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Austrian Ski School - should I be afraid?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hey all. We've been planning a trip to Austria for this season. As much as I love my daughter I have no intention of flying across the Atlantic and skiing the bunny slope with a 3 y.o. (even if she is really cute). So the plan is to put her in ski school. Here's the thing - I don't want them to ruin her skiing! Check out this page from the ski school - http://www.skischule-lech.at/Miniclu...7b1e38d.0.html Does that top picture look like a gliding wedge to you? Does it look like they are teaching "GO" movements? Is this picture representative of European ski teaching? Obviously they produce some pretty good skiers over there, so maybe it works for them, but I wonder....
post #2 of 24
Epic, don't be afraid of a teaching progression that includes a wedge. The fashionable nay saying is way over done. Most the the best skiers in the world were taught a wedge turn.

It's not the teaching of a wedge that dictates/limits how far a skier goes in the sport, it's what takes place afterwards that matters.

I think the Austrians prove that.
post #3 of 24
I don't think he's worried about the wedge, per sec, but the realisation that what they teach there is called the Snowplough and it is indeed with an edge set. I'm not sure that the gliding wedge features large in their system.
And yet, they do produce amazing skiiers, and a larger proportion of the population skis AND takes lessons.
post #4 of 24
Which picture are you looking at?
post #5 of 24
Due to their physiology, a 3-year old will use a braking wedge to slow themselves down. It doesn't matter whether we call it a gliding wedge or a snowplow.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Epic, don't be afraid of a teaching progression that includes a wedge. The fashionable nay saying is way over done. Most the the best skiers in the world were taught a wedge turn.

It's not the teaching of a wedge that dictates/limits how far a skier goes in the sport, it's what takes place afterwards that matters.

I think the Austrians prove that.
The Austrians prove something that's for damn sure. I teach a wedge myself, but the way I see it, it's a matter of degree. There is a difference between a gliding wedge and a braking wedge. The difference being "GO". My daughter skiied about 50 days last year (short days, but still a fair amount of skiing). I'm not gonna say she's better than 97% of 3 y.o.s or anything, but I don't want her to take a step backwards. We have a pretty international forum here, so I am hoping for some direct experience with thier teaching system.

FWIW - my approach to her skiing involved DAYS of lapping the magic carpet before we even tried wedging.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marc gledhill View Post
Which picture are you looking at?
Top picture. It's just feet and skis. (Interesting... the instructor has AT boots)
post #8 of 24
epic, you might also try asking this over on snowHeads... A much larger percentage of that crowd skis the Alps, although a much smaller percentage will know the difference between a braking wedge and a gliding one...
post #9 of 24
epic, I went to school in Austria, and in our "Sport Theorie" classes we were taught that the important formative years are aged 9-13. Apparently that is when you learn the techniques and skills that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
That was over 20 years ago, so I can't say whether Austrian thinking has changed on this matter.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
(Interesting... the instructor has AT boots)
If I was teaching rugrats all day, that's what I'd wear! Yay for comfy tractive skiboots.
post #11 of 24
>>>but I don't want her to take a step backwards.<<<

Epic, you can't actually take a step backward in learning skiing, you can just add to what you already know. If you daughter is doing already a good 'GO' gliding wedge, teaching her the braking wedge would not hurt her, it would just be an addition to her skills. There is no way you could erase her knowledge of the skills she already has. Eventually there comes a time to teach her when and where to use the different skills she has acquired, but you can't really ruin a kid's skiing at age 3.

....Ott
post #12 of 24
Its strange how some think that wedging is a bad technique. On the other hand I have as a ski instructor for over 10y been confronted with kidds parrents and they indeed have all kind of interesting theorys and worries. The best thing is to just nodd and agree, take the kidds where mom and pop cannot see and then do your thing.

