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Wedge or no wedge

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
One of my kids decided to give skiing a try again. I decided to do her training, for now, myself. I an not a certified instructor, but have had the benefit of some really good ones, and i payed attention, in class. My friend has a son at the same ability lvl as my daughter.

when we first started skiing 3 seasons ago, one of the guys at the rental shop said, if they teach the kids to wedge, run away. I decided to teach her to edge, rather than wedge, from the start. She has some of the best looking turns, i have ever seen. She seems to suffer from the same height/fear of falling, that i do. My friend and i are going to alternate working with the kids, as his son responds better to me, and my daughter will most likly respond better for him.

I know what i have done to over come this feeling of "oh **** i going to die", what have others done with thier kids to help with this?

My daughter is 10.

post #2 of 14
Kevin--my advice to you is, if a rental technician tries to give you advice about teaching or learning skiing, ask for his or her credentials. If not a qualified instructor just working a second job, run away!

(Even the most legitimate "direct to parallel" programs teach a wedge, if only for braking where turns aren't possible or practical. And even the best, like Aspen's "Beginner Magic" program, recognize that wedges happen to the best of skiers, whether they try to make them or not, especially at the very low speeds of beginners.)

Wedges, by the way, involve edges, so teaching to "edge, rather than wedge" is not really a choice. While today's skis--especially the short little skis for kids--will carve little arcs when merely tipped on edge, be sure you don't just get your kids locked into railed-out edge-locked carves as their only option. Skiing is about driving, not just being taken for a ride!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 14
I'm solidly in Bob's camp on this.

Damage does not occur when learning starts in a wedge,,, it happens when learning stops there.

The wedge is an excellent vehicle for introducing a wide variety of the foundation skill areas of the sport.
post #4 of 14
I think a wedge should be taught... just my opinion, of course.

I spend a lot of time in a wedge when i'm teaching, and there is so much you can do from a wedge to work on balance, edging, etc...

...And it's a more comfortable position for most people.. not physically comfortable, but mentally comfortable. Once you start the upper/lower body disconnection, you start taking people out of their comfort zone.. they don't immediately realize that they won't fall when there CoM is not directly above their feet.

I usually teach in ski-n-play, and the emphasis is more on fun than learning to ski... Since I have the same kids the whole day usually and expectations are generally not as high as in a private/group lesson. I will not worry about progressing them as much as refining technique... In a 2 hour private, you might try to get the student skidding, but what good is skidding if they are falling all over the place, don't understand their edges, etc...

A typical progression for me to use (minus the beginning blab about equipment and responsibility,etc...) would be to first enforce a technically strong, balanced wedge used for speed control and stopping. Playing red light/green light is good... also, have the student ski right next to you and stay right next to you... have them match speed with you at any speed... go fast, slow, change it up... This is a huge assist in confidence and comfort... They should now realize that they have control of their speed, can stop whenever they need, and you (could) have given them a taste of speed..

Next, onto turning... start by making large radius wedge turns... where the displacement across the hill is only a few feet in a period of moving 30+ ft down the hill.... Enforce turning as directing the wedge where you want it to go.... no 'pushing out','pushing down', etc... small wedge then "point the arrow where you want to go" and reinforce gentle, graceful movements...

When they are comfortable doing turns like this, slowly make the turns more C shaped... going from one side of the trail to the other, turn, repeat.. Once they can do this very efficiently and comfortably on a gentle slope, show them how they can use this same technique to conquer a slightly steeper pitch.

Then you start moving to matching skis, etc.... but that's a whole other topic..
post #5 of 14
Im in the same camp as bob, rick and hydro. I teach them angulation, antisipation and outside ski pressure from day one and after only a few lessons they ski off by themselves and have lots of fun.

Your question regarding the **** Im going to die fears is easy to answere; see to it that she feels safe. And how does she feel safe? By being in controll. And how does she stay in controll? By learning how to manage speed her own speed, how to stop and how to turn. And how does she do that? Simple, by learning how to wedge. Once she gets over her fears she can start to really learn but going straight to parallel will only make things worse.

