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From Wedge Turns to Dynamic Parallel- Go Figure????

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
How can an advanced to expert skier benefit from correctly executed linked wedge turns???

What ties to upper level skiing does the wedge turn have???
: :
post #2 of 21
Uh... maybe mythological ones rooted in historical mis-comprehension?
post #3 of 21
Great question, whtmt. We've discussed this pretty thoroughly in the past, but it's still a "burning issue"!

"CORRECTLY EXECUTED" is the key, of course. There are lots of ways to do wedge turns, just as there are lots of ways to do parallel turns. Done "correctly," wedge turns are virtually identical, fundamentally, to high-performance expert turns. They share all the movements, intent, and tactics of good high-level turns. Indeed, "correct" wedge turns are not beginners' turns at all, but an introduction to the turns and movements of experts!

In both beginner turns and high-level turns, the feet and legs rotate independently of each other beneath the pelvis. These movements must begin with the inside ski (left tip left to go left, right tip right to go right...). In both beginner and expert turns, the ski edges release their grip on the mountain in the transition, allowing the skier to guide the tips into the new turn (vs. pushing the tails out). At all skill levels, the weight/pressure tends to move toward the outside ski ("weight transfer") largely as a result of the forces of the turn. At all skill levels, the intent of good turns is the offensive intent to "go where you want to go," rather than the defensive intent to brake or slow down.

The alignment of the entire body in relation to the outside (weight-bearing) ski is virtually the same in wedge and parallel turns. In other words, the ski is out to the side, not directly underneath the body. And it is turned/steered, like the front wheels of a car, in the direction of the turn. This steering results in the upper body being "slightly countered" relative to the direction of the outside ski. This arrangement is built-in to a wedge, so wedge turns require very little movement to start appropriately. A simple little guidance of the "left tip left to go left" or vice-versa is all the thought needed initiate a good wedge turn that incorporates all the essential elements of high-performance skiing.

If I had my way, we'd lose the term "wedge turn" and "parallel turn" in the first place. They should just be "turns"! The implication from having distinct names is that these must be different things. The essential elements that determine the quality of the turn are the MOVEMENTS involved--not the stance they start from. The distinction, so often overlooked, between "offensive turns" and "defensive turns" (braking) is much more meaningful than whether or not the skis were parallel or gently wedged--and has nothing to do with whether the skis were parallel or wedged!

Making sure we practice "correct" movements and concepts when demonstrating wedge turns not only improves the demos, but it can add precision and accuracy to our movement habits as well. Tend to rotate your upper body in moguls (drop the uphill hand back)? Focus on the discipline of your upper body in slow-speed turns! Having trouble releasing the edge of the downhill ski smoothly, causing a little stem or "pushoff"? Focus on the release move (tipping the downhill ski off its edge) when demoing wedge turns.

Eliminate bad habits in your wedge turns, and they will vanish from your "regular" skiing. Develop disciplined movements in low-speed demos, and you will benefit from that discipline when you crank up the speed and terrain.

So the expert skier benefits from practicing correct movements ANY time. The "wedge" part is not important.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 21
Well said! I am new to this forum and I know that this topic has been discussed in detail in the past, but I would like to comment that many people in the skiing public confuse wedge turns with snow plow/braking wedge turns. Once they understand that these turns are used to get somewhere, not brake, it should be quite easy to see the similarity between parallel turns and wedge turns.
post #5 of 21
The "problem" with wedge turns is, as Bob describes so thoroughly, the people teaching them incorrectly.
post #6 of 21
Bob, I could not agree with you more and we have indeed beat this topic to death except for one area we all tip-toe around. That issue being the big disparity between ideal learning methods and actual reality. Ideal learning methods is what we perceive as the best and fastest way to expert skiing. Reality is how our students see skiing and what they perceive learning skiing to be. The dispartiy in skiing is great.
You made the statement about wedge turns and I love it
>>They share all the movements, intent, and tactics of good high-level turns. Indeed, "correct" wedge turns are not beginners' turns at all, but an introduction to the turns and movements of experts!<<