I dont want to be rude here but.... conserned dad + 3y old kid vs photo of leggs of ski instructor and 4 students!!! Give me a break! Its a great pickture of what ski school looks like. And how in the heck are you going to ski with 4 kidds like that without wedging? Maybe this photo was a set up but it could as well be a real situation and in this case its just the way I would do it as well. The kidd that cannot wedge (or ski) goes between the intructors leggs, the big kidd comes closest to the teacher so that he will not hurt smaller kidds in front if he overruns them and the weekest of the three thereafter. Last one is the smallest or the best of the remaining three.

Lets look at the wedging.... instructor is holding a very strong stance with both skiis edged. Perfect. Offcourse, hes in the Austrian ski school. By that I mean that he is not nesessarily an Austrian because hes teaching at Lech. He could as well be Swedish or from the US. In the Austrian ski schools there are lots of international teachers for several reasons. First, they know languages such as swedish, english, spanish, russian etc and that is important when it comes to kidds and ski school. That the teacher can communicate. This BTW is where one of dads real conserns should be located, not in wether or not his daughters future skiing skills will be hurt by wedging (which is in fact the exact opposit). Anyway, look at the third kidd. Second from behind. She is lifting her left ski tip but look at the right legg. Its flattened out. Its not on its inside edge like the teachers. Kidds leggs dont work like adult leggs, they bend in all sort of strange directions, and it is imperative to get the kidd engaging both skis inside edges because if they ride their skis flat they pick up unintentional speed which is bad, trust me, and they eventually catch the outside edge which in turn can cause injury. I know what Im talking about, Ive thaught professionally over 1000 kidd lessons. My experianced eye tells me that the third kidd has a problem with having the right ski flattened and the left ski riding on an edge. This is the reason she needs to lift her left ski in order to follow the rest of the pack slightly to the left. The last kidd is allso lifting her left leg but that is probably just because shes looking at her sister in front and shes dooing whatever she is dooing (strong assumption).

Anyway, epic, if you havent been to Lech you have managed to picked one of the best ski areas in the world. You have everything there and if your daughter can ski by her own she will not be sentenced to the bunny hill for a week. There are lots of very nice easy slopes all the way to the top of the mountain. As far as the wedging goes, I see less advantages with the gliding wedge than with the braking one. Once you can wedge, ski by yourself and make left and right turns and stop and controll your speed shift to parallell skiing through stem turns. As far as I know I have never ever seen a skilled skier that could not wedge. It teaches the basics skills of proper stance, balance and angulation.
post #13 of 24
One more thing, kidds want to have fun. They will not have fun if they are forced to learn how to ski parallell at 3y of age for a whole week. Heck, same goes for adults. Skiing is all about having fun. Like Marting Bell said, critical age for sports comes much later. An instructors job is a balance between keeping both the kidd and the parrents happy. Parents love their kidds so if the kidds have fun they are willing to do whatever the kidds want. I have heared many funny stories of my student going to other ski resorts and looking forwards to ski school only to be badly dissapointed because Tom isnt there. The biggest issue with kidds and ski school is if wheter or not they will want to take part or not. Nothing else matters. Crying kidds in ski school is a bad experiance for all parts involved.

On a second note, taking in consideration cultural differences between Europe and the US I would say that you guys in general treat kidds much better than we do here. You are sometimes trying too hard (not being genuine) but that is still much better than not giving a damn (maybe I just dropped a bomb here...).
post #14 of 24
I think, the original issue was that the Austrian pic showed a wedge that is very much a snowplough: strongly edged. The American wedge, however, is meant to be a flatter ski, with more gliding and steering, turning for speed control, the skis brushing out rather than being set in against the snow. So the OP was concerned (tongue in cheek, I suspect) that his American-system schooled daughter would now learn a hard-set snowplough. And would it be detrimental to her skiing?
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
I think, the original issue was that the Austrian pic showed a wedge that is very much a snowplough: strongly edged. The American wedge, however, is meant to be a flatter ski, with more gliding and steering, turning for speed control, the skis brushing out rather than being set in against the snow. So the OP was concerned (tongue in cheek, I suspect) that his American-system schooled daughter would now learn a hard-set snowplough. And would it be detrimental to her skiing?
Ok, how about this: The reason Austrian racing skiers are so successfull in the WC is because they teach their kidds from day one to lay down a hard edge.
post #16 of 24
>>>And would it be detrimental to her skiing?<<<

ant, one doesn't need to unlearn a skill, only to break a habit.

