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The Great Plough

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Somehow the PMTS/BPST thread was destined after 850 posts to end in dispute over the merits or not of the Snowplough (snowplow) or wedge. PMTS has to some extent been sold on the disposal of the 'plough as the cause of much congestion on the plateau of skiing intermediacy. An inefficient move that blights further development like something contagious. Is this fair?

It's easy enough to label the snowplough as the beginners' move, and like the bicycle stabilizers, the nappies (diappers?), colouring-in book, etc, you can't really claim to have 'got there' until it has been left behind. Parallel is where it's at, like long trousers and joined up handwriting. Kids, and moreso older learners can't wait to dump that 'beginners' stigma' and get those skis together, however they get them there. But maybe starting at the beginning is quite a sensible place to start?

Seems to me, that the 'plough is a good starting point, provided there is no strong evidence that it really does blight later development? The converse seems more likely to me ; progress is often blocked by completely inadequate 'plough skills in the rush to parallel.

The gliding plough or wedge is a stable platform for learning numerous skills, outside ski edging and inside ski guiding
angulation and counterbalancing
flexion and extension
fore and aft balance
turn shape and rythm
carving
and whenever necessary braking.

Increasing speed and confidence in the above, progresses naturally into parallel as and when. Doubtless there will be some whose progress can be by other means, and perhaps quicker, but does that justify rubishing the 'plough as useless for the many for whom its gentle learning curve is appropriate?

Has anyone actually come accross a student who was so good at 'ploughing it blighted their further progress?
post #2 of 31

European outlaw thinking.....

Thanks for starting yet annother do we need the wedge thread but it seems there is a demand for this kind of discussion yet again. Im the person responsible for turning BPST thread into a wedging debate, sorry. Some of you might not have seen my wedge to parallel progression video clip so Ill post it again:

http://ski.topeverything.com/default...nt&ID=91E95CB9

It includes both the wedge and the stem that are both banned by one or more organisations or systems on the american continent but I find both useful and fun.

Very good question: "Has anyone actually come accross a student who was so good at 'ploughing it blighted their further progress?" LOL You are perfectly right, also IMO the problems encountered with students at all levels can be traced down to inferior wedging skills or skills that I try to teach students at entry level. In my video I try to simplfy skiing and show the similarities between wedge, stem and parallel. There is a lot incommon. Dropping the wedge is not the problem; the lack of counterbalance/angulation, outside ski pressure, evenly skidded turns, stable upper body, for/aft balance and counteracting/counter skills causes much more trouble down the road (pist).
post #3 of 31
I still use it on occasion. Works for me.
post #4 of 31
A question for the ages: if God had not given us the plough, would man have discovered it on his own?
post #5 of 31
The problem isn't the wedge. The problem is what happens after we teach folks the wedge....
post #6 of 31
I have had students that were fully certified snow plowers and it took me four time as long to break them of it and get a parallel turn working. BTW tdk6, I wouldn't say that the wedge is band here in the US at some of the areas. I would say that these areas feel that beginning with a proven direct parallel progression that works would be a more desirable place to start with most new skiers. If they need to have a wedge introduced because of some reason, then be it. I have found that this might be the case in less than 10% of the new skiers we work with at our area.------Wigs
post #7 of 31
Wigs, if you never taught a wedge to a skier, would the skier need to invent it for himself to manage some situations that arise in skiing?
post #8 of 31
So, in my mind, the whole direct to parallel concept was developed because people equate parallel skiing to intermediate and advanced skiing (and conversely wedge turns to beginning and novice turns. But is that really the case? To me, it's simply a case of American's not wanting to put in the work to become "good" at something. As I said before, if the wedge is taught properly, and is followed up on (with lessons), I have no problems getting folks out of the wedge. These are the levels (3-4-5) where 60-70% of the lessons I teach are.

