New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Getting out of the wedge

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello, I wish to thank all of the folks that contribute to making this site one of the best skiing self help clinics in the world. I have used it to re-establish my skiing over the last year (never skied on parabolic skis until last year) and to help my son develop his skills quickly (he grew up on roller blades, so he intuitively understood the commitment to the fall line and getting on the edges).

Specifically, my fiancé has the best wedge turns I have ever seen. However, despite my best efforts and her reading these pages and viewing many videos she just will not try to get parallel. Is there a concept or trick on the hill to help her to the next level. I want to coach her with the intention of a couple of follow-up lessons with the ski instructors. Thanks. JF
post #2 of 17
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "she just will not try to get parallel".

Is she afraid of not having adequate speed control? Or just doesn't see any reason to stop using wedge turns?

If it's the latter, she's not going to change much until she decides that wedge turns just aren't cutting it anymore.

If it's the former... you've gotta get on some real easy slopes and work on different ways of turning. Rather than speed control through maintaining a wedge, you have to learn to control speed by making bigger/longer turns. You pick up speed through the first part of the turn, but then can bleed it off by turning across and up the hill.

If it's more a question of breaking the old movement patterns -- one thing that really seemed to help me was to do drills on one ski. Traverse balancing on one ski, turn with the downhill ski lifted clear off the snow, etc. Hard to have your skis in a wedge when only one is on the snow.
post #3 of 17
On a slope that feels very safe to her, teach her how to release from the last turn. There is an action that releases the edges from the old turn and starts the new turn. All of us do it every turn, and many of us do it without considering it. She's wedging out as a way to transfer from her old outside ski to the other ski that will become her new outside ski.

On this mild, safe slope, have her stand still with her skis parallel. Hold a pole plant straight downhill from her boots, weight balanced on the balls of her feet (critical), equal weight on both feet for this drill, flatten both skis to the snow surface and slide around the pole in a 180° tight slo-mo turn. The skis must remain flat on the snow until the tips point straight down the fall line, then she should tip the new inside foot way up on its little toe edge smoothly and progressively.

These are very new movements, and will not work if her feet are ahead of her hips...she's got to have her feet back under her hips and her weight on the balls of her feet. She has to be willing to try something new, so make the setting as safe to her as possible.

There is more than one way to release, and there are multiple ways to continue the turn after the release. This is one good way to start every turn with parallel movements.

If she skis with her feet ahead of her hips...a back seat skier, tail rider, etc...work on that first. Try having her ski (any old way) with no poles and her hands on her hips--finger tips on the front of the hip bones feeling the movement in the hip bones. Have her pull her feet back under her hips. They should feel like they're way behind the hips when they're actually just right. A more advance movement is to keep pulling the light inside foot back with the hamstring muscles all the way through the turn all the time.
post #4 of 17
Before you take something away from her (i.e. the wedge), you need to give something to her to replace it.

The wedge is used because it gives the skier a platform to balance on. It feels safe to turn using the wedge. She needs to gain confidence in using her edges to stand on and be comfortable with.

I start by teaching edging skills. First I introduce using both edges to make traverses across the hill by rolling both feet "up" the hill. Once the skier can make clean tracks across the hill in both directions then we move on to releases.

Gently roll both feet "down" the hill. Allow some speed to build up then roll both feet "up" the hill. At this point we aren't doing turns into the fall line. We are just using the rolling motions of the feet to make garlands as we ski across the hill.

Continue doing garlands while dipping closer and closer to the fall line. This will build trust that the edges work.

The primary purpose of these exercises is to get use to using the edges. Also how to shape turns by rolling the feet simultaneously.

The final step is to continue through the fall line and make a complete turn. I normally have the skier do one complete C to a stop. First in one direction and then in the other. We might do several/many of these before linking turns.

The final step is to link turns together.

A spontaneous wedge may open from time to time. This is not something to worry about, wedges happen.

Don't introduce too much too fast. Most people can only handle a couple of new things at once during a lesson. An easy gentle approach will yield great results.

Also, remember its suppose to be fun. So smile, laugh, and enjoy yourselves.
post #5 of 17
Send her straight to the lessons. It will be good for both of you :-)

Generally though...think of it as a progression to parallel. She can start by matching her skis at the very end of the turn. Over time she can work on gradually matching her skis earlier in the turn, until the wedge is gone.

