For those of us who were too busy skiing during the last ½ century, most official ski teaching organizations stopped teaching snow plow and switched over to the gliding wedge. They had there reasons, I’m sure, and I’m sure they were well argued, but some of us were not paying attention. The topic keeps recurring as a sidetrack in various other teaching threads (e.g. Passive versus active weight transfer).
It seems this happened so long ago, that many well qualified and undoubtedly good instructors don’t seem to have been teaching the snowplough properly, if at all; they seem to be arguing about what is wrong with an incorrectly taught snowplough progression.
I am sure there are instructors on this forum who have successfully taught skiers using both the snow-plough and the gliding wedge, properly. So let’s get it all out in the open and reanalyzed here for those of us that missed the change-over.
From my limited experience and understanding, here’s how the snowplough progression worked.
An analogy was made between a ski held at an angle across the direction of travel could act very similarly to a snowplough blade held at an angle in front of a snowplough. The blade pushed the snow to the side and the snowplough experienced a force trying to move it in the other direction, which is what would happen if the driver didn’t steer to compensate or hit a patch of ice with his wheels. The skier learned to tip the ski onto it’s edge to make it bite more and to pressure it or weight it more to make it have greater affect. The tendency of a more highly edged ski was augmented by drills involving side-slipping on steeper slopes. The skier put both skis on their inside edges tipped to high angle and positioned the skis into a forward facing v with the tips close together and the tails far apart.
The skier learned that an edged and pressured ski at an angle to their direction of travel would cause them to turn in the direction that ski was pointed. When a skier wanted to turn right they would edge and pressure the ski pointing to the right (the left one) more. When a skier wanted to turn left they would edge and pressure and edge the right one more.
As soon as the skier could link snowplough turns, the skier would progress to French-fries – pizza. The skier would ski with skis parallel until they wanted to turn, then pivot their skis into a v, then edge and pressure the outside ski. Although not taught to pivot, they in fact learned to pivot their skis into that v-formation. (This pivot was slightly problematic, as it was basically pivoting about the tips with a heel movement to the outside. If kept at this stage, a very hard to break habit might develop, but more on that later).
The next step which couldn’t come too soon, was moving the inside ski alongside the outside ski. In order to do this, the skier would have to make sure it wasn’t on it’s inside edge. Perhaps at first they would lift it, but later they only had to unweight it (easy since they were weighting the outside ski to turn anyway) and make keep it wasn’t on it’s inside edge. Once beside the other ski, the skier would continue the turn with both skis parallel and tipped in the proper direction. The skier was encouraged to do this as soon as possible, and eventually the gap between the two moves became smaller and smaller, but no matter how small the gap, this stem-Christie move, was a one-two punch, stem the outside ski, move the inside ski over. If left too long at this stage skiers could develop a stemming habit that was hard to get rid of.
Once the skier could do a stem-Christie, the skier would progress to moving both skis into position at the same time, instead of sequentially.
However, what had to happen was the skier noticed or the book or the instructor the skier was using pointed out to them that in the second half of their stem-Christie turn, their skis are decambered, parallel, tipped and turning. It was obvious; all they really had to do was tip a decambered ski and you would turn. The rest was easy.
Problems: Stem, pivot point at the front.
Solutions? (help me out here, I was out skiing when the solution was put in place).
Instructors got together and decided to do something to solve the main problems with the snow-plow stem-Christie skiing progression. They came up with the gliding wedge. - Don’t use the highly edged snowplough; use a gliding wedge. Teach pivoting directly on almost flat skis, concentrate on pivoting the skis to the proper position and teach the edging indirectly.
One group of skiers who are permanently addicted to an over-dependence on pivoting, and never get their skis to a high edge angle, and their instructors against another group with a permanent stem and poor pivoting skills and their instructors.
What did I miss? Please add to the story. What was wrong with the snowplough progression? What could be done to fix it without abandoning it? What is wrong with the gliding wedge progression? What can be done to fix it? What mistakes are typical in teaching either? How can they be avoided (other than using an alternate method)?