Then there are several different ways of teaching the wedge. Over in Europe we have a slightly different approach to wedging than PSIA and I have adapted a very stripped down method.
post #6 of 14
That's my reason for teaching how I do... to make them comfortable and keep them that way....

I see instructors that will say "Okay, you can wedge, now let's learn this"... This is where I feel DTP fails.... but anyone can fail this same way also.... You can not learn more advanced technique that is fundamentally sound if your fundamentals are not sound. You can't do a good wedge turn if you can't wedge. The issue in this statement is not supporting DTP vs. Wedge, it's supporting patience and time. If you rush, you get crappy results.. slow and steady wins the race, etc...

Let's say we have 2 instructors... #1 wants good solid technique... #2 wants progress..
They each teach the kid for 2 hours, the kids practice for 2 hours, then they switch kids and teach for 2 hours... Which kid will progress farther? which will have better technique? For both of these, my guess would be the kid instructor 1 had...

He started slow.. was guided into using excellent technique... He may only be doing wedge turns after 2 hours, but they are some damn fine wedge turns.

The other kid, in his 1st 2 hour may be doing skidded turns, but will progress no farther because #1 will have to fix dozens of (potentially habit, due to the 2 hours of practice) flaws that #2 overlooked...

My guess is that after the 6 hours (4 instruction, 2 practice in between) They will be at the same level of progression, but the first child will have much better fundamental technique.
post #7 of 14
On another note: I think the thing that has helped my skiing the best over the past year has been all the time I spent 'fooling around' on gentle slopes (with students or without)..
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
I should have been a little more clear. The shop tech was an instructor at my home mountain. Part of my reasoning, is, that i have seen many skiers, young and old, not give up the wedge easily. I cannot stand the little kids straight lining the blue in a wedge in the back seat. They are not in control, and cannot stop.

the biggest obsticle my daughter has, is that she doesn't hold the turn long enough to slow down. She wipes at the very end of the turn, just before she would start her traverse. I have been trying to get her to understand that concept. Once she does, she will be able to link them.

At Pico, the bunny hill is too flat and too short for her. 3 -4 turns and she is at the end. The green we were on, she got nervous on. She has good balance, and pretty good position, in the turn. I wish i could carve that good.

I am going to take y'alls comments and help her learn when to wedge.

post #9 of 14
She has good balance, and pretty good position
Spend more time on balance and stance and the rest will occur naturally. Kids don't need much coaching they are natural born learners. Keep it fun!
post #10 of 14
One of the hardest things I find is getting rid of the wedge... some people do it automatically, some people take a lot longer... Moving from inside edges to opposite edges is the hardest part...

I've found that the best way (for me at least) to get rid of the wedge after their fundamentals are solid is too do edge work... and more edge work... start with side-slipping and move fom there... A good solid wedge is a 'back-up plan' when you are learning to keep the skis parallel... You lose balance, get going to fast, etc.. and slam into a wedge...

I find myself, even at the level I am (high intermediate), using a wedge in situations where I become uncomfortable... No wedge and I'd have been on my butt hundreds of times.

I do want to point out that this is a *typical* progression for me... If I am teaching people with specific goals, I will alter my progression to meet their goals... If someone wants to ski with their family on the blues, I will focus more on a slightly faster progression and likely leave them with the skills to do controlled wedge turns on a blue run... It will make them more satisfied and I'd rather leave them with wedge turns than just a perfect wedge... perfect wedge results in them schussing down the hard runs, maybe being in control, maybe not... In this scenario, having less than perfect wedge turns and a less than perfect wedge is a better idea then a perfect wedge.. for the satisfaction of the customer and the safety of everyone... Also, if it is a child, let the parent (or whoever will be skiing with the child) know that they need to PRACTICE TURNS!!!

and like BillA says... keep it fun! Games to work on technique are great.. anything that will keep a smile on her face... and if she is really nervous, ski backwards in front of her... This will give her more confidence and comfort and will let you see everything going on behind her, and get her out of the way if someone is bombing down...
post #11 of 14
ASE--The problem, and the thing to be wary of, is not the wedge. It is defensiveness. Great skiing is offensive as a habit, with defensive movements (braking) used only when necessary. Effective instructors help their students, at any level and especially beginners, to become offensive, to learn to love gliding, to turn for direction control (to "go that way") rather than for speed control (to "stop going this way").

