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Back to wedge basics: Rotation, do we need it? - Page 2

post #31 of 142
Originally Posted by tdk6
Ok guys, now I get it We have a missunderstanding here. We are actually talking about the same thing only you dont understand that turning is controlling speed by actually braking. Coach13 said it in his last line here above. To choose a line.... that is turning in my dictionary and it results in speed controll because you have skidding involved and that is a braking move!

I respectfully disagree. A skid that is intended to shed speed is a braking move. A skid that is intended to control turn shape/line is not a braking move.

In that latter case, speed is lost as a result of the turn and line, not as a direct consequence of any braking action.
post #32 of 142
Thread Starter 
T-square, thanks for backing me up here.

BTW, I happened to have a 40y old woman first time on skis today for a private lesson. As she put her skis on she could hardly stand upright and gliding was out of the question. I gave her my usual balance primer and after that we took the lift up a very very easy children slope. On her first run she could form the wedge. On her second run she could keep her wedge all the way down at slow speed. Snow was slippery so she did a good job of "controlling her speed". On her third run I showed her how to turn by leaning slightly in the opposite direction keeping both skis at an equal edge and she got the hang of it. On her next couple of runs she could turn both ways and cross the slope in a wedge. Now I talked to her a little about Epic and an other style of wedging. I showed her how to do the "roll the arch of the inside foot/ski off the snow". She tried it but she just could not get it to turn (neather could I BTW doing the demo). Then her inside ski cought an outside edge and she nearly fell over. I told her that Im teaching in a "braking" kind of way and she said she liked the consept.
Then I took her up with the t-bar to a blue run. At the top were it was steep she could hold a wedge and "controll her speed" going straight down the fall line. On the flat part she did very nice wedge turns and she could follow my tracks perfectly. Then we came to a steeper part again. I showed her that if she just trusted herself and stayed in the wedge in the fall line enough to have perfect controll of her balance if she counterleaned she would trun. This happened at her first attemt. And at her second and third and so on. As the slope became flat again at the bottom I told her to lift the inside tip of her ski to faster get out of the fall line. Second turn she was doing it. Forth turn she was alredy good at it. We stopped and she had the widest smile on her face. Then I showed her what I was gong to teach her on her next lesson. How to bring the skis parallell at the end of a turn and then how to do a stem christie and then finally how to do an open stans parallell turn. All this took me 55min. She continued in the children slope by her selfe enjoying an hour of skiing with her 7y old daughter.

post #33 of 142
It's important for the customer to have fun. That includes feeling confident. Control nourishes confidence. The wedge position promotes initial balance with its wider base and a modicum of speed control. Even an all-out braking wedge becomes a rather inefficient way to stop. But it generally works if the slope isn't too steep. Turning takes the skis away from pointing down the hill and generally provides a better means of speed control.

When I teach beginners, I teach them to turn the fronts of the skis.

When I teach advance beginners for the first time, I usually have to teach them to stop turning the backs of their skis so they can turn the fronts.

When I teach intermediates, I usually have to teach them to stop pushing on the outside ski tail and twisting their body before I can suggest they employ both edges and let their skis do the work.

When I teach more advanced skiers, the lessons commonly revolve around actually involving the inside ski in the initiation of the turn instead of simply lifting it off the snow to get it out of the way.

When I first started teaching skiing and that early PSIA manual I mentioned was "the latest word", the equipment we had was not nearly so friendly as what's available today. It was necessary to expend a great deal of energy and make considerably more heavy movements to get the skis to turn.

Teaching folks those same movements today with modern equipment seems like such a waste.
post #34 of 142
Regarding post # 32..........Huuummmm......From never-ever to a blue run and making at least 5 "runs" in 55 min.

Me thinks your watch is running slow.
post #35 of 142
Thread Starter 
Uncle Louie - Sorry red, I think in Europo red and blue are other way around. And lesson is 50min but usually when I finish one lesson I start the next so its very close to an hour. Yestereday I had 3 lessons and she was my first student.

