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teaching first timers

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

In a couple of recent threads instructors have commented that the reason that we see a pressure dominated way of teaching first timers to ski is that it is easier to teach or easier for the student to understand than a rotary based approached.

How many out there would agree with this? Personally, I believe that the opposite is true. It seems to me that telling the student to to shift weight to the right to go left or lean left to go right or push on the right ski to go left all are statements that go contrary to the students expectations and are confusing when viewed as simple statements.

Telling the student to point their toes or point the skis or point the wedge where they want to go seems simpler and more straightforward to me and is better understood by my students.

Any comments?

fom

post #2 of 27

I think the rotary dominant starting  methodology is both more prevalent in north america and  easier to teach. I'm not convinced it's better; I learned the old way and I ski better than 97% of skiers.

post #3 of 27

I too have been following those other threads.  As a teacher it is important to have a good grasp of the different schools of thought out there.  In the real world, you need to be able to mix & match many different approaches to best serve the guest.  I will do whatever it takes, doing my best not to lead anyone down any blind alleys, to help my students progress as quickly & painlessly as possible. 

 

I have taught everything from a braking wedge to direct parallel carving, to first timers with much success.  What is best changes from person to person & from day to day.  Internet theories can only take you so far in the real world.  It is up to your experience & your students desire as to what approach will work best for any given situation.

 

JF

post #4 of 27

FOM,

 

I agree with you. But I have taught some first timers to make turns through pressure management. I've only done this when instructions to turn the skis or tip the skis don't "click" with the student. These students tend to think more of "do this, go there"  or  "push off and go where you push" vs "step left to go right". This teaching approach is ugly and it introduces problems over the long term, but for some skiers it is an effective means of making the sport doable on day 1. The better I get at teaching and the smaller class sizes I have, the less I resort to this teaching tactic.

post #5 of 27

Its good to understand that one model will not work with everyone. You need to be able to see what approach is better for the student in question. Thats why private instruction works so well.

 

I dont think that turning right by pressuring the left ski is such a big issue. Its a completley normal balancing movement. If you fall left you need to pressure your left foot. But it can get confusing for some. So its not the best approach for everybody. If people are good at balancing and dont have to think about which foot to weight then the AWT works well. But for very theoretical people the rotation approach is better.

post #6 of 27

Here's a student perspective, I'm new to skiing and I took several lessons the first few seeming to be of the rotary method and got me down the hill.  However, I never felt control over my ski's until one particular instructor realized I wasn't putting nearly enough pressue on my boot.  By flexing at the ankle I was now able to control my skis and turn much easier on a steeper incline (in my case steeper is a blue run).  And don't forget the hockey stops!!!  The ability to stop is a huge confidence booster.

post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayla View Post

Here's a student perspective, I'm new to skiing and I took several lessons the first few seeming to be of the rotary method and got me down the hill.  However, I never felt control over my ski's until one particular instructor realized I wasn't putting nearly enough pressue on my boot.  By flexing at the ankle I was now able to control my skis and turn much easier on a steeper incline (in my case steeper is a blue run).  And don't forget the hockey stops!!!  The ability to stop is a huge confidence booster.



Great with a student perspective  . Bayla, were you told to pressure boot on both feet or one more than the other?

post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post

FOM,

 

I agree with you. But I have taught some first timers to make turns through pressure management. I've only done this when instructions to turn the skis or tip the skis don't "click" with the student. These students tend to think more of "do this, go there"  or  "push off and go where you push" vs "step left to go right". This teaching approach is ugly and it introduces problems over the long term, but for some skiers it is an effective means of making the sport doable on day 1. The better I get at teaching and the smaller class sizes I have, the less I resort to this teaching tactic.


What he said.   I no longer like it, but I'll admit that I've done it.

 

Some first timers will indeed try to "move left to go left," but they'll try to do it by massive movements of the upper body in the direction of the turn because that's what they think the "real skiers" are doing. Their understanding of what they're seeing is not accurate or refined. They see a halfway decent parallel skier tip or incline or angulate (they can't tell the difference) toward the inside of the turn and so they lean heavily in the direction they hope they'll go while standing mostly on the inside foot. There really isn't enough pressure on the outside foot. Some compensating pressure management instruction is required.