You can work on the parallel and edging drills as mentioned on easy (for her) terrain and those movements will also carry over to her free skiing. This should help speed up the process.

Don't expect to much edging/carving to soon. Focus on a brushing/steering movement of the inside ski with relatively little edge angle (flattish ski) until the wedge is gone, and then focus more on the edging.
post #6 of 17
More tipping of the skis (in the same direction!). Tell her the bottoms of her skis need to see the light of day.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post
Before you take something away from her (i.e. the wedge), you need to give something to her to replace it.

The wedge is used because it gives the skier a platform to balance on. It feels safe to turn using the wedge. She needs to gain confidence in using her edges to stand on and be comfortable with.

I start by teaching edging skills. First I introduce using both edges to make traverses across the hill by rolling both feet "up" the hill. Once the skier can make clean tracks across the hill in both directions then we move on to releases.

Gently roll both feet "down" the hill. Allow some speed to build up then roll both feet "up" the hill. At this point we aren't doing turns into the fall line. We are just using the rolling motions of the feet to make garlands as we ski across the hill.

Continue doing garlands while dipping closer and closer to the fall line. This will build trust that the edges work.

The primary purpose of these exercises is to get use to using the edges. Also how to shape turns by rolling the feet simultaneously.

The final step is to continue through the fall line and make a complete turn. I normally have the skier do one complete C to a stop. First in one direction and then in the other. We might do several/many of these before linking turns.

The final step is to link turns together.

A spontaneous wedge may open from time to time. This is not something to worry about, wedges happen.

Don't introduce too much too fast. Most people can only handle a couple of new things at once during a lesson. An easy gentle approach will yield great results.

Also, remember its suppose to be fun. So smile, laugh, and enjoy yourselves.
The only thing I'd add to T-Square's excellent suggestions is that rolling the feet toward downhill can be a very challenging activity at first. Better to start that part of the progression by making small steps toward downhill on very gentle terrain and then finishing the turns on the edges. Several repetitions of small steps to start turns in each direction can lead to rolling the feet toward downhill to start them.
post #8 of 17

Give her a 9 iron instead?

JF,

First off, Friends don't let friends teach SO's. It is successful sometimes, but it's not worth the risk.

The techniques discussed so far are more towards a direct to parallel approach to substituting for the wedge as opposed to breaking the wedge. This is one possible solution.

There are many tricks that instructors use to "break" the wedge. The traditional wedge progression is to ask for a smaller size wedge and then turn up the speed. The result is usually a "spontaneous" christy ..... if the wedge has been taught properly and the terrain is gentle enough. If the wedge has not been taught properly, instructors may resort to tricks like hopping or sliding the uphill ski ahead or steering the inside ski to parallel. Sometimes simply teaching how to do a better wedge is all that is needed to break it. There are so many different reasons for "stuck in the wedge" and so many different solutions for getting out of it we are faced with a full range of possibilities from virtually any teaching technique can work to needing a skilled pro to do the diagnostic and prescription.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
There are many tricks that instructors use to "break" the wedge. The traditional wedge progression is to ask for a smaller size wedge and then turn up the speed. The result is usually a "spontaneous" christy ..... if the wedge has been taught properly and the terrain is gentle enough.
For a variety of reasons, I like these ideas much better than working on edging skills.

I teach alot of lessons at these levels. ALOT. The wedge, in my mind, exists for two reasons.

1). For speed control. The opposing edges provide natural resistance to forward travel that can be controlled by the skier. Since most of us walk/run/stand with our feet facing forward for the most part, the skier has to actively steer the feet into the wedge position for it to be maintained.

2). Balance. A natural stance with the feet slightly outside of the hips is a VERY stable position. The inside leg also helps to support the skier from tipping over to the inside while making turns when centrifugal forces isn't sufficient to hold the skier up through a turn.

Now with that being said, if the proper fundamentals of a ski turn are taught, there is no reason that a skier will stay in a wedge, unless they choose to. There are 3 basic things one can do to help eliminate the wedge from someone's skiing. In my mind, the least of these is the release of the old outside edge (in the grand scheme of things, that may be the most important, but for simply eliminating the wedge, it isn't).

