I've got one for you Carl. My 5 yr. old got ski poles this season, same age as his older brother. Since he's determined on keeping up with his older brother, he's skiing much more than his brother did at this age, much faster and skiing much steeper terrain on a regular basis. He really wanted the poles just to be like his brother and to help him get around on the flats. I didn't like what I was seeing as he was quite far back, stiff legged and would very often start descending in the flying wedge. I really didn't like it, as it was dangerous for one thing and he would tire quickly.
So I needed to get him forward and start actually pole planting to define the end of his turn, instead of drifting sideways down/across the mtn., body 90 deg to the fall line, with his poles basically dragging behind him. No easy task instructing a 5 year old how and when to pole plant or explaining the reasons why I want him to do it.
I started making headway when I described to him I wanted him to ski like his big brother and point the downhill pole down the mountain as he was going across the hill. He was already drifting across the hill in the wedge, so I'd ski behind him and remind him to point his pole downhill. This alone got his upper body much more upright and actually squared up his upper body to the fall line a little.
Now I had to get him to plant his pole and turn. I told him to "touch" his pole to the snow and "turn" around it, he did. We were onto something. He didn't pound the pole or stab it, he just lowered the tip pointing down the hill and turned around it. We only did this for about 6,000' vert. for him to get the timing. So when I ski behind him now, I'll remind him, especially on steeper groomed and natural terrain to "touch & turn" and he instantly gets forward and squares up a bit, slightly downweights/touches the pole tip to the snow and proceeds to unweight and initiate the new turn. It's really magic, "touch & turn". He's solidly on his downhill ski and very stable even at speed. He's even starting to release the uphill wedged ski and carve with both skis on moderate terrain. The "touch & turn" mantra has really worked well and we are skiing all over the mountain.
I've seen a lot of young kids being told to keep their hands on their knees without poles when they are wedging, which seems to keep them forward. I never did that as it seemed to confining for them, especially when jumping and skiing faster.
Edited by Nailbender - 1/18/11 at 4:00pm