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teaching young kids to ski - Page 2

post #31 of 53
I'm not sure this is really what you had in mind but here it is. You'll have to remember this was at the height of the flame wars with then PmtsWacko later known as SCSA. May, 2001:


Don’t forget that new film:

“The Wedge - Root of All Evil!”

In which Kevin Costner plays a down and out “Brother can you spare a tip?” ski instructor and finds salvation when he meets Harald Harb.
Together they battle to rid the slopes of the evil wedge that’s destroying the lives of thousands of begining skiers. On the way they meet up with new skier Paul and so change his life that he gives his stocks to charity and roams the country as “PMTS Wacko”. Spewing dialogue so inane he pisses off thousands and bores even more, he attempts to convert 97% of the skiing population who “just don’t get it”. See how it ends!

"The Wedge-Root of All Evil!" -cont'd

See the begining where Harb "invents" the Phantom Move late one night during a vision while walking the streets of Aspen. Relish 'the triumph of the human spirit' as Costner decides to rebuild his life after Harald tells him "You're not such a bad guy."

See the rebuilding of the "Brother can you spare a tip? " down and out ski instructor (Costner). When finally he learns the Phantom Move he's totally reborn and screams "I can ski!! I can ski!!"

Witness the Dark Side as Harb forces Costner to change his sideburns every two weeks!

See the brutal courtroom battle that ensues after a judge says of the Phantom Move:
"Are you kidding? What is this? Hasn't that been taught for years?"

Oh you'll see this battle's no phantom!

Watch how the new skier Paul struggles with learning and gets nowhere until he meets Harb and enters the Valley of All Knowledge!

You'll be tickled as you watch Costner teach the Phantom Move! Then Paul rockets past 97% of all skiers with his skills! Enjoy Paul's glory but feel the agony as Costner doesn't get a tip!
See Costner crushed as he realizes Paul is a better skier than he is! Shattered and disillusioned Costner grows a beard!! He tells Harb "I'm not cuttin' these 'burns!"

You'll feel the pain as Harb throws Costner out of the Valley of All Knowledge!
Then Harb annoints Paul as his disciple and proclaims: "You are now ‘PMTS Wacko’ !"

See the struggles as Wacko tries to convert 97% of the skiing population! Watch as he tries to show twin tippers at Snow Summit the glories of his ways and they tell him "Dude, will you just shut the f*** up! You're a Gaper!!"

You'll gasp when Harb and his disciple go play golf down south and find guess who as the golf pro? Costner!

Costner slyley pretends not to care! He's sporting curled sideburns!
Revenge comes however, as Costner disables the golf cart brakes just before the steepest hill on the course. As the cart careems downhill out of control Harb and Wacko scream "Phantom Move!!" and jump out deploying the move!

Will they survive with the Phantom Move? Does Costner get the ultimate revenge?

You'll have to .....see how it ends!
post #32 of 53
Thread Starter 
Tog - LOL!!! I love this script! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] Like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I hope I didn't make an impression of a wannabe Costner's character or "Paul" for the sequel [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] .

I do NOT consider wedge the root of any evil; I consider it a VERY USEFUL intermediate to advanced LEARNING tool. It teaches outside ski dominance, balance on one ski, independent leg motion, and - yes! - the Phantom Move, as well as - ironically - the Wedge Blocker .

In fact, I remember reading - i think in some of the online magazines - that they wanted to interview a racer the day before the women's DH at the World Championships this year, but she was unavailable because she was practicing wedge turns.

I just don't think it's a beginner SKIING tool.

[ February 26, 2003, 05:52 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #33 of 53
Alex, you're nothing like paul here...

These debates have gone on endlessly. As for the wedge it's just supposed to be and then end, not be the be all and end all.
post #34 of 53
On thought of teaching the wedge for very very little kids.... 3 year olds haven't developed yet to where they are readily able to move one side independantly from another. Example, they don't always swing their arms when they walk the same as an older child or adult. If they're strong enough, a wedge will enable them to ski to a certain degree. If they're not strong enough, an adult can ski with them with a pole and just a little pressure will turn the child. I have a friend who uses a harness on his child and helps her turn with a slight tug on the harness.

As everyone has said, kids immitate so if they're skiing with the parents, they'll be immitating their style as soon as they're physically able.
post #35 of 53
I'm just trying to imagine having 6 beginner 3 year olds, and not being able to teach them a wedge. How on earth do they stop their skis? I'm not going ot carry a pole for all of them to hang onto, and ditto leashes.
Those tip clamps/edgie wedgies, btw, are to facilitate wedge-forming!
post #36 of 53
Thread Starter 
Ant, that would be a sight to behold!