The first and easiest thing to work on is steering both feet though the turn. At first I usually emphasize the end of the turn since it might be difficult for students at this level to turn both feet from the start of the turn (although this is the ultimate goal). This task usually results in an immediate increase in skier speed since it eliminates speed control via opposing edges. Part in parcel with this is the concept of turning the feet for turn shape and speed control. Steering the inside ski prevents the skier from maintaining the wedge position since the skier would have to steer the ski in the opposite direction of the turn to hold the wedge position through the turn.

Part two, and the part that most folks have the easiest time grasping is the concept of weight/pressure transfer to the outside ski. This move facilitates the steering of the inside ski as an "unweighted" ski is easier to steer. Since most people have a parallel alignment of the feet, the weight transfer also causes our feet to reorient to their natural posture (parallel). The faster we are skiing, the stronger the forces are and the better the chance of getting the skis to match.

So both of these things in concert will produce a "natural" christie. The sooner in the turn we can get these two things to happen, the sooner the christie will happen. No magic, no voodoo, just simple physics and bio-mechanics.

The final part is the release of the downhill ski which if not taught will cause the skier to have a very slight, but distinct wedge or lifting of the inside ski at turn initiation as the new outside ski is turned against the old outside ski (which is used as a fulcrum to start the rotation of the new outside ski into the new turn). But as others have said, that takes quite the commitment from the skier, the right terrain and can be a somewhat complicated move to pull off at this level.

So for a turn parallel turn, all three parts are needed. From a physics and bio-mechanical point of view I like the above approach better.

But with all that being said, if she's happy skiing in a wedge, is functional and safe, why make her change? Most folks as they become comfortable with a little bit of speed will loose the wedge naturally, if not pushed on to inappropriate terrain too quickly. Have some patience with her....

Good luck,
L
post #10 of 17
If you don't flatten, (release) the old outside ski, you can't steer the new inside ski, or pass a level 3 exam.
post #11 of 17
wow a bunch of ski instructor making simple stuff really complicated...surprize surpize

first of all a narrow wedge, flat terrain, and upping the speeds almost allways works assuming these thing are going on...


They are looking down the hill
The turn is a C-shape or S shape
they have some counter
they have a C-shaped body

Lonnie's post is great but he talks to much, stupid ski instructor
post #12 of 17
Bushwackerin,


If you are teaching a new wedge turner to use a C-shape, you are the one who is making it complicated.

You are a good skier! Leave the teaching to more experienced instructor's.

Lonnie's response was more attainable than your's.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
wow a bunch of ski instructor making simple stuff really complicated...surprize surpize

first of all a narrow wedge, flat terrain, and upping the speeds almost allways works assuming these thing are going on...


They are looking down the hill
The turn is a C-shape or S shape
they have some counter
they have a C-shaped body

Lonnie's post is great but he talks to much, stupid ski instructor
The OP's question regards the fiance who won't ski in a narrow wedge at faster speeds. "Almost allways" does not translate to Always. Lonnie has been teaching skiing (up the road at Alta) a lot longer than you have, bushman.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
The OP's question regards the fiance who won't ski in a narrow wedge at faster speeds. "Almost allways" does not translate to Always. Lonnie has been teaching skiing (up the road at Alta) a lot longer than you have, bushman.

the stupid ski instructor comment was a joke yeeess.
how the hell are you going to get someone to match who is banking there turns? if they have more weight on the inside ski they will be off balance. Standing up will be a challenge , turning might be impossiable.

I also never said anything about teaching any off that....

looking down the hill is as simple as being comfortable on the hill they are on, to just skiing in front backwards and ask to maintain eye contact

Counter will come naturally if they are leg steering and looking down the hill, any instructor worth thier salt taught leg steering before they even made thier first wedge turns.

C-shape turns eh thats one is so easy you can probably teach that with out saying a word...

C-shaped body ideally you never teeach this and they learn to balance on the outside leg/ski naturally, but if they arent balancing on that outside leg good luck getting a wedge turn to happen let alone a parrerall turn.

if you think I am wrong show me video of someone doing open parallel with out those 4 elements presents.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello Again. What makes this group so vibrant is the dedication to keeping a sport fresh and fun for all who wish to participate. It is a little confusing since there are many approaches that can be taken to achieve a given task. Cecilia and I are aware of the debate between development approaches advocated by different groups, or at least I am. We have studied the books and information from both groups. Safe fun is the name of the game and after re-reading Bob Barnes and others guide to certification exams, HH book, Weems’ book and Kent’s Clinic DVD (sorry to plug them all but I don’t get any royalties) we both believe that there is plenty of merit in multiple approaches to a common goal.