But that poses the next logical (philosophical) question. Who's a better skier, a person who's skied for many years and is "stuck" in a wedge (Christie) or a beginner who is leaving there first learn to ski lesson who is making easy parallel turns? I dunno, but I think that the answer would depend on who's answering the question, a lay person or a professional...
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
Lonnie

I agree with your point about laziness, and it can't just be Americans. Any "You too can be an expert" implies a shortcut or easy route that is bound to get up the nose of any time-served professional. It is also bound to appeal to the opportunism in most people and is used by advertising copywriters to sell almost anything.

The question is whether the wedge serves a purpose as it can be agreed it isn't really an end in itself, but just how necessary or not is it?

I still don't see how if a wedge is taught progressively it ever need become 'stuck', unless in those cases where progress was likely to flounder for other reasons (one good reason we can't all be experts).

A wedge progression doesn't have to involve 'dead end' rotary movements, these are more likely to be the desperate survival tactics of people getting to parallel before their broader raft of skills was ready for the speed increases etc. Actually I think if the role of the inside ski is emphasized from the off without rotating (actively, passively or by remote control) the outer ski at all, the progress to parallel/carving can be rapid enough but also bringing along the other skills required.

But if some more direct parallel is really possible, let's see it.
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
Wigs, if you never taught a wedge to a skier, would the skier need to invent it for himself to manage some situations that arise in skiing?
Undoubtedly. Stopping in lift lines. When two out of control idiots decide to pass you one on each side. I'm sure there are more. The choice is wedge, fall over, or do something painful with your poles.
post #11 of 31
Every time I try to manage "umanagable terrain", I need a stem or a wedge and a transition or two.

I'm speaking of unmanagable hard bumps with the dirt showing in the troughs, entrances to steeps, tight trees and other ground hazards, sled handling, blue ice, a restart in bottomless powder. crowded cat walks.

It's all the transition. You have to start from somewere, and a wedge or stem is a pretty good start to a lot of situations.

I still practice wedge to sideslip transitions every day I'm on skis.

Yes, I'm that bad! or just learning ;-)

CalG


It might be that the plough should be taught as an advance technique!
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by daslider View Post
A wedge progression doesn't have to involve 'dead end' rotary movements, these are more likely to be the desperate survival tactics of people getting to parallel before their broader raft of skills was ready for the speed increases etc. Actually I think if the role of the inside ski is emphasized from the off without rotating (actively, passively or by remote control) the outer ski at all, the progress to parallel/carving can be rapid enough but also bringing along the other skills required.
I teach the wedge with a simple weight shift towards the outside ski. My hips remain the same and I also dont alter my edge angles. This gives me a turn without any rotary movements [wedge]. As I fall into the fall line and eventually out of it my inside ski releses gradually without me having to do any movement with my legs. The only thing moving is my body leaning out sideways over the outside ski. Next thing is to bring the inside ski parallel at the end of the turn [wedge christie]. The better you become the earlier you can bring the ski parallel and the less in wedge you need to be as you start the turn. Eventually this progression will have you ski parallel before you know it [parallel christie]. Annother very important thing is to start off without ski poles and place your hands on you knees or a little bit above. This serves two main purposes, (1) only movement you need is sideways tipping of the upper body and (2) keeps your weight forward. Students that manage to do this usually progress very quickly.

Banking and rotation into the turn seems to be the natural movements for beginners. They have to be thaught to shift their weight towards the outside ski, to counter and keep both skis on the snow. Lessons are good because students usually retard into banking and upper body rotation and arm swigning when they ski on their own but once they get the hang of it and trust the skis to start turning by command of secondary movements they are able to progress to parallel skiing. Kids usually have to ski the parallel phase out of their system and this happens at 8-10y.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cgrandy View Post
Every time I try to manage "umanagable terrain", I need a stem or a wedge and a transition or two.

I'm speaking of unmanagable hard bumps with the dirt showing in the troughs, entrances to steeps, tight trees and other ground hazards, sled handling, blue ice, a restart in bottomless powder. crowded cat walks.

It's all the transition. You have to start from somewere, and a wedge or stem is a pretty good start to a lot of situations.

I still practice wedge to sideslip transitions every day I'm on skis.

