(Sorry, what I intended only as a brief comment on the discussion meandered dangerously close to the edge of a minor rant. Such is life!)
The beauty of Ant's progression is that she does address, early on, the actual MOVEMENTS of rotary that go on in good turns. Specifically, she makes skiers aware of the rotation of the legs in the hip sockets, beneath the pelvis. This mechanism is perhaps the most essential element of contemporary skiing, distinguishing it from most of the techniques of the past that relied on pivoting the skis with the upper body (ie. the French Arlberg technique, or the Austrians' Reverse Shoulder). This rotation of the legs occurs whether the legs turn the skis--an "active turn"--or the skis turn the legs--a "passive" or "pure-carved" turn. And it occurs in both offensive direction-control turns and defensive braking skids, when done well.
In addressing the movement, Ant is not suggesting that forcefully twisting the skis must happen in all turns, any more than a driving instructor pointing out the steering wheel suggests that the driver should yank the wheel all over the place. It is simply a fundamental movement of good skiing, that happens in varying degrees, and contrasts drastically with the highly intuitive and technically devastating tendency of skiers to twist their upper bodies. By introducing this movement, Ant creates understanding, introduces appropriate movements and sensations, and creates a baseline that she can use for further critique and feedback throughout the lesson.
Note, by the way, that Ant's static (standing in one place) foot-steering exercises have nothing whatsoever to do with a wedge, or a parallel stance. Nor do the movements she's introducing. Because her students have learned to enjoy gliding in a wedge, her "point the wedge toward a target" is a simple, effective instruction. But if her students were gliding happily with an open parallel stance, the instruction "point your skis toward the target" would produce identical results.
If her students were gliding with a CLOSED parallel stance, however, or on one foot, the only way they could make a turn (short of a pure passive carve--a scary proposition indeed for beginners, and one that no "direct parallel" progression purports to teach, that I'm aware of) would be to twist their upper bodies. Rotation into the turn, counter-rotation away from the turn, and/or flailing pole stabs are the only ways to muscularly turn the skis from a closed or one-footed stance. Ironically, the open stance--wedge or parallel--IS the stance of "dynamic balance" for turns--the feet are out from beneath the body. "Inclination" is built-in, balance is enabled, and weight transfer takes place, even with the safety net of the wide platform. A gliding wedge--or open parallel--involves balance, not "bracing against." By definition.
There's a lot of good stuff that happens when students follow Ant's simple directions. "Pointing the wedge toward a target" to me, and to most students, presents an image of turning the tips into the turn, rather than pushing the tails away. Point your finger at something--I'll bet you moved your finger toward it, rather than your elbow away from it! Being attached to your feet, turning the wedge means turning your feet and legs. It entails, without further instruction, turning the inside ski first, and requires releasing its edge. It PRODUCES a weight transfer, as Ant described, rather than inducing one artificially with inappropriate movements. And it suggests the all-important notion that turns are meant to GO somewhere--toward a target--rather than to skid and brake. And again, it really does not require a wedge, although the arrow-shape of a wedge does help with the image ("point the arrow"). All this from a VERY simple instruction--"point your wedge...."
Obviously, Ant's one-minute description of her progression represents only a bare skeleton of the actual lesson she would teach. No progression works, or fails, all by itself. How she would flesh out the skeleton, add this, skip that, and all the while provide essential feedback to make sure the students are actually doing the right things, she has left to our imagination, but we can be sure that there's more to it than she described. That is the art of teaching, and the absolutely essential role of the instructor.
But contrast her progression with the following, an example of what can go wrong with a "direct parallel" progression, poorly executed:
The skier is in a traverse across a very gentle, non-threatening slope. The instruction is to transfer the weight to the uphill ski and balance on it, then to tip the downhill ski toward its downhill edge to initiate the "kinetic chain" of movements that will involve the body moving into the turn and the outside (uphill) ski rolling to its inside edge and engaging to help shape and carve the turn. Sound good?
Think about it! That first move--to balance on the uphill ski--requires that the whole body move uphill, away from the turn--what I have called a "negative movement." That is assuming a fair amount of athleticism and "go-for-it"-ness to accomplish this balancing feat in the first place. Many beginners can do it. A few of those will. But the average American beginning skier is already out of the comfort zone on TWO skis!
Anyway, let's give them the benefit of the doubt, and say they succeed at this initial weight transfer. If they just stand there patiently, balanced on a flat ski, and they don't care how long it takes, or exactly what path their skis take, gravity will initiate the turn for them. Eventually (remember, it's very flat here!).
Let's say they succeed here, too. What does this have to do with the intent to "go where you want to go"? It is purely a mechanical focus, at best, isolated from the intent that produces "perfect turns" in the first place. Indeed, it is not the movement pattern they--or I--would make if we really did want to go down that hill. I wouldn't move right to go left. Would you?
The negative, uphill movement of the body is exaggerated with a wider stance, and minimized with a narrow stance. So let's get our fledgling skiers to traverse in a very narrow stance, to reduce the problem. Maybe they can....
Again, let's say they can, and do (they're superstars!). But either or both of the following happens. Either they want to turn more quickly than that patient "forever" gravity-induced drift, or they lose their balance by moving too far to the inside of the turn, requiring a tighter turn to recover. How do they do it? Like I said, with the one-footed stance, or a locked two-footed stance, their only options are "bad" ones--they have to twist their upper bodies or flail with their poles. Whichever option they choose, they all have the same outcome--they twist the tails into a skid.
This instructor has introduced NO correct movements, several INcorrect movements, and literally taken away even the OPTION of steering with the feet, and of independent leg action.
Talk about dead ends! And this is for the SUCCESSFUL athletic, motivated, well-equipped students who can pull off these moves! How do these "successful" students leave the lesson? They leave with the notion of a turn as a series of mechanical moves, rather than the simple holistic response to certain INTENTS that it is for experts. They leave having been introduced to many of the sport's most insidious bad habits. And they leave not only with zero understanding or skill in appropriate rotary mechanics, but with the groundwork fully in place for all the WRONG rotary mechanics!
What I've describe here is not the outcome of good, effective teaching by qualified instructors. It is not the goal of any well-intentioned "direct parallel" progression. But it IS the outcome that I've observed, time after time, both in watching lessons and in dealing with students who have been subjected to them.
What is GOOD about the progression above? Well, it does support and perpetuate the myth that "parallel" is somehow more important than anything else in skiing, including proper mechanics. For students who want to "ski parallel" for whatever reason, at any cost, it is the way to go!
And in requiring students to balance with a narrow stance, or on one foot, it does "force" them to develop "dynamic balance"--or fall trying. No, they'll never get "stuck" bracing within a wide platform if we never let them use one. But they may learn to hate the alternative!
Does it prevent the bad habit of riding the brakes? No--the inevitable upper body gyrations CAUSE braking skids. And the sensation (and reality) of being out of control when you just LET gravity pull you down the hill, and just LET the skis carve around the turn (if you get that far), while exciting for experts and the occasional adrenaline-junky beginner, are hardly confidence-inspiring for those beginners with survival instincts.
Does it lead more directly to carved turns? Ironically, no! It leads to grotesque, upper-body-induced skids!
And this last point is the real problem! IF you decide that, with our new cool super-sidecut skis, skidding is bad, dead, an obsolete relic of the past, THEN you could argue successfully that a wedge is truly a dead end. With its gently brushing skis, ever so slightly turned at an angle to the skier's direction of travel, the wedge makes learning to shape a smooth, steered turn very easy indeed, taking full advantage of the skis' design.
But if you would prefer to begin on a direct track to pure-carved arcs, with their signature razor-thin tracks, then the wedge is out! Begin on the flats, exploring tipping movements, pushing around with skis tipped on edge, observing the nice little furrows they carve in the snow. Do the same uphill from a gentle traverse, then from a straight run on very gentle, wide terrain. Never twist the skis, ever, at all--it will only erase their tracks. Learn to ride those arcs, and to balance on them. It could be done!
But it shouldn't be, at least not exclusively. In fact, I usually do all the things I just described in the course of a beginner lesson. It's fun. It's instructive. But it certainly isn't sufficient!
Nevertheless, if you buy the argument (I obviously don't) that skidding, shaping, steering, and so on are bad, and to be avoided at all costs, and that carving is all there is, then you have a valid argument for avoiding the wedge. But the top "direct parallel" schools do not make this argument! PMTS trainers insist that their "goal," like mine, is to develop the ability to make gentle, smooth, shaped turns. With that goal in mind, there is NO way to support the claim that either the wedge necessarily leads to dead ends (yes, it can), or that "direct parallel" necessarily does NOT lead to dead ends (I've described a "bad" direct parallel progression that does just that above).
Anyway, I didn't intend to drift around to the "wedge vs. parallel" thing again--we've thrashed that one thoroughly in the past--but it did come up, and it is relevant. Back to the thread topic, Ant's progression, incomplete as it is, does present some clear and valid ideas for introducing the rotary concepts that we've discussed--the independent steering movements of the feet and legs. In isolation, these exercises (skis off, and so on) certainly do not produce ski turns. But for the purpose of addressing the issues of this thread, they're right on!
Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! The days get shorter from here on out. Enjoy the summer--while it lasts!