....Ott
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
I think, the original issue was that the Austrian pic showed a wedge that is very much a snowplough: strongly edged. The American wedge, however, is meant to be a flatter ski, with more gliding and steering, turning for speed control, the skis brushing out rather than being set in against the snow. So the OP was concerned (tongue in cheek, I suspect) that his American-system schooled daughter would now learn a hard-set snowplough. And would it be detrimental to her skiing?
I think this snowplow=nogo is more in one's head than in practice. I tought myself to ski from an ancient book. It had a "snowplow". The idea was that if you layed the left ski hard over on it's edge the ski would follow that edge, if the edge was pointing to the right you would go right. If you had the right ski also at an angle and hard over it would try to go left. Putting more weight on the left one made it win out. It was all about using the edge to make the ski go where you wanted to go. It had nothing to do with stopping, even though you could "trick" the skis into stopping by weighting them equally in a snow plow. There was no gliding wedge in this ancient book. Skis did not want to go sideways! There was a snowplow to get the idea that the edges directed the skier; there was a stem-Christie, as a BRIEF stepping stone to parallel skiing; there was parallel skiing, and there was a "comma" shape (instead of angulation). I think my skiing is pretty aggressive and does not suffer from any no-go-thereness.
post #18 of 24

Mr Wedge Hammer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
I think this snowplow=nogo is more in one's head than in practice. I tought myself to ski from an ancient book. It had a "snowplow". The idea was that if you layed the left ski hard over on it's edge the ski would follow that edge, if the edge was pointing to the right you would go right. If you had the right ski also at an angle and hard over it would try to go left. Putting more weight on the left one made it win out. It was all about using the edge to make the ski go where you wanted to go. It had nothing to do with stopping, even though you could "trick" the skis into stopping by weighting them equally in a snow plow. There was no gliding wedge in this ancient book. Skis did not want to go sideways! There was a snowplow to get the idea that the edges directed the skier; there was a stem-Christie, as a BRIEF stepping stone to parallel skiing; there was parallel skiing, and there was a "comma" shape (instead of angulation). I think my skiing is pretty aggressive and does not suffer from any no-go-thereness.
Great post Ghost

I too have these ancient books, one Austrian from the early 50s and there the snowplow is thaught as a basic form of turning. The ammount of edge applied to the skis should be depending on how steep it is and at what speed you want to trawel. Doesent sound ancient to me. Sounds just about dead on 2006.

Ghost explanation is very good. If skis are forming a wedge and you want to go left you simply shift your weight over to the right foot ski. The trick here is to start off with eaqual ammount of weight on both skis. If the hill is very flat you dont need a very wide wedge or tilted skis (US gliding wedge) but if its a bit steeper (think Austrian alps) and the snow is harder you need to widen your stance and tilt, edge, your skis more. Remember, you are still going straight down the fall line with eaqual ammount of pressure/weight on both skis. The reason you are not turning is that both skis are eaqually strong, they are eaqualized. If you apply more edge to both skis you will slow down and eventually maybe stop (snowplow "nogo"). Not a bad thing if you really think about it. Kind of puts you on top of it, puts you in charge of your spaceship. If you flatten out the edge angles you will start moving again. Here comes the trick, what Ghost is talking about. Now you need to "shift" your weight to eather side, lets say left. Not 100%, more like 60/40. Now here comes the bonus for all you that have beared with me so far, you need to "keep" both skis eaqually edged and lean from your waist with your upper body to the right side. This is the weight shift. This will not work if you alter ski edges. Hipps should stay put. Ahhh, bullox, a counter move in the opposite direction someone might cry, a thing of the past, Austrian, nogo etc. Well, I see not difference between the US Amreican gliding wedge and the European snowplow other than terms spoken. Picture yourselfe going down a black diamond hill with both skis fasionably wide apart at 60mph and you want to turn. What do you do? Step into a gliding wedge? No! You simply shift your weight over to the outside ski and compensate a bit by angulating same way to prevent banking. When ski is set to an edge it starts carving. In this situation you greatly benefit from the skills you have lernded early on in your skiing cariere on the bunny hill in Lech where they thaught you to shift your weight to the outside ski (continuously from 50/50 to 100/0 and back), dig in that edge and angulate.
post #19 of 24
Chuckle, don't shoot me! The Austrian position in world skiing AND world teaching speaks for itself, I think.
post #20 of 24

Revelation

Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
Chuckle, don't shoot me! The Austrian position in world skiing AND world teaching speaks for itself, I think.
Yeah, LOL, Austrians and skiing... what a joke . Never been there offcourse but from what I hear and think....
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Ya gotta love those Austrians! It looks like we will be staying in Oberlech, so I was checking out the Oberlech ski school and found this link - http://www.skilehrerinnen.at/2007f/p...ehrerinnen.htm

Anyone want to comment on Simona's skiing?

tdk6 - I found your first post a little insulting, but I'll chalk it up to English being your 2nd language and leave it at that. I'm glad I have provided some amusement for you.

Martin mentioned his "Sport Theorie" classes. One thing I am wondering is what is the level of instructor you see in a European children's ski school? We talk a lot about how in Europe skiing can be an actual career choice, but how far does that trickle down? I doubt it's much higher than what we have in the US, but I'd be happy to hear different.
post #22 of 24
epic, sorry if I was insulting. That was not my sincere intention. And yes, my mother language is not english and its crappy I know. I have to keep up with 5-6 languages on a daily basis so I have ended up being master of none.

BTW when are you going to Lech? Im probably going to StAnton in early February.

Back to your original question. Im not teaching full time at the moment but I did a while back. In our national ski school assosiations here in Europe we have all kinds of guidlines and educational directions, techniques and styles. Some of it is ok and some of it is not. If you want to get your certs you gotta do what they tell you but then its up to the local ski school to enforse the so called laws. In Austria as in many other European countries and in the US the ski industry has become a major employer locally. The ski schools are huge and have instructors that work all their working lives as instructors. When they start, usually at very early age, they are sent to the bunny hill. Later on as they get more age and experiance they advance and end up being specialists. Also forreigners like myself in a country like Austria would be sent off to teaching kids. This is also where good knowledge of languages are highly praiced.

PM me if you have some more q about Austria and the ski school.
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
epic, sorry if I was insulting. That was not my sincere intention. And yes, my mother language is not english and its crappy I know. I have to keep up with 5-6 languages on a daily basis so I have ended up being master of none.

BTW when are you going to Lech? Im probably going to StAnton in early February.

Back to your original question. Im not teaching full time at the moment but I did a while back. In our national ski school assosiations here in Europe we have all kinds of guidlines and educational directions, techniques and styles. Some of it is ok and some of it is not. If you want to get your certs you gotta do what they tell you but then its up to the local ski school to enforse the so called laws. In Austria as in many other European countries and in the US the ski industry has become a major employer locally. The ski schools are huge and have instructors that work all their working lives as instructors. When they start, usually at very early age, they are sent to the bunny hill. Later on as they get more age and experiance they advance and end up being specialists. Also forreigners like myself in a country like Austria would be sent off to teaching kids. This is also where good knowledge of languages are highly praiced.

PM me if you have some more q about Austria and the ski school.
Feb 3 - 10 or something like that. We should meet up for some turns if you are there at that time.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
Feb 3 - 10 or something like that. We should meet up for some turns if you are there at that time.
Yeah, that would be cool. I have to make an note of it in my calender. Last year BTW was pritty awsome:
http://sports.topeverything.com/defa...nt&ID=8FEB5EBE
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