Yes, I'm that bad! or just learning ;-)

CalG


It might be that the plough should be taught as an advance technique!
Good post CalG. I like honest people and Im also not ashamed to admit I wedge and stem every day Im out there skiing. BTW, all of our jr racer even at FIS and WC level need to wedge every day when they even out the ruts left behind when they end their gate skiing sessions.
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
So, in my mind, the whole direct to parallel concept was developed because people equate parallel skiing to intermediate and advanced skiing (and conversely wedge turns to beginning and novice turns. But is that really the case? To me, it's simply a case of American's not wanting to put in the work to become "good" at something. As I said before, if the wedge is taught properly, and is followed up on (with lessons), I have no problems getting folks out of the wedge. These are the levels (3-4-5) where 60-70% of the lessons I teach are...
Speaking purely from personal experience, I never succeeded in skiing in a wedge. Many people tried to teach me, but it felt unbalanced and awkward. As a teenaged beginner in Scotland on "straight" skis I was still much happier gliding with my skis parallel and making truly ugly stem and upper-body driven turns than trying to wedge. That may be partly because of my leg geometry (I'm knock-kneed), which makes wedging particularly difficult and a gliding wedge almost impossible, but I'm sure I'm not alone in having given up on the idea, not because of any need to skip over the beginner stages, but because it seemed unnecessarily difficult and painful. Had there been such a thing as a direct parallel progression in the stone age in the backwaters of the skiing world, I'm sure it would have worked better for me, and saved me from many years of very bad skiing that lasted up until the advent of shaped skis and "lift and tip" (that advice alone improved my skiing by several orders of magnitude).

On the subject of things being "taught properly" and followed up over a period of time, I think a reality check might be in order. Ski lessons are expensive and unpredictable from a beginner's perspective (or even from mine, actually). Most people only buy group lessons, and most of them only take one, even if they continue to ski. If in that one lesson they only get as far as a wedge, they will almost certainly end up developing some kind of rotary push-off from the big toe edge, since that seems to be the movement that is most intuitive for people. If I stand at the bottom of a green run and look up, I see people making exactly those big-toe dominant, rotary-push-off turns neither the PSIA nor PMTS endorses.

I'm sure that given a competent instructor more-or-less any teaching system will eventually produce reasonably advanced skiers, although of course we can bicker about whatever "bad" movements they may have (everyone has some after all). But the more pertinent question seems to be, given that you only get three hours with most of your clients and most of them are in groups, what is the best thing to teach to avoid the skier developing very limiting movements, such as rotary-push-off tunrns, later?
post #15 of 31
Back in the good old days, when men were men and women liked it that way....

I learned with a snow-plow, not one of these modern-day wimpy gliding wedges. Gliding between turns was done with the skis parallel and in the fall line. The wedge was employed BRIEFLY to get the idea of using the inside edge of the outside ski to turn you. The inside ski was quickly brought in to help the outside skis so that you could finish turns carving on the edges of your parallel skis. Sufficient time was spent at eye-watering speeds to quickly learn that the wedge was not needed to get on that inside edge of the outside ski, and you were carving parallel turns, BEFORE you had a chance to develop a bad stemming habit. The problem with the modern gliding wedge, besides the fact that it over-emphasizes rotary motion is that people spend too long in it. A day or two at the most and you should be turning properly.

Of course there are millions of exceptions. If you don't have the balance skills and you want to enjoy skiing, then you gotta do what you gotta do.
post #16 of 31
I havent read the whole post so i dont know if it has been sais yet, but you need to know how to crawl before you can walk...
post #17 of 31
There is a big difference between teaching a wedge as a braking aid and teaching a wedge as a skiing technique.

Here is one difference I have observed. Skiers that learn DTP get to a point where they are creating angles via CM moving over the skis earlier than skiers that learn via the wedge progression.
post #18 of 31
There is also a big difference in teaching the wedge as a means to make a turn vs.

..braking with the wedge or snowplow.

I had always taught (non-braking) wedge turns for sequential leg steerers and direct parallel to the simultaneous leg steerers. I think that Ghost's idea of one or two days in that stance though is WAY too long. Maybe 1/2 a day, or less if it's an agressive group.