 

This can be avoided in most cases if adequate preparation is done to get students standing over their feet rather than leaning one way or the other in an exaggerated fashion. Accurate fore/aft stance is also required to allow the skis to be steered easily.

 

Once an accurate and easy balance is attained, low speed flat ski steering is relatively straightforward, with or without a small wedge. When the student has turned to a stop a few times, they can experiment with flattening the skis even more to allow a slight side slip, which will eventually let a skidded "hockey stop" start to appear. They are being set up for edging skills and changing the blend without having to "unlearn" anything. When they develop some confidence, they can start to play with more edge and more speed. The resulting larger forces will encourage both active and passive pressure transfer without "pushing" on the outside ski. "Push," by the way, is not a term I ever use any more.
 

post #9 of 27

Ive had a little bit of experience of teaching beginners, two to be exact, a college frend from last year and a roomate from this year. The first was much more successeful that the last. The first was last year at steamboat, i teached using the wedge to stop and pressuring to turn. He picked up on it well but didnt believe he was doing very well, i had to convince him that he was doing extremely well for a beginner on his first day, which he was. The second was much more difficult, he's my roomate and a former college baseball player, however he's incredibly unflexible. Teaching him was incredibly hard, we started out on a very very gentle short slope, i explained the wedge to him on flat ground, and had him try it sliding down the slope without turns, he couldnt spread his legs wide enough to get a great wedge but it sort of worked untill he picked up a little speed, the begginer fear instincts kicked in and he leaned back which pulled his tips out and away from each other, i spent quite a bit of time getting him to lean foreward on his boots, which solved the problem with his skis being pulled parralel, next i explained weighting to turn, he tried it and tried it and tried it but once his skis would start to go sideways to the slope he would lean to the inside destroying his turn and he would end up straightlining down the hill, good thing it wasnt very long. He started to catch on so i moved him to the bunny slope with the magic carpet lift since he was getting tired of walking up the hill. He kept falling but wasnt doing a terrible job, but also isnt flexible enough to stand himself back up in ski boots, it was quite a hassle. After he made three or four good runs without falling on the bunny slope we hopped on a lift and took a very easy green run to the top. He pretty much forgot everything he was doing right and ended up in the back seat again letting his tips come apart and parralel leading to more falls, at the end of the run he gave up on skiing. I tried to convince him to give it another try but he just wouldnt, i wish i would have just bought him a lesson but i guess skiing just isnt for him. My brother and i were taught by our parents when we were 15 but didnt do much skiing since then however my brother is also a speed freak like me and doesnt have the fear of steeps or speed like the other two. He's currently an intermediate skier and skis about five days a year. I taugh him how to pole plant, ski stacked and carve, all of which he picked up on very quickley and he can really lay an edge on the rossi bandit 193's he rides now. In conclusion beginners can be much MUCH harder to teach over intermediate experienced skiers but i think it really depends on the person.

post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatoldman View Post

In a couple of recent threads instructors have commented that the reason that we see a pressure dominated way of teaching first timers to ski is that it is easier to teach or easier for the student to understand than a rotary based approached.

How many out there would agree with this? Personally, I believe that the opposite is true. It seems to me that telling the student to to shift weight to the right to go left or lean left to go right or push on the right ski to go left all are statements that go contrary to the students expectations and are confusing when viewed as simple statements.

Telling the student to point their toes or point the skis or point the wedge where they want to go seems simpler and more straightforward to me and is better understood by my students.

Any comments?

fom

FOM,

I think many instructors have been teaching the pressure method for years and it has worked.  These senior instructors are the ones that typically train new intructors so the cycle continues.

 

Some folks, like me, learned with the pressure method so it seems to be the correct way to teach.

 

I started instructing this past season and there were a few more senior instructors (20+ years exp) that taught the new instructors this method.  It wasn't until the end of the season that I caught on that they could be taught using rotary.  

 

One of the things I remember from the Examiner when I got L1, was to not teach a skill that you couldn't build on.  Don't teach something that they will have to unlearn.  Teach them something that in the next lesson you (or another instructor) will add to.  Rotary seems to fit this approach much better.  Why teach them something that is only useful as a novice.  Maybe that is one of the reasons there is such a low retention of first time skiers.

