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So you don't want to use the wedge anymore !!!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I believe that skiing in control is very important, especially for new skiers.

Ok...if we are going to eliminate the wedge from skiing...then what are the new methods or rather techniques of teaching a skier to stop.

The hockey stop requires a certain familiarity with the equipment and balancee so that seems to be a techinque that would be premature to count on for a relatively new skier...so what does one teach to a new skier "that if all else fails you can do thus to get control and stop if you need to ?"

If it is not a snowplow or better a wedged turn up the hill until one turns far enough to stop..what is it that is now suppose to be used for when a new skier is going too fast, is out of conrol or the skier senses he or she is going to fast and feels out of control.... what then does that skier fall back on [in terms of technique] to survive the loss of control ? If not a wedged turn, then what ???
post #2 of 17
I propose that we completely get rid of the wedge and exorcise it from the skiing vernacular entirely. Then we issue a huge anchor and about 25 feet of chain to every beginner and teach them to parallel and nothing else. When they get going to fast, throw the anchor out on the ground and BAM! Got yourself some speed control!

Did I say "teach them to parallel"? I did, didn't I! Sort of sounds like "teach them to wedge", huh? Where it is made to be an outcome of the lesson instead of a tool used within it? (I think this is where all the animosity and inconsistency "stems" from. Should we start yet another thread?)

OK I'm being unneccessarily snotty. I'm just trying to raise the heckles on the DTP people. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

I'll go away... FOR NOW. (Vincent Price laughter in the background)

Spag :

"Anyone who says money can't buy happiness. Hell, they ain't ever been to Reno!"
-Out Cold-
post #3 of 17
I think you're confusing the braking wedge or snowplow with the wedge. The wedge is just a tool for teaching skills, not an objective in and of itself. The braking wedge, on the other hand, is. The braking wedge is a very useful maneuver that every skier should have but it should not be confused with the way we ski. The trick is to teach it without allowing it to become part of the students normal skiing technique relegating it, instead to something the student uses only occasionally when needed.
post #4 of 17
Originally posted by Notorious Spag:
I propose that we completely get rid of the wedge and exorcise it from the skiing vernacular entirely...
Actually, the GLM method from the 60's and 70's basically did that, it got rid of the wedge and went right into parallel. The only problem was it was all skidded turns. Do you know how hard that habit is to break...I do!

The Wedge IMHO is a very important and valuable tool. Though I never like to see a skier on terrain that is way above their ability, I'd rather see a skier who knows how to wedge and/or side slip on this terrain. There is much more chance of them making it down and out of this area if they have these skills. In addition, the wedge is an important skill frequently used by the ski patrol in sled handling maneuvers. It is used a lot of times when you are in the handles and it is also used frequently by tail ropers. The wedge is important.
post #5 of 17
I agree with you, skierteach, and with arcadie as well. I was discussing this with my ski school director the other day. Our decision to continue using a wedge in our beginner lessons has been based on a combination of practical, administrative, safety, and customer satisfaction considerations. We serve approximately 4,500 students a week in our after school and weekend programs. Most of them are kindergarten through eighth grade age. We depend heavily on high school and college-age instructors to run this program. The unfortunate reality is that, as soon as these instructors get good, we lose them to graduation.

We need a teaching methodology that lends itself to easy and quick training, is transferable among instuctors and, frankly, that has a solid track record of success among the greatest percentage of students.

Our lesson format is a one hour lesson followed by one or two hours of free skiing. We need to be able to give our students a technique that is stable from the beginning. We need to know that, when the instructor leaves them at the end of the hour, they can at least stand up and stop. Our area is small and our slopes can be very crowded between 3:00 and 6:00 on weeknights and on weekend mornings. Safely negotiating traffic at the bottom of the hill is a necessary and early part of our curriculum.

We have recently completely converted our rental fleet to shape skis. So the temptation to completely convert our teaching methodology was certainly strong. It has been our experience in the past couple of years that, given modern equipment, our students are in no way inhibited by learning using a wedge in their early lessons. As long as they have been using a moderate gliding wedge and real foot steering, as opposed to a severe braking wedge, the new skis facilitate a very smooth transition to (pardon the expression) "parallel".

What has been the real world experience of others who work in "high volume" programs?

[ November 16, 2003, 08:02 PM: Message edited by: David7 ]
post #6 of 17
Skierteach. I agree. I was just being a sandy little butt. I am a big proponent of the wedge in the teaching world as a TOOL to work toward an OUTCOME... not an outcome in itself. I think of the DTP approach the same way. I'm simply more comfortable with the wedge right now. As season go by and I experiment with Dir. Parallel more, my opinion may change. Wedges work better in lift lines than figure 11's do, though.

Spag :

David7. Look into Steamboat's programs. I know they have been playing with DTP for a few seasons in their group lessons, as has Aspen (I believe). If you can contact anyone running the show in those two places, you could get some good stuff. Weems? Ya out there?

