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Stepping stone question

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Here's a question for everyone. PSIA has the concept of Stepping Stones which is the concept that learning to ski is not necessarily a linear progression. Depending on the student's abilities and the terrain you may decide to go in different directions.

So, let's say you have a fairly athletic person, mid 20's and you decide you want to go the "direct to parallel" route. This means you'll start going across the hill and sliding and edging and stay away from wedges.

Do you do this on VERY gentle terrain, or something with a little (but, minor) pitch.

My philosophy would be to do it on something with a bit of pitch. This way I can get their skis slipping sideways on the slope and introduce gradual edging and, thus turning. I might use a combination of step turns and a fan progression. The terrain can't be too steep because eventually you have to get them to do down, and eventually across the fall line.

I'd appreciate other's thoughts.

post #2 of 20
I would start with zero pitch and then move up to the gentlest of pitches, and then up to some learning pitches and eventually green trails when they had control.

One of my favorite tricks in the D-to-P progression is to start on the absolute flat below the learning slope. Walk in a figure-8 patern with the 8 sideways across the slope instead of up-and-down (you mathematicians can think infinity symbol). With no pitch, they'll just walk. Then, without saying anything, slowly move the 8 sideway up the slope a tad with each lap, Eventually, they'll get a teeny bit of glide and they'll be making step turns. And eventually they'll be making both S-step turns (in the center of the 8) and a C step-turns (on the ends of the 8) and in both directions.

There's a bit more to it, you need to explain how to step, what to do if you start to feel a little slide, etc., but it's a great, little or no talk, progression.
post #3 of 20
Both post and suggestions are excellent. This is very much the same progressions we use to start our first timers here at Snowmass. These progressions work very well. We also introduce when the student is one the more gentle terrain, steering and guiding the ski which requires more skidding.-----Wigs
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post #4 of 20
I think you are thinking of the milestones concept the PSIA used in the 80's, but what you are describing is more of the centerline concept which was introduced after the milestones. The centerline was how a "perfect" student might progess under "perfect" conditions, but leaves latitude on each sice of the centerline for edge/pressure or pivit/glide techniques. This was used before the "shaped ski" revolution in instruction and technique.

I teach a narrow, gliding wedge turn and with introducing a little f/e the person might do a spontanious parallel. It doesn't hurt to teach gliding wedge technique, some circumstances the skier might encounter might warrant using it.
post #5 of 20
I think WVSkier's progression would fall well within the stepping stones model. Just keep in mind that the great thing about stepping stones is that it encourages you to teach a different lesson every time.
post #6 of 20
Here's an excerpt from my clinic notes from the 2002 Pro Jam about Waterville Valley's DTP program:

In the afternoon we hopped on some Elan 130 cm demo skis. These puppies have the same sidecut as the old SCX (clown feet) skis, but are just shorter so they don’t look as funny. Waterville Valley uses these skis in their Direct to Parallel lessons. Mick walked us through how they teach DTP. First, it only works for people in 130cm long skis or shorter. A new drill Rusty had not seen before was a one ski drill where you dragged the heel of the boot on the snow while turning with the ski on the outside foot. This seemed like it would promote weight in the back seat, but actually worked pretty good at promoting inside foot steering and driving the inside knee forward. The guts of the Waterville Valley DTP lesson involved a fan progression on two skis. You start the progression doing a shallow traverse, then step up the hill to stop (initiate the step with the uphill/inside ski). The second step is to shuffle the feet instead of stepping. Finally, turn the skis by tipping slightly instead of shuffling. This is unbelievably easy to do on the 130cm skis. The transition to linked turns is done with 1 or 2 steps to get started into the new direction, then tipping to finish the next turn.

I've found this progression to be effective on our bunny trail (5 degree pitch). I generally either start skipping steps or just cut the time in each step shorter when I have more athletic students who "get it".
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Stepping Stones - in the latest PSIA sense is that there is not one way to teach skiing, that learning to ski can be adapted to your individual style.

The genesis of my question relates to last year's DCL exam when Bob Shostek posed the question (as part of a Stepping Stone discussion) "if you were going to teach a DTP progression for an athletic skier and you had your choice of very shallow terrain and something with just a bit more pitch, which would you choose?"

How would you answer this question?

I felt that if I had to choose I'd choose the one with more pitch because it would be easier to get the student's skis to skid and once skidding you could introduce edging, etc...

Thanks Rusty for the like to Mick O'Gara's progression. I know Mick well (he actually wrote me a recommendation for the DCL exam last week.) and I've used that progression a hundred times.

post #8 of 20
Originally Posted by WVSkier View Post
The genesis of my question relates to last year's DCL exam when Bob Shostek posed the question (as part of a Stepping Stone discussion) "if you were going to teach a DTP progression for an athletic skier and you had your choice of very shallow terrain and something with just a bit more pitch, which would you choose?"

How would you answer this question?

Do you think he had a correct answer in mind when he posed the question or do you think it was just to stimulate discussion? As in, for which ever terrain you picked, why did you pick it and how would you use it?
post #9 of 20
Hell Bob,

If you're going for DCL, you should be giving us the answer! Oops -rereading I see you did. Thanks.

My general answer FWIW, is "it depends". At Whitetail we have a 5 degree beginner run that is sufficient pitch on all but the slowest snow to do a DTP lesson even for an athletic student. I'd be ok with going to a 10 degree pitch for an athletic student under the right conditions.

But Bob perfers shorter answers, so I'd answer "a bit more pitch". But in general I only want to use just enough pitch to get the job done.