 

I do know that when teaching young never evers when I was using the pressure method, I was constantly calling out to them which big toe to press; "Left toe.  Left toe. That's it, now right toe.  Right toe.  RIGHT TOE!  Your other right toe!"  

 

When I started teaching rotary oriented turning, I found it best to spend more time on boot drills and the importance of being able to have a flat ski.  Maybe the pressure method hangs on because you get quick results and instructors feel that they have a better chance of the student sticking with skiing and possibly taking more lessons if they get quick results.

Ken
 

post #11 of 27

Hey Ken,

 

I hope that I am not the one that taught you that!       If you look at our training materials or talk to the ski school director or the technical director they will all tell you that our primary approach is to teach a first timer how to steer the ski.    The fact that you came away from the training with a different message is very important for us to know so that we can improve the training next year.   We work on the boot drills and the one ski drills, etc to start building the students ability to use rotary and edging movements as well as balance and pressure.  

 

One of my training goals, which I am sure I was not 100% effective at, was to help the new instructors understand the connection between the drills and the skills we are trying to build and how those skills relate to skiing in general.    Anyway, teaching skiing as well as training instructors is a fascinating business and I think the most important things are to remain curious, open minded, and to keep questioning your beliefs.   I have learned a ton over the years on these forums and I always encourage other instructors at our mountain to check them out.   By the way I have been dreaming about skiing at the crotch lately, don't know why.  

 

We should get together for a beer some time soon!

 

-Todd 

post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tlougee View Post

Hey Ken,

 

I hope that I am not the one that taught you that!       

 

No but if you ever hear someone talk about "Squish the bugs!" you'll know who I am talking about.  You know where my ability was in the beginning so I was drinking from the fire hose.  It might have been that some trainers for one reason or another stood out more and/or were stating what I thought was true anyway so it was easier to absorb.

 

One of my training goals, which I am sure I was not 100% effective at, was to help the new instructors understand the connection between the drills and the skills we are trying to build and how those skills relate to skiing in general.   

 

I learned a ton from you.  Sometimes I didn't get it until a different trainer said it but that is more me than you.  It doesn't always sink in the first time.  Prime example was ILE.  Finally at the end of the season JT took us out and everything you and the other trainers said made since.  Maybe I just need to hear things 5 or 6 times.

 

Anyway, teaching skiing as well as training instructors is a fascinating business and I think the most important things are to remain curious, open minded, and to keep questioning your beliefs.   I have learned a ton over the years on these forums and I always encourage other instructors at our mountain to check them out.  

 

I thought I learned a bit here in the past.  It wasn't until this past season at Crotched and going to all the clinics that I was really able to start learning here at epic.  I'm already pumped about skiing/teaching this coming season. 

 

The really good news is my shoulder will be healed; ended up they needed to shave a bone and my rotator cuff was 90% torn.  All fixed now.  Still can't do much but I'll be good by Thanksgiving (I really wasn't shirking my duties when I opted out of kids camp). 

 

By the way I have been dreaming about skiing at the crotch lately, don't know why.  

 

You might want to reword that.

 

We should get together for a beer some time soon!

 

First rounds on me.

 

-Todd 

post #13 of 27

My experience has been exactly the same in terms of having to hear things multiple times before having them make sense or sink in with the exception that it has taken years for me to sort some of these things out.   You are making much quicker progress!    One of the things that always bugged me about my initial training was nobody really attempted to connect the dots for us.    It was more like memorize this lesson plan and the drills that go with them but not much on what skills the drills where meant to develop so that is something that I wanted to do better at.

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post

FOM,

 

I agree with you. But I have taught some first timers to make turns through pressure management. I've only done this when instructions to turn the skis or tip the skis don't "click" with the student. These students tend to think more of "do this, go there"  or  "push off and go where you push" vs "step left to go right". This teaching approach is ugly and it introduces problems over the long term, but for some skiers it is an effective means of making the sport doable on day 1. The better I get at teaching and the smaller class sizes I have, the less I resort to this teaching tactic.


