Why teaching the wedge doesn't work

PMTS Forum

Why teaching the wedge doesn't work

Postby John Mason » Thu Sep 23, 2004 7:17 am

This came up in some private PM's over on Epic and I had never really thought about this much. But, we PMTS's are known as the "anti-wedge" group. But, I don't believe I've ever seen discussed why the wedge is so bad. But, it's at the core of why PMTS works so well with beginners and the normal level 1-8 PSIA progression does not.

I only skied on shaped skis, but I can tell you when I was taught the wedge in my first lesson, I found it very unstable, hard on the legs and I was always fighting to not have my tips crossed.

So, how did we end up with PSIA 1-8 and why should it not be taught anymore.

Never having skied on the straight ones but discussing it at length with some friends that have skied for decades, in the olden days of straight skis, skis carved a turn by pressuring them. Thus, you had a bit of a catch 22 in that you had to have some speed going and pressure to get a ski into reverse camber. Yet, a beginner can not do this. So to deal with this you have the wedge progession to parallel. PSIA levels 1-6 - wedge - levels 7 and 8 parallel. But by the time you work through all that you have such stem entry habits to your turns getting rid of the stem becomes a real problem for many students. Stem entry also prevents proper cross over balance shifts which holds back people's sking.

Now, enter the shaped ski. In the shaped ski, when you tip it, having no base of support in the middle the ski will reverse camber. It will do this with no speed or pressure on it at all. You can take a beginner, point them accross the hill with a slight downward bias, have them tip their skis they'll carve a turn back up the hill - just like that. Now, think about what happens if you take this same beginner and put them into a snowplough - or wedge. These same wonderful shaped skis do exactly what they were designed to do. The right ski will be carving left and the left ski will be carving right. This pressure to carve as designed MUST be balanced out by the beginning student by either keeping their feet flat so the skis don't engage (hard to do when you have them past shoulder width apart) or what most do, is try to push back against the skis so they don't cross their tips.

What inevitably happens is that the student, once they start actually sking like this, fall all the time. Anytime the hill builds a bit and these two tipped skis carving pressure overcomes the beginners ability to push them away from each other, the tips will cross and down will go the skier.

My wife took 1 lesson. This was of the traditional type. The wedge just killed her knees. She felt very unstable and insecure. She has never skied again. She is finally going to try it again this season, but we will be doing the beginner PMTS progressions with her.

Why anyone would try to teach the wedge at all with shaped skies needs to get their head back into the sunshine. There is no logic to do it on shaped skis and it's dangerous to do.
John Mason
 
Posts: 1050
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:52 pm
Location: Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Postby milesb » Thu Sep 23, 2004 8:38 am

John, you will hear alot of "PSIA doesn't have a wedge progression, if it happens, we allow it..." Which is fine. But take a look at almost any beginners lesson, and what do you see the teacher demonstrating? What do you think the beginner is going learn most from the lesson, what he/she/it hears, or what he/she/it sees?

You are correct that a small radius ski is going to be alot less comfortable to wedge on. Straight skis were much easier on the knees while wedging.
As far as having detrimental effects on a skiers' progresss, realize that many respected professionals feel that it doesn't. That's really an argument for instructors to have.
YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH78E6wIKnq3Fg0eUf2MFng
User avatar
milesb
 
Posts: 978
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 10:17 am
Location: Los Angeles

Postby BigE » Thu Sep 23, 2004 9:01 am

There is very much truth to what you say. However, there are shaped skis available that still allow skidding, which is necessary for the wedge. Equipment selection for the beginner becomes FAR more critical than in the straight ski days -- just any old ski won't do; it has to be good at skidding.