KB - yeah, todays equipment require minimal sidways leaning in order to make skis turn. Just a hint of pressure is enough.
post #36 of 142

I don't dispute that people can learn to ski using a braking wedge. Millions have and millions more will. The point that I am making is that there is an alternate method that offers what many of us here at Epic and at ski resorts all over America see as advantages.

As to your example. I have never had a student of mine trip over the edge of the inside ski and I have used this to to teach thousands of students. I have seen it happen with students who learned a strong breaking wedge before I began to work with them but once I managed to get the student over their "don't go" mind set and adopt a "go" mindset the problem disappeared. In fact this change of edge is what I want to happen because when it does the skis are on coresponding edges and a spontanious matching of the skis occurs. As I said before I don't teach a wedge turn then a wedge christy then a parallel turn. I train my students to use the same movement pattern to make their first turns, be they in a wedge or with parallel skis, that I use to ski anywhere on the mountain. As they become better at this movement pattern matching and parallel turns will happen as an outcome of the more efficent movements without the student ever having to be taught the maneuver. Students are often surprised when I tell them that they are making parallel turns because the turns don't feel any different to them.

Like many here have expressed skidding does not equal braking in my way of looking at things. A skidding ski is slower than a carving ski so a skidded turn will be slower than a carved turn but I can make either without any braking.

post #37 of 142
Thread Starter 
Yndar - very interesting. Im not saying your method is wrong or anything but somehow over time I have stumbled over many strange theories that actually are exactly the same thing they only have different names and angles of view. For instance if you shift weight to your outside ski or if you counter a centrifugal force! Im not shure if thats a completely different thing. Or Martin Heckelmans theory of straight to parallell skipping the wedge but reinventing the wedge under a new name: short radius pressure turn. I dont have any problem with learning new ways of doing things but I also dont have any problem with a method of teaching from 1960. I know many do. Like here at Epic. It really dont matter to me because time will pass and we will have new theories again You have a great record and keep your good work going. Do you by the way have any link to a PSIA handbook? And I would be interested in knowing your level grading (L2 etc.).

post #38 of 142
Why all the energy wasted discussing whether to "wedge or not to wedge"? The wedge, or snowplow, is a core element of good, solid skiing. What has to be "unlearned"? - Nothing, absolutely nothing. Like side stepping or the herringbone step, it's an important skiing skill that can and will be used for the entire span of the skier's career. It's not how toski, it's simply a thing that can be done on skis, and it happens to work in numerous applications. Why would people want to "unlearn" such an important conrnerstone for good skiing - and why would we attempt to "unteach" it? As skiers progress, we simply introduce them to new skills - many of which are greatly enhanced by knowing how to ski in a wedge.

Next time any of you go skiing, count the number of times you use the wedge manoevere yourself. To me, it is an absolute "must have" skill in any skier's repetoire. Go ahead and teach direct to parallel "systems", but recognize the wedge for what it is: an integral part of any "system" for overall skier development and progression.

1) An important tool for weaker skiers (small kids with limited muscular development, for example) to gain control when gravity threatens to take over
2) A versatile mobility manoevere used to negotiate lift lines and tight spots - remember, there are also many opportunities to apply a backwards snowplow as well
3) A means to negotiate steeper or intimidating terrain (situational stem turn)
4) A platform to base skill development drills upon at all levels right up to expert and beyond (powerplow exercise, javelin turns, garland turns as examples)

But back to the original question - turns can be initiated through upper body rotation (like snowboarding) or by femur rotation - both ways work, but not with the same level of effectiveness. Generally speaking, skiers would be better off if taught to initate turns via femur rotation, which is often easier to accomplish using a snowplow as a teaching tactic for skill development.
post #39 of 142
We are talking about teaching a GLIDING WEDGE - not a snowplow, aka a braking wedge.