I agree with you both. NO your other right to go right, i've always thought it confused atudents to tell them to pressure the left ski to go right. Let's look at the scenarios that people are taught in. We've got the friend teaching friend, where time is not usually a constraint. We have an instructor with an hour to teach one or two first timers. We have one or two or three instructors teaching a group of five or ten or twenty first time students. Rarely do I see a half day private with a first timer. I think that the ability to turn by rotating or steering or flattening the inside ski is dependent on good balance and a proper stance. I suspect that most times when the instructions don't click it's because the basics of balance and stance aren't there and rather than starting over we try pressure management to get them turning?
 

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post


We've got the friend teaching friend, where time is not usually a constraint. We have an instructor with an hour to teach one or two first timers. We have one or two or three instructors teaching a group of five or ten or twenty first time students. Rarely do I see a half day private with a first timer.

 

Almost sounds like a business oppurtunity.  Instead of a student buying an hour of instruction, why not buy a level.

 

Never ever to level 1 would be one cost.  Level 2 to level whatever would be another cost.  Maybe charge a little more but this way if it is going to take longer, the customer has a garantee that they'll progress.  Like any other fixed price job, the trick is in the pricing and what the delivery is (become a certain level or worded like "Will be able to use the chair lift and ski groomed trails with no more than a 10 degree pitch".  You make money on some, break even on others and loose on some but overall you should make money.

 

 

I think that the ability to turn by rotating or steering or flattening the inside ski is dependent on good balance and a proper stance. I suspect that most times when the instructions don't click it's because the basics of balance and stance aren't there and rather than starting over we try pressure management to get them turning?
 

First timers are dealing with an incredible amount of new data and "firsts"; first time in ski boots, on skis, not walking and moving, and for vacationers it could be their first time in snow and/or the cold  !  This is on top of all the issues with fear, motivation and anxiety they're dealing with.  Talk about drinking from the fire hose!  Get past all that and you still need to have the balance of a mountain goat.

 

Its a wonder more people aren't skiing



 

post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post





Great with a student perspective  . Bayla, were you told to pressure boot on both feet or one more than the other?


Tdk6 - I was told to put more pressure on outside turning ski when initiating turns, this helped eliminate some of my problems with dragging my inside ski.  And I never heard the term "push". 
 

post #17 of 27

Bayla, thanks for your feedback. Just what I was looking for . That is the exact reason I use the pressure technique with my students as a primary method. Having a student stand on her inside ski will cause a lot of problems not only in the wedging stage but later as well.

post #18 of 27

L&AirC - I ask what the students expectations are and then I give her a rough estimation of what it takes in lessons and effort from her side. Thats kind of like buying levels. Except Im selling hours, not levels. I give a disscount on the hour price when the student commits to the plan.

post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post

Except Im selling hours, not levels. I give a disscount on the hour price when the student commits to the plan.


That's what I'm talking about.  Most places, at least around here, don't seem to have that flexibility (vary the price).  You either have to buy an hour or do the Adult Clinic (5 week plan).  They might do something like buy a couple of privates and then get the group price.

 

 

I'm afraid I "steered" this thread off track.

 

 

Back to the show:

 

Fatoldman wrote:

 

Telling the student to point their toes or point the skis or point the wedge where they want to go seems simpler and more straightforward to me and is better understood by my students.

Any comments?

post #20 of 27


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

 

Back to the show:

 

Fatoldman wrote:

 

Telling the student to point their toes or point the skis or point the wedge where they want to go seems simpler and more straightforward to me and is better understood by my students.

Any comments?

For what it's worth, and I admit that may not be much as I'm only an observer, not a professional ski instructor,  I think the easier to teach and more predominant in North America "point the skis where they want to go" methodology has something to do with the high number of skiers I see on groomed runs muscling their skis around in mostly skidded turns.  They really seem to have no clue as to how a ski works and what makes them turn.  I see them struggling in anything but perfectly groomed snow, trying to force the ski to point somewhere it doesn't want to go.  The worst ones build up rotational inertia in their bodies and then apply it directly to the skis to get the skis pointing across the hill.  The better ones use their legs to torque their skis around without the upper body rotation.  On the groomed snow, most of these toe-pointers are only capable of affecting a gradual change in their direction of travel.  Heaven help anyone who gets in their way.   Of course part of the problem with them is that the intermediate skis foisted upon them have almost no edge grip. 