As you can see on Keelty's reviews, some skis are labelled with icons of a little green guy skiing in a wedge. Unfortunately, I doubt that the ski shops want to "undersell" :wink: their clients, so those are not likely widely available.
BigE
 
Posts: 1519
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:42 am
Location: Toronto, Canada

PMTS Wedge-less

Postby Harald » Thu Sep 23, 2004 1:50 pm

John, if you are interested in the science based explanations and fallout from the wedge and wedge progressions they are available. The wedge and its reoccurring movement liabilities are discussed, analyzed and described in depth, in the early pages of ?Anyone can be an Expert Skier? and in the PMTS Instructor Manual, from the biomechanics stand point. Also, if you go to PMTS.org you will see articles I wrote in newsletters about the dead-end skills of the wedge, addressing the wedge progression and how invalid it is for shaped skis (Feb 02). http://www.pmts.org/newsletter/feb02/feb02.htm#hh
Harald
 

Postby John Mason » Thu Sep 23, 2004 8:35 pm

Big E said:

There is very much truth to what you say. However, there are shaped skis available that still allow skidding, which is necessary for the wedge. Equipment selection for the beginner becomes FAR more critical than in the straight ski days -- just any old ski won't do; it has to be good at skidding.


I am very aware of that, but didn't bring it up. That's very true. They'll designate a beginner a loosy and floppy beginner ski with little torsional rigidity. My wife, at her one and only lesson at Breckenridge was taught the wedge which had her fighting the tips crossing, but in talking with her, what bothered her more was the lack of edging. In a beginning lesson they will teach a person how to "walk" uphill. You can think of this as the students first experience with "edging" since they must hold their skis on edge in order to step up hill. The beginner flop shaped skis they give her would not hold an edge. Maybe they would for a lightweight youngster, but not her. She felt that if she couldn't even perform this simple stepping drill then obviously she could never ski.

So, to mitigate the problem of shaped skis in a wedge progression the solution most of the industry has suggested is a ski that will not hold an edge. Great solution - Not!

When I taught my brother in law to ski, and we was doing blues in about 2 hours, I got him a 160 length atomic GS ski. At that short length the turn radius is more like a SL ski. It worked out great. We did the progression right out of the PMTS manual and didn't even take the lift up the hill for about 20 min as we worked through the static drills. Went up the hill and did traverses, progressed to garlands, etc. If I had him on a ski that couldn't edge properly he would not have had a successful day or felt confident that he could trust the ski's edges.

milesb:


John, you will hear alot of "PSIA doesn't have a wedge progression, if it happens, we allow it..." Which is fine. But take a look at almost any beginners lesson, and what do you see the teacher demonstrating? What do you think the beginner is going learn most from the lesson, what he/she/it hears, or what he/she/it sees?


This is the weird thing. At the high levels of PSIA with the good instructors, it's all about the feet with a focus on the inside leg. There are lots of overlaps with PMTS since PMTS is simply a way to accuratly describe and teach correct ski movements. PMTS never said or says it has a monopoly on these movements. Yet, when I look at the published levels 1-8 that PSIA runs people through for their progression and also the testing requirements for Levels I II and III, it's all based on the wedge progression. Tipping to turn in introduced very late rather than at the beginning.

milesb also said:
As far as having detrimental effects on a skiers' progresss, realize that many respected professionals feel that it doesn't. That's really an argument for instructors to have.


But, if the instructors only have this self debate, where does that leave the student that is trying to get the most for their sking time and dollar. Actually I think you can be more objective than that. When a 3rd party looks at the published progression for PSIA levels 1-8 you see that 1-6 have wedge components and true parallel sking is levels 7 and 8. From a students point of view, they wanna ski like skiers they see at level 8. Thus levels 1-6 if actualy taught and progressed through is more than just a little waste of time.

The interesting thing I see as an observer of the instructors talking on other boards is that many will say or imply to people asking the questions, get an instructor that will teach you properly. Does this imply like you are saying that they think PSIA doesn't teach a wedge progression? They have their own direct parallel method, but if you do a web search for any type of direct parallel method all you find is Solvista which is PMTS. I did find lots of schools that publish on their web sites the wedge/rotary progression as they tout their PSIA affiliation.

If you have, as a ski instructor, students you have had from the beginning that your still trying to get to not stem their turns, then ask how did they get to this position in the first place. Even more astounding is the numerous times I've seen people state on other forums that some level of stem entry always occurs implying rather strongly that these instructors have not achieved true parallel entry in their own sking yet.

It's really simply, if you start your turn with your outside ski you'll stem. If you start it with a tip of the inside ski, drawing your CM over your skis and the resulting passive tipping of the outside leg engages your edges, you will not stem. This movement is well known. I just don't get why they don't teach it to beginners and muck it all up with rotary and wedges - other than the historical perspective. It didn't work in the past with straight skis since they would not turn for a beginner this way since there was no speed/pressure to get the ski into reverse camber. Ski teaching is still working off the inertia of the old system. They should work off this inertia faster.

Anyone have any stats of the Solvista experiment? Are they 100% PMTS there? How do they handle boot alignment for beginners? I'll be driving up for 11 days in Dec for sking and thought I might get my wife there for another go at it.
John Mason
 
Posts: 1050
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:52 pm
Location: Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Postby Ott Gangl » Fri Sep 24, 2004 8:34 am

John, once PMTS becomes the national standard instead of HH personal domain, all your dreams will come true. Sol Vista alone wont do it..

....Ott

P.S.. why do you care so much? You obviously learned the correct PMTS way, so why aren't you satisfied and quit badmouthing all other systems. You should see the Nepalese system, carving barrel staves :)
Ott Gangl
 
Posts: 451
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 3:16 pm
Location: Ohio, USA via Bavaria

Postby milesb » Fri Sep 24, 2004 8:51 am

John, even a beginner ski should be able to hold an edge at typical beginner speeds, IF they have a decent tune. It's not uncommon for the rentals to have some serious problems. I have skied on a beginner ski with sharp edges, and it worked just fine.

I admit you have a very good point about the percieved lack of logic to the progressions we've seen on various websites. However, I still think you should leave the arguing to the professionals. You have made many excellent posts about skiing technique that do not involve the teaching side, which you must admit that you really know little about, no matter how simple it seems (me too). Not that you didn't do a good job with your relative, it sounds like you did.
YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH78E6wIKnq3Fg0eUf2MFng
User avatar
milesb
 
Posts: 978
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 10:17 am
Location: Los Angeles

Postby NNN » Fri Sep 24, 2004 8:59 am

I agree with Ott. The no wedge method has worked for you.
I started skiing three years ago with the wedge progression and am doing just fine. I have incorporated some of the PMTS techniques into my skiing but don't really think it is necessary to say this way is best and the other way is wrong. It seems you will not be happy until you get everyone in the skiing world to agree with your point of view.
It is all very simple, turn left, turn right, repeat often. :twisted:
NNN
 

Postby mechanic » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:31 am

John,

Where to begin? First, who says using a wedge stance as part of a teaching progression doesn't work. My observations over the last 20 years is that it works just fine. The advent of shaped skis didn't change that.

What happened is that shaped skis made it easier to pursue the idea of direct to parallel. The dtp approach really appealed to some instructors and they have used it to successfully introduce the sport to many new skiers. Other instructors kept teaching what they had for years because it worked then and was still working with the new skis and 'why fix it if it ain't broke'. Some of the dtp crowd started to point out the bad outcomes that can happen when a wedge stance is used and used these as an argument that the wedge and all progressions the employ it are bad. Those still tied to the wedge pointed out the shortcomings of the dtp method and argued that using a wedge stance as part of the beginner program lead to a better result in the long run and was the only way to go to deal with large numbers of students (thousands at a time) and/or limited terrain.

Have to run now, I'll add more later but here's one last thought. One of the larger dtp programs in the country moves to a progression using a wedge if the dtp part doesn't click. Now, why do you supose that is?

m
mechanic
 

response to Otto

Postby Harald » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:59 am

First, Otto I think you continue misunderstand me, make incorrect statements about me and my position in skiing and what we are trying to accomplish. I don?t know what it will take and how many times I have to repeat what I have already posted on many occasions.

Psychologists say people need to see or read a message eight to ten times before it sinks in. You will probably have to hear this message another five or six times before you get it. PMTS is not Harald Harb?s domain. It is open for everyone to use, even PSIA, as long as when they use PMTS material, they give credit to where it came from.

I know there has been much plagiarizing already by PSIA. I can read it in their manual. I have also been told by members of the Demo Team that they are copying our materials. What does that say about PSIA? They have no original ideas, so they have to copy and steal our materials. Many PSIA Examiners and trainers use PMTS teaching exclusively, without acknowledging them, some do acknowledge that they use PMTS.

PSIA would never have acknowledged any Direct Parallel approaches if PMTS had not introduced it and proved that it is more effective than the wedge progression. Reference, Ski Area Management Magazine, http://www.PMTS.org newsletter March 03.

In addition, the DesLauriers in their camps use PMTS, Lito uses PMTS, Chris Fellows uses PMTS in many of his techniques. Ski areas in the mid west and in Colorado use PMTS and instructors at many of the major Colorado resorts use PMTS. The only people holding back the growth of PMTS are ski school directors who have more allegiance to PSIA than to better ski teaching.

The public who is interested in better ski instruction has found PMTS. We offer eleven different ski camps through the season and spring. All but two camps have waiting lists and these are the ones in March and May. I know they will be full and will also have waiting lists. So if you are interested sign up early.
Harald
 

Faster success with PMTS

Postby Harald » Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:05 pm

To answer the NNN poster, you have yet to find out how good you could be if you used the alternative to the PSIA wedge progression. You have locked dead-end movements into your skiing. You are not even aware of them, if and when you want more out of your skiing and you get a good instructor, you will begin to realize the time and energy you wasted. If you are satisfied with the way you are skiing that?s great, but there is much more to the upside in your skiing then you have any idea about.

Some people are not into skiing at a higher level and are satisfied to just curse the gentle slopes, which is just fine; I have no problem with the level. But you wasted three years getting to where you are. Most of the PMTS beginners get that far in one week. I am not criticizing you, only making you aware that there is much more to skiing than what you learned. And that the other way is opposite to the movements you learned.
Harald
 

Postby Ott Gangl » Fri Sep 24, 2004 2:23 pm

>>>PMTS is not Harald Harb?s domain. It is open for everyone to use, even PSIA, as long as when they use PMTS material, they give credit to where it came from.<<<

When bits and pieces of PMTS are the same or similar to what is being taught in conventional systems why does there need to be credit given to you, or Hannes Schneider or Horst Abraham or any of the zillion innovators of the sport.

Many of the loose construction PSIA teachings are now criticized and precise direct advancement progressions ala PMTS are advocated. Do you remember the ten final forms?

>>>I know there has been much plagiarizing already by PSIA. I can read it in their manual. I have also been told by members of the Demo Team that they are copying our materials. What does that say about PSIA? They have no original ideas, so they have to copy and steal our materials.<<<

I thought you said it PMTS was an open system for anyone to make use of. If any instructor uses bits and pieces of PMTS to intermingle in their instructions, do they have to constantly say "this is from PMTS' and the next maneuver is PSIA and this turn you intiate with PMTS and finish with PSIA.'?

Any instructor could actually use PMTS but call it "Fred's new direct parallel system' You really can't patent moves nor can you copyright them so no plagiarism can occur only your printed and videotaped material and your web siteare protected by copyright, all Fred has to do is change a little here and there.

And finally, Harald, you need not fear that your name ever will be disassociated with PMTS, it's your baby and and any use of identified PMTS points directly to you. You have done a fine job of asking poeple to take skiing seriously, get aligned, make use of the new equipment available, etc....why don't you let it stand on it's own merit, advertise it's strengths of easy learning and abstain from the digs and bellittling of advocates of other systems, that actually works against you.

I myself use some of your moves when appropriate, but I also am confident when moving at ten miles per hour in mashed potato snow that I have the use of a stem and don't try a parallel turn when it doesn't work.

BTW, I spell your name correctly, why don't you try to spell mine correctly also, it is OTT or call me by my full name which is OTTMAR.