As I said before, wedge turning IS SKIING - it is not a special maneuvre different from skiing. It is for most people the first step towards dynamic parallel skiing. We want to teach a movement pattern that has all the elements of parallel sking - so that there is nothing to UNDO later. A gliding wedge should not have a movement to the uphill ski - it should flow downhill.
post #40 of 142
Thread Starter 
niceturns - AMEN, I agre with you 100%. Thanx

Blizzard - I still dont understand the resistance for teaching weight shifting in wedging. Maybe I should have said snowplowing insted! Could you please explain the difference between the wedge and the snowplow!
Originally Posted by Blizzard
.....A gliding wedge should not have a movement to the uphill ski - it should flow downhill.
LOL This is the hole secret of skiing. Doing not the obvious, what may seem like controversary movements and trusting the outcome. And shifting the weight to the outside ski doesent mean its nesessarily uphill, merely that this all happens befor they cross the fall line. In carving and racing we many times shift our weight to the uphill ski since that ski happens to become the outside ski at a very early stage, going across the slope or sometimes even going up the hill. What a great movement pattern this weight shifting is and especially since it is the foundation of modern slalom skiing from snowplow to carving and racing all the way through. What has to be unlearned is inside leaning and hipp rotation.
post #41 of 142

Do you ever experience a "wedge edge lock" with your students?...you know where the inside ski edge is locked on an edge and prevents the outside edged and pressured ski from overcoming the resistance created by the inside ski?
post #42 of 142
Thread Starter 
Yes, the wedge lock is common. I would say that 10-20% of beginners have that at the start. It would be very interesting to hear what kind of remedy you use in such common cases. I have my own ways of deling with it depending on students age and physical ability.
post #43 of 142
Don't teach pressure and edging the outside ski!

Seriously, this is a common by product of teaching edging and pressuring the outside ski. What happens is the outside ski gets pushed forward and the hips rotate to a negative lead of the inside ski which consiquently locks it onto an inside edge which overpowers the outside ski causing the skier not to turn.

starting in a gliding wedge have them tip the right ski to the little toe edge to go right. Don't worry about any weight shift, it will happen on it's own.
post #44 of 142
I agree with ydnar about the importance of teaching movements that are efficient and effective for skiing at any level.

I think this approach reflects ski instruction having evolved from teaching of temporary positions (i.e.wedge) that contradict with how advanced skiers actually ski, to promoting teaching beginners movements that will facilitate both initial learning needs and serve continued development to higher levels of skiing.

Note that when these movements include "releasing" of the old outside/new inside ski as the trigger movement to start turns, the wedge is seldom, if ever needed (and edge locks are avoided or eliminated).

The traditional role of the wedge as a primary platform for stance, balance, and turning has come to pass. Skiing no longer needs to be ugly duckling of all sports where it's beginners are taught dysfunctional positions and resulting activities that are in functional contrast to the movements used by expert skiers.

Are ski turns are produced by movements or by positions? Isn't the wedge a position with the skis on opposing edges? Would not most any context of skilled skiing be reflected by the skis being on corresponding edges in a parallel relationship (and not on opposing edges except in unique applications)?

In contemporary ski teaching has not the role of the wedge been redefined to be an auxiliary activity for liftlines, etc, and no longer to be depended upon as the prefered or primary platform for learning to balance or turn?

Doesn't a ski teaching methodology primarily producing students unnecessarily dependent upon a wedge position demonstrate the limitation of that methodology, and not a limitation of the students to learn to ski using movement not dependant upon the wedge?

Is it possible that most students come fully capable of learning whatever the instructor can teach them appropriate to their level, and that the primary limitations affecting the lesson outcome are what the instructors can teach, not what the students can learn?

Is it a disservice to the skiing public that some instructors still retain a dependence upon teaching the wedge only because they have not yet learned to teach any more efficient and effective options?

Until instructors explore and learn to teach the movements that preclude any wedge necessity, isn't the only path available to their students one leading to dependance upon the wedge?

Do newcomers to this sport deserve more, to be presented with a learning pathway selected to suit their capabilities, not their instructors limitations?