Edgie-wedgie is long enough to be able to ski on parallel skis and turn on the same-side edges. The tip lock is only for pizza.

Actually I can't imagine 3-year-olds in a ski class with less than 1 instructor per student. [img]smile.gif[/img] As Robin pointed out, a ski school for 3-yo is too labor intensive.

Kids as young as 3 should either ski with their parents if the parents are good enough skiers - which is why I raised the question to begin with - or in a private class if the parents don't ski well enough or are too selfish [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] .

[ February 27, 2003, 05:50 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #37 of 53
the other problem is supply and demand. to put it bluntly, teaching 3 year olds is NOT popular.
If I have people of any age who can learn to turn without a wedge, that's great. But for most people, kids and adults, the wedge enables them to develop good basic skills that will see them through to parallel and beyond, without changing the fundamentals. The wedge has them steering, edging just enough, keeping their weight aligned over the turning ski etc
and of course, the snowplough/wedge always a handy skill to have, even for olympic racers.

Um, when your kid is paralleling with his edgie wedgie on, how close together are his legs, feet and skis?
post #38 of 53
Thread Starter 
Ant - You are right. As I think somebody (maybe even I [img]tongue.gif[/img] ) mentioned, an instructor for a 3-year-old has to be an instructor and a babysitter, which is a difficult mix to find in oneself. Maybe junior instructor girls (is it called J1?) would fit the bill, but how many 16-18 year old instructors willing to spend time with a toddler are there?

Re. your question: Not much, about 4-6 inches, but I do every now and then "forget" to put it back on, just to see if the muscles are there yet to hold the skis together. Once she doesn't split (with a face plant, tears, etc.), it will be gone.

[ February 28, 2003, 11:07 AM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #39 of 53
wow. This is great. Robin, once again I bow to your wisdom and experience.

"adults should be so easy" is so accurate.

I have been working so hard with our kids club staff on this idea of teaching skills in a natural environment and that it is so easy. A lot of the young teachers are so stuck on the pizza/wedge thing that they see it as the only way.

My son started skiing on xc gear at 1-1/2 years. Just for 20 minutes or so at a time; generally as long as he was interested that day. The next season I took him out on the hill several times as well as played on small hills on the xc gear. And at 3-1/2 he was skiing most of the groomed terrain on the hill, except for the steepest ones.

He actually skied with very little wedging up until 3-1/2, when he started spending more time with the kid's club program (being a single dad who teaches for a living, I have had to utilize the all-day program). I think it was a combination of watching the other kids and being taught the braking-wedge by someone who didn't know any better. But he started brake-wedging everything, after a season or so of not really using it much.

I decided not to panic too badly and just keep on with my 'ski by example' without even asking him to copy me approach. Sure enough he would eventually holler "Dad! Look!" and rip off some parallel turns, or short-swing check turns or something and then go back to brake-wedging S#*%tuff. So it's ok. But I find myself more and more confused by instructors who see the braking wedge as the only option to extend to either kids or adults.

One thing I certainly do is teach the difference between a braking wedge and gliding wedge to people who come to me with the braking wedge as their only tool. Lo and behold, soon they are going with the glide (with the adults asking me why their other instructor(s) don't teach them the same stuff) and using turn shape for speed control instead of that horrendously 'turn preventing' braking wedge.

I guess the braking wedge is like a gun(people shoot people). "The braking-wedge doesn't misunderstand people, people misunderstand the braking-wedge!"

Anyway, I have learned much from my son and the book "Teaching Children to Ski" written by a couple of Norwegians about how to deal with kids and it all works whether with a group of them or not. It's all about the environment/terrain and maximizing the opportunity to slide (with a little guidance).

Inexperienced instructors who are placed with kids for the first couple years of teaching ought to know that they are there for the kids to teach them, not the other way around. And the same goes for instructors with experience who 'blame kids' for being difficult to teach. The problem AIN'T with the kids!

instead of the wedge, teach them to balance over their feet!
" " " " teach them to engage/release their edges!
" " " " teach them to turn their feet!

[ February 28, 2003, 11:38 AM: Message edited by: Roto ]
post #40 of 53
Thread Starter 
Roto, thank you! I knew I was not alone there! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img]

"I guess the braking wedge is like a gun (people shoot people). "The braking-wedge doesn't misunderstand people, people misunderstand the braking-wedge!"