Those that did go the direct parallel route were eventually shown the wedge and both sets of people were eventually shown the braking wedge, but not till there was no need for them to rely on it in their "normal" skiing.
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Kinahan View Post
On the subject of things being "taught properly" and followed up over a period of time, I think a reality check might be in order. Ski lessons are expensive and unpredictable from a beginner's perspective (or even from mine, actually). Most people only buy group lessons, and most of them only take one, even if they continue to ski. If in that one lesson they only get as far as a wedge, they will almost certainly end up developing some kind of rotary push-off from the big toe edge, since that seems to be the movement that is most intuitive for people. If I stand at the bottom of a green run and look up, I see people making exactly those big-toe dominant, rotary-push-off turns neither the PSIA nor PMTS endorses.
As I said before....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
The problem isn't the wedge. The problem is what happens after we teach folks the wedge....
Now with your specific case, I have had people that for bio mechanical reasons (most of them were "pigeoned toed"), have not been able to successfully ski in the wedge. Seems like you are in a similar situation. However, I am naturally pronated (knock kneed) and find the wedge VERY comfortable (in fact some would say too comfortable). Usually, that condition makes breaking out of the wedge very difficult as it is very hard to release the old outside/new inside/downhill at the point of turn initiation, ski (It's a very big move for us). This makes it very difficult to start steering that ski early in the turn and ususally leads to a chronic 1-2 move or a small, very slight wedge at the start of the turn initiation. It's interesting to me that you had the opposite problem.
post #20 of 31
As with everything, there is a very wide spectrum of beginning skiers' abilities and outcomes. I've had beginners switch from wedge to parallel in a few hours after just a tip or two on making parallel turns. I've had other beginners stuck on those two inside edges with the false sense of security, and a stick of dynamite up their .... wouldn't get them off those inside edges. Would those skiers have been better off if they'd never been shown a wedge turn? I think so. If they'd been taught first, direct parallel turns, and second, a wedge safety stop, I think they'd progress faster and have more fun.

Cgrandy, you'll ski that tough terrain much better with more confidence if you learn correct balance over parallel skis. The security you feel with your wedge and stem are limits on how good you'll ever be.


Ken
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
The problem isn't the wedge. The problem is what happens after we teach folks the wedge....
So I'm genuinely interested in your answer to my earlier question. What's the most important thing to teach in a never-ever lesson so that when those 6 out of 7 skiers who never take a lesson again go away and start skiing on their own, they don't develop negative movements?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
Now with your specific case, I have had people that for bio mechanical reasons (most of them were "pigeoned toed"), have not been able to successfully ski in the wedge. Seems like you are in a similar situation. However, I am naturally pronated (knock kneed) and find the wedge VERY comfortable (in fact some would say too comfortable). Usually, that condition makes breaking out of the wedge very difficult as it is very hard to release the old outside/new inside/downhill at the point of turn initiation, ski (It's a very big move for us). This makes it very difficult to start steering that ski early in the turn and ususally leads to a chronic 1-2 move or a small, very slight wedge at the start of the turn initiation. It's interesting to me that you had the opposite problem.
Its been a long time, but I think I found not being able to flatten the skis made it difficult to start a turn, as you say, but I found that very far from being comfortable. When you can't get off the old inside ski even though the new outside ski is on edge and moving towards it, I think its anything but a comfortable sensation! I'm interested that you describe it as such, because my girlfriend was having a similar problem and seemed very uncomfortable with it too, until she started lightening her inside ski at transition, at which point her wedge more or less vanished.

I think it was probably worse for me than the average knock-kneed skier because I also have severely limited ankle eversion. Its basically all used up in my normal pronated stance. So I think I was probably using my knees as the only means to adjust my edge angles. I'm not sure hip angulation is possible in a braking wedge, or at least the possibility is not obvious to a beginner. I distinctly remember my kees actually touching which almost certainly pushed me into the back seat, accentuating the sense of lack of control.
post #22 of 31
daslider,

It is not the wedge that people are learning (not snowplow) that is the problem. The problem is not learning diagional directional movements at the beginning stages. Once people learn (and some get it right a way) to move diaginally acrost the skis in the turn transition and then keep moving diagionally through the turn (and keep balanced between the skis), the wedge goes away.
The wedge is not the problem, but how the wedge turn is taught and espicially the movement in the transition, how that is taught.