[ November 16, 2003, 08:04 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #7 of 17
Yes, the new shape of skis does lend itself to transitioning at a much faster rate. There are some that may actually do better w/o learning it, but I also found that on the "straight" ski. There are others that would suffer terribly w/o learning it and would probably never get on skis again.
I agree with arcadie that it should primarily be taught for purposes of braking. I really do not think that it should be used as a primary tool for turning as in the "SNOWPLOW".
It really bothers me to see a child that has been skiing for several years that only knows the wedge and who comes bombing down the hill in at "FLYING WEDGE" as I call it.

[ November 16, 2003, 08:18 PM: Message edited by: skierteach ]
post #8 of 17
Spag, I think the wording of my post may have made it sound like we are looking for advice or solutions. In fact, staying with the wedge IS our solution. It satisfies those "needs" that I outlined.

Skierteach, I taught using the Headway GLM method for a couple of years during the 1970's I got my Headway pin the same year I got my PSIA pin. (Talk about confused) One interesting phenomenon that we observed, that no one ever wanted to talk about, was that many, many of our adult, weekday learn-to-ski
package students (primarily women, by the way, for what that's worth) actually asked to learn a wedge by about the third lesson, when they had graduated to the 150cm skis. Right at the point where the longer skis should have made them feel more confident and stable, they also wanted the stability of a wider stance.
post #9 of 17
Is it impossible to get across both concepts in the first lesson? Is it really too much info to expect beginners (say, over 10 y.o.) to absorb in 1 hour:

- Inside edges - Only for coming to a complete stop from extremely low speeds in a straight line (eg, lift lines).

- Two left edges - Left turns at normal speeds. Go back up the hill till you slow down.

- Two right edges - Right turns at normal speeds. Go back up the hill till you slow down.

After you have the never-evers clicked in and have walked them around to get them familiar with having skis attached to their feet, have each student do several minutes of side-to-side knee movements (independently with each leg) before they even begin to slide. This will make sure they know how to access their edges. Repeat at sub-walking speeds to make sure they can do it while experiencing their first movements over snow on skis. Repeat again and again at incrementally increasing speeds till the end of the lesson. Keep them on extremely shallow slopes to try to keep "sitting-back" out of the equation until they are very confident that they can stop. Introduce rotary and everything else in subsequent lessons. If they never take another lesson, at least the basics are in their heads.

Tom / PM
post #10 of 17

It just seems to me that now the Pros in this forum are starting to take notice of a DP approach. Three years ago I posted a progression that we use at Snowmass and have greatly refined it to this point for DP progression with unbelievable results. I guess it went in one ear and out the other. THIS IS NOT A NEW THING! I think Weems and a few of us here at The Ski Schools of Aspen could travel around the country and teach this progression to other ski schools and make a fortune. I have said in other posts, you just don’t go out one morning and say “Well today, let’s try and teach direct parallel.” If you TRY and teach it, you’re in trouble from the git-go. You have to have a progression, a proven one and one that works. Although, there are many Pros out there that have only an hour to work with folks. They must try and teach them how to get down a small hill in a crowded situation at a local day ski area. I am fortunate in that I have really never been put in that situation. I have folks all day on the most part. And the teaching terrain is somewhat ideal. So I would, if put in a situation like the majority of our pros in this forum, teach a WEDGE if I only had an hour. And when they can turn and stop, PARALLEL.

So Wink, if it’s a progression you are looking for, go back a few years, 2000-2001 season I believe, and D/L the Beginners Magic post. Again, it’s crude, but that’s where we started. It needed some polish, but it works. Use what works for you and throw out what doesn’t, but give it a chance. I can tell you that the key to the whole thing is very short shaped skis. Not only for the student, but you should have on the same length of ski also, so that they can see the results from the movements you’re showing them. There’s no way they can match the arc of your turn when you are on longer skis, and they freak because with longer ski on, you carry much more speed. That’s the last thing they want at this point in their skiing carrier.

When we first started this thing, it was our adult div that was doing it. The private team were on their own page and refused to teach a DP. A lot of our private lesson pros where older, had been teaching for quite some time and talked funny. [img]tongue.gif[/img] They never took the time to learn the progression that we were fine tuning. All they would say was “It don’t work. My students didn’t have any control,” etc,etc,etc. That’s because they again, didn’t take the time to learn how to teach control with this progression first. Well now they are starting to come around and asked some of us if when we have time, if we could show them the progression for DP. Why? Because the pros that are teaching DP, their folks are blowing the doors off of the private teams folks. Here’s an example. There was a guy that came to Snowmass with his family for there first skiing vaca. The husband was a high flying businessman who owned his own company, and didn’t have time to waste on class lessons with a bunch of people that were not up to his standards, he was going to take the short road to learning this thing His wife was an easy going fun loving person that loved to be with other folks and share in their successes and difficulties. She was in my class, and the husband got out his wallet and dropped $450 for an all day private. Getting the picture, Wink? To make a short story shorter, by the end of the day, the folks that were in class were making wide stance parallel turns and making laps on the beginner chair, cruising right by the high flying businessman who was still in a braking wedge in the puma area. I will never forget when during one pass the wife says, “Honey, you should come to our class tomorrow, I’m skiing!” while the husband was struggling to pick his ass up off the snow. The moral of the story, you get what you pay for, no? -------------Wigs :
post #11 of 17
Wigs post on Beginners Magic
More from Wigs

[ November 18, 2003, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: BillA ]
post #12 of 17
When will instructors ever catch on that "teaching the wedge" is not an objective. The wedge is only a tool to use, or not use, to teach skills which are appropriate to mainstream ski technique. The objective is to teach students to ski the way we ski, albeit at their level of development. The exception to this may be the braking wedge, which is a useful maneuver but not intended to be anything else.