Exactly my point. A wedge is not a beginner skiing tool; nor is it a technique.

post #41 of 53
Roto, good to see you back! I agree with all you said. Back in 83-84 at Purgatory we taught every First timer on nordic on the first day, then switched to alpine. Worked extremely well with kids!
The "braking wedge" in and of itself is not an evil thing. Just one of the little tools/markers along the way. Is there a more classic kid's game than Red light/Green light? Mom and Dad like to see the "wedge to a full stop" milestone to put their minds at ease. Wedge change-ups, sizing games etc.....all good stuff. One of the critical misread issues in kids teaching is the fact that once they have it......move on! They lose interest with redundancy. Contrary to what some child development studies don't need as much repetition as is commonly thought. Givem enough to create intuitive muscle memory and off to the next task/challenge. Simply teaching a braking wedge does not doom a child to a lifetime of defensive/wedging behaviors...making the wedge a goal does! Soon enough they are releasing, spontaeously christying and simultaneously steering the feet...just keep raising the bar!
Roto, too true! The kids teach the instructors more than the parents will ever know....
post #42 of 53
Thread Starter 
Robin, that's a fantastic idea [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] ; too bad resorts don't do that nowadays anymore. Anyway, we did that with our kids too, not to mention that my wife and I were pretty good at XC skiing as kids (and still are [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img] ).

I remember learning to ice-skate. The first thing our dad taught us was how to fall and how to stand up on skates. That was with the cat-tracks attached to the blades and on firm ground. Once we knew how to fall and that falling is no problem, THEN he would take our cat tracks off and let us go roam the rink. Of course we didn't stay upright during the entire time we skated, but we didn't feel that falling was so awful a thing. Even if we got a bruise here or there, it was OK, because we knew how to fall, and the thought that if we hadn't it could have been worse kept our little egoes warm and fuzzy.

I've heard and overheard instructors - and parents - say to first-timer kids something like, "Let's learn the pizza, so you can go slowly and then you won't fall". Hearing things like that from an adult, what will a kid think? By the time they go skiing, they usually have already skinned their knees and fallen off structures in the playgrounds more than once, and they know that falling is no fun. Also when a parent or teacher says things like that, they know that the parent doens't want them to fall.

So they start skiing defensively. Whenever they feel danger, they use the wedge, and then it becomes the way they ski, and instead of arming them with the right tools, the bad instructor / parent takes them to a slightly more challenging terrain, and more challenging, and more, until they go so fast that the wedge doesn't work, because they are not physically strong enough yet... But the fear of falling is still there, and the more challenging the terrain, the stronger it becomes.

Any ideas on how to overcome that fear in kids? Young children cannot confront their fears yet; they can only forget about them for the here and now, but then it comes back when they are in a new here and now... :

[ February 28, 2003, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #43 of 53
I dont' talk about learning the pizza so we can go slowly and not fall, rather... so we can control our skis. I really think we are picking this apart way too much. We end up slerping too much and thereby protecting our kids from all the evils in the world! it's like having a squeeking clean, antiseptic house to protect our kids from germs! Then the get out on their own and whammo! They get hit with the dirty world and have no anti-bodies to fight it with!
I care not what we call it, tools, technique, skills... teach 'em the basics. inside a couple of runs down the rope tow hill, they are having a ball! Where's this terrible fear now? By worrying so much about the little tikes' fear we ingrain fear deeper into them.
It sound to me that everyone here are very, very fine skiers. You learned how to ski most likely under very different styles of teaching and teachers and y'all turned out just fine!

So there! And if ya pick on it more... I'm tellin'!
post #44 of 53
My two year old rode the lifts for the first time yesterday. We made about 12 run for a total of about 10,000' vertical. The tip wedgie thing was more hassle than worth so we took it off during run 2. She doesnt need it.

The leash is wonderful. My back doesnt hurt and she is never out of control. Although my legs are a bit tired from hours of power wedging to slow her down.

She has good stance, good tip control, good ski seperation, and great balance. She tends not to fall, and perhaps 1/3 of the falls were caused by the leash.

Looks like we are going to spend a whole lot of time on the slopes this spring.

Any thoughts would be helpful, but I intend to let her learn how to turn and stop on her own for now. My primary intent is to provide her with a great skiing experince so she wants to come back again and again.

Hey, she is only 2.

post #45 of 53
Thread Starter 
Wow! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Are the slopes fairly gentle? Who shows her how to turn, and stop, etc.? Or does she just look around and see how other people ski?