 

On the other hand, unless the edge pressure skiers are very wise and cautious, they quickly become addicted to high speed carving and their steering skills lag behind for a few decades. 

 

On another note it really takes a higher degree of balance before a skier can learn with the edge-pressure method.  Without having that balance skill sufficiently developed, the skier cannot properly pressure the tipped ski.  He will have to ski in a wedge as a balance platform and learn to get proper for aft balance on his skis and how to balance laterally in turns.  The time required to develop that skill if it isn't already there is much too long to have the skier in a highly tipped large angle wedge; spending too much time in a snow-plow type wedge will imho have more detrimental effects than the gliding wedge point the toes method. 

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

Ghost,

 

Those people that you see muscling there skis around were probably taught to turn by shifting weight. I know this because I have talked to thousands of them over the years. They are trying to get there skis around from one braking position to another breaking position as fast as they can. Probably nine out of ten of them have never heard of using the feet and legs to guide their skis. Their turns are skidded because they learned/were taught that a skidding skis is a breaking ski and they want to have the brakes on all the time to 'control their speed'. They are ineffectual in changing their directions of travel because braking is a very poor way to control where you are going. A skier at any level who can guide/steer/point their skis where they want to go is no danger to others on the slope because they can go where they want to go and can avoid others on the slope and easily as I can avoid a rock in the road on the way to Alta by steering my car around it.

 

Very few of those taught pressure and edge will ever figure out how to use the ski as it is designed to be used. You did and logically assume that most others will too. It might be shocking to you but I would guess that less than one out of a hundred 'shift weight to turn skiers' ever learn to use the ski properly.

 

You are right that being in a braking wedge for any length of time is detrimental to a skiers progress. They get stuck with a don't go mindset rather than a go mindset and as you know skis/skiing only work well if you go.

 

fom

post #22 of 27

FOM

I think you are right. However, I also think it has a lot to do with how they were taught to look at it.  To my mind it's always been more of a pressure the tipped and bent ski so that it can do it's job of taking you around the turn, than a focus on shifting the weight, more of a pressuring a ski that is going to make you go there, than  putting on the brakes. 

 

They may have been taught the weight shift, but obviously they were not taught well, because they aren't doing it.  Looking at the numbers of skiers with this problem on the slopes, the official point the toes gliding wedge PSIA position, and the number of posters advocating the point the toes method of teaching, I doubt all these skidders I see on the slopes were taught the weight shifting method.  Maybe they are self-taught or untaught. 

If the skiers aren't taught how a ski works and what is making them turn, they will strike out on their own and attempt to rotate their skis to the direction they wish to go regardless of what they have heard of or not heard of. 

 

It really comes down to what the ski is doing on the snow.  If you have that sorted out, you're on the right road.

post #23 of 27

I've gotten a lot of useful info. from the instructional book, The All-Mountain Skier.   Reinforces steering, stance, edging, etc. With regard to various comments above, as a beginner, Yes, the info. is overwhelming - don't look down, where are my hands, don't turn my body, right turn w/ left foot, don't sit back, don't bend forward, etc, etc.  .  The info. is well understood, but getting my body to follow suit is another story.  I tried skiing at various times over the past 20 years and never kept at it because I never got the right instruction/information that made me want to do it again anytime soon.

 

Fear of injury and/or speed was another issue and necessary to overcome to be able to let the skis run.  Doing some drills on flatter terrain helped to work on increasing my speed and apply steering and weight which I wasn't going to be able to do if I kept up wedge turns with the brakes one.  (FYI" My last instructor found I responded much better when he was behind me yelling out commands). Until I learned to apply speed and felt the skis edge engage could I then trust the ski to do its job.  (still thankful for those hockey stop drills!)  And when I use the term "speed" its is relative to a beginner/intermediate level of speed.  I'm still maintaiing control, but without the feeling of having a heart attack.  I'm assuming every beginner has that Ah-HA moment when it all comes together, for me it was like learning to ride a bike w/o training wheels.   