A wedge is not inherently defensive, nor is "parallel" inherently offensive, although many instructors seem not to understand this. In fact, so-called "direct to parallel" programs can cause problems by focusing on surface characteristics like "parallel," rather than on the fundamental principles of good, offensive turns.

The problem arises when instructors keep students in a defensive state of mind, which happens far too often. Climbing or riding too high on the learning hill, keeping students on sections that are uncomfortably steep, or just focusing on braking movements (like the braking wedge, although "hockey stop" braking parallel movements are equally detrimental when they become the exclusive focus of the lesson)--these are common faults that cause frustration at best and lead to the dead end of riding the brakes and thinking of turns as primarily for speed control, rather than direction control.

Turns are not to control speed. Good skiers turn so they don't need to control speed!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #12 of 14
Bob beat me to it... All beginning skiers, but especially kids, can progress very quickly from the wedge to the spontaneous christie if 1) they are able to ski in balance, 2) their skis are short enough, and 3) they are kept long enough on terrain that is comfortable for them. We all know the techniques -- increase their speed a bit, get them to perform garland turns ending uphill, and use small bumps and terrain features to encourage matching.

Here's the problem, though, with parents teaching kids. A qualified instructor isn't likely to take a kid on terrain that reinforces bad habits like defensive breaking wedges, but will, instead, use the easy terrain to encourage progression. A parent, on the other hand, is more likely to put a kid on terrain that is too steep too soon. Thus, after a lesson, where the kid is able to do a wedge turn that shows all the elements of good, offensive, into the future skiing, parents can undo it all by taking their kid on steep terrain, which forces the breaking and defensiveness that hadn't happened before. (How many of us in weeklong camp or seasonal programs have seen that happen -- the 5 year old who was perfect on the bunny slope comes back the next morning or the next week with some nasty habits?) So, whatever you do, ASE, remember that she's likely to gain in confidence if she can do perfect, steered wedges on easy terrain than if she can conquer that "steep blue" or "black diamond" in a breaking wedge. Once she knows she can be successful and has developed good movement patterns, she'll take all of that to the next level of terrain and turning.
post #13 of 14
I taught my daughter to ski the same way I learned, so many years ago. She quickly progressed to parallel carved turns.

My son didn't do so well with this approach. I got him some lessons. He didn't have the balance skills to carve turns on his second day. He needed the stability of the wedge so he could ski interesting terrain and have fun while he developed his skills. We just spent the day (his fourth) at Mount Saint Louis Moonstone, and he had a blast on all the runs, despite not arcing a single turn.
post #14 of 14
I disagree partially, but agree totally.. if they makes sense...

I think defensive is the way to start, but should be one as soon as they gain comfort... When I teach wedge and wedge turns, I teach defensive movements... using them for speed control, essentially.... Once they are comfortable with that, we break away.... My goal in most cases is to get them skiing the terrain they learned on fast... It's strange.. you start with LR wedge turns, end with SR wedge turns, get them to match skis in SR, then they start keeping their skis pointed down the fall line again...

At the end of the lesson, If they have control, I like the final run to be a fast one, them following behind me, and me doing long turns..... During the lesson I will try to pick up speed with each run as well... But it all starts with defensive... when you first teach a wedge, you don't teach it for turning, you teach it for stopping. When you first teach turning, you teach it for speed control, not line selection.... But you want to leave them with the understanding that they should stay on the offense (basically).

You can't teach skiing to most people without it first being defensive... (especially adults... kids are usually much more gutsy).. When someone hops on skis, their first concern is: HOW DO I STOP?... Agreed, though, Offensive is the goal...
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