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what's the difference?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Excuse my ignorance - and apologies in you've all been here before - but I'd really like to know how PMTS differs from GLM, pioneered by Cliff Taylor in the 1960s, and its successor, Ski Evolutif, imported from the US to Les Arcs in 1970.

Anyone - SCSA, perhaps? - out there help me?


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 20, 2002 01:45 AM: Message edited 1 time, by scotski ]</font>
post #2 of 36
A school I was at in the '70's had GLM program. GLM, Graduated Length Method, used rotary dominant movements on skis with even less sidecut than typical of the era. The rotary emphasis was facilitated by keeping skis as flat as possible so they could be pivoted more easily. It was swivel city. The progression was Foot Turns, Knee Truns, Hip (rotation) Turns to progress from smaller to larger degrees of pivot on the flat. Once you started moving with same progression, a lateral heel push crept in as a balancing reaction and produced minimal resultant edging. Start from 100cm, 110cm, 120cm, 130cm, 150cm and presto you were a whip'm skid'm parallel skier.

It's legacy is that it had great marketing and got a heck of a lot of people out skiing. What it provided experience wise was a fun entry to the sport, a quick way off the bunny hill and no snowplow (pre-wedge era). What it offered skill wise was accelerated learning to intermediate skidded parallel turns. A lot of un-re-new-learning was required to escape the over rotary habits GLM promoted and get to more advanced skiing and a well rounded skill set.

PMTS capitolizes on opportunities provided by shape ski technology and is driven by development of a balancing skills and edging movements from the feet to use the ski efficiently. The same movements used by experts are taught to beginners and carried thru consistantly as they progress. It's legacy is yet to be determined.
post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanx, Arcmeister - that's great.

Ski Evolutif is, I believe, still taught in Les Arcs. Is it compatible with today's gear, though? And why do SE and PMTS both bypass the snowplough?

I'm intrigued by all of this because I was taught in numerous ways, but started as a child with much emphasis on the good old snow plough, graduating through stems of one kind and another, finally going parallel some years later. This was in Austria, Slovenia, France and Scotland. En route, I learnt a lot about side slipping, spent a lot of time traversing on the downhill ski only, did a fair bit of turning on the uphill ski, was taught tons about edging and weighting/unweighting - some of it contradictory - and was encouraged to keep my knees clamped together throughout.

Since then, I've joined clinics in Italy Switzerland and Colorado and also skied all kinds of terrain with lots of really good skiers who've forgotten more than I'll ever know. You can see air between my knees now, but the entire learning curve has been on straights, 190s most recently, and I'm a bit concerned I'm going to end up in a real mess when I get on 21st century kit.

And I really, really want to make it work because I figure if it's good enough for Olympic champions than it's surely good enough for me!

I do plan to take lessons, but a few pointers from you pros before I head for the snow in three weeks would be incredibly welcome!

Thanx again.
post #4 of 36
Why? Because they can. Cut to the chase and ski parallel. These systems are designed to teach parallel skiing and supporting balancing movements right from the start. Paradoxally it is well known to a few, but for many yet to be discovered, that the snowplow/wedge need not be a critical path activity for learning to ski, much less learning to ski parallel.

Maybe what your question should be (that new skiing customers don't know enough to ask, yet) is: why does anyone still teach a wedge as a primary platform for learning to ski? Unless it is needed as a last resort, nothing else works, save the day option?

Look out, here come the "save the cute little spotted wedgy as an endangered species" cries from the SPHST (Society for the Preservation of Historical Ski Teaching).
[img]tongue.gif[/img] : :
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanx again, Arcmeister.

Anyone else out there want to elaborate or challenge?!

I'm in total sponge mode at the moment - soaking up as much info as I can find!

post #6 of 36
Some people can go right to the bicycle without the training wheels or without riding a trike. I suppose there are even prodigies who can go straight to a unicycle, but they would be rare.

Some need intermediate steps.

Also, some rental fleets are still exclusively straight skis.

The well-rounded instructor knows how to do both direct to parallel and wedge progressions, correctly diagnosing those who do not need the wedge and those who would benefit from one.

Frankly, I think you can achieve bad results with either approach; by the same token, you can achieve great results with both approaches. It all depends on the student's characteristics, experiences, and psychology.

