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The Lost Plough

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yesterday's thread (Hunter) on PMTS etc's tipping as a universal panacea which has superceded the rotation allegedly advocated in LeMaster's The Skier's Edge, for me misses a point.

As Nettie and others pointed out, surely there are no universals, there are different blends to suit the numerous circumstances and aspirations of all 100% of skiers. What maybe a more serious concern is the notion that wedge-based-things are needlessly taught that then have to be unlearned (never easy), like attaching L plates with araldite.

For 97% of us, L plates are a necessary part of the learning process and in skiing this has come to mean the wedge or plough. Something PMTS has deliberately challenged, imo unwisely. If properly taught , I see no reason why the wedge need be unlearned as the L plates are painlessly discarded.

The wedge does not have to involve the exclusive rotation of the outer ski, it can be taught by steering the inner ski and learning to roll both, besides some rotary skills remain useful even if they are not the primary 'turning method' beloved of ideologues. It can teach all pivoted movements, vertical and foreaft movements and also carving from the secure platform that low SAFE speeds require. And yet aren't some skischools buying into dismissing it as soon as possible for the apparent progress of (truly appalling) apparently 'parallel' skiing?

IMO more progress is blocked by a failure to effectively learn to plough properly, contrast the day2 novice proudly claiming they are now parallel (finished with plough!) with Witherall and Foster's continuing use of wedge based exercises in advancing race training.

As Ali Ross says in his book 'Skiing Clinic', "There is only one difference between the snow-plough turn and the parallel turn - speed". Wisdom in a nutshell, yet so many ski school pupils need the psychological goal of finishing with the plough often in the first days. Well if that makes the punters happy, sobeit, but can't this false aspiration be addressed if a true goal of ski schools is to teach skiing and not merely be recreational minders?

Now the appalling parallel does come at a price, it is very difficult to unlearn.
post #2 of 25
First off on this side of the pond we can't pronounce things that are not written simple. Plough is Plow here and colour is color.

First off I use the plow for some things in my skiing but not generally to the general public. I do use the gliding wedge.

One of the nice things about the gliding wedge is that I can teach the weighted release and by pass the dead end maneuver of lifting the inside ski. Lifting the insided ski must be unlearned latter and relplaced with the weighted release. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #3 of 25
I think Pierre is on to something. The gliding wedge is not the same as the old "snowplow," which is useful only for braking at slow speeds on easy terrain. The gliding wedge does not need to be "unlearned:" it will just disappear as the speed and energy of the turns increase. On the other hand, the "lift and tip" drill can become an ingrained habit that will never help develop the lateral balance skills needed for crud, powder and off-piste.

PMTS is just smart marketing to people who still think the narrow stance is the same as high quality skiing. There's no doubt that PMTS will get the 5 days per year guy skiing parallel with his feet together, but it's a dead end as far as high level skiing is concerned.

Regards, John
post #4 of 25
I was going to just read this one and let it go, but I couldn't. I'm too obsessive.

Quote:
Originally posted by daslider:

As Ali Ross says in his book 'Skiing Clinic', "There is only one difference between the snow-plough turn and the parallel turn - speed".
Sorry to disagree. It's not speed, It's commitment (commitment to the new turn in the form of some sort of crossover).

Interesting conversation, though.
post #5 of 25
Quote:
PMTS is just smart marketing to people who still think the narrow stance is the same as high quality skiing. There's no doubt that PMTS will get the 5 days per year guy skiing parallel with his feet together, but it's a dead end as far as high level skiing is concerned.
No not really any more than PSIA is a dead end for teaching the wedge. I just couldn't resist the comparison.

In PMTS lifting must be unlearned and replaced with the weighted release to move to expert levels. I suspect the bulk of PMTS skiers never make the commitment.

Most skiers PMTS or PSIA that I have seen start to twist the skis to get them out from under them in short radius turns when the speed increases. What amounts to the same naturally aquired dead end moves exist in both PMTS and PSIA. Either the student realizes there is something different and makes the commitment or they don't.

The weighted release in PMTS starts out with more or less one ski skiing on the inside foot and progresses from there.

I work at two resorts, one teaches direct parallel and one teaches wedge progression exclusively. Students progress rapidly with the direct parallel but in the absence of continued lessons, I can't tell much difference between the two groups of skiers after a short period of time. My nod would go with the direct parallel for beginners as skier retention is probably higher.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
By snowplough turning I do not mean the hardedging braking manoever ploughbrake, but the gliding wedge you describe. It is possible to introduce the rolling of the feet and the guiding of the inside foot as well as flex-extension and fore-aft.

Looking at the weighting diagrams of the wedge in Bob Barnes' illustrations, it is possible to weight the outer ski but not by somehow getting onto it (weighting it???) but by inside foot guidance the resultant turning forces then engage the outer ski and weight the outer ski as a consequence.(HH would approve of this as in his tipping).

