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Not teaching a wedge to 4 never-ever skiers?????

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, just today I was at my home mountain shadowing another instructor and was instantly made aware that the guy I was shadowing DID NOT teach the wedge.  I did two lessons with him, consisting of two people in each, and 3 of the 4 were never-evers (the 4th had gone once).  We went out to the hill and during straight runs he made it clear that he would not be teaching the wedge.  His logic made a bit of sense, as he said once you learn the wedge you can't get rid of it.  But I learned the wedge, as I'm sure many of you guys did, and had very little trouble getting rid of it.  I'm just having trouble accepting that such a vital part of the beginner level is being left out.  Even skiers in the intermediate level often initiate turns with a very slight wedge.  He basically wanted them to be parallel skiing after an hour.  I'm not bashing the guy at all, as he was really cool to me, but just would like some thoughts on this.  I've gone through the beginner lesson in training dozens of times already, and have seen the wedge being introduced everytime.  Someone please enlighten this first year instructor (me).

 

Tyler

post #2 of 26

There are several direct to parallel ways of teaching. Just what did the instructor teach to the students?

 

fom

post #3 of 26
There's nothing unusual about teaching Direct to Parallel if the students don't need the wider base of support and the beginner terrain available supports it. The only "error" I see in his teaching is the statement, "...once you learn the wedge you can't get rid of it.."

As you yourself are aware, moving into parallel and leaving the Wedge behind isn't all that difficult unless the student clings to a Braking Wedge as a continual means of speed control. In such a case, it's not the fault of the Wedge itself but rather the way it's being used that becomes the hindrance.

.ma
post #4 of 26

Versatility is a strong reason to learn from this guy, Sounds like your other trainers use a wedge as a matter of standard procedure. My question is so what would you do if that didn't work? More options gives you more ways to meet the student's needs. As a shadow you're a newbie, try not to form subjective opinions and concentrate instead on understanding both methods more completely.

post #5 of 26

I guess my question is ....  How did the lessons go?  You shadowed to learn, did the students learn anything, did you?  What is your opinion of the DTM method after you saw it in action?

post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 

I don't have a problem with direct to parallel, but I did two lessons and felt like we didn't get much done.  We taught DTP, they struggled, one group made it up the lift, the other didn't.  If you wanna try DTP, I say go for it, but IMO if that doesn't work or isn't clicking fall back to the wedge.  I felt like he was teaching DTP no matter what, which also may have added to my confusion.  And we were taking our students to the top of the green slope, so not just straight running.  And IMO, the terrain didn't support it.  But thanks for the input and I'll keep an open mind.  After all, I'm a newbie and many instructors have been there for 30+ years.  Not trying to say I'm right he's wrong, just really wondering if this is a method I should pursue. 

 

Tyler

post #7 of 26

CSIA uses fast track to parallel, which introduces a wedge for braking (which I hate) and speed management. I think the other part is when one ski is always pointed somewhat down the hill, you don't need to pivot as much to get your skis turning--so easier for the learner. Like the op mentioned, it's easy to shed the wedge--the position is unusual and it's much more comfortable matching the inside ski. 

 

I would love to see someone present a direct-to-parallel teaching methodology that consistently works with learners of all athleticism levels.

 

Question: does a learner's struggle with direct-to-parallel match a new snowboarder's struggle? ie are the first 3 days rather brutal? (I'm trying to imagine a structure wherein we teach balancing, tipping and pivoting immediately without any way to really brake during the turn--which is reminiscent of my early snowboarding days.)

 

Question 2: do DTP learners actually progress faster than wedge learners? Is there any particular advantage to DTP other than just not using a wedge? (I wonder if this has been empirically studied rather than just dogmatically professed by certain schools of instruction.)

 

Question 3: How would a DTP skier approach a chairlift on an incline without wedging? (recognizing that skilled skiers can slow down in narrow spaces without a wedge by using edging or pivoting movements, though I have a hard time envisioning a new skier being able to do so)

post #8 of 26

44, the lessons you described in your OP whent pritty much as I expected. Quite a bit of struggling. I depend on teaching the wedge because it works for all ages and levels of athletisism. I hear people that try to teach 4y olds DTP and rave it works great except for the minor complication that they cannot controll their speed or stop. Thats pritty much totally worng in my book.