 

Ah-ha!  That's what makes me want to keep working at it.  Looking forward to this season! 

  

 

post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
, I doubt all these skidders I see on the slopes were taught the weight shifting method.  Maybe they are self-taught or untaught.


DING! DING! DING! DING! DING!

 

If by untaught you are including not taught by and instructor, I think this is rampant.  Many, teach their kids and friends to swim, ride a bike, drive a car, ice skate and the list goes on.  Why does skiing need to be any different (in their minds).  People can only teach what they know.

post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatoldman View Post

Very few of those taught pressure and edge will ever figure out how to use the ski as it is designed to be used. You did and logically assume that most others will too. It might be shocking to you but I would guess that less than one out of a hundred 'shift weight to turn skiers' ever learn to use the ski properly.

 

fom



What is shocking is a claim like that . I think that a claim like that needs scientific proof. Any study you can point us to? To me it sounds like a gross estimate by someone not really clear with why its so important to pressure the outside ski early on in the turn. And why the skis turns. Its a friction thing. It involves edges, fex, turn radius etc. Even a child understands that pointing your skis left to go left is advice you should not be paying 75bucks an hour for. And that you cannot afford having the instructor explain to you what steering is.

 

Also, Im pritty sure that the people that are stuck at some point are stuck not because they were thaught by a sertain system but rather because they have own limitations physically, mentally or money whise or the ski instructor simply did a bad job. We are running a ski/jr racing school using slightly varying styles depending on instructor/coach but all consepts are more or less variations involving active weight transfer and pressure technique. And we have been very successfull cranking out all kind of skiers reaching as high as ultimate wc level.

post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayla View Post

I've gotten a lot of useful info. from the instructional book, The All-Mountain Skier.   Reinforces steering, stance, edging, etc. With regard to various comments above, as a beginner, Yes, the info. is overwhelming - don't look down, where are my hands, don't turn my body, right turn w/ left foot, don't sit back, don't bend forward, etc, etc.  .  The info. is well understood, but getting my body to follow suit is another story.  I tried skiing at various times over the past 20 years and never kept at it because I never got the right instruction/information that made me want to do it again anytime soon.

 

Fear of injury and/or speed was another issue and necessary to overcome to be able to let the skis run.  Doing some drills on flatter terrain helped to work on increasing my speed and apply steering and weight which I wasn't going to be able to do if I kept up wedge turns with the brakes one.  (FYI" My last instructor found I responded much better when he was behind me yelling out commands). Until I learned to apply speed and felt the skis edge engage could I then trust the ski to do its job.  (still thankful for those hockey stop drills!)  And when I use the term "speed" its is relative to a beginner/intermediate level of speed.  I'm still maintaiing control, but without the feeling of having a heart attack.  I'm assuming every beginner has that Ah-HA moment when it all comes together, for me it was like learning to ride a bike w/o training wheels.   

 

Ah-ha!  That's what makes me want to keep working at it.  Looking forward to this season! 

  

 


Here guys. This is a student telling his side of the story. Listen and learn. Thanks for your posting
 

post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

FOM

I think you are right. However, I also think it has a lot to do with how they were taught to look at it.  To my mind it's always been more of a pressure the tipped and bent ski so that it can do it's job of taking you around the turn, than a focus on shifting the weight, more of a pressuring a ski that is going to make you go there, than  putting on the brakes.

 

They may have been taught the weight shift, but obviously they were not taught well, because they aren't doing it.  Looking at the numbers of skiers with this problem on the slopes, the official point the toes gliding wedge PSIA position, and the number of posters advocating the point the toes method of teaching, I doubt all these skidders I see on the slopes were taught the weight shifting method.  Maybe they are self-taught or untaught.

If the skiers aren't taught how a ski works and what is making them turn, they will strike out on their own and attempt to rotate their skis to the direction they wish to go regardless of what they have heard of or not heard of. 

 

It really comes down to what the ski is doing on the snow.  If you have that sorted out, you're on the right road.


Good information here. If you do not learn early on that you need to pressure your left ski to go right you are going to get stuck in a rutt untill you do.

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