worried.
However, I must say I have not yet found a good application for drills I like to call "useless" (until convinced of the contrary) such as wedge hops. To me wedges are a temporary state, one to abandon as soon as possible and never come back. Always loved to teach skiers to get out of the wedge which, in my opinion, with shaped skis is much harder on knees than wedges on old pencil skis used to be when I began skiing many moons ago. The idea of a skier coming down a run doing wedge hops is hilarious.
On a very steep run he/she will not be able to do it until he/she speeds out of control, and on a less steep run the same results can be achieved in a more civilized manner.
The only practical use that ever came to my mind was in a comment by Davo Karnicar, the first (and I believe still the only one) skier to ski from the top of Mt. Everest. He complained that in going through the Hillary Pass (Hillary like in Edmund Hillary, no Hillary Clinton) the place was too narrow to sideslip, too dangerous to ski it straight. Maybe he wedge hopped all the pass. : What do you think? Wedge hopping at almost 27,000 feet. Highest wedge hops in history.
post #20 of 28
What are wedge hops?
post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by josseph
What are wedge hops?
If you don't know and have lived and skied so far, don't ask.. It is really bad, bad stuff. Basically you jump from leg to leg in a wedge and use a blocking pole (i.e. if you are jumping with your left leg you plant the right pole). It is usually not so difficult on mildly sloped terrain. As the pitch increases it becomes progressively harder. In my opinion wedge hops should be outlawed!
post #22 of 28
Wedge hops are not specifically outlawed under the Geneva Convention so we can and do use them in certification clinics. They are a required task in Central.
post #23 of 28
Please explain a bit more re: wedge hops. I am not sure I understand fully. Do you get a change in direction from the hop?

So you plant your right pole and hop off your left leg. You land on the right leg then? Do you do any rotary motions while in the air?

Do you face the fall line when you do this drill?

What is the purpose of this drill, specifically in certification clinics?

Egads, I get my mind all coboodled in a knot thinking about this alternating hoping and pole planting. It's even more complicated than chewing gum and walking simultaneously.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by josseph
Please explain a bit more re: wedge hops.

What is the purpose of this drill, specifically in certification clinics?

Egads, I get my mind all coboodled in a knot thinking about this alternating hoping and pole planting. It's even more complicated than chewing gum and walking simultaneously.
You and the cert candidates trying to do them get coboodled. You are in a wedge facing down hill and jump from the left foot and land on the right with a small pole plant on the right and repeat on the other side right down the fall line with edge sets showing little forward sliding motion. You can do wedge hops with a foot swing or not. A foot swing is where you land on the right and swing the left foot over next to the right but the left foot is still in the air and repeat in the other direction.

They show your ability to keep either foot independently beneath your hips and in balance. In short, just how versatile you are on your skis. If you don't have the terrain, wedge hops will show the flaws. If you can't do a good wedge hop the chances are your technique will fall apart on real steeps.

If you don't keep the feet back under the hips the skis start to slide with each hop vs an edge set with each hop. The real trick is going backwards, back uphill doing edge hops.

Another variation is to do wedge hop turns. Much more difficult as the falline changes. Worse yet is doing wedge hops by landing on the outside edge of each ski instead of the inside edge.

They are all a form of torture.
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre
........

They show your ability to keep either foot independently beneath your hips and in balance. In short, just how versatile you are on your skis. If you don't have the terrain, wedge hops will show the flaws. If you can't do a good wedge hop the chances are your technique will fall apart on real steeps.

If you don't keep the feet back under the hips the skis start to slide with each hop vs an edge set with each hop. The real trick is going backwards, back uphill doing edge hops.

Another variation is to do wedge hop turns. Much more difficult as the falline changes. Worse yet is doing wedge hops by landing on the outside edge of each ski instead of the inside edge. But, this was not the original thread.

They are all a form of torture.
And in Central division they like to torture candidates with these drills, some examiners more than others... It is funny that, in what I call the "true" divisions of PSIA, most ignore the very existence of these weird drills. I've heard someone saying that for 2006 in PSIA-C to get your level 3 you will have to prove that you can ski a black diamond on your hands.: It helps on steeps if you were to start cartwheeling.
post #26 of 28
Come on Johnski Central is not THAT bad. With a lack of terrain they need to challenge candidates in other ways that mimic the movements necessary to ski very steep terrain. The other alternative is to only hold level III cert at Mt. Bohemia.

Level III is not as high as it might seem but you either have it, or you don't. The examiners know whether you have it, or you don't, in the first four turns you make at the exam. The rest of the time is convincing level III candidates that they don't have it, or bring them up to the standard.
post #27 of 28
I guess we are hijacking this thread and going way off topic. Sorry about that ......

But..... Pierre....... my brain is still in a caboodle thinking about hopping from one foot to the other while moving backwards up a hill. This is so freakin' sick that I've got to try it tonight when I get out!

The idea of wedge hops and landing on the little toe edge also really intrigues me. Are you suppose to execute a turn using the outside edge after you land?
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre
Come on Johnski Central is not THAT bad. With a lack of terrain they need to challenge candidates in other ways that mimic the movements necessary to ski very steep terrain. The other alternative is to only hold level III cert at Mt. Bohemia.

Level III is not as high as it might seem but you either have it, or you don't. The examiners know whether you have it, or you don't, in the first four turns you make at the exam. The rest of the time is convincing level III candidates that they don't have it, or bring them up to the standard.
I would be all in favor of Mt. Bohemia as only site for level III PSIA-C examinations. But I would like to return the topic to the original theme.
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