So I reckon from the wedge, with all its stability at low speed advantages, it is possible to teach a turn without twisting the outer ski as PMTS claims it does.

re JohnH and speed, yes it is committment but the speed carries you through that transition just as it brings the lighter inner ski in to parallel.
post #7 of 25
I guess any system (I hate that word as it pertains to instruction) or approach that aids in skier progression is great. I learned the gliding wedge first, but the instruction pushed to progress towards parallel pretty quickly. It worked ok for me.

I think there's a little too much made about particular systems or approaches. I think quality of instruction and student committment is the real wildcard in all of this. I will say that I personally feel that any instruction that teaches movements that have to be unlearned later, or will inhibit future progession, is a path that I wouldn't want to follow. I'm not a ski professional, but that just doesn't make much sense to me.
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by JohnH:
It's not speed, It's commitment (commitment to the new turn in the form of some sort of crossover).

It's true that committment is necessary to move from the wedge turn to parallel, but you still need to be comfortable with a little speed. And it is still true that you don't need to "unlearn" the wedge in order to make parallel turns. Direct-to-parallel approaches that are flexible enough to allow students to use a gliding wedge if it develops spontaneously work fine. That's how I understand the PSIA 'Stepping Stones" approach.

Regards, John
post #9 of 25
I think we're talking in degrees here. Yes, a little speed helps, but speed is not what makes the inside ski match or remain parallel at the beginning of the turn. If done properly, I can make a purely parallel turn with almost no speed, just a gentle side slip (think linked pivot slips, or braquage if you know the term). However, I can't make a parallel turn if I never get my CM, at a minimum, on top of the downhill ski, because the skis will remain on opposing edges. I can minimize it by pulling my feet really close together so that I don't have to move my CM as far, but at a loss of stability and ability to edge and guide the skis.

I definitely agree that a wedge is not something that needs to be unlearned. If someone is making a proper wedge christie, and simply become more comfortable with the move to commit the CM into the new turn, the wedge will disappear and all of the other good fundamentals will be apparent in their skiing.
post #10 of 25
"Unlearn"?!

One cannot usher out the darkness - only bring in the light.

r
post #11 of 25
Sure. It's like being uninvited to a party, or like a "Do Over" when you were a kid.

However, you can't un-ring a bell.
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
yes you and I are talking degrees, but it annoys me to hear people writing off the wedge as yesterday's move or only for the day 1 novice because they can't see beyond attempts to weight and twist the outer ski.

It gives rise imo to a wholly false aspiration -parallel at any cost. Whether it is speed (Ali Ross)or commitment (JohnH) or both, we can probably agree that parallel is the result of getting other things right and not a goal in itself (though it will always look like that).
post #13 of 25
Quote:
"Unlearn"?!

One cannot usher out the darkness - only bring in the light.
Oh RJR don't tell me you are pointing out the utter stupidity of using "unlearn" as it applies to skiing. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Pierre

do you teach 'parallel' as a goal in itself, or merely as the consequence of getting a whole lot of other more important things right?
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by John Dowling:
The gliding wedge does not need to be "unlearned:" it will just disappear as the speed and energy of the turns increase.
Totally agree. When you're wedging well, you find you're paralleling! On good terrain, this can happen in the space of a the first lesson, but it happens, I hate to force it. The wedge, properly taught, teaches the student how to ski and leads seamlessly into parallel. I haven't taught wedge christie in ages!
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by daslider:
, we can probably agree that parallel is the result of getting other things right and not a goal in itself (though it will always look like that).
We might agree on that... we might even agree that simply 'skiing' parallel may not be the aim...

One of my instructors said that "When you have GOOD stance & balance on a black run you are ready to START to learn to REALLY ski" .... I'm more of this mind... or as my fencing instructor would tell me "after 3 years of learning to fence you are really still just getting out of nappies"... I see myself as nearly ready to learn to ski properly... I just have to start to master the head space a bit better.... Yet even the higher level instructors at my regular resort think I ski better than a fair number of our level 1 instructors...(I think I can't ski - in their own minds they are all ski gods)


The problem is the general public do tend to measure good skiing as something else "I skied xxxx (black run) today" "he skis FAST" (he has no control of line really but he sure goes fast)

Their assessment of good skiing is quite strange - sit on the lifts & ask them to point out the good skiers... they rarely select the smooth people I choose - generally the 'flashy' skiers get the nod
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quite. any fool can go downhill.
post #18 of 25
The problem with the wedge is that inexperienced instructors see a strong wedge as a green light to go & explore the mountain. That, with a healthy dose of fear, will ingrain the wedge, and therefore require it to be unlearned. I personally prefer to never see a strong wedge!

The wedge is a tool, a means to an end. With the correct terrain, speed & turn shape, the wedge can be a great introduction to steering the skis, first sequentially, and then simultaneously.