Do they deserve a pathway that should teach them efficient and effective skiing movements that promote accelerated learning and options in their skiing, and not the limitations imposed by any dependency upon a position such as the wedge?
post #45 of 142
Thread Starter 
I dont teach any edging. The edging comes as a byproduct of having both skis in a proper wedge (kidds can sometimes put their skis in a wedge without any edging). From a gliding wedge, shifting the pressure onto the left ski by leaning your upper body slightly to the left leaving hipps in the exact same position and skis edged exactly the same way. This will cause you to turn right. Our left ski will not be pushed forward but this typically happens because the wedge is not taught correctly. Shifting weight to the left ski usually happens by moving hipps out over the left ski causing left ski to flatten out, right ski to be edged more, body to rotate right, left ski to a substansial leed and the right ski to lock onto a "wedge edge lock". Typical mistake by non teachers trying to learn first timers to ski and ski-instructors overlooking the importance of a right way to wedge and make a wedge turn. Also typical is that the teacher tryes to teach the student an up-and-down movement at this stage and that only messes the whole thing up. KISS - Keep it simple stupid.

Nice to see someone actually putting some thaught to this very annoying wedge lock problem. Usually my remedy is a flat trail were student safely and in a relaxed manner can ski down in slow speed, skis parallell but braking once in a while by putting skis in the wedge. If the trail makes some turns on the way its great because then they turn without putting any thaught into turning and the wedge lock dissaperars since its basicly just a result of trying to hard and being scared.
post #46 of 142
To the original question "Back to wedge basics: Rotation, do we need it? "
How can you form a wedge without rotating the feet into the wedge? One thing I have experimented with (and with positive results) is having students make the "wedge" with only one foot or the other (thus they find out how to make a turn to a stop before they find out how to wedge to a stop. We also do a lot of boot drills before they even put the skiis on.
post #47 of 142
Arc, you can lead a horse to water....
post #48 of 142
There are so many fundimaental skills that can be introduced and explored from the security of the wedge, it's a shame so many instructors now view it as something to be rushed out of, or avoided totally.
post #49 of 142
Originally Posted by Rick
There are so many fundimaental skills that can be introduced and explored from the security of the wedge, it's a shame so many instructors now view it as something to be rushed out of, or avoided totally.
Nothing personal, but:

There are so many inefficient and ineffictive pseudo-fundimaental bad habits that can be introduced and explored from the static (vs. dynamic) balance security of the wedge, it's a shame so many instructors cling to it as something to be employed as a first resort instead of a last resort.
post #50 of 142
sheesh Arcmeister is getting misunderstood, I think, by those who are disagreeing with him on the "dead horse" of the wedge. I think it can be discarded without ANY problems, primarily by limiting terrain pitch to very slight for all newbies. no speed issues that require serious fear components to develop. of course this requires dedicated athletes that will put in the time necessary to develop moves rather than just pitching their carcasses downslope and trying to stay upright (the selftaught and ultimately selfdefeating style), and isn't quite as usable for people who just want to be able to get on and off a lift, and meander down green runs in a permanent brake position.
post #51 of 142
Originally Posted by gonzostrike
I think it can be discarded without ANY problems, primarily by limiting terrain pitch to very slight for all newbies.
sorry, but we don't all have suitable terrain for this approach.
post #52 of 142
Do any of you wedge/snowplow bashers teach kids?
post #53 of 142
Originally Posted by lennyblake
sorry, but we don't all have suitable terrain for this approach.
lenny, that's comical. you really are that limited in your imagination? come on. even Snowbowl, my closest hill, which is rated something like 70% expert and the rest of the hill isn't far behind, has a flat spot where you can teach basic movements on a slight slope. you really must be kidding.
post #54 of 142
Originally Posted by niceturns
Do any of you wedge/snowplow bashers teach kids?
1) calm down and stop acting the victim. nobody's BASHING the wedge, merely theorizing that it could be eliminated as a learning step.

2) I don't see why teaching kids has any influence on the merits of the approach. either you have a good rapport with kids or you don't. stop scapegoating the move and start looking at who's inable to communicate the move.

I'd be happy to teach kids in a "no wedge" environment. I don't know why ANYONE would not, unless they just didn't like kids. :
post #55 of 142
It's not about rapport with kids, it's about muscular development and coordination, mr. gonzostrike.

Not playing the victim, merely asking a question, which you sir, did not answer. OK, I'll rephrase, replacing the "wedge basher" bit. Once again, do any of you proponents of direct to parallel systems teach kids?

Kids, up to about age 8 or so, are not capable of upper/lower body separation - they cannot perform movements with the upper body that are different from simultaneous movements of the lower body. So, if we attempt to use a direct parallel approach with skiers who are already prone to whole body rotation, then we could say we have something to "unteach" later - a habit of initiating turns via body rotation.

Bode and Hermann et al clearly show us the importance of "rotation" in turning the skis, but look at how they initiate their turns, generally - by rotation of the femurs within the hip sockets - something that can be easily learned and trained in a wedge position. The orientation of the skis in relation to one another means nothing, we are still developing the skill area of independent and simulataneous leg rotation.
post #56 of 142
Originally Posted by Arcmeister
Nothing personal, but:

There are so many inefficient and ineffictive pseudo-fundimaental bad habits that can be introduced and explored from the static (vs. dynamic) balance security of the wedge, it's a shame so many instructors cling to it as something to be employed as a first resort instead of a last resort.
Hmmmm, : if you hadn't told me this wasn't personal I swear you were trying to twist my words.

Arc, I'm sure your proposed method delivers just as advertised, I just don't believe what it delivers is in the long term best interest of students.

I come at instruction from a little different place than most ski schools. I'd rather invest extra time in a students early days broadening hir (his/her) skill foundation, than move hir rapidly on to techniques hir skill quiver is ill stocked to support. It takes years to achieve expert status in this sport. My belief is that the investment of extra time early on building a wide spectrum foundational skill base will pay big time dividends down the road in terms of ultimate achievement levels and time getting there.

The problem is most ski schools lean toward a fast-track model, and with good reason. They must cater to the "want it now" mentality of their clients, and must quickly get these new skiers to a point where they can perceive the sport as fun, before losing interest, becoming frustrated, and going away. While it makes good business sense to strap a turbo to the process (direct to parallel, rush to carve), the students long term achievement prospects are sacrificed. The slopes are littered with terminal intermediates, and this state of modern day turbo ski instruction is one (not the only) of the factors I assign responsibility to. We have run away trains all over the slopes, trying to arc parallel/carved turns with no where near the balance and edging skills needed to control these lines and speeds. And we wonder the origin of defensive skiing???

Ditching the wedge is one of negative results of fast track ski instruction. The wedge is a fundamental position that is used by all skiers, at every level, and should be refined by each student. It also provides the perfect confidence platform for the early introduction of basic balance, edging, flexion/extension, and rotation skills in a safe environment where the skills can be the focus, as opposed to the fear. As these basic level skills become understood and developed, advancement to higher technical planes becomes an easier transition which is accomplished at a higher initial performance level because of the already developed foundational skills the student brings along.

There are no bad skills. All skills find situational usage. No skills should ever be eliminated or replaced, just added to with new ones. The wider the range of skills a skier possesses the further up the expertise ladder he can ascend. Developing proficiency in the wedge is an important foundation skill. As with any learned skill, it never needs to be discarded, it just needs to be supplemented and built upon. Efficiency of movement and energy usage is always the ultimate goal, but to realize that end proficiency at inefficiency must also be pursued. The signature of all good skiers is the ability to perform at all levels of efficiency and make it appear effortless. This ability does not come by accident.
post #57 of 142
Quote: “The wedge is a fundamental position that is used by all skiers, at every level, and should be refined by each student.” :

Why would we want to "refine" something that reflects advancement only when it is discarded?

One might find it enlightening to ponder the fact that the wedge was conceived more than half a century ago as a “fundamental position” specifically relevant to learning to ski in low-cut leather boots, on 7-foot long wooden skis with no sidecut or metal edges, in ungroomed snow conditions!

I invite any logical, rational correlation as to how the relevant concepts that required a wedge based upon those historical constraints transfer and apply to learning to ski with modern equipment on groomed conditions?

If ski instruction were re-invented today from a clean sheet to take full advantage of modern equipment and groomed terrain, employing what we know about biomechanics, motor skill acquisition and learning theory, who in their wildest imagination would suggest that we should base the process on a wedge position rather than teaching and applying the same efficient fundamental movement concepts employed by expert skiers? Duh??