When I do DTP, I'm thinking carving first as opposed to skidding then carving. The only problem is my students scare the crap out of me when they suddenly get it and "scoot" laterally across the trail. On relatively steeper terrain, this can result in collisions with the skiers making 11s.
post #10 of 20
Why skip a step, however brief, that insures learning success? Providing an environment that encourages moving towards, v. away from the sensations of gravity is a great teaching success.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 

I'll tell you what he said

In this DCL Exam I finished 4th and they took three. I was pissed... but, that's another story.

He definitely had his view and it was that you should do it on gentler terrain. He dinged me enough on the score so that if I had gotten full credit for this I would have beaten the guy ahead of me. (On a scale of 1-10 total score I finished 0.4 behind the guy in front of me.)

I totally agree that it is open for discussion and I definitely think there is lots of room for discussion. But, given the binary way he asked the question I was curious as to your thoughts. I would have much preferred he ask why and then ask for my reasons.

Now, on Rusty's point about teaching skidding versus carving, I always opt for the skidding first. I find it's more natural and the skis don't have the tendency to scoot out from under. I play a little game called "The slip and grip game" showing them how to grip and how to slip.

post #12 of 20
Good question.

I will often skip steps in some lessons and I often add steps in other lessons. If certain skills are already being displayed in early drills, there's no need to do a drill later to develop them. The drills that we do are often overlapping even though they seem different. Although the tasks may be different, each task works different skill types to different extents. If I'm doing boot drills to primarily develop balance and can see good edging skills going on, I may skip one foot drills and go directly to 2 foot drills.
post #13 of 20
Bad Idea in my book to teach a beginner to carve before skidded turns. I have seen so many beginners making a long fast carved arc toward the beginner lift line and having no clue how to get out of it or stop. They are self (un)guided mistles. Imagine that on steeper terrain, hopefully I'm not below them.

I never make any expectations of the outcome of a beginner lesson if the student is a 20 year old, athletic person. I start them off just like they are a less athletic person. I never leave out stepps, but may not take as much time on an activity as some people may require. I would rather keep someone on the beginner hill a little longer than take a chance and take them to the much bigger and steeper novice lift. The student must know where the steering wheel and brakes are before taking them to where they really need it.

Steeper terrain also makes for more edge angle between the snow and ski. There is more of a chance for a beginner to rail and gain unwanted speed. I let them figure it out and practice while I give them differeent tasks on the easier slope. The performance of these tasks helps me make the decision of where they should go next.

It sounds like you lack teaching milage in the beginner area and Bob picked up on that. Do at least one or two lessons for first time beginners 6 days a week this season. That should give you the milage it takes.

I was at Hunter the days of the DCL exam, free skiing. You may have seen me, I took the prep there earlier that year. You may know me.

post #14 of 20
This would be my opinion to stepping stones for someone 20 and athletic. Start at sidestepping,then go to herringbone, straight run, straight run with weight changes, straight run over terrain changes, traverse to a stop, hockey stops, sideslipping, and then to parallel turns. :
post #15 of 20
hockey stops,
If you can teach a first time beginner to hockey stop, your progression might work very well.

traverse to a stop
What kind of stop manuver?

post #16 of 20
well, maybe hockey stops are a bad idea. oh well, just a misjudged guess.
post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by WVSkier View Post
Now, on Rusty's point about teaching skidding versus carving, I always opt for the skidding first.
I guess that's why I'm not a DCL! The thing that most people don't realize about DTP is that the main focus is the same as wedge turns: speed control through turning. Most of us associate carving with high across the slope speeds. The Waterville DTP progression teaches you to carve for like 2-6 feet to a stop (maybe why Bob likes flat slopes for DTP?) The slow speed carving is an amazing experience on the short skis. The reason I focus on carving is the same reason the Waterville DTP progression does not "teach" wedging: it happens spontaneously. You don't need to teach it. This is the kind of thing that makes DTP an accelerated learning experience. As Ron has noted, pros need to be especially cautious about accelerated learners. They need to make sure students have the proper tools and AWARENESS for the terrain that they are on. Nonetheless, this is why DTP is so cool for the students that can handle it. Most of your teaching system is still the same. The students just learn faster if you let them.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
RW, no, I don't think it was a lack of teaching in the beginner zone, I've done way too much of that and have coached lots of instructors there. This situatino is one of those vagueries of the tryout process. Sometimes decisions are made in a moment's notice. (For example, one guy did a teaching segment where he gave no (literally none) feedback to the skiers and had no wrapup... and he got a perfect 7.0 for this segment. Sometimes it's just weird.)

I did the prep at Killington so I don't think I know you, but if you were hanging out in the lodge I'd probaby recognize you. Why didn't you try out?
post #19 of 20

I did the prep at Killington so I don't think I know you, but if you were hanging out in the lodge I'd probaby recognize you. Why didn't you try out?
Just one of those things with the timing of sending in the application. I was working on some things and wasn't shure I would be ready in time when the deadline for sending the application in. I had 2 board of ed people who would give me a recomendation for the tryout. By the time of the exam, I was where I felt I needed to be to be sucessfull, but it was too late. I teach full time not far from Hunter, but sometimes teaching full time leaves you little time to work on things. This year? Maybe.


PS: good luck if you try out again.
post #20 of 20

Optional Stepping Stone Pathways

Check out this new PSIA-C Level-I Study Guide.
It presents stepping stones optionals for parallel, hybrid, or wwedge pathways.

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