The wedge in and of itself is not bad, particularly when it is used for gliding turns and not as "the brakes." Direct parallel in and of itself is not good, particularly when the parallel skier adopts defensive movements (see Arc's note about pivot and skid).

I think I will keep my teaching options open, and not declare myself "for" either but "for" both, depending on the student.
post #7 of 36
Oh Bob, they're at it again! Arc...haven't we beat it to death? Oh well, perhaps Herr Barnes will cut and paste his last long post on the issue. He has greater patience than I! Gotta go my tricycle is double parked.
post #8 of 36
Some things that work for one student do not work for the other. There is nothing wrong with moving a student to parallel as soon as possible and or staying in a turning wedge when you need to. In the Midwest we have dozens of buses show up with students wanting to hit the slopes and the wedge works well normally. Of course if you can duck fast or go have a cup of java you can forget the wedge and go direct to figure 11’s, your choice.

If you have an opportunity read the new PSIA technical manual. You will note there are many changes allowing for a vast amount of flexibility, which instructors always utilized anyway, and a means to teach students with all sorts of “steeping stones”.
You will also notice Centerline has been eliminated from the vocabulary. I am not sure what this means as yet but I sense we are in flux for now.

As a final note unfortunately too many learn a “braking” wedge rather than a steering wedge. This gives the wedge a bad name and in reality the instructor teaching a “braking” wedge deserves the bad rap.

post #9 of 36
If you don't understand me, please say so. (sometimes I don't either).
But please don't mis-represent me.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Arcmeister:
Maybe what your question should be (that new skiing customers don't know enough to ask, yet) is: why does anyone still teach a wedge as a primary platform for learning to ski? Unless it is needed as a last resort, nothing else works, save the day option?

My point is clearly in support of the concept of options. Options are what skiing is about, and what skilled teaching is about, but that takes continious exploration and learning, somthing professionals should be committed enough to embrace.

What I continue to encounter, and question, is this hair-trigger irrational obsession to justify the wedge as the only default keep-using-it-cause-it-still-works-for-everbody pathway?

I'm not suggesting its demise, only that it be recognised to be more appropriate as an alternative -vs a primary learning pathway, one used based on necessity, not based on convience, much less tradition.

Were you a new customer, knowing what you know, which pathway would you ask for?

To be taught the most modern and efficient way to learn to ski using the most benificial options to enhance your new skier experience. Or to only be taught using the same old way your instructor learned to teach because it is all your instructor knows?

The new customer may not know what to choose, but they do trust us to make the best choise for them.

Anyone who has yet to go thru the effort to explore and learn how to teach, and then experience teaching direct parallel to beginners simply has no basis from which to dismiss its merits based upon a teach the wedge only experience base. When they have, then they might really understand the concept of appropriate options.

I'm not advocating direct parallel as a new myopic replacement for the traditional myopic one-wedge-fits-all pathway. A new rut is still a rut. I like the new stepping stones options concept, even in its current under-developed stage. The supporting depth will come, but it is a fresh view that is about options. But they are only there if the pathway you start with can adapt and offer them as the students needs dictate and you have the knowledge and experience to make intellegent choices. Unfortunatly this requires that instructors must choose to expand their knowledge and experience sufficiently to recognise and effectivly employ options. Such as direct parallel options to starting with the traditional wedge as the default pathway (one that limits their student's learning options, more now than ever). If the wedge approach is all you've got, it is like a hammer and all your students look like nails.

I may not as yet have taught my last wedge to a beginner. But I've discovered too many options to ever try to justify thinking it would be the default best place to start.

Stagnant learning disguised as expertise perpetuates the past, creative inovation and exploration enable the future's potential.
post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
Ooops! Looks like I've inadvertently revisited an already open can of worms here!

And it's all fascinating stuff, but I'd be really, really grateful if one of you could throw me a few pointers to help me make as painless transition as possible from 20th to 21st century skis, given that everything I've been taught is 100 carat "old style".


post #11 of 36
1. Relax - it's meant to be fun, not hard work.
2. Take a private lesson.
3. It's about small movements, not big ones
4. Ignore foxes who give ski advice.

post #12 of 36

Where are you going to be skiing? If the area has a service web site, check if you can rent/demo shape skis and if there is a school that specializes in introducing the new technologies. Rent/demo a pair of shapes in a length that is at least 20 cm. shorter than your straight skis. Book a private lesson.

The main difference between shapes and straights is that on shapes we let the ski turn us, whereas on straights, we turn the skis. This involves more "letting" and less "making." Skiing shapes well will require refinement of the movements you probably make now. It's not a tough transition at all if the skis are the right length and your instructor knows what s/he is doing.
post #13 of 36
The GLM approach was an interesting concept in its day. it did help many and get many to try skiing. The two draw-backs I noticed is people would still plateau at intermediate level. Second, people would 'graduate the length of their skis only so far and stop. They would go to a longer ski and not like it, then go back to their rpevious length ski because it was easier to turn.

Here the problem lies with the Indian, not the arrow primarily. They rely on a shorter ski to turn easily instead of taking more lessons to learn proper edge control and balance.

We constantly hear them say they don't liek speed. Of course not! Their skis are so cotton-pickin' short, no wonder! (Idon't mean 40-60 mph speed- just speeds a bit faster than they are comfortable with.)

But then some people consider skis merely as transportation from the toop of the hill to the bottom, and that's fine. Stop here and there, take pictures, beat up the kids, etc. They have no interest in progressing. That's ok. That's their bag(boy! showing my age here!) They are still having fun, and that's the important thing.

Others wish to progress but don't know what to do to achieve it.

When teaching I assess where the student is. If I see someone naturally going nto a parrallel, I work on that rather than holding him/her back with the wedge.

It seems that getting people into parrallel one has to un-teach a lot of previously learned skills. But I guess there's pros and cons on both sides.

In the recent past it's been a narrower wedge so there's a more subtle weight transfer, as per another post here, small movements, not large ones.

when I see enough stability I take my students up on the big people hill.(short, blue run) I had already taught them side step and side slip. At the top I see their faces. : I tell everyone, "i know all of us right now are going, 'E-gads!'looking at this hill! If you wish, you may side slip down until you are more comfortable to practice our turns. No one will think poorly of you- promise!" This eases fears. So here they are practicing side slip (edge control) instead of wedge only.
I now have previous students looking me up and saying, "Look, Bob! Watch what I can do!" And they take off! I stand at the top of the hill, and I'm proud of them!
I would like to get more training as to how to by-pass teaching the wedge. Any suggestions?
post #14 of 36
Scotski, the best advice I can give you is to get GOOD equipment (I'd get demo stuff) that is properly tuned and make sure you are skiing on 2 skis that are flat, not edged, when you are in your natural stance. This alignment is crucial IMHO, especially on the new skis.

Also, while eveeryone here debates the finer points of the notorious Wedge Issue check out this site: www.harbskisystems.com where you'll get some drills on the PMTS system. It's fun and easy! Also try www.peterkeelty.com Somewhere on there he has a VERY basic exercise to get the feel of edging the nu skis. Basically, on an easy run, if you want to go left just point your knees to the left while putting most of you weight on the right foot. This puts the skis on edge and you'll turn left simple as that. then point them right to go right and so on.

The point is that shaped skis turn for you if you just put them on edge. No up and down, no pressuring the front of the ski etc. Just tip, turn and smile.
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanx, Trey! That makes it sound much less daunting! [img]smile.gif[/img]

I'll go check out the websites and get inside the concept!

Thanx to everyone for their input - I can't wait! Three weeks and counting...

post #16 of 36
Oh, brother....

Scotski, my only warning is to beware of ANY instructor who is dogmatically either "for" or "against" the wedge--or the "parallel." NEITHER ONE of these ski arrangements should be a "goal" if what you really want is to become a skillful, well-rounded skier, and eventually an "expert"! Neither one is a problem, or a "magic bullet." Any instructor who suggests--or who sustains the myth--that "parallel" equates to "expert" is one to run away from!

What is important--the ONLY thing that is important--is to find an instructor who understands MOVEMENTS. There are "good" movements and "dead end" movements, and neither has anything to do with whether you are in a wedge or "parallel." You can learn good skiing movements or bad skiing movements in either a wedge or a parallel stance, as others have pointed out here. Some situations lend themselves to a wedge, some don't.

And beware also any instructor who suggests that the new skis will "do it by themselves." Skiing is as much a skill sport now as it ever has been. There are no shortcuts to good skiing skills. Yes, they'll "veer" when you just tip them, but there is a LOT more to skiing with control than that! Remember that a train turns too, without a steering wheel, but that doesn't make the engineer have any control of its direction! Learn with a shortcut system--as the old GLM teaching method showed us--and you will regret it eventually. You'll make quick progress--on the road to mediocrity!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #17 of 36
Thread Starter 
OK. Now I'm a wee bit confused again!

I've been skiing for many moons (not every year but the weeks have stacked up) and have skied most terrain on most types of snow, from sheet ice in galeswept Scotland to heli-powder in BC.

I've never had any delusions about my ability (most women don't!), but I was OK to good-ish on straights in most situations.

Wedges (stems by any other name?) I can do. Snowploughs I can do (and they have their uses, IMO - round a corner on a narrow European trail at the end of the day to find mum and three kids slap bang in front of you and somebody on your tails? Mmmm, I wouldn't like not to know how to plough in that situation...)

Anyway, various types of parallel turns I can also do, though I'd be hard-pushed to give them all labels!

As I said further up the thread, I've been taught many different ways (too many ways), but all the basics are in place. (As they should be after a zillion-squillion years!)

So on a personal level, it's just the transition from old tech to new tech that's at issue here...

And the reason I began the thread the way I did was because I can see that the emphasis has shifted right away from many of the old techniques that I've used, and citing Ski Evolutif (which I never tried, by the way) gave me a sort of benchmark.

I can only hope that I DO find an instructor in Wengen who can translate theory into practice! I'm hiring skis in the resort - I doubt they demo there - and will go for the best to give myself the best chance.

Any more input most gratefully received meantime!!

post #18 of 36
Hi Scottski--

When in Wengen, ask around in the resort and the towns for a good instructor recommendation. It's a serious profession over there, and they do have some good ones!

You might also post the question here at EpicSki, perhaps in the "Resorts" section as well as the "Instruction" section--anyone know of a good instructor in Wengen?

My guess is that most Swiss instructors would scoff at our little "wedge vs. parallel" tiff! "Vot does that have to do with good skiing?" I can almost hear them say....

Here are a couple thoughts regarding your last post. First, it's important to understand that wedges are very much NOT "stems by any other name." That is exactly the issue! A "wedge christie" is night-and-day opposite of a stem christie. One involves purely the offensive, contemporary movements, intents, and tactics of the best turns of the best skiers. The other involves 100% defensive movements--no less important, but they are "dead ends" on the road to great, offensive turns. We've discussed the specific differences between wedge- and stem-christies at length here before--check through the archives if you're curious.

Second, the so-called "differences" between "old" technique and "new" technique are more superficial than you may realize. Yes, the tools we ski on behave differently, or at least, they "behave" to a greater degree. They WORK better! But there are still three, and only three, things we can do with them with our feet: we can turn them and point them in different directions; we can tip them and flatten them on the snow; and we can push and pull on them, regulating both the amount and the location of the pressure on them. Becoming a better skier has always involved, and likely WILL always involve, becoming more skillful at these three things and at coordinating and blending them appropriately for any situation or desire.

It sounds like you have developed a whole lot of skills. You are probably a better skier than you let on--probably better than you think. All those different "types" of turns have their uses. Perhaps you would benefit from skiing with someone who could help you sort out the various USES of each type of turn, to help you match techniques to the specific tactical situations where they work best!

Have a great time in Switzerland, and keep us posted!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #19 of 36
Thread Starter 
OK, so a wedge aint a stem! Oops! I'll go figure with a rootle through the Epic archives! Thanks!

I presume a plough is a plough is a plough, though. Or has it had some kind of makeover I ought to know about?!

I hope I don't end up in one of those The More You Find Out, the Less You Know situations! :

Nah, only kidding.

I'm already on the trail of an instructor who I skied with in the past and trust and am waiting to hear back from the ski school whether he's still working with them. Even if he isn't, I'll be he hasn't gone far!