 

For some DTP might work but the wedge is a very useful skill to know. I resort to the wedge myself very often. For example when I inspect a race course or rid it from snow. Or approach a lift line or need to brake my speed in a narrow passage or when there is a lot of people in the way. Or when I need to pass somebody that fell right in front of me while riding a T-bar. I dont by default use a parallel turn to do any of that.

 

I think that its important to teach the wedge and its movements first and then teach the parallel turn and its movements later on. The thing is that they are different. The wedge christie approach blends the two which causes the student to more easily resort to the wedge later on while progressing. But if you teach a wedge as its supposed to be thaught as a stand alone thing and then teach the parallel turn as its stand alone thing then you have less problems with mixing the two. So what is the main difference? The main difference between a wedged turn and a parallel turn is that in a wedge turn your skis are in a skidding position to start with. In a parallel turn you need to establishe the skidding as a separate movement. If you do this then you will find out that your students are less confused of which technique to use and when. The reason why most people have the wedge creaping in on them is that they dont have a very good parallel turn technique.

 

What method was the instructor using in the DTP approach? How exactly did he teach how to turn? Im very interested in hearing since I have a hard time believing that never evers can pull off any kind of parallel turn without being able to carry speed, balance over their outside ski and unwweight their skis. They also have no experiance with how their skis brush over the snow and how to controll the pressure and keep the arc round and even.

post #9 of 26

PSIA Central has a great manual on teaching using a Wedge Progression, Direct to Parallel Progression, and a Hybrid Progression.  I highly recommend it.  Here's the link to the manual.  I tend to use a Hybrid progression when I teach.

post #10 of 26

 

 

If I may interject into an otherwise professional discussion, I learned DTP as a 46 year old with no instruction (ran across a Harb lesson online).  I started on a genuine bunny hill, moved to a less-bunny bunny hill, where I learned to hockey stop -- I guess it took a couple of days, going slow -- and then graduated to green trails.  I had no trouble at all turning or balancing.  I learned to use a wedge to brake at lifts, though.

 

My son learned wedge at 4, and he hung onto it until he was eight.  He took a lesson at that point, but he wouldn't leave the wedge until then.

 

So I don't know.  DTP worked for me.   (Now I'm ready for a lesson, though.)

 

 

 

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 
I resort to the wedge myself very often. For example when I inspect a race course or rid it from snow.
Hey - that's another good use for a Braking ("Snowplow") Wedge that we tend to overlook! I've done that myself and not even thought about it, but what better way to Plow the Snow off a race course than to use a 'SnowPlow Wedge'?
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 
I think that its important to teach the wedge and its movements first and then teach the parallel turn and its movements later on.
I suspect this is how ski instructors typically went about things in the USA for most of the past 40 years as well (and many still do!).

Here also, the Braking Wedge was taught as a defined set of Wedge-specific movement patterns aiming at a specific outcome (that being continuous braking along with turning). Taught this way, moving to the next level required teaching a number of new movement patterns to replace previously learned movement patterns. Clinging to the previously taught patterns interfered with moving to the next level.

To overcome this switch of movement patterns a contemporary idea was introduced (now the preferred method) to teach only movement patterns that directly apply to all skier-levels, and all four standard phases of skier development (Wedge, WC, Open Parallel, Dynamic Parallel). These days the "Wedge" is not supposed to be taught as a deliberate input (meaning we shouldn't teach students to "hold" any particular Wedge-angle and actually prefer to see the Wedge vanish at every opportunity).


The DTP method eliminates all (dedicated) Braking Wedge movement patterns so there are no Wedge-use-only movement patterns to replace. Unfortunately, DTP generally requires flatter, wider, less crowded beginner areas for the typical student since it takes a longer distance for the inexperienced skier to initiate a turn without the benefit of a partially preTurned, preEdged new outside-ski as found in the Gliding Wedge formation. Since the Gliding Wedge has these same desirable characteristics and lacks any patterns that must be replaced later, we tend to use the Gliding Wedge anywhere proper DTP terrain and conditions are not available.

As I see it, when teaching DTP the most important patterns to teach are:
1) Stand partially flexed (mostly upright) in a balanced stance over both feet (hip-width apart)
2) Use primarily Independent Leg Steering to turn (teach it with boots off first)
3) Release the downhill ski's edge to start a new turn (released by moving the hips downhill slightly)

(Of course, I'm assuming very flat terrain and at least a reasonable alignment of legs & boots.)

.ma
post #12 of 26

A zillion years ago there was the Graduated Length Method (GLM) from Clif Taylor that promised to go directly to carving (more like steering).  Remember that?  OK, today it is reinvented as DTP.  When GLM was taught to a hockey player or top athlete (good balance) they were skiing black diamonds in no time.  Teaching it to the average person was more problematic once they got past the intermediate phase due to the length of the skis at the time.   Would GLM work today?  Sure, because skis are shorter now.  Is DTP simply a rehashed version of GLM?  I dunno enough about DTP but it sure seems like nothing is new.


Edited by quant2325 - 12/28/10 at 2:59pm
post #13 of 26
'DTP' is just that: Direct to Parallel, nothing more.

Modern skis are much shorter than their classic counterparts and have quite a bit more sidecut as well so they tend to initiate and continue turns far more easily than old skis - even for absolute beginners.

Today GLM would work just fine with either Wedge turns or DTP but there isn't really a reason for GLM any more since modern "full size" skis are already quite short. Of course, a newbie could try some Snow Blades and experience the same idea but they'd better have some decent balancing skills right off.

.ma
post #14 of 26

When I teach adult beginners I like to see them on 120cm skis.  I teach beginners on my 120cm skis.  It is much easier to learn to ski on a very short ski and then work up to a longer length.  I want my students to succeed and have fun.

 

What was old is not new again.  GLM worked and it works better today because skis have more side-cut which gives them a built in turn.

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 

I resort to the wedge myself very often. For example when I inspect a race course or rid it from snow.


Hey - that's another good use for a Braking ("Snowplow") Wedge that we tend to overlook! I've done that myself and not even thought about it, but what better way to Plow the Snow off a race course than to use a 'SnowPlow Wedge'?


Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 

I think that its important to teach the wedge and its movements first and then teach the parallel turn and its movements later on.


I suspect this is how ski instructors typically went about things in the USA for most of the past 40 years as well (and many still do!).

Here also, the Braking Wedge was taught as a defined set of Wedge-specific movement patterns aiming at a specific outcome (that being continuous braking along with turning). Taught this way, moving to the next level required teaching a number of new movement patterns to replace previously learned movement patterns. Clinging to the previously taught patterns interfered with moving to the next level.

To overcome this switch of movement patterns a contemporary idea was introduced (now the preferred method) to teach only movement patterns that directly apply to all skier-levels, and all four standard phases of skier development (Wedge, WC, Open Parallel, Dynamic Parallel). These days the "Wedge" is not supposed to be taught as a deliberate input (meaning we shouldn't teach students to "hold" any particular Wedge-angle and actually prefer to see the Wedge vanish at every opportunity).


The DTP method eliminates all (dedicated) Braking Wedge movement patterns so there are no Wedge-use-only movement patterns to replace. Unfortunately, DTP generally requires flatter, wider, less crowded beginner areas for the typical student since it takes a longer distance for the inexperienced skier to initiate a turn without the benefit of a partially preTurned, preEdged new outside-ski as found in the Gliding Wedge formation. Since the Gliding Wedge has these same desirable characteristics and lacks any patterns that must be replaced later, we tend to use the Gliding Wedge anywhere proper DTP terrain and conditions are not available.

As I see it, when teaching DTP the most important patterns to teach are:
1) Stand partially flexed (mostly upright) in a balanced stance over both feet (hip-width apart)
2) Use primarily Independent Leg Steering to turn (teach it with boots off first)
3) Release the downhill ski's edge to start a new turn (released by moving the hips downhill slightly)

(Of course, I'm assuming very flat terrain and at least a reasonable alignment of legs & boots.)

.ma


You are refering to my wedging as a "braking wedge". Its not. No more no less than your "gliding wedge". Its all a matter of how 1. wide your wedge is 2. how big your edge angles are 3. how steep is the slope you are on and 4. how fast you are going. Im hoping that the big croud reading but not posting here will understand that. Next time on snow I will go and make a demo of me in a very shallow wedge. Going very fast. And making very big turns. Aka "gliding wedge". 

 

Also, I was suggesting that the wedge be a wedge and parallel be a parallel. If you are using the gliding wedge to WC progression and you try to make the wedge as small as possible your students will keep on cheating and cheating. Just like the woman on the indoor slope. That was in a way the perfect example of how ski instruction go wrong. On the other hand, if you want to keep on skiing for fun with family and friends on nice flat groomers and you like to be outdoors that level is sufficient. Even the wedge would be sufficient.

 

A change is not always for the better. Remember that when your assosiation approaches its changing days in the future sometime.
 

post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

When I teach adult beginners I like to see them on 120cm skis.  I teach beginners on my 120cm skis.  It is much easier to learn to ski on a very short ski and then work up to a longer length.  I want my students to succeed and have fun.

 



icon14.gif

post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

When I teach adult beginners I like to see them on 120cm skis.  I teach beginners on my 120cm skis.  It is much easier to learn to ski on a very short ski and then work up to a longer length.  I want my students to succeed and have fun.

 



icon14.gif



icon14.gif

post #18 of 26

GLM created a lot of skiers with torso rotation issues.

 

DTP works well with folks who are athletic and have good-fitting boots.

 

I've gone side-by-side with a really good DTP instructor and taught similarly gifted folks with the gliding wedge-to-parallel system and had equal success.  It all depends upon the presentation. 

post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 
You are refering to my wedging as a "braking wedge". Its not. No more no less than your "gliding wedge". Its all a matter of how 1. wide your wedge is 2. how big your edge angles are 3. how steep is the slope you are on and 4. how fast you are going. Im hoping that the big croud reading but not posting here will understand that. Next time on snow I will go and make a demo of me in a very shallow wedge. Going very fast. And making very big turns. Aka "gliding wedge".
To be fair, I've only seen you demonstrate a Braking Wedge in your videos (defined by a big Wedge shape and high edge-angles) and it seems to be what you describe most of the time. I'd genuinely be interested in seeing your interpretation of a Gliding Wedge on video.

(Regarding your points #3 & #4, I don't think the 'Wedge' itself is ever defined by the speed of the skier nor the angle of the slope as those are just context elements in which the Wedge technique is executed.)

When you execute your version of a Gliding Wedge be sure to attempt some short radius turns as well (meaning 2 meters or less).

I think you'll find it possible to make some very short turns just by twisting both legs into the new direction while releasing the downhill skis' edge a little bit. (No fair if you deliberately tip that downhill ski until it rails on it's LTE..!) There will be no need to deliberately shift your weight from ski to ski - just keep everything nice and centered (meaning - Don't lean downhill with the upper-body to turn and Don't shift extra weight onto the downhill ski to turn, etc).

It's all about letting it happen as opposed to making it happen (and certainly not about preventing it from happening).

.ma

 

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 

I resort to the wedge myself very often. For example when I inspect a race course or rid it from snow.


Hey - that's another good use for a Braking ("Snowplow") Wedge that we tend to overlook! I've done that myself and not even thought about it, but what better way to Plow the Snow off a race course than to use a 'SnowPlow Wedge'?


Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 

I think that its important to teach the wedge and its movements first and then teach the parallel turn and its movements later on.


I suspect this is how ski instructors typically went about things in the USA for most of the past 40 years as well (and many still do!).

Here also, the Braking Wedge was taught as a defined set of Wedge-specific movement patterns aiming at a specific outcome (that being continuous braking along with turning). Taught this way, moving to the next level required teaching a number of new movement patterns to replace previously learned movement patterns. Clinging to the previously taught patterns interfered with moving to the next level.

To overcome this switch of movement patterns a contemporary idea was introduced (now the preferred method) to teach only movement patterns that directly apply to all skier-levels, and all four standard phases of skier development (Wedge, WC, Open Parallel, Dynamic Parallel). These days the "Wedge" is not supposed to be taught as a deliberate input (meaning we shouldn't teach students to "hold" any particular Wedge-angle and actually prefer to see the Wedge vanish at every opportunity).


The DTP method eliminates all (dedicated) Braking Wedge movement patterns so there are no Wedge-use-only movement patterns to replace. Unfortunately, DTP generally requires flatter, wider, less crowded beginner areas for the typical student since it takes a longer distance for the inexperienced skier to initiate a turn without the benefit of a partially preTurned, preEdged new outside-ski as found in the Gliding Wedge formation. Since the Gliding Wedge has these same desirable characteristics and lacks any patterns that must be replaced later, we tend to use the Gliding Wedge anywhere proper DTP terrain and conditions are not available.

As I see it, when teaching DTP the most important patterns to teach are:
1) Stand partially flexed (mostly upright) in a balanced stance over both feet (hip-width apart)
2) Use primarily Independent Leg Steering to turn (teach it with boots off first)
3) Release the downhill ski's edge to start a new turn (released by moving the hips downhill slightly)

(Of course, I'm assuming very flat terrain and at least a reasonable alignment of legs & boots.)

.ma


good post ma!

post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post

 

You are refering to my wedging as a "braking wedge". Its not. No more no less than your "gliding wedge". Its all a matter of how 1. wide your wedge is 2. how big your edge angles are 3. how steep is the slope you are on and 4. how fast you are going. Im hoping that the big croud reading but not posting here will understand that. Next time on snow I will go and make a demo of me in a very shallow wedge. Going very fast. And making very big turns. Aka "gliding wedge". 

 

Also, I was suggesting that the wedge be a wedge and parallel be a parallel. If you are using the gliding wedge to WC progression and you try to make the wedge as small as possible your students will keep on cheating and cheating. Just like the woman on the indoor slope. That was in a way the perfect example of how ski instruction go wrong. On the other hand, if you want to keep on skiing for fun with family and friends on nice flat groomers and you like to be outdoors that level is sufficient. Even the wedge would be sufficient.

 

A change is not always for the better. Remember that when your assosiation approaches its changing days in the future sometime.
 



Using a gliding wedge does not necessitate large radius turns with lots of speed!  What ever gave you that idea?  Using a gliding wedge and releasing edges to initiate allows very easily steered turning for shorter radius turns if warranted and we focus on using turn shape and completion to control our descent rather than a braking wedge as evident in your videos.  Consequently gliding wedge turns quickly and effortlessly morph into wedge Christies, the beginning of parallel skiing.

post #22 of 26

Just my opinion; I'm an unqualified skier, not an instructor, not a racer;

 

I'm guessing his thought process was something like this:

Gliding wedge = flatter skis = easier steering;

Gliding wedge + steeper hill = higher speeds;

Higher speeds + flatter skis = wider turns.

 

However, at slower speeds (requiring flatter terrain), I think even TDK would agree gilding wedge does not mean wider turns.

 

The mechanics of the turn are really not all that different.  On just has more emphasis on steering to create a greater steering angle to produce more turn, and the other has more emphasis on increasing tipping angle and pressure to create more turn.  One has a greater risk of leaving a vestigial pivoting steering move and the other risks leaving a vestigial preturn stem move.  One takes a little longer to the "self-steering" effect of a strongly edged and pressured ski.  The other is a torture method that hinders learning the nuances of pivoting-based steering skills.

 

This positive negative thing is all in your head.  Moving the bottom of my steering wheel to the left to turn right while driving my car is not a negative move.

 

Which method works best DTP, wedge, whatever, depends on what skills the skier brings to the table, what he needs to build up, and where he is going to skiing when he leaves your lesson.

 

 

post #23 of 26

I think the whole "controversy" over wedge versus direct to parallel is overblown.  The main goal of a beginner lesson should be to get the skier in an athletic stance that is balance fore and aft, and to get him/her able to move freely on the skis, so that the skier has some speed and direction control.  Maybe they should learn a little about the responsibility code, or the mountain environment as well.

If I do a wedge progression, and the skier is making by twisting his feet while hanging on the back of his boots, that's not a success. If I do direct to parallel and the skier can the ski into a carved arc, but he can't release the edge or shape the turn, that's not a success either.

What I see in intermediate skiers is that they are often in the back seat, and they often do not have good upper/lower body separation.  To move freely on your skis, and to have upper lower separation, you need to rotate your femurs in the hip socket.  The benefit of a well done wedge progression is it teaches that rotation from the start.  Less skilled instructors may look for the turn in a beginner lesson, but better instructors know that they need to get stance and free movement going and the turns will follow.  You can teach the wedge or DTP (depending on the student's ability and equipment and terrain), but there is nothing about a wedge to "unlearn."  The difference in rotation between a wedge turn and a GS turn is a matter of timing, not learning a new movement pattern. 

It doesn't matter if they started with DTP or a wedge progression, intermediate skiers mostly turn by engaging the new outside ski before they release the old outside ski (that's if they don't turn just by pushing their heels).  Watch a pretty good skier who steps a little with every turn transition.  That step is needed because the skis are on a converging path for an instant, and one of them needs to be picked up out of the way.  That's a wedge christy, but a bad one, and lots of self described "experts" do it.

 

BK

post #24 of 26

Non-pro here - just a random skier -

 

Doesn't it depend on the student?  My very first ski day was in the early 90s.  I spent a few hours on the bunny slope with my friends, in which I apparently started doing stem christies all on my own - maybe trying to emulate my friends, who were skiing parallel?  Then I took a beginner lesson.  I was completely baffled by wedge turns.  They made no sense to me, and I couldn't do them.  I was frustrated by the class and found it entirely useless.  (There may have been some ego involved - I probably didn't want to "revert" to wedges.)  Later instructors commented that my skiing was "athletic" (which I've always suspected is code for "effective, but working too hard").

 

Maybe I missed a critical learning step by skipping the wedge; I don't know.  I did pick it up later, entirely as a speed-control mechanism when the run was too narrow for me to turn comfortably.

 

If I were my teenage self, learning to ski on the current technology, maybe DTP would have worked for me, and maybe I would have bounced right off of a wedge lesson.  I wonder if I would have taken more lessons if that first instructor had worked with what I was doing, rather than trying to force me into the "beginner = wedge" mold.  But in a group lesson, I don't know if they really could have done that.

post #25 of 26

USE THE WEDGE YOUNG LUKE SKI WALKER

post #26 of 26

I have no problem with either a gliding wedge or DTP approach to beginners. What I DO object to is braking wedge based approaches. Braking wedges tend to result in a weight to the rear stance so wide you're stuck on both inside edges. I find braking wedges tends to result in being stuck evenly weighted on both inside edges, meaning any attempt to stop also tends to turn you down the fall line, causing a mostly brute force stop as things get steeper.

 

  A well executed gliding wedge has both feet under your CM where you can steer, edge and weight either ski through the turn. The wedge helps enhance balance and speed control while enabling the skier to feel how the outside ski works through a parallel turn. It also makes it easier to control your speed by turn shape, rather then force. It doesn't take many tries for most people to prefer turning across the hill to a big wedge to stop. I've found that most people who learn a good gliding wedge start to parallel spontaneously once their comfort level with speed increases.

 

I mostly teach a gliding wedge based system because of the relative steepness of our beginner terrain. If I was at an area with lots of shallow pitches I would probably teach more DTP.

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