Cecilia’s problem is partly a fear of injury. So all of the observations about getting her to a safe slope where she can practice elements of linked turns are spot on. Her frustration stems partly from enjoying skiing out west when she and her friends would pack-up the car at UC Davis and drive to Truckee or Tahoe. That was years ago, so she is very much like a beginner, but a little frustrated when she sees my son, Jacob progressing so rapidly (without much time on the hill) while she seems stuck. Living in DC and having to ski on hard pack after an ice storm while dodging snow gun spray makes focusing on technique and feeling a little dicey and very different from what she remembers. For me, I have never had this more ethereal pleasure so stepping out to change edges in crud or if the ice is grabbing my less than perfectly aligned tips or edges, jumping the skis, hockey stopping have been part of my repertoire of bad but sometimes necessary techniques for years. As I said earlier, because of your dedication to teaching the understanding of what you can do on modern skis, so is a developing appreciation for pure carving when the conditions and my skill allow me.

Lonnie’s thoughts probably are the ones she felt she needed to focus on first. She says she tried to turn the inside (up-hill) ski but the inside edge would not release and she would come close to crossing her tips or just stay in the wedge. She, I believe now understands that you can not stay in a wide stance. She needs to narrow her stance to almost parallel and to move center of mass toward the inside of the turn to release the uphill ski inside edge that is keeping her from accelerating across the hill (she can then steer the ski into the turn if it is not already carving). She now understands that the initial cost is a speeding up of the traverse, but if you commit to the up hill edges (and your CM is over to the inside of the turn) while bending the up-hill knee you can ride the edges back up the hill to stop.

We will work on that (while pulling the up hill ski back to almost even) while trying to drag the up-hill ski pole so she is on both up-hill edges while scribing the garlands. I’ll work to get her closer and closer to the fall line as we progress, but I don’t know if I can get her to trust me enough to get to the point of the down hill release of the previous turn without having someone who knows what to look for to guide her through the process.

As an aside since there is always room for misinterpretation, she knows that most of her weight is on the inside edge of the down hill (outside) ski in a turn (she does in-line skate pretty well), but in a wide stance she didn’t stand a chance of getting off the inside edge (of the up-hill ski). We will try the various suggestions for drills. I know it sounds too simplistic, but for me, without some acceleration down the fall line it is very hard to get my skis to respond to the input from my feet and the rest of my body. If there was one mantra I learned years ago it was when in doubt (or trouble) point them down hill (that’s where you and your skis should be going) and get forward (not in the back seat) and get some speed as your first move before you do anything else. That of course assumed you were confident in you turning (or in those days skidding/ light carving) ability to get your speed back in control.

With that plan in mind, she is going to get a lesson when the crowds thin out later this weekend or Tuesday at Seven Springs or Hidden Valley (and after the coming ice storm) to work on the progression to releasing the edges down the hill to link turns (I know I have not described this as eloquently as was done in the responses). However, knowing bio-mechanically and thinking about what you are trying to do in advance allows her to get the most out of these sessions. If any of you are in the vicinity, I owe you some beverages. Thank you. John

Rusty, I don’t think she got the 9-iron joke. Cheers.

On a technical note, she is on Head skis that allow an adjustment to move the bindings forward from suggested center (rail flex). Is it useful to move her forward so it is easier for her to pressure the front of the skis while she is learning or is that a crutch that will need to be unlearned later (i.e. she can stay in the backseat rather than actively using fore-aft movement when needed)?

Again, thanks for all of the helpful insights, we greatly appreciate you time and efforts.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
The only thing I'd add to T-Square's excellent suggestions is that rolling the feet toward downhill can be a very challenging activity at first. Better to start that part of the progression by making small steps toward downhill on very gentle terrain and then finishing the turns on the edges. Several repetitions of small steps to start turns in each direction can lead to rolling the feet toward downhill to start them.

Coming from a level 3 , this is a great comment as is many here in this thread. You guy's rock!