I'm also aiming to get one day in here in Scotland before we go, weather permitting. (Everything's stormbound at the moment - a common problem in Scotland. You get the snow, but can't get at it for the gales. And by the time the wind's dropped, the snow's gone!)

So, yes, I'll report back.

Thanks to everyone who joined this one.

post #20 of 36
Hi Scotski--

Here's some help with those archives--some of our more memorable discussions!

To Wedge or Not to Wedge

...and the sequel....

and the granddaddy of them all, Teaching the wedge is immoral, in which you are introduced to some of EpicSki's more colorful characters between the lines of a good discussion of the wedge/parallel issue.


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #21 of 36
A stem is the thing on a wine glass.
A wedge is the thing you put under the back of an oak cask to get all the single malt Scotch Whisky out to celebrate Alain Baxter's bronze.

post #22 of 36

Here is a way to think of wedges (and skiing in general) as offensive versus defensive.

What's the answer to the question: Why do we turn?

If your answer is the same as 90+% of my students: "to slow down" then you are thinking defensively.

The right answer is "to change direction". Just like turning the steering wheel in a car. This is offensive skiing. A turn is a decision to GO in a different direction.

Wedges used to slow down are defensive. A good instructor will show wedges as a way to make a turn/change direction, and then show that one of the things we can do when we change direction is to slow down via turning across the hill and letting gravity slow us down. i.e. it is the line you ski that slows us down.

Think of it this way. If you are going to turn down the fall line, you will go faster, right? If so, you better not change direction, or turn, until you feel like you want to go faster, not slower!

post #23 of 36
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>A stem is the thing on a wine glass.
A wedge is the thing you put under the back of an oak cask to get all the single malt Scotch Whisky out to celebrate Alain Baxter's bronze.

...so PARALLEL must be your relationship to the floor after properly using the wedge and the stem.....


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #24 of 36
post #25 of 36
Thread Starter 
Fox's overview looks the most tempting, particularly when tasted with Bob's spin.

Think I'll go with those!

Thanx again, all!

post #26 of 36
I'll do the basic training, you take the advanced class!

post #27 of 36
We could be on to something here, Fox! As they say, "you can't fall off the floor...."!

post #28 of 36
I'm waiting for someone to flame me and Bob for our ideas of progressive technique:

1. Wedge
2. Stem
3. Parallel

Bob, I haven't made it to parallel yet, I guess this means my technique is soooo good I don't need to go parallel. Although frequently after wedge and stem, I normally leave the bar with company - going to get parallel .

So maybe we should reverse it - you are taking the beginners, and I will teach the advanced levels.

The question now needs to be asked, what is your level? I think it should be based on the number of litres consumed (or triple units of alcohol for shot drinkers)

1-3 - Beginner
4-6 - Intermediate
7-10 - Advanced
11+ - Alcoholic

post #29 of 36

It's true--I've encountered in my career a few exceptional individuals who just NEVER get parallel, no matter how heavily they practice with the wedge and the stem. I suppose it's a matter of skill and experience, combined with extraordinary physical ability.

For most of us though, parallel is an inevitable consequence of the wedge and stem. I've known some lightweights with so little talent that they become almost immediately parallel, hardly even touching the wedge or the stem in the process. Then there are those who completely abstain from wedges and stems, proclaiming them "immoral" or wrong! They don't know what they're missing!

Then there are those unfortunates we see hauled away in ambulances because they failed to develop disciplined use of the wedge and stem!

I feel sorry for them....

[img]tongue.gif[/img] : :

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #30 of 36
Thread Starter 
Er, if I might just lead the discussion away from the bottle and bedroom for a moment...

Bob, thanx for the shortcuts - I've now read and digested most of their contents and have a clearer idea of what's at the root of all this.

Now, if a wedge ain't a stem (which it clearly ain't) what is its relationship to the snowplough?

I think what I'd really really love at this point (apart from strong drink) is a few photos!

Anyway, from all the evidence, I now strongly suspect I'm one of those competent to good intermediates who does a convincing line in stem/hop/windshield wipers as soon as the going gets tough!

Is there any hope for me?! :
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