When the wedge is used as a braking manuver, it becomes the snowplow, which has it's uses as others have pointed out. When the snowplow becomes a turning mechenism, that is where it becomes a hinderence to the skiers development.

RW
post #23 of 31
Simon,

First off I'd like to say that at Alta we are luck. I'm willing to be that the number of return level one students is much higher than the 1 out of 6 or 7 folks that is the norm. I'd be willing to bet our numbers are closer to 50%, but anyway....

If I had to sum up both of your questions into a single answer, I think my reply would be to try and teach folks that a wedge will control your speed, but it's not (primarily) for speed control. A wedge is a position that provides some measure of speed control, but really helps facilitate turning, from a stable position of balance and that is where our speed control comes from. One thing that I heard at one of our pre-season training sessions last year that I tried to being out in almost every never ever lesson I taught this year was, "skiing is a sport about going, not about stopping."

One thing I like about the wedge is that both feet are outside of the hips. This is a VERY stable position of balance for most people. Once I can get folks to feel how stable this is, and get them controlling their speed a little bit (both with bigger/smaller wedges and turns), then the rest is pretty easy. I try to make it a point of my lessons about how the speed control happens (turning the feet to shape the turn) so that those lessons hopefully keep folks on the right track.
post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
Wigs, if you never taught a wedge to a skier, would the skier need to invent it for himself to manage some situations that arise in skiing?
Absolutely! Some do it and have never been coached on how to do it. There are others when I ask them who taught them that said, a friend told them how to do it. I do teach the wedge right off on the first day, but only for emergency situations. But the focus is on direct parallel progressions.----Wigs
post #25 of 31
I'm just sayin', Wigs, to wedge is natural in some situations. I don't think anyone would say that skiing in a wedge is a way to ski; it's a tactic and a learning tool. It allows a new skier to learn the hardest element of the turn, the edge change, later, after he has dealt with dynamic balance, turning the skis in and out of the path of gravity to control speed of descent, breathing, looking where he's going, etc. etc. The wedge is a great platform for progressions to help experienced skiers learn stuff at their level too--I've seen the wedge used effectively to teach short radius turns, powder, delayed weight transfer, etc. etc.
post #26 of 31
Ever seen 1 of those 6 y.o. kids doing a 25mph screaming wedge straight down the fall line. Now that's high level skill.
post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Ever seen 1 of those 6 y.o. kids doing a 25mph screaming wedge straight down the fall line. Now that's high level skill.
Ever seen 1 of those 40y old japaneese kamicatse pilots doing 45 "screaming straight to parallel" staright down the fall line. Now that is high level skiing if you ask me !
post #28 of 31
Those snow fences near the lift lines aren't for catching snow.
post #29 of 31
I am happy that you instructors who teach first timers now have all those stand up students. When I used to teach, the first hour class, and one hour is all they got, they fell down numerous times, had real trouble getting up even after showing them how because many lacked the arm strength, leading to having to take one or both skis off, drumming it into their heads that the skis will only stay put if they are across the fall line, a line they cannot see, and there goes the hour.

Some were successful in doing a wedge, most, to slow down would increase the edging resulting in crossed tips and a fall instead of just widening the wedge even though we went over this on the flat. They just can't think on the first or second run down that five foot vertical, they are in panic mode trying to survive.

I guess this doesn't happen anymore. So direct to parallel must teach better balance.

....Ott
post #30 of 31
Or, lots of us just have more than one hour to teach a learn-to-ski lesson. This last season I had the luxury of an all day as a norm. In that situation, I have the possibility of teaching dtp. I sincerely doubt I'd be able to do anything except teach a braking wedge in an one hour context.
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