Our frustration shows through in this statment, even if it wasn't written. You highlighted "correct" and said wedge turns are not beginner turns but and introduction to expert skiing. Ever get the feeling that we are preaching to the choir? I for one have never convinced a beginner skier that they should spend more time learning the correct way to do a wedge turn. I can't even get most instructors to buy it. Instructors will practice wedge turns to pass certs and thats it. Thats reality and the reason we get tons of plateaued intermediates and level II certs.
We know that there is no easy short cut to real expert skiing such as SAM would try to make the public believe. The public and SAM want a fast quick fix. The real issue is how do we bridge the gap. The frustration rings loud and clear in your words. I know the only fix that will compensate all is one that listens to the all mighty dollar. Who's got the magic button.
post #7 of 21
Has anyone seen the Egan's book, All Terrain Skiing? There is a sequence called Wedge to Race. You start out in a wedge, make 2 turns,gradually make it smaller, until you are turning parallel. Looks good on paper, at least.
post #8 of 21
"Wedge to Race"--yes, Lisamarie. At Keystone's Mahre Training Center we used to use a very effective progression to develop slalom technique working from a wedge. It was a progression that Phil and Steve Mahre, and other racers from the US Team had used extensively.

Over the years we de-emphasized this progression, not because it wasn't effective, but because it was very difficult! Any coach can still use it--the MTC does not prescribe a set progression--but we developed other alternatives as well that were a bit less aerobic.

Pierre eh!--great post. Yes, I like many of us, am very frustrated about the disparity between what "should" be taught--what PSIA (and PMTS and other associations) profess and train--and what actually takes place thousands of times a day at ski schools all over the place. The ideal--which is very simple and highly attainable--and the reality are in different worlds!

The marketing of skiing and skis as being "easy" and "quick to learn" has proven to be a 2-edged sword. And this isn't the first time this has happened. Cliff Taylor's GLM (Graduated Length Method) promised a quick shortcut to "expert" skiing 25 years ago or so. It attracted hoards of new skiers eager for instant gratification--it was a huge success. But the shortcuts it involved proved to lead not to expert skiing at all, but to the world of mediocre intermediate skiing. And people dropped out. Mediocre skiing just isn't that much fun! And plateaus are truly frustrating.

By marketing skiing as easily accessible, creating equipment that creates the apparition of "instant progress," grooming slopes so that good technique is no longer required to feel like an "expert," and so on, we have created something that doesn't have much appeal! Who would be passionately devoted to something that seems so attainable by "anyone"?

Anyway, back to the wedge.... The wedge is part of skiing, at all levels. In itself, it incorporates no good or bad habits. The movements we make--and teach--regardless of the wedge or parallelness of the stance, are the keys to success or failure.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 21
Seems like I end up making this post at least once a year. Probably should save it so that I can just paste it in when the need arises.

I teach people to have fun skiing. Don't care if they ski in a wedge or parallel stance. Don't care if they ski greens or blacks. Don't care if they ski fast or slow. Don't care if they skid or carve. To a certain extent I can even say I don't care what goals they have when they come to me for a lesson (goals can be unrealistic, fuled by current industry buzzwords,etc part of my job might be to modify those goals after I know and understand them). If the student leaves the lesson smiling more or bigger and eager to come back tomorrow, next weekend or next year then I have been successful. Terrain and saftey considerations lead me to using a wedge stance for beginners but so does the fact that this seems to produce the biggest smiles in the shortest time. My beginners tend to be parallel by the end of their first four hour group lesson or half day private and those that want to can be on moderate blue terrain by the end of their third day skiing safely and having a great time. Some are pure parallel and some have micro wedge entrys. Again I don't care which as long as they are having fun. Kind of sound like DrGo here don't I.

I'll be happy to respond to any comments that this rant might generate,
post #10 of 21
It's been a long time since I entered into the wedge vs. no wedge fray and I do this with some hesitance. Nevertheless I'm going to give it a shot.

I think there is a significant difference between a wedge and non-wedge approach (assuming here that both can be and are done in an effective manner). I think this difference comes at the perceptual level.

With a wedge approach there is tremendous security (mostly in terms of fear of falling and/or speed) provided by being on or near both big toe edges. Even when the skis are flattened and steered in a gliding wedge the skier is not far from the security of those big toe edges. I have no doubt that a competent instructor can work with someone through the gliding wedge movements and get them to the full release and free fall of a turn which I think is the underlying goal at this level. However, unless this feeling gets adequate practice and reinforcement I believe that many skiers just go back to the "security" of rushing to big toe edging (thus resulting in a so called dead end movement). In other words I think this is an approach of moving in small steps away from the security of big toe edging and aiming towards a full release and "free fall" experience.