One of innovation’s primary functions is to frustrate the mindless tyranny of tradition. Let go, explore and grow.

It is unfair to stifle any students desire to learn with one own refusal to do so. :

Is it any wonder why our sport suffers from an 85% non return rate by day-one beginners? :
post #58 of 142
Go ahead Roger, get the shock collar out now!

(inside ESA joke for Arc's group)
post #59 of 142
Originally Posted by tdk6
I dont teach any edging. The edging comes as a byproduct of having both skis in a proper wedge (kidds can sometimes put their skis in a wedge without any edging). From a gliding wedge, shifting the pressure onto the left ski by leaning your upper body slightly to the left leaving hipps in the exact same position and skis edged exactly the same way.
I did the opposite with my 8-year-old. I only taught her edging skills (initially). She tipped one way, then the other, and arced RR track turns down the beginner hill. She quickly learned that she could turn uphill to stop. Instructors in the area commented on her clean arcs--her first time skiing alone.

Which skill would you like to start kids using?

I think that younger kids might be able to do this, too, since upper/lower independence isn't required.

My older daughter had more of a struggle with this, but was getting it by the end of the day. Her biggest challenge was the fear of moving forward on the skis and balacing while moving.
post #60 of 142
Arc has a good point. If we look at the evolution of ski equipment and acompanied technique one would notice that modern technique would have never worked on eight foot long wooden skis with ankle high leather boots in boot packed snow. Nor do modern skis work efficiently using the techniques from the past, Yet much of our teaching methodology has lagged behind equipment advances of today.

Where once we used "platforms", "downstems", "upstems", "up unweighting", Hop turns pivoting around the tips, exaggerated weight shifts, etc. in our repitoire, these movements are not functionally appropriate today.

It wasn't long ago that PSIA used the stem christies as requisites for certification testing. There always seemed to me to be a big gap in skills required to go from a stem christie to a parallel turn. What the stem did was allow the skier to move the cm from the inside of one turn to the other without moving the cm.. Then the next demo was the parallel turn that for the first time in the teaching progression demanded that the cm had to move over the feet to change edges instead of using a stem to move the cm to the inside of the new turn. This was a big gap in skill development. Today our equipment allows us to begin developing this movement very early on in the progression.

Stems and converging movements are braking, bracing, defensive movements that were and are contridictory to parallel turn initiations which are obligatorally offensive in nature. The parallel turn is still the ultimate goal of skiers. Once the parallel turn is achieve all that is left to do is a lifetime of refining it.

When the Centerline Concept was born and the stem christie gave way to the "wedge christie II" (i think that is what is was called?) all of a sudden I felt like we made a quantum leep forward and now it all made sense. One demo built on the next. Nothing had to be unlearned. The Centerline focal point to me was the idea of releasing the downhil edge instead of stemming. One was an offensive movement the other a defensive, braking movement.

Wedge turns worked so much better and lead easily and spontaneously into wedge christies which advanced harmoniously into wedge christie II's which matched before the fall line. These blended into parallel turns much more easily than the antiquated "Stem" initiation turns.

This concept, releasing edges to move fluidly into the turn, all began some 18 years ago. I remember writing an article on the "steer and release" move back then and comparing and contrasting the differences between up stems, down stems, bi stems, and "release and steer" movements. The funny thing was most instructors did not get it. In fact my Western Division nick named the new wedge christie II the "Bud Stem" after my animate crusade to get instructors to understand the important difference in technique that had occurred. Over three years later I still witnessed examiners and clinicians demonstrating stem christies instead of the Wedge christie II mechanics.

I can see that today the whole concept has never really been grasped by the masses and is still trickling down the system. Who knows maybe by the time the next big evolutionary jump in equipment happens our teaching methodology will catch up to "shaped" skis of today and we will begin this struggle all over again.

There is no doubt that the top level instructors all over the world recognize and teach the concept of releasing edges to begin fluid turns but there are obviously still hangers- on to the antiquated methods of our forefathers.
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