....Ott
Ott Gangl
 
Posts: 451
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 3:16 pm
Location: Ohio, USA via Bavaria

The "Why do I care" - where have I heard that befo

Postby John Mason » Fri Sep 24, 2004 3:36 pm

Ott Gangl wrote:P.S.. why do you care so much? You obviously learned the correct PMTS way, so why aren't you satisfied and quit badmouthing all other systems. You should see the Nepalese system, carving barrel staves :)


I run into this attitude when some of my clients are being oversold hardware they don't need to run the system we sell. Often these gouging tactics waste my clients thousands of dollars and sometimes result in slower systems then the solutions we spec for them to get. I have heard that exact phrase from these vendors : "Why do I care?" As if since it's not my money its not my business so why should I care.

My answer is really to ask you:

Why do you not care?

I understand your point, though. I survived. I only wasted 300 dollars in my private Breck lesson with one of their most experienced instructors. I figured it out. That's not a lot of time or money too lose.

But, in my case, it's not all caring about others. I'm actually also more than a bit mad. I assumed that PSIA actually taught an effecive system. I assumed that a PSIA ski school meant you were getting a good product. I did not know that they are satisfied with the status quo of a dropout rate from first time lesson takers trying out the sport in the 80 percent range.

In my naive lack of knowledge the year before I started skiing I figured I'd get my family some lessons. I was on a business trip to colorado springs. We stayed in Breck. My wife and my eldest son both took a lesson at Breck. Both have never skied again and have no interest in trying it again. They are part of the majority of 80% of skiers that try it, feel totally unsafe and never do it again.

A year later I took a lesson at the same school. Feeling it was the instructor I asked around and got one of the most experienced instructors at Breck. I could see what my wife and son were talking about. I also felt very unsafe and unstable. But, as many have noted, I was able to get down the hill and steer around. Maybe that's all the ski schools are shooting for at this level. By the end of that week I had stopped doing most anything I was taught after many falls and crossing my tips and started sking parallel by using inside foot actions. In my case I stumbled on this as a survival mode. When I got back home I wondered about the easy way I was able to turn, vs what I was taught.

I found that there were basically 2 seperate schools of thought taught. Lito Tejeda Flores, Eric and Rob Deslaurers, and Harold Harb were of one school and the rest were wedded to some interpetation of active leg steering (defined as rotary inputs in this case).

Only much later did I learn that there is a system that works with outright beginners that skips the wedge progression. I used this with my wife's brother on his first time out and he was comfortable on blues in about 2 hours. (he has a strong inline skate background so I'm sure he progressed better than most would)

So I guess I care because I just hate seeing people ripped off. I also resent PSIA not telling people they teach a failed system with stats to prove it and then selling it anyway. In any other venue this would constitue fraud.

Your're correct that many individual instructors are using things like HH teaches and that's fine. Having been to two PSIA run race camps I'm totally aware that their are great PSIA teachers out there. But there are also people who state:

Rick,

That doesn't raise my hackles. What does raise them is when the debate is approached that "traditional ski teaching" is bad or "teaching the wedge" is bad, etc


That statement can be made even when simple common sense tells people that the wedge on a shaped ski is an unsafe and unstable platform. That statement can be made when history shows the wedge progression was developed as an accomadation to the old non-shaped ski technology.

The other perspective I have is the camps I have been to, either PSIA race camp or PMTS camps. The number of people that come there and are working to carve the top of their turns or to carve period and to eliminate stemming in their turns and movement patterns because they recognize that as holding back their progress is very high. Once they are shown proper foot movements to initiate turns and control the shape of turns, they are often mad when:

1. they see how easy it is to do
2. how contradictory it was to what they were taught
3. the amount of time and money they wasted on lessons that were focused on rotational inputs to effect turns
4. the time wasted in undoing and unlearning bad habits that they would not have had to do had they been taught correctly in the first place

Luckily I didn't waste a lot of time or money. I'm not saying people other than PMTS people don't teach proper stuff because many can and do. Often, though, even the good PSIA instructors will reserve the good stuff for the more advanced students and still work people through the old progressions even though it isn't relevant anymore with the shaped skis.

