Excellent post, Oldtimer!
I agree--forget their feet, let them play and have fun without the mental constraints that so often hobble adults. Lead them through games that develop fundamental movements, and don't worry about something as insignificant as whether their tips are sometimes closer than their tails. You have to learn to care whether your skis are in a wedge or parallel. If you don't care, it doesn't matter. "Keep it fast and flat," as the Austrians like to say. That's how great skiers are made!
Really, the whole notion that parallel is better than wedge is antiquated misinformation. Skiing is about movements, not positions, and you can make the same fundamental movements in and from either position. You can make great, offensive turns in a wedge, and you can make lousy defensive braking skids in parallel. What matters is what's happening, fundamentally, behind the scenes.
There is no difference
between a good
teaching progression that allows a wedge and a good
"direct to parallel" progression. None! Both will focus on fundamental movements in an environment that promotes success. With good fundamental movements, a wedge will happen to anyone in certain circumstances, particularly very low speed, whether "taught" or not. And with good fundamentals, a wedge will spontaneously vanish with a little mileage, confidence, and speed--without changing a single thing technically.
On the other hand, insisting on "parallel" at any cost and thinking that wedges are always wrong will absolutely, without fail, develop very bad skiing habits.
I don't know how many times I've seen a great skiing kid having a blast with totally natural, instinctive movements, sometimes showing a wedge, while Mom and Dad ski behind with some bizarre and misinformed technique yelling "stop wedging--pull your skis together--ski parallel--NO! not like that! . . . ." Poor kid--having his fun ruined and his technique tortured both at the same time. And worse--learning not to trust his body, or its ability to learn. All in the name of a static misinformed adult construct called "parallel." It's tragic!
We have discussed ad nauseum the pros and cons of wedges and parallel turns and direct-to-parallel and such, and I'll not repeat much of it here. But I will say that there is a profound, black and white, night and day difference between a wedge
and a stem,
between a wedge christie
and a stem christie
. Run away from any instructor who does not know the difference!
The real issue is not "wedge-based" vs. "direct to parallel." It is whether or not the instructor (or the parents) allows the students to play and learn to love the sensation of gliding and turning to go
where you want to go
, rather than taking students too high on a hill, scaring them stiff, and forcing their entire early experience to be one of fighting the hill, preventing the skis from gliding, trying to stop, and learning that control means brake--or die.
In the gliding "keep it fast and flat" scenario, people will learn great movements that will evolve to great "parallel turns" and beyond, seamlessly and entirely without effort. In the "brake or die" lesson, students will learn bad habits and bad, defensive, braking skiing. And it won't matter one bit whether it is a "wedge-based" or "direct to parallel" lesson--the outcome will be bad movements.
Please do not let yourself be fooled by anyone furthering the common misinformation that wedges are inherently bad. Or that wedges are necessary and fundamentally good, either, for that matter. Whether an instructor claims to teach a "direct-to-parallel" approach that avoids the wedge or claims to teach a "wedge-based progression," run away. That instructor is misinformed, either way.
Enlightened instructors know that good teaching is neither wedge-based nor parallel-based. It is movement-based and functional outcome-based. Good instructors know when and why wedges happen, and they know when to "fix" movements and when to let them thrive and grow. Good instructors know that the difference between braking and gliding movements is far more critical than the difference between wedge and parallel.
Warm, fed, FUN, forward. Fantastic! Wow!