On the other hand I see a non-wedge approach (i.e., PMTS, Pathway to Parallel, etc.) as trying to get a skier to the feeling of free-fall without giving them the fall back position of reverting to the "security" of the wedge. That is why the approach in this case is so critical - the challenge is to get the skier to this point while keeping their comfort level within reason. I think that results with a no-wedge approach demonstrate this can be readily accomplished (at least under the right circumstances). However, even with a no-wedge approach, if there is inadequate practice and reinforcement I suspect that some (many? most?) skiers will find that big toe security if left to their own means and follow it into a dead end movement.

Of course for the truly, naturally born thrill seekers out there with little natural fear of anything (few and far between I think) it probably doesn't matter as the pursuit of the free fall experience (or even a hint of it) will guide their movements in the right direction. In the mean time, the rest of beginner and intermediate skiers need to learn that the free fall experience can actually provide more security and much greater thrills and rewards than the security of the wedge.

While I don't have anywhere near the experience of others posting here I have found that the no-wedge approach is usually the one that works best and that these same techniques work extremely effectively for those who have descended to the dead end of the wedge.
post #11 of 21
IMHO the reason the wedge creates the best platform from which to learn initially is the fact that the center of mass does not have to cross all the way to the other side, so to speak. You are always half way to the other turn. Not to mention - wider stance and skis pointed in the direction of the next turn.
What say you? Why the rush to parallel? It usually happens automatically, before we even need to talk about it as the dynamics intensify!!
post #12 of 21
When statically showing the difference between wedge position vs. dynamic parallel, try this. Get into a "good" wedge position. Without moving your upper body, (use your inside pole for support if needed for demo) and simply bring your inside ski parallel to your outside ski. The body position between the wedge and parallel is virtually identical. Hands, legs - short/long, shoulders, balance toward outside ski etc.

Just quick thing I have done to show that there is really little difference in body position, only the intensity of the skills (edge, pressure & rotary) being applied.
post #13 of 21
The beauty of all this is that over time this wedge will disappear from the teaching world for just long enough, then some new instructor will dream up the perfect way to teach and it will be all about this new turn called a "duck turn" lets say and it will be the wedge returning to us in a new wrapper with a new name for a new reason. So all you that are worried about the wedges death have no fear it is being reincarnated as we speak.
post #14 of 21
I had mixed emotions and 2 immediate responses going through my head when I read your post. First one was, you are horrible for the sport to the enthusiast, and the second one was that you are great for the sport to the recreational skier. I'll explain. First, I agree with wanting to put smiles on the faces of many skiers. What could be better than you going home feeling like you made someone happy and that person (especially a tourist, if you are in Utah) sitting in the hot tub enjoying a cold brew with the wife and talking about how much fun he/she had that day. But I hope you don't do that at the expense of true enthusiasts who want to learn some fundamentals that won't put a smile on there face. Let's say I took a private lesson from you and had it all wrong. Wrong to the point where I had been skiing wrong very well for 12 years and "thought" I was a pretty hot skier like that guy who never took a lesson and wrote a book watching from the lift chair. I would hope that you wouldn't just try to tweak my hot style, and not tell me my book was garbage, buy instead start over with me, at least back to a point to where we can really build from. I don't really know your style of teaching, I'm just taking some harmless pokes from your post . This was all sparked by the comment you made about disregarding what the student tells you about his goals. I sure hope that if I came to you in a privte lesson with something that I am struggling with, and that something would require some exercises or some advice that wasn't "fun" or put a smile on my face, that you would tell me how it was, instead of trying to teach me how to smile. Let me speak on behalf of all the enthusiasts here, and by all means not for all the recreation skiers. There is something challenging, motivating, and extremely rewarding about the sport of skiing. It's really what draws many of us back so fiercely each year. More fiercely than the year past. I've seen some of your posts (and Dr. Go's) when enthusiasts like me get in a serious type of tone about skiing. You say relax, have fun, put a smile on your face. Fact is, for most serious skiers on a plateau, this put a smile on your face stuff doesn't work. Go tell a serious enthusiast golfer (who has realized he has a major swing flaw) to go out and shoot nine, smile and enjoy himself. Have you ever been to a driving range? People go there to practice ... so they can have fun on the golf course! Unfortunately for both parties (the weekend funners having to deal with the practicers, and the practicers having to deal with the many weekend funners), the driving range is the golf course, i.e. both parties have to ski on the same slope at the same time. When you see me out there struggling and not smiling, don't thing for a minute that I'm not enjoying myself. I am. I have a srong work ethic and feel great satisfaction from achieving something very challenging. (I also love to rip turns and put a smile on my face too . But sometimes to be very good at something, it takes a little more than a smile. It takes the reality of what needs to be done to achieve the goal. A little work ethic, drive, determination and of course, if you don't enjoy doing all that, or at least enjoy the end result enough to sacrifice the energy to do all that, then I'm with you.. just go out and have fun!! Next time you see me "not smiling and having fun", I'm just hitting some balls at the range so I can shoot par the next time out!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 20, 2001 11:27 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Vman ]</font>
post #15 of 21
Vman, Ydnar has posted enough for me to know that he is quite attuned to what his students want and is himself, a very enthusiastic skier and passionate instructor. Our lack of snow appears to be getting to you. Randy is in seventh heaven at Deer Valet and here we sit in warm October like weather. For that, I will take a poke at him too. Do you ski at BM/BW? If so, look me up.
post #16 of 21
We have beaten this horse in the past, however, it's an old nag worth riding.