In my humble opinion, this seemingly endless topic of whether or not to teach the wedge is rather silly. The topic might as well be: "Is the wedge a useful tool for teaching skiing?". There seems to be ample testimony that it is or has been for quite a few. It is interesting to ponder "what it is good for" or whether or not it is harmful but can't we please get beyond this major misconception that the wedge is something we teach per se?

Thank you!
post #13 of 17
Hi Wink,

I teach my first timers there are 3 ways to stop:
1) turn (till you are going uphill)
2) more edge
3) fall
regardless of whether it's a wedge or a DTP lesson. Granted, the "more edge" is kinda funky with DTP in that it could mean a hockey stop, a sharper turn or even a wedge. But the weird thing is that turning is so easy with DTP, that they never need to fall back to #2 or #3. This works because I teach stepping as the first way to make the turn and everyone seems to be able to do this. So when the parallel turn does not work, stepping does.

My experience is that my wedge turners have more trouble with speed control than my DTP students. The bottom line is that, with the new short skis, DTP students turn into the hill at the same or smaller radius than wedge turners do and can stop quicker than a person using a braking wedge straight down the fall line.

NONETHELESS, even in a DTP, wedges seem to "just happen". The approach I've been taught is not to try to "correct" this behavior. The cool point about this is that a fair number of DTP students can "learn" the wedge as a tool, without needing to be taught it.

DTP and "wedgeless lessons" work great when we have the space. Most of the time we do not need to teach the wedge for lift line purposes (thanks to our groomers and snow makers). But on crowded days we don't have the space to teach DTP lessons. And there is the big huge factor in this debate. In crowded conditions, the wedge is the better tool for the job.
post #14 of 17
Wigs said:
Although, there are many Pros out there that have only an hour to work with folks. They must try and teach them how to get down a small hill in a crowded situation at a local day ski area. I am fortunate in that I have really never been put in that situation. I have folks all day on the most part. And the teaching terrain is somewhat ideal. So I would, if put in a situation like the majority of our pros in this forum, teach a WEDGE if I only had an hour. And when they can turn and stop, PARALLEL
Wigs I long for the day that I can teach on terrain that will allow for DP progressions. I would love to be involved in DPP somewhere other than here. Right now our SSD absolutely insists on the wedge progression.
post #15 of 17

But now ya'all got me thinkin about the problem. So, I spent all night out in the garage.

For the adults ..... "snow hooks" .... kinda a modified grappling anchor that can be deployed from a fanny pack.

For the kiddies ..... genuine "Aero-speed brakes" ... worn on the helmet and kinda look like BIG MOUSE EARS when deployed. But I anticipate quite a battle from the Disney lawyers on this one.

.... or you can just wedge ...
post #16 of 17
Originally posted by yuki:
...For the adults ..... "snow hooks" .... kinda a modified grappling anchor that can be deployed from a fanny pack...
That's OK, but I was kinda thinking more along the lines of hooking up each beginner to one of the sleds used in tractor pulling contests. The further down the hill they go, the more the load shifts from the wheels to the dragged portion of the sled. The feed could be set so that no beginner could ever reach the lift line maze at more than 1 mph. It would be sort of like having an automatic tail-roper attached to each skier.

Or, as you pointed out ... they could wedge.

Tom / PM
post #17 of 17
I couldn't help but laugh at Yuki's ideas for speed control!

Vail introduced its version of a beginners progression this past season. Though supposedly NOT a DTP progression, the core of it is being wedge free.

While teaching a student in our beginner area, I had the opportunity to watch one of our L3 instrs teaching a group of about 7 first timers. What really caught my eye, was the fact that after almost every demo he did for his class, he would unconciously step into a triangle with his skis to hold himself still. Within a matter of about 3-4 efforts, the entire group was doing exactly the same thing! And he couldn't figure out how they all learned to "wedge" without his intruction. And despite his admonitions not to do so, they kept doing it. And so did he!

I guess it goes to prove the adage- "Nothing is more confusing than good advice and a bad example".

Yes, the wedge (braking or gliding) is a tool. But at some point that tool must be developed. Therefore, it is also an outcome (albeit at a low level). As instrs, we use that tool everyday, on almost every run, in some form or another. I wonder- what would it be like to go an entire day (with skis on) and NEVER put your skis into any sort of triangular position. Is there ANY instr out there who has ever done it?

Don't get me wrong! I am NOT denigrating any teaching methodology! As I stated in the thread "What makes you think you are right", understanding many different approaches is in the best interests of the guest. Some guests may not be physically or emotionally ready for a DTP approach, and would respond well to a wedge based progression.

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