Great first post, John Cole--way to go, and welcome to EpicSki!
You've reiterated a very importatant point--that a good instructor, unencumbered by any particular dogma, could develop a good turn just about anywhere, with just about anyone, from any given point. It might even be a good game--develop a sample progression that takes a student from "X" to "Y," or develop a progression to introduce good turn mechanics, with one or more of the following restrictions:
- from a sideslip
- from a a traverse
- from a wedge
- without using a wedge ("direct parallel")
- on very flat terrain
- on very steep terrain
- in deep snow
- on black ice
- with a student who has one prosthetic leg
- from railroad tracks
- using 210 cm conventional GS skis
- using "Snowblades"
- with a 16 y.o. star hockey player
- with an 80 y.o. great grandmother
- in one hour
- in one week
Then develop DIFFERENT mechanics with the same restrictions--braking movements, for example.
This exercise actually simulates the real job of teaching actual students, doesn't it? Different capabilities, different environments, different needs, desires, and motivations.... This is what we do!
MilesB--a few days ago you asked
|Do any of you just tell the students to do the "left tip left" thing in a fairly wide parallel stance, without demonstrating or even mentioning doing it in a wedge? Would many of your students be able to follow?
It's a very good question. Yes! As I've said, the basic movements, the essential mechanics, are not dependent on a wedge or parallel stance. They can occur--or not--from either stance. Frankly, they don't even have to occur from a WIDE stance--the act of "pulling the left tip left to go left" will cause a narrow stance to open.
Nolo asked whether a wedge turn could be viewed as an introductory PARALLEL TURN. I say, let's just call them TURNS--basic TURNS. Why perpetuate the artificially imposed and fundamentally irrelevant distinction between the stances? If the movements are the same, the wedgeness of the stance is no more significant than whether the hands are held wider or narrower. But if the movements are wrong, changing the stance won't fix them!
In many ways, though I usually involve a wedge in most beginner lessons, I've ALWAYS taught "direct parallel" turns, and I suspect that most instructors have too. If you lead your students to step/walk/push with their poles around a circle on the flats early in the lesson, if you get them to step out of a straight run into an arc, if you have them do "star turns" (stepping around in place), or some of Ant's static drills, you have introduced turning movements before introducing a wedge! If you teach turns with some of the ideas we've discussed here--"left tip left to go left," "point your skis," etc, you teach TURNS. Not WEDGE or PARALLEL turns. Just TURNS!
Successful "direct parallel" programs really just package this idea of de-emphasizing the wedge. PMTS, Arcmeister's concept of the "micro-wedge," Aspen's "Beginner Magic" program--though their marketers may spin it otherwise, they all address the wedge. They may call it by another name, insist (correctly) that it has uses, but that it has nothing to do with turning movements, or simply ignore it altogether--allowing students to use it if they do, without making a big fuss over it. They may try to distance themselves from so-called "wedge-based" teaching systems, but the actual differences between SUCCESSFUL programs are mostly marketing spin!
Of course, there are many less-than-great lessons and programs out there, "wedge-based" or otherwise, that really DO miss many of these fundamentals. I'm not talking about those....