[ March 03, 2003, 04:07 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #46 of 53
I'll keep teaching the wedge (as opposed to the Snowplough) to kids and adults. I think it's a great starter, and gets them doing all the things they'll need to progress.

Teaching kids to turn is easy: you get them to point their pizza at stuff. they are balancing on their feet, using steering movements, and learning how pointing their pizza uphill slows them down, and pointing downhill makes them go faster. As they become comfy with this, their wedge metamorphises into an open parallel, without tears or obsession about it.

I see braking wedges happening most when kids are taken on scary terrain, usually by well-meaning relatives who feel that challenging the kids will make them "learn faster".
post #47 of 53
AlexG... my suggestion for a new thread was to keep to your topic. It was not intended as a chastisement. Moreover, sorry for this "late" comment; I only get to this board about once a week.

I teach skiing. And, I will be candid. I felt my blood pressure rise as I read this thread.

Alex - PLEASE talk to your family doctor and learn about gross and fine motor skills and how they develop within children before you decide HOW you want your child to learn to ski. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Children are strong within their core. Ever notice little ones are perpetually "in the backseat"? Do you try to get your child to move their body weight forward over the front of their skis as your instructors have taught you as an adult? Wonder why the little ones don't do it? Wonder why they stay in their wedge?

Kids need to lean back, capitalizing on the strength in their core, and actually rudder their skis a bit. That's how it works until they get physically bigger and stronger.

You don't have to DEMONSTRATE the wedge all day, I agree, as an adult it's crippling to ski like that all day.

Finally - ever consider what YOUR goal for your child's skiing are versus THEIR goals for the day? Isn't it just about having fun :

best of luck with this!
post #48 of 53
I just went back and read the remainder of the posts and I return to this point:

AlexG - IMHO... you need to find balance between what is physically POSSIBLE for a child to do on skis and what you want to see them doing on skis!!!

relax and enjoy,
post #49 of 53
Thread Starter 

"Ever notice little ones are perpetually "in the backseat"? Do you try to get your child to move their body weight forward over the front of their skis as your instructors have taught you as an adult? Wonder why the little ones don't do it?"

Try telling a kid to keep his/her hands in front, and that will do the trick re. body weight. Did for my kids.

Little ones don't do it because they powerwedge to slow down. Try braking in a wedge with your weight forward: your knees will tell you that you are doing something wrong, and the tips of your skis will cross over. Kids simply don't have the muscles yet in their little quads needed to power wedge while centered over their skis or leaning forward.

"Wonder why they stay in their wedge? " Same reason as adults: because it is comfortable.

My goal for the child's skiing is to make sure she has fun and enjoys every moment on the slopes. Which is why when I see that she does not need the pizza I will not insist on her doing it. Believe me, I am not a stiff, entrencehd-in-a-dogma kind of guy when it comes to little kids. With them, flexibility is the key word.
post #50 of 53
I think what Kieli is aluding to is the morphology of little kids. Most of them have these whacking great huge heads! Their centre of mass is quite a bit higher than that of an adult. At around 7 or so, the body starts to catch up, their musculature changes and their CM starts to move down the body. But this is why you see so many of them leaning backwards, to get that leverage.
Many parents get terribly concerned about this, but when it's explained, they become more relaxed, and there are ways to mitigate this without stressing the kid.
post #51 of 53
Ant - thanks so much for your additional info/explanation!! And, AlexG, I am happy to hear that you are having so much fun! In the end that's all that really matters.

take care,
post #52 of 53
Originally posted by AlexG:
Wow! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Are the slopes fairly gentle? Who shows her how to turn, and stop, etc.? Or does she just look around and see how other people ski?
The slopes are fairly gentle but still aggressive for a 2 yr old, but then what wouldn't be?

As for turns, I just let her ski and have fun. I ask her to steer away from obstacles and only if she doesn’t do I pull on the leash on the side I want her to turn towards. This seems to change her direction and she turns. She has an apparent innate understanding of turning, I suspect this is more that she turns her head and the skis follow the direction in which she is looking, than a volitional change of direction. But a two, I don’t care what is going on. I am just thrilled she can ski and ski well.

She spends a lot of the time looking around and socializing with the other skiers.

post #53 of 53
Thread Starter 
Mark, that's great! I hope I can do the same when we go out skiing in two weeks. Unfortunately, my 3-1/2 year-old is already too conscious about how she looks and it took me some time to get her to agree to play horsie by leading daddy on the leash. Oh well, we'll just have to wait and see. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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