Any Progression I have found for PSIA on any web site in the country or any ski school that is PSIA certified that publishes the progression is without variance and shows the levels 1-8 that an Epic Poster noted accurately:


In very simple terms level 1-9 is:

1-3 (beginner to intermediate)-wedge to wedge christie on green to blue terrain
4-6 (intermediate to advanced)-wedge christie to basic parallel turn blue to black
7-9 (intermediate to expert)-open parallel to carved turns black


Since PMTS starts you parallel, the above standard, most frequently taught progression in the USA, leaves you with a lot of extra time and money, a high dropout rate, and a lot of bad habits to unlearn.

If I could see that PSIA was interested in changing things, then I wouldn't care. But I don't see a lot of actual evidence to that effect. The above quotes show evidence to the contrary in fact.

This whole post started by my rather simple observation as a newbie, that a straight ski would not have been inherently unstable in a wedge, but a shaped ski is inherently unstable as both skis try to carve themselves together. I knew the wedge progression wasn't as effective compared to the DTP methods, but I hadn't fully realized why there is really no excuse to retain the old progressions given the safety factor and difficulty level of sking the wedge with shaped skis.

Or, to put it another way, forget anything about ski history, systems, personal histories etc. An alien seeing the current progressions without any knowledge of history would just determine this planet contained a species that was too dumb to associate with. But, if that alien understood the history and that it was just inertia and dogma types keeping the illogical progression going, then at least they could understand how the current state of the bulk of ski instruction has arrived as it's illogical state.

(not that that's much of an excuse - at least it helps give people some benefit of the doubt - (some people))
Last edited by John Mason on Fri Sep 24, 2004 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John Mason
 
Posts: 1050
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:52 pm
Location: Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Ott - why do you stem in mashed potatos?

Postby John Mason » Fri Sep 24, 2004 3:52 pm

Ottmar - I do hope we can ski together at HV this year. Why do you go back to a stem in mashed potatos? Crud carves just fine. I find any steming in junk less stable than just riding the skis. You can just show me. Forums are the worse for sharing movement patterns.

Mechanic? Just a question about the larger school that uses DTP but resorts to wedge if DTP doesn't work with someone. Is that PMTS DTP or the PSIA Centerline model? I have still not seen any public info on any DTP from beginner method but PMTS. If it's PMTS then I'd be surprised. If it's a different DTP method, I'd be curious how it differs or is similar. The answer to why they go back to the wedge may be in the differences in the implementation or progression.

I worked with my Brother in Law on his first day and it worked great. I saw HH work with a friend of mine that was stuck in a wedge and had been sking that way for 3 years. This friend also had terrible alignment. HH had him sking parallel with the first release in the PMTS progerssion in the first hour. I skied with this friend the next day and except for his first 2 turns where he wedged them again and I stopped him and asked, why did he just do that. He said, bad habit I guess. He skied parallel the rest of the day. His wife that was with him was amazed his skiing had changed so much so quickly.

I'm trying to understand what circumstances would make a DTP school resort to the wedge in any case, ever. But if it's not a PMTS school than that might perhaps explain it.

As far as leaving the discussion to the instructors - that gets back to that feeling of being defrauded again. Why?

Has education become so compartmentalized in today's society that the Greek/Roman model of education is rejected? Why can't a person think critically and do the logic smell test on what ever information is out there especially when people are asking for my dollars in the process.
John Mason
 
Posts: 1050
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:52 pm
Location: Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Postby Ott Gangl » Fri Sep 24, 2004 4:21 pm

>>>Ottmar - I do hope we can ski together at HV this year. Why do you go back to a stem in mashed potatos? Crud carves just fine. I find any steming in junk less stable than just riding the skis. You can just show me. Forums are the worse for sharing movement patterns.<<<

John, when skiing mashed potatos at walking speed you either stem or do paddle turns (divergent stepping) to change direction. Putting your skis on edge will just make you fall over.

...Ott
Ott Gangl
 
Posts: 451
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 3:16 pm
Location: Ohio, USA via Bavaria

Next

Return to Primary Movements Teaching System

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], MSN [Bot] and 3 guests