The problem arises when students are put into the position (by excessive speed / terrain, and/or inadequate turn shaping) I describe as 'displace and brace' - instead of turning their feet & legs to make a smooth steered turn on gentle terrain, the skier pushes the outside ski away from their body, and rides around on the sidecut with a locked leg. Game over, thanks for coming.

It something I feel pretty strongly about having spent some (too much!!!) time at a resort that will go unnamed fixing 'displace & brace' skiers caused by other instructors, whom were encouraged by management. :

Direct to parallel techniques require certain terrain, and certain equipment - some resorts can guarantee this, some can't. I do teach the wedge as part of a beginner progression, but I definitely try to minimise its impact.
post #19 of 25
daslider wrote:
Quote:
Pierre
do you teach 'parallel' as a goal in itself, or merely as the consequence of getting a whole lot of other more important things right?
I don't even really have a true parallel turn as my goal. One of the things that I have found is that when converting a skier from defensive parallel skiing to offensive parallel skiing, the skier will often pass through a wedge stance on the way. Some of them are horrified to be skiing in a wedge again but I tell them not to worry. The wedge will disappear again and it does.
post #20 of 25
Pierre - I was MADE to go back to the wedge again (stem christie actually)...

My first insructor was great (given my natural 'talent' ) .... but the second was more interested in 'parallel' than good skiing... She was trying to teach me to ski like her .... NOT a good aim... In her quest for 'parallel' & 'faster' I was TOLD to step onto the uphill ski to start the turn.. now that was NOT good for my skiing....

Goind back to the stem christie & a reminder of the earlier good stuff quickly got me back to parallel - but a VERY different parallel to that I started with...
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by CM:
I describe as 'displace and brace' - instead of turning their feet & legs to make a smooth steered turn on gentle terrain, the skier pushes the outside ski away from their body, and rides around on the sidecut with a locked leg. Game over, thanks for coming.

It something I feel pretty strongly about having spent some (too much!!!) time at a resort that will go unnamed fixing 'displace & brace' skiers caused by other instructors, whom were encouraged by management. :
I get SOOOO many of these! In fact, your first statement, that the wedge is a tool for turning, is what I say to all people who need or are in the wedge. It's a thing for turning, not for stopping. I tell them that when it's used for stopping, then it'll slow down their learning, and they will get to parallel slower. If they use it as a thing for turning and turning for slowing and stopping, they are learning parallel, right there.

Mostly, I'm fixing horrible habits learned at other hills. It gets depressing after a while. And the industry wonders why it can't retain new skiiers.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Coach13:
I think there's a little too much made about particular systems or approaches. I think quality of instruction and student committment is the real wildcard in all of this. I will say that I personally feel that any instruction that teaches movements that have to be unlearned later, or will inhibit future progession, is a path that I wouldn't want to follow. I'm not a ski professional, but that just doesn't make much sense to me. [/QB]
The difference between teaching people to ski and teaching skiing to people
post #23 of 25
[quote]Originally posted by CM:
[QB] The problem with the wedge is that inexperienced instructors see a strong wedge as a green light to go & explore the mountain.

I'm sure that CM doesn't mean to discourage "lateral learning". That is, taking students out to learn to apply their new found skills on the mountain.

I'm understanding the comment to caution instructors about the possibility of over-challenging the student to the point of creating fear and defensiveness. Good point.

In my view, learning to apply recently aquired skills leads to the development of perceptual skills necessary for success throughout the "career" of the skier. Just beware to make the challenge meet the skill development.

R
post #24 of 25
After attending the Harb course I agree that I wouldn't teach the wedge/plow to a beginner as a progression to parallel. I see so many skiers start to parallel turn from a wedge. Why is this so? I suspect because this move is so ingrained. Why ski in a move where the ski edges are using opposing edges ie fighting each other.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Dorzy

everything you say about teaching the wedge is probably true, except it needn't be taught like that. The problem is not the wedge, but a failure to understand what is actually happening.

The wedge provides an excellent stable slowspeed platform in which all the main skills can be taught and experienced. But it is necessary to understand that it is not done best by attempts to twist and turn the outer ski (as pmts and others correctly say), but by rolling the feet and guiding the inside foot, the essential action in pivoting.

This works with the ski design and not against it. The skis don't need to 'fight each other', as you say; it's more of a glide and not the same thing as the braking plough which is a defensive move.

As speeds increase so do the forces and the inside ski will assume a parallel slot when it is ready and the outer ski is properly supporting the turn.

Parallel skiing imo is not a technique at all, but the result of getting other things right. Getting parallel without getting those things and what you get is stuck.

I really think Harb's ammo is hitting the wrong target here for reasons I don't understand; so much of his skiing stuff is very helpful and elegantly explained, and he can certainly lay it down himself!
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