I had the good fortune to ski with Bob B a couple of weeks ago and he demonstrated something to me that has really helped my teaching. It's very simple, however, it really helps students progress quickly from a gliding wedge into a wedge christie and beyond.

Simply stated it is getting folks to tip/flatten/release the old outside, soon to become new inside ski. This is done from a very narrow gliding wedge. I begin the lesson by drawing turns in the snow and talking about "skiing the slow line fast". I love the look on folks faces when I saw that. For some it clicks right away. I have had students start to "match" skis at the end of a turn really quickly and then start skidding parallel turns in a few more runs simply by teaching "OUR" movement pools!
post #17 of 21
Rusty, do you have people do this one turn at a time, then stop? Or do you do garlands?
Because if you do more than one turn, then
1. There is no wedge on the second and subsequent turns, or
2. The first move to start a new turn is to change the edge of the new outside ski. Which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole exercise, doesn't it?
post #18 of 21
Played around with "Wedge to Race" today. It was our first day out this season, skiing on mostly man made snow. I am also in my new Salomon Wave 7s, plus my new footbeds, and boot work. But lo and behold,I discover that I cannot move my skis in any direction whatsoever. My guess is the contrast is too great from my Techinca slush buckets.

I decided to play with the wedge to race concept,because despite all the boot work, I was having trouble getting my skis on edge.. The thought pattern I used, however, was not "make the skis parallel". It was simply, "make the wedge smaller, now make it even smaller, now even smaller.

It did not get me carving, but it definitely got my skis more paralle, and more importantly, it got me MOVING down the hill.

I think this is an excellent progression, simply becuse you do not have to think about too much. There's no "what's my inside ski doing, now what's my outside ski doing". Just make th wedge maller and go DOWN, and not ACROSS the hill.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 24, 2001 06:23 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lisamarie ]</font>
post #19 of 21
milesb- I have not done garlands first. I suppose I would do so if I felt it was needed. I'm confused by your concern about "changing edges". They have to learn to do it at some point. As a new turn is begun, I try to get students to blend tipping the old outside leg as a release and extend the old inside to flatten. Keep in mind this is done in an EXTREMELY narrow gliding wedge. I really stress from the outset, that this stance is a platform on which to learn movements. It is not a braking mechanism or a turning mechanism.
post #20 of 21
I may have misunderstood. Do you have them tip the old outside ski just enough to release, but not enough to change the edge?
So that they stay on opposing edges through the whole turn? If not, then what movement do they use to get back into a wedge?
post #21 of 21
Pierre eh,
You are right, I am very fed up with Novemeber rain during Christmas. I need a muzzle for flapping jaw.
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