The rolling action downhill is probably the numro uno fear/obstacle to overcome in initiating and progressing into a christy, IMHO. It's especially acute when your ski slow and at an angle 90* to the fall line, you feel like you'll just fall over sideways down the hill.
For me, the steps worked to feel the body positioning, but at some point I had to learn to trust that the ski will turn. BTW, is the cycling moves described by Weems Westfeldt in Brilliant Skiing similar thought process?
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello again, Eureka! It took two full days and some well timed expert intervention but her persistence and your advice appear to have paid off. By the end of the day on Monday, Cecilia was linking turns down the fall line with a fair amount of edging during the turns (locking up the up hill edges at least at the end of the turn and releasing down the fall line to begin the next turn). To get there she had to go through seemingly all of the elements you suggested again and again, sometimes together most often not, until it seemed to click. I am very proud of her. Thank you again.

Here is how it happened
After practicing for the first hour she took a group lesson on Sunday morning with other intermediates at about her level. The most tangible outcome was to get her into a much narrower wedge. The instructor seconded the garland exercises, etc. They worked on some edge releases and engagements, sort of side slips and hockey stops, etc. She seemed very confident at first, however, after a short period of progress she seemed to slip back into a wide wedge while she and I would ski fairly shallow sloped green runs. While I tried to help her I probably only succeeded in frustrating her by pointing out her problems. We skied apart for a while so that she could try to work things out for herself. Unfortunately, after an hour or so I noticed her skiing from the chair lift, same graceful wide wedge, but very little indication of CM movement, release, etc.

The lucky intervention
After skiing down and meeting her we waited in line for a chair together, a third skier joined us on the way up. As she and I talked a little about both of our skiing (and my noticing her wedge while I was riding the chair lift) the other person offered some additional advice. He pointed out the skiing techniques of different people below us. Who was skidding turns, who was using more carving techniques, etc. He introduced himself as a HS student who was working on his instructor certification and offered to ski one run with us. He said it helped him to watch different people ski and try to determine what they might do to improve. He demonstrated a wedge christie and talked about the turn initiation (tips in not tails out), etc. He offered some pointers to the both of us, and toward the end of the run he watched Cecilia ski several turns and offered this final thought to her. He asked her if when she skied she thought a lot about falling. She did not answer immediately. Without waiting for her to respond he told her that he falls. That was how he knew he was pushing himself to try something different. It may be a little frightening, but if she fell on the greens she probably would not get hurt. We thanked him and he skied away (couldn’t buy him a beer). I did not say anything (for a change).

Monday
On Monday, Hidden Valley hosted the local Winter Special Olympics. We were not directly involved, but inexpensive lift tickets and the chance to cheer so deserving a group of skiers brought us back to the resort. She did not try to get a lesson since we assumed all the staff and volunteers would be busy with the Olympics. We went through every drill, every suggestion, repeatedly. She slowly progressed. We cheered the racers at the starts and at the finishes. She got to observe many skiers, both competitors and volunteers. She seemed inspired to try harder, even if it meant making some mistake that would cause her to fall.

At one point, after we had watched a race, she fell unexpectedly while skiing a short blue section with a few bumps. She was surprised, but she was alright. From that moment on, things seemed to change. When I told her she was skiing too many little turns trying to control her speed and not trusting her ability to stop or slow down with a hockey stop she tried several longer straight runs into a hockey stop or a garland and it worked (a stumble, maybe a little out of balance but that was ok she stopped). Now she seemed willing to trust her speed control enough to go straight down the fall line and then carve a long two edged garland when she wanted to slow down, it worked. Bend the inside knee more, move your CM over the inside edge to get more inside ski edge, steer the inside ski, it worked. Then, without prompting, she pushed herself to move forward and toward the down hill ski (toward the fall line) to release the down hill ski after the garland. Caught an edge stumbled, stepped out. She tried again, and again, until it worked. After a couple of runs, she noticed she could do left turn releases easier than right (I believe she’s beginning to feel how the skis work with her body!). I told her most people have one side stronger than the other the more you do both sides the better you will link turns. She was surprised at how easy it was once you had the hang of it (yea right).

By the end of the day she was very excited with her breakthrough. She knows that she is a long way from skiing like some of the volunteers or the racers we observed that day. However, she felt the joy of flowing turns. She also knows the comfort of feeling in control without needing to feel you must stop on a dime on a snow covered hill. While she worked hard, she still reminded me later at how magical it was to ski past the beautiful snow covered homes on the way to the groomed slopes. Thank you all for helping her succeed.

P.S. Later in the day I recognized the HS student’s helmet from the chair lift. He was practicing laying railroad tracks down a fairly narrow blue section below the chair lift. If he reads this, thanks for your timely advice. John
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching