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Those turns...illustrated - Page 4

post #91 of 141
Originally posted by SCSA:
Now I get what Barnes is saying.

Well. Barnes has a ton of experience. If he's saying that in some cases the only way to get a student to learn is to show them some sort of a wedge, or wedge like movements, then that's the way it is.
Actually, I don't think he said that. I think he's saying that even if you teach direct-parallel where no wedge is ever taught, the students skiing will still exhibit some wedge. I don't know your full skiing history, but if you were taught direct-parallel only, and were never taught any wedge, but still show wedge in some instances, youare a perfect case in point.
post #92 of 141
Thread Starter 
Closer, SCSA! No, I won't be wearing a "No Plow" patch, and as you have surmised, I object to it. I guarantee that Harald himself makes a wedge when appropriate, without thinking about it, even as he wears that patch. Why make skiers feel guilty or ashamed about something that comes naturally? Why stigmatize an important tool of skiing, stunting your students' progress, versatility, and future growth in the process? And why handicap yourself as an instructor by putting off-limits what could be a useful tool, even if you don't need it often?

Why? Well, self-interest comes to mind. Sell more lessons...turn people off from exploring many other valuable experiences...create a name for yourself..... You know what I mean!

Like I have said, barring a few technical details (one being "The Lift" that we have discussed at length), I find very little else to criticize about the PMTS progression--EXCEPT this "No Plow" thing! It is hypocrisy to wear that patch while sliding into a lift line with a wedge, and it represents a huge, fundamental technical misunderstanding to remain unaware of the place of the wedge in modern skiing.

Before you get upset about these statements, remember that not all PMTS instructors are so afflicted. And it is certainly true that many, many instructors, including many with PSIA pins, still have no clue about how the wedge really works, or how to apply it effectively in teaching. I have known many PMTS instructors who DO understand the place of the wedge in the grand scheme. They experience great success in their teaching with "direct parallel" progressions, and recognize that the point is to develop good movements--not to eliminate the wedge! Even Harald teaches it as "special purpose tool"--I believe he calls it the LMD--"liftline maneuvering device"--or some such thing. I just wish he could integrate it more seamlessly into his teaching, and allow it to appear elsewhere when it is appropriate. The wedge is PART OF skiing--not an exception to it. Some of his instructors are getting it!

Anyway--you're getting closer to reading my intended meaning. You might even be there, but let me clarify, just to be sure. I am adamantly NOT saying that "the only way to get a student to learn is to show them some sort of a wedge." I do not suggest that we NEED to teach a wedge, especially as part of a turn. It's an outcome of good movements sometimes--we should recognize and accept that--and it's those movements we should focus on. The wedge may appear, whether we "show it" or not.

Of course, I misquoted you slightly there--you really said, "IN SOME CASES the only way to get a student to learn is to show them some sort of a wedge...." That's closer still! I would be completely comfortable if you had said, "in some cases the BEST (not necessarily ONLY) way...is some sort of a wedge." The wedge has its uses as a teaching/learning tool. Like all tools, a good instructor would ONLY use it where it seems appropriate, regardless of his/her affiliation. And a good instructor would know when to ignore it, avoid it, or even "unteach it" where it interferes with a student's goals.

The wedge is a tool. No teacher's toolbox is complete without it. And no teacher's toolbox is complete without alternatives to it, either. I object only to teaching systems that restrict its use, or throw it out of their toolbox completely. In that sense, I guess we could create two categories of teaching systems--"restricted" and "unrestricted." "Handicapped" or "unhandicapped."

I much prefer "UN"!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #93 of 141
I say that there is a very good reason to teach direct parallel (or at least push parallel turns in the first lesson), and that is skier retention. Let's face it, the first time anyone goes skiing, they probably have a Stein image (or something like that) in their heads. Wedging around the bunny hill is probably not what they had in mind! So the closer you can get the new skier's experience to what THEIR idea of "real skiing" is, the more likely they are to stick with it. And they might take more lessons, too.
But if I was an instructor, I'd probably teach a wedge most of the time, just to get them through the lesson on their feet. And since they probably aren't going to get any additional training anyhow, (thus ending up as terminal intermediates at best) that's probably the most important thing.
post #94 of 141
Thread Starter 
Yes, Epic! We are all "cases in point," really.

But I know SCSA will tell you that his earliest learning experiences included a wedge, learned, if I recall, from his father. Like all of us, he picked up some bad habits along the way, possibly as a result of improper teaching, possibly just by accident--who knows? But he encountered PMTS a couple years ago, and experienced a lot of personal success and probably some real breakthroughs, which he attributes strongly to PMTS and its "no plow" philosophy. (SCSA--I hope I'm representing you accurately here--please correct me if I've blown it!)

This admirable success has lead to a fair amount of dialogue here at EpicSki over the past couple years, to say the least! I THINK (again, SCSA, please straighten me out if I'm misrepresenting you--it is definitely not my intent)--I THINK he still attributes many of his difficulties to those early experiences with the wedge, and therefore feels that the best way to learn is to avoid it completely. It's not an invalid argument!

If we accept this premise, that the wedge in and of itself causes problems, that it invariably introduces "dead end movements" and has no place in modern skiing, then the conclusion that it should be avoided does follow! But it is that premise that I've taken great pains to try to explore. That premise forms a foundation of the PMTS system, and a big part of their marketing. I contend, and I've tried hard to explain my reasons, that the premise is not only unsound, but often detrimental to the success, progress, and enjoyment of a skier!

Teaching a wedge is not always necessary, but neither is it necessarily evil. Bad teaching is evil, and we should eliminate it as much as possible. We just need to be clear where its source is, and make sure we crucify the right criminal--rather than lynching an innocent hero!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #95 of 141
Thread Starter 
Good post, Miles! Yes, one measure of a lesson's success may come down to skier retention. If a lesson satisfies the students' needs, they will come back for more. If it turns them on to skiing and more lessons, arguably it is a good lesson.

But I question two points. First, consider a lesson in which the students have fun, and leave happy and excited about skiing and more lessons, but the lesson plants the seeds of bad habits that--ultimately--will interfere with their progress and enjoyment. Ultimately--perhaps days later, perhaps years, they get frustrated with the rut they find themselves in and drop out. Maybe they even get injured as a consequence of what they learned in these early lessons. Was this "high retention" lesson really a success?

This outcome is VERY LIKELY in any lesson that sacrifices sound, fundamental skill development for shortcuts to some easily accessible--but irrelevant or even detrimental--goal. I would put "parallel" in that category. Yes, many students come to a lesson wanting "parallel," thinking of Stein, and equating it with "expert," for many reasons. But I would describe this goal as an "understanding need." It is a myth, and a misunderstanding that a good instructor would address, not ignore. Teaching is, after all, at least RELATED to education!

Students come to lessons with needs and goals, understandings, and misunderstandings. We can cater entirely to these goals as they are--and arguably succeed if we satisfy them. But that is sometimes a big cop out! We can also help EDUCATE the student's needs and goals--help shape them with better understanding of where they lead, and how they might REALLY impact their enjoyment and success, in the long run. This is usually the more difficult route, but it is really the only one that is absolutely true to the student!

Second, (but related), the key word in your post that concerns me is "anyone"--as in "the first time ANYONE goes skiing, they probably have a Stein image...." Perhaps they do. Many of them do. But the assumption that "anyone" does is too general. A cornerstone of student-centered instruction is that instructors MUST avoid lessons based on generalizations and unverified assumptions like this.

So we must find out what, exactly, our students want--what is their image of perfection? If they have a "Stein image," or any other image that may not allow them to fully exploit the capabilities of their equipment and their bodies--and even their spirits--a good instructor will help them understand.

In truth, I think that very few new students these days arrive with a "Stein image." There are SO many reasons someone might want to ski or to take a lesson. Many just want to be safe. Some want to get to the top of the mountain and ski down--and don't give a hoot whether they look like Stein Eriksen or a beer stein! Some want the comraderie. Some, actually, seek to understand and learn the latest, purest, most functional contemporary techniques--and they trust the instructor to lead them there. Imagine the disservice we would provide THEM if we taught them to ski with their feet clamped together in skidded parallel decades-old "Stein" turns!

Anyway, you are right in that the myth of "parallel equals expert" persists strongly out there, for whatever reason. It's an unfortunate myth we've fought for years, one responsible for many of the really frustrated terminal intermediate--but "parallel"--skiers out there! I quote from the old PSIA manual, ATM TEACHING CONCEPTS of 1980 (pg 9):

[regarding the term "parallel"]: "Terms like 'turning the skis at the same time' or 'simultaneously' will not only be more corret mechanically, but may also resolve some of the paranoia that we ourselves have created over the years by elevating 'parallel skiing' to be the ultimate technique."

Teaching systems like "GLM," with its promise of instant parallel, fed on the myth that parallel is the ultimate "technique" and the "paranoia" that the wedge is the sign of a beginner. It brought many, many skiers into the sport. Talk about "retention"--it was a huge success!

For a while. Unfortunately, "instant parallel" really meant "instant terminal intermediate," and eventually many of those once excited skiers left the sport in frustration. GLM hasn't been taught in its original form for many years, anywhere that I know of.

And we--the ski instruction world--made good headway for a while in the battle against the myth that was causing so many skiers to learn frustratingly bad movements in search of the false goal of "parallel."

Then the monster raised its head again, resurrected and fed by the current crop of "direct parallel" programs. Once again, the public is being fed a line, and their long-term enjoyment of skiing--and the health of the industry itself--has been dealt another staggering blow. They are being steered to a false goal, one that in the long run leads not to expert skiing, but to frustrating plateaus of intermediacy. They may be convinced that "anyone can be an expert"--it just takes keeping your skis parallel. Yes--(almost) anyone CAN be taught to keep their skis parallel and together. But there is so much more. You know it. I know it. Unfortunately, "anyone" can be duped!

(All right, I'm off it now!)

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #96 of 141
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by SCSA:
Barnes is telling us that the majority of skiers can't learn to ski with direct parallel. They just don't have the skills.
Uh, actually, SCSA, I said no such thing! I won't repeat what I DID say--it's still written in black and white above. But I certainly didn't say, or mean to imply, that!

The jist of my posts here is simply that good teaching develops good movements, and bad teaching develops bad movements. Good and bad teaching can involve a wedge, or not. But the wedge is a natural outcome of good skiing movements, no matter how they were taught, in some circumstances (particularly, very low speeds).

It is certainly possible to TEACH "direct parallel"--although you should still expect the student to show a wedge at times if you taught the right movements! Yes, there are ways to ALWAYS avoid the wedge--a monoski is one of them, to be ridiculous--but they often involve movements CONTRARY to the movements of good turns, as I described above. In other words, just because they're parallel doesn't mean they're good--and just because they're in a wedge doesn't mean they're bad!

So certainly, we could teach a great lesson without ever teaching or demonstrating a wedge. But one test of whether the teaching was accurate, ironically, would be that the students WOULD show a wedge in different circumstances, inadvertently! Just like their instructor....

Yes, SCSA--you too use a wedge at times. Please don't be offended--this is a compliment!

Teaching "direct parallel" is NOT the same as teaching someone to avoid a wedge! Teaching without a wedge, in the right circumstances, can be fine.

But teaching someone that a wedge is BAD is a tremendous disservice with dire consequences for that skier's future enjoyment and progress. It's a wive's-tale. It merely teaches the skier to fear a boogyman that doesn't exist! "Don't make a wedge or the Boogyman will get you"--the best argument I've heard for avoiding a wedge! Yeah, and "self-abuse will make you go blind" (See?)

Wedge-phobia (or parallel-worship) is as destructive to a skier's development as over-reliance on a wedge or a stem. The contortions and exertions that you have to make sometimes to avoid a wedge are so contrary to good skiing that they will handicap you like tying a rope around your ankles! It's just a wedge, after all--one of the most significant, revered, and useful tools in skiing history, and still today. It happens--for good, and sometimes for bad, reasons. Let it be! There are far more important things in skiing.

And the Boogyman doesn't exist, no matter what your mother told you.


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #97 of 141
Bob, I should not have used Stein, because that obviously has some bad associations for you. I should have thought of that. Perhaps a "Barnes-like picture" is closer to what I wanted to say. The point was that if you say "skiing" to a non-skier, the image that PROBABLY (c'mon, Bob, you should know by now that I very rarely use definitives!) pops in his/her head is not wedging, gliding or braking. Actually, it's probably going straight in a tuck, since that is what is shown on television!
post #98 of 141
Either a tuck, or a helicopter! I think most new skiers have probably never heard of Stein (although they may still have seen his skiing and want to ski like him). Matter of fact, who would they like to ski like? Johnny Moseley? Shaun Palmer?
post #99 of 141
Thread Starter 
No argument there, Miles. My contention is simply that, no matter how widespread and popular, any belief or myth that could possibly, ultimately, prove detrimental to a skier's--let's just say "happiness"--should be addressed, explored, and possibly "exposed" in a lesson.

No soreness about Stein, by-the-way. He was and remains a wonderful skier, a beautiful skier, and a figure of legendary significance in our sport. Indeed, what you referred to as the "Stein image" is probably itself a myth! Not even Stein himself really embodies what I suspect you meant by the "Stein image." Yet the myth persists, and its falseness is, in fact, the problem!

So if someone comes to a lesson with what I (and I suspect you'd agree) would consider a "mythical" image of skiing perfection, no matter what it is, should I simply cater to that myth, and teach him to ski that way? Or should I help him understand that it IS a myth that may not take him where he really wants to go, and see if perhaps he readjusts his goals? Shouldn't I "educate" him, and let him make up his own mind? Isn't that, really, one of the reasons we hire someone to teach us something that we aren't experts in ourselves?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #100 of 141
This is the most interesting wedge discussion I've ever seen. Actually, I never considered that talking about the wedge could be interesting.

Yes Barnes, you're right. When I first took a lesson with Harald I could see where wedge was holding me back. I couldn't lean downhill and I couldn't make parallel turns. When I went to lighten my downhill foot first, I just couldn't do it. It took me, most of my first year (2 years ago) just to be able to lean downhill.

I was pissed, that I had learned to ski that way (Pop's wedge turns).

I agree with you. I've yet to see anyone, who doesn't push off the downhill ski in some conditions. Particularly in steep conditions, I'll just say that I think it's impossible (if you're ripping) to not make at least one turn, pushing off the downhill ski. But does that really mean that learning some sort of wedge movement is part of learning to ski? I don't know.

From observation, I'll say that I disagree with your feeling about parallel turns. When I see a skier make parallel turns down an entire run, that is maintaining equal edge angles, I think that's expert skiing.

You point out that HH using his trademark "No Plow" logo was all in self-interest. Not so fast, wedge turns breath.

First, every product or service needs a marketing "hook". Coke has one, Miller Lite has one, and so on. A marketing hook, is necessary, in order to attract customers. Not to sell customers, but to attract them. Your books, have a marketing hook, "The Encyclopedia of Skiing."

"No Plow" has caused many instructors, you including, to take a much harder look at their training. It's caused raging debate, which in the end, has turned out to be productive. Skiers everywhere are feeling the ripple effects of HH's marketing. The PSIA has paid attention, ski instructors have paid attention. The bottom line is that the ski instruction product has improved.

Is it all due to HH? I'm not sure he can take all the credit, but I'm sure he can take a good deal of it. HH came along and set this business on it's butt. He challenged virually every known tenent and made a lot of people mad.

And that's a great thing. He challenged an industry to produce a better product and he was successful. Your books are better. Look at all your thought. Can you honestly say that your thoughts weren't driven, at least in part, by HH's harsh criticism of the PSIA and ski instruction in general?

People respond the best when their backs are up against the wall. I'll argue that indirectly, HH thumped his finger on ski instructions chest, backed them up against a wall, and said, "Do better. You can do a whole lot better." Some just said, "F off". But I think more than some, and fewer than all, took his challenge. They went off and improved their teaching.

Look at epic. 2 years later, we're arriving at common ground that no one thought possible. Where'd the impetus come from? HH.

I've been around, you know that. Right now, I can think of no other person who's had as great an impact on this business in the last few years than HH has. Ski professionals everywhere are responding, have responded to his criticism. Are you really going to tell me that the powers that be in PSIA didn't get mad as hell at HH, and then did something about it?

You've said that PSIA had this direct parallel idea all along (Center line?). They may have, but what value does a product really have if it's not being sold? Zero value! I can sit around all day and make claims that I thought of the first widget. But if ACME Corp. was the one who sold millions of widgets, made them popular, ACME Corp. is the one who deserves the credit. They get all the credit.

Another example is the beer industry. Cold filtered brewing has been around circa 1940. But Miller, was the first one to build a brand around it. Who gets the credit for cold filtered brewing? Miller does.

So industry professionals can sit around over beers all day and moan that HH really isn't doing anything new, blah bla blah. But the next time a student says to you, "You know, I don't want to learn the wedge", or they ask, "I've heard about HH, can you teach what he talks about?", and then they leave you a nice tip, thank HH and Diana.

Edit: Or, even simpler. The next time you recognize that a student can go to direct parallel, and not teach them the wedge, thank HH. Because I'll forever argue that before he came along, no one, thought it was possible to teach skiers sans the wedge.

Thank them as well, for pushing the ski instruction industry to improve it's product. Because the better the ski instruction product, the more money everyone makes.


[ July 10, 2002, 02:05 PM: Message edited by: SCSA ]
post #101 of 141
Thread Starter 
I'll take this even a step farther. One assumption that I WOULD make--but would still verify before acting on it--is that any beginning student (or higher level, for that matter) is unlikely to have a clear, accurate picture or understanding of what good skiing is. I would ASSUME that, as beginners, they bring a combination of misinformation and lack of information, truth, falsehood, and half-truth, that forms a large part of the reason they are taking the lesson in the first place. Most people realize this, and look for and appreciate the guidance (yes--another generalized assumption that needs individual verification). They know that their information may be suspect, or incomplete, and they welcome revelations that help them see more clearly.

Regardless of their operating "myths," after all, few skiers really have, as their life goals, "parallel turns." Ultimately, even the "perfect turn" serves their needs (or not)only in its effect on the bigger picture of their life's larger ambitions!

If their mythical beliefs are exposed as contradictory to those real life ambitions, then they really DON'T want to ski that way, even if they once THOUGHT they did!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #102 of 141
I think the instructor has more of a responsibility to teach a student to safely negotiate a hill than to feed their perceptions of what is and is not skiing. A properly taught lesson leaves a lot of room for self-discovery. Giving the student a stable platform from which to explore different speeds/lines and teaching them efficient stance without locking them into a rigid poses will help them incorporate what they learned over a longer period. This was true for my first lesson, and this was true at the race camp I just attended. The big things for a lesson are:
1.) Did they have fun? Fun is a subjective term, and while I prefer to be in over my head and extremely challenged, the average midwestern housewife might have a very defined comfort zone. Fun is what keeps them coming back.
2.) Did they learn how to effectively control direction, speed? This is for everyone else's benefit as well as theirs.
3.) Can they expand on what was taught? Very few people want to spend all of their ski time and money taking lessons, and giving them ways to self-teach without the resulting dead-end movements puts them on the fastest path to having fun on the snow- for them.

I can't teach direct to parallel on my local bunny hill because of terrain. It's just too steep, and you lose the confidence of your student the moment they feel out of control. The wedge helps maintain that instant level of control (fat wedge for slow, skinny wedge for faster) that allows them to hear the rest of the lesson. It's amazing the contortions a person will go through when they are out of balance and out of their comfort zone. Arms flail, torsos twist and move backwards... nothing you say to that person besides "fall down!" will have any effect. Teaching a basic wedge PLATFORM but covering the same elements that are part of any turn (weight shift, edging...) forms the foundation of good skiing- in my case. If I had extremely flat, cruiser groomers to work with I wouldn't use a wedge as much. I'd present it, but we could also easily explore other options. I just don't have that choice until the students feel comfortable sliding on the hill and feel in control of their movements.
post #103 of 141
Perhaps I speak only for myself in this regard but when I went for my first lesson day, I had no idea about "parallel" or "wedge." They were words in a foreign language. All I wanted to do was to learn to ski. (Neither, by the way, had I heard of Stein or Moseley or ANYone.) The wedge had no stigma attached; it was simply ONE STEP that allowed a group of first-timers to be introduced to skis and how edges worked. Once we "got" that, we progressed immediately to(ward) parallel turns, introduced to tipping and rolling, which we did the remainder of the day. NO ONE in this group had a problem making the progression. I can say categorically and emphatically, learning the wedge (what's to learn?) was absolutely NOT a hindrance. I was NOT set back. There was ZERO unlearning to be done. It was all a very orderly and sensible step 1 to step 2 to step 3, the wedge being nothing more than a brief station-stop from which to catch the train to parallel.

edit: i'll add that in my opinion, the three elderly women in my group would very likely have been out of that lesson in a hurry had they not had the wedge to serve as "training wheels" while they took the time they needed to familiarize themselves with the skis and moving downhill on them. security blanket? yeah, maybe. but hey, it worked, they were excited and wanted to ski again the next day. failure? i think most definitely NOT. gear the lesson to the student, rather than trying to cram the student into pre-conceived plan that might not fit.

[ July 10, 2002, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #104 of 141
Well, if the students are making parallel turns at the end of the lesson, I would call that a direct parallel approach. Which brings the experience closer to the (however nebulous) image. As opposed to leaving them in a wedge until the next lesson, which only has a 20% or less chance of happening.
Bob B., it was never my intention to advocate teaching bad skiing just to fit somoene's expectation. Good, efficient skiing would certainly fit into that expectation. As you say, they wouldn't know the difference beforehand anyhow. And don't most people seem to have enough fun skiing in any way that they wouldn't realize right away that they were not "really skiing"? Until the opportunity to ski again comes up, and they pass on it, because it just "didn't click" with them?
Wouldn't it be worthwhile to try to give them a taste of what good skiing in a parallel stance feels like in the first lesson (if feasible)?

[ July 10, 2002, 06:51 PM: Message edited by: milesb ]
post #105 of 141
Miles - that would have had me on the firts train to ANYWHERE tropical!

I spent over a week being 'towed' around an almost DEAD FLAT piece of ground by my instructor(private lesson). Standing on 2 VERY cumbersome feet on VERY slippery(heavy as, slop actually - but that was my feeling at the time) white stuff was HARD ENOUGH. If some idiot had tried to drag me to the top & point me down hill I would have RUN VERY FAST - or had the idiot committed for his obvious lunacy!
post #106 of 141
Why would you refer to someone not familiar with your condition as an "idiot?" Unless you wear a sandwich board with your impediment laid out in big letters, and how best to accomodate it, you may want to give such people a little slack.
Are you merely relating how you would feel, or are you using yourself as an example to counter my position?
post #107 of 141
Barnes the reason why a skier doesn't know what good skiing is, is because the industry leaders like yourself are confusing them!

Case in point:
You guys can't even agree on the stance issue! And then you wonder outloud why skiers are showing up with misinformation?

Finally, you elude that anyone who shows up with anything but PSIA certified instruction behind them is misinformed. So what you're really saying is that, "Don't listen to them, it's not the word. Listen to us, we're the word."

Isn't that the same dogma that you so often criticize?

Holy Moly!

: : : : :
post #108 of 141
Finally, I've read comments here by instructors that most skiers who show up to lessons don't have goals of parallel turns.

That is so bad.

1) I walk into a store and I tell the clerk that I want green paint. So the clerk walks me over to the shelf and sells me what I asked for, green paint.

So I go home, put on the green paint. A year later, the green paint falls off. I go back to the store and I tell the clerk, "The green paint you sold me fell off!". The clerk says, "That's because you said you wanted green paint, you didn't say you wanted really good green paint."

This scenario happens to consumers a gillion times a day. It happens to you, it happens to me! When it happens, you hate it, don't you? I know I do! I'm pissed, that the clerk didn't think enough to tell me about the really good green paint, or, that the clerk only offered what I asked for.

But then, you go off and do the exact same thing to customers (students) who walk into your store (ski lessons). You figure, that they don't want to learn parallel skiing, because either you profiled them, or, they didn't ask you for it.

So I'll leave you with this.


Isn't that the clerks job, to tell me about the really good green paint?
post #109 of 141
"Damn, I bought PHANTOM green paint!"

milesb, as we've talked about, YES, i too think the buttermilk deal was pretty much direct to parallel. just trying to say i think there's a place for the wedge, that it's not a sin; and i'll give you and everyone else here that you (all) are much more familiar with the various presentations of ski instruction. i should probably just consider myself lucky to have had a knowing first lesson instructor and leave it at that. i do think, though, that notions of "good skiing" come AFTER one has picked up the sport, seen skiers on the hill, felt one's own inefficient awkwardness and decided that "well, now that i can ski, i want to ski WELL."

[ July 11, 2002, 07:52 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #110 of 141
The goal is not parallel skiing or wedge skiing or any other kind of skiing. The goal is enjoyable skiing. Since fun is a subjective term, it is up to the customer to decide. Agressive, athletic skiers progress rapidly past the constant wedge quickly, often within the first hour. More timid, less athletic skiers find the the simple act of sliding slowly along the snow to be quite thrilling enough, thank you.

The point is, you can cover the same basic fundamentals of skiing from a wedge platform or a parallel platform. I can totally screw up a skier on either one. I can show a skier a defensive, braking, backseat wedge that ends up making them tired and frustrated. I can also show them how to hockey stop every turn- completely parallel- banking into the hill and rotating the body with the turn.

It's not the platform, it's the way it's presented and implemented. Instead of railing against a tool and how it is the root of all evil, try blaming the one who is really to blame- the instructor. Boy, that's going to piss some people off. Communicating body mechanics concepts can be extremely frustrating, and if the student walks away unsure of what is efficient and what their goals are, then the instructor was unable to communicate them. Either that, or the instructor was ignorant and/or incompetant. I find myself in the second group more often than not.

A poor carpenter blames his tools.
post #111 of 141
I'll forever argue that before he came along, no one, thought it was possible to teach skiers sans the wedge.

We have held up hockey players as examples of students who have generally been able to execute "simultaneous" edge release and engagement almost from the get-go. The task is to slow down the movement and bring engagement higher up the turn instead of doing a modified hockey slide with direction change.

Hockey players have been around longer than PMTS...which makes your statement hyperbolic at best.

As a historical footnote to this discussion, in the olden days, a distinction was made between "stems" and "Christianas or christies" and "swinging."

The basic christie differs from the stem turn in three major respects: (1) the uphill ski does not stem at all; (2) you must have good speed before going into the turn--at least fifteen miles per hour, if you know how to judge speed; and (3) the skis close parallel much sooner in the basic christie than in the stem turns.
The basic christie has a "light stem [of the old outside, weighted ski] and body preparation [counter-motion]" and then "lift [up-unweight] and swing" [body squares to the skis while closing them parallel...]

Swing refers to "the family of turns which are fluid and fast, gracile and mellifluously exhilarating." Swing does not mean a pivot!!! It means rhythm in skiing as in music and dancing.

The christies are classed as swing turns, although the basic christie is a sort of mongrel, being started with the vestiges of the slower speed turns, and then developing into a swing turn.
All quotes from Invitation to Modern Skiing, Fred Iselin and A.C. Spectorski, 1947.

Isn't swinging what good skiing is about?

[ July 11, 2002, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #112 of 141
Thread Starter 
Good find, Nolo! Even in 1947, at least SOME people recognized that a wedge is not necessarily anything more than a "vestige" of low speed, which will vanish with a little more pace and panache! "Basic christie," "spontaneous christie," and "wedge christie" all refer to essentially the same thing, all in contrast to the "stem" christie, as Iselin clearly points out. In 1947.

SCSA--you can argue all you want, but if you look it up, you'll find Clif Taylor, among others, preceding PMTS by a couple decades or more. Not that Taylor's GLM instant parallel system was perfect either....

But Nolo is right--Gordie Howe's got them all beat!

Good skiing is what we (instructors) teach. Good skiing is, as you often point, often (roughly) parallel. Good skiing is what we INTRODUCE to beginners, and develop at every level. So we teach "direct to good skiing." We aren't obsessed with "parallel," unless you (the student) are, but inasmuch as it is part of good skiing, we most definitely teach "direct parallel." Sometimes we use a wedge to help.

We don't always do any of these things perfectly--it depends on the synergy of the individual instructor, student, day, conditions, and countless other factors. But "officially," what I just described is precisely what we do, and have always tried to do, the best we can. Sure is easy, though, with hockey players! And the new skis help a lot too.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #113 of 141
Question for the panel of experts:

Does a pedal turn include wedge, christie, or both? It seems to me that there has to be a point where there is wedge. This would be one place where the expert skier would be wedging (other than the lift line) and not in a defensive manner at all.
post #114 of 141
I just hope the discussion has been productive. Rather, than simply going off and saying, "Screw the wedge."

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

post #115 of 141
Originally posted by milesb:
Why would you refer to someone not familiar with your condition as an "idiot?" Unless you wear a sandwich board with your impediment laid out in big letters, and how best to accomodate it, you may want to give such people a little slack.
Are you merely relating how you would feel, or are you using yourself as an example to counter my position?
Miles - I was relating how I would feel.
For the record though - it was my first ski instructor that realised the extent of my disability. Before that I was described as 'clumsy' & 'not cocncentrating' as a child. As a young adult my lack of proprioceptive skills was noted - by physio's & OT's that I lived with & by fellow course participants. It was NEVER measured - & the assumption was made that I fell into the lower(est) range of NORMAL population.

I had turned up to learn to ski - requested a private lesson due to my KLUTZ EXTRODINAIRE status & asked to be given an instructor who could TEACH - not ski - well! I did have the knowledge to explain that I really CAN'T copy.
That instructor was someone who regularly taught BLIND skiers - they don't copy! I fully expected to HATE SKIING - fall down a lot &get hurt - then I could say I had tried & NEVER do it again!
post #116 of 141
IMHO the most important factor in ski learning is not the mechanics but the application of the mechanics to the “situation of the student” in the constantly variable classroom we work in at ski hills.

Basically the "bodily reactions of the individual" (to the situation) dictate the "mechanics of dynamic movement" of the student. As a teacher it is the management of the "bodily reactions of the individual" that is my primary focus.

Terrain\situation and "mental security" for first timers will always be the main factors that dictate the "bodily reaction of the individual" not published technical progressions.

Without supplying a safe environment for first time students it will not matter what method is used to arrive at a “pattern of dynamic movement" which IMHO is the goal of all sports instruction.

A wedge for a first time student is simply a means of finding a stable platform to enable the "mechanics of dynamic movement" to occur. So we teach a wedge primarily as a starting point for creating a platform for “dynamic movement”. A wedge can also happen with any skier as a “dynamic situational movement”

Direct to parallel, again for a first time student, will obtain the same results BUT I believe for a narrower spectrum of individuals due to the variable of the students “mental security” due to situational reactions. I.e. the “oh shit factor”

As our ski hills are usually not a perfect environment for promoting “mental security” one must use whatever they can to achieve the goal of “dynamic movement”. IMHO the wedge seems to be more suitable for the imperfections of the ski classroom and the uncertainties of a sedentary student base that direct to parallel.


Give me a tailored terrain situation then direct to parallel would be my choice for the vast majority of student cases.

I believe the latest mainstream terminology to describe this “ski mechanics” application process is “Stepping Stones”.

Bob, in reply to your original question, your illustrations are excellent. It is very, very difficult to statically illustrate dynamic movement. IMHO I believe it is imperative you make it VERY clear that pressure control and weight transfer throughout the turn are infinitely variable. This could be achieved in a text summation of the illustrations. I would hate to have a student say “BBs books says all weight on the outside ski”.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #117 of 141
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Oz--I agree. They certainly need SOME explanation, at the very least stating that these are "representative" turns--not directives, and not necessarily even "targets." As you say, everything can, and will, vary--especially the weight distribution.

In GENERAL, in "typical" turns on good groomed snow, the weight transfer will take place increasingly quickly, and increasingly completely, as the turns become more dynamic. This is due both to the dynamics of the turn pulling the skier toward that outside ski, and to the increased accuracy of the skier's movements as skills develop. I realize it's hard to see, but if you can differentiate the shades of gray of the skis, you can see that these "typical" weight transfers are what I've illustrated.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #118 of 141
Thanks Oz - yep that was the point. I just wasn't a candidate for direct parallel - no way.

It was quite difficult to get me to 'let go' of the instructor - & then I would only do so if he snow plowed in front of me - just out of reach. So I could look at him not the 'HUGE' hill. (Friday Flat) :
The premise was if I got 'out of control' I would be able to put my hands out & touch his back for braking. Of course I didn't REALLY need to do that - I realise that now - but I DID need to think I could - so that I could relax enough to actually ski 'disconnected' from him.

OK - so I'm a HUGE chicken [img]redface.gif[/img]

BTW - that HUGE hill is a purpose built beginners slope - 12degrees....
post #119 of 141

The overhead illustrations are great and clearly show where the edging and pressure happens.

Perhaps you can pack too much into a diagram where it becomes a visual maze but ......

- You and I know where the fall line is in each illustration but will a beginner?

- The "old school" in me still teaches a bit of looking down the hill, new school phrases this as something like "moving into the future" and the pole plant/pole reach places the shoulders leading into the direction of the new turn. The illustrations have the shoulders and head square across the skis.
post #120 of 141
Thread Starter 

Hi Yuki--just a quick comment of explanation--perhaps more just a matter of definition....

By my definition, the skiers in these diagrams are not really square to their skis, except for one moment in each turn somewhere after the initiation at frames 4, 12, and 20, as the lead changes from one side to the other. As the thin black lines across the ski tips of each frame indicate, the inside ski leads the outside ski by a slight amount throughout the turn, with the lead change occurring through the "square" moment.

The upper body imitates this lead change, as the entire inside half of the body leads the outside half, resulting in an alignment I refer to not as "square," but as "slightly countered." A line across the shoulders would parallel the line across the ski tips in every frame. I considered drawing this line, too, but it really does clutter the drawing.

The upper body follows the skis through the turn, never quite turning as far as the skis, the same way a car never quite points the direction of its front wheels in a turn. Cars are "slightly countered" too, and have a "lead change" between turns when the wheels point straight ahead. The stance is often ALMOST square, but the functional difference is very significant.

"Slightly countered" is not the same as "facing the upper body down the hill," but it does result in the upper body facing SOMEWHAT more down the hill than the skis. It is very different from "rotated," where the upper body faces UP the hill at the end of the turn.

In any case, these different alignments are pretty good indicators of how the skier turns his/her skis. If the feet and legs rotate independently, beneath the pelvis, (the fundamental move of all the turns I've drawn here), the result is the parallel "slightly countered" alignment. A "rotated" stance usually indicates that the skier twisted his skis with "rotation"--turning the upper body into the turn first, then pulling the skis. A firm blocking pole plant, and/or "counter-rotation" usually result in the highly-countered "upper body facing directly down the hill" stance.

It can get complicated--skiers can combine several rotary mechanisms in a turn--but the alignment of the skier's body is one of the most important and revealing things to observe when analyzing technique.

Thanks for the comments!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes


[Edit 3/12/2012--text updated to correspond to frame numbers in the 2008 updated illustrations. --Bob]

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