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My son won't snowplough

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My 6 year old son refuses to snowplough. He did a week in ESF when he was 4, and he's just done another 3 days with them, but still can't snowplough. We are going to try and go out with him ourselves from now on. We certainly covered more distance with him in a day today, than he ever did in 3 days with ESF

We took him out today at La Rosiere and he has great balance, I've got him skiing across the mountain parallel and leaning uphill to stop. Question is do I try and teach him to side slide, turn by pressing on his knees and skid stop and forget all about snowplough for now, or should I persevere and make him snowplough whatever.

The ESF chap tried both reins and an EasySki? (a sort of plastic clip to keep the tips together but not touching) this week, but he wasn't able to get anywhere with either.

Has anyone got any tips or suggestions, or had a similar issue with their little ones?
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@mrtimmybrown, don't worry too much about specific technique, just make sure he enjoys skiing and is able to control his speed and line. Best thing to focus on is turn shape (nice round turns, linked well, rather than a zig-zag track down the hill), and balance / agility (so lots of jumping games, turning while he is balanced on one ski, etc). And fun, lots of fun.

Not sure what you mean by leaning uphill to stop, but if I'm reading you right that's probably not a great idea as you don't want him to lean up the hill as a matter of routine.

PS: welcome to snowHeads.
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IMO. The right instructor for a couple of hours will sort him out...as kids enjoy ignoring what their parents want them to do.

IME. The Instructor needs to be young and "cool", good with kids and be someone your son wants to copy/listen to....and probably native English speaker.

This is easier said than done....when my Son was in his "awkward phase", we were lucky enough to have Simon McCombe in Val D'Isere, who was brilliant. It is worth asking about in the resort for such a person.

You may think he is on the young side for a private lesson...but it could be a safety issue.

I bought a Kid's Ski Harness so I could at least keep hold of mine. Something like this: http://www.skiweb.uk.com/got-u-ski-sports-harness

This version also comes with Ski Tip clip: https://www.littleskiers.co.uk/ski-equipment/ski-harness-teaching-aids/lucky-bums-kids-ski-harness-and-ski-tip-clip
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Thanks for the reply chaps. Totally agree with your sentiments, main aim is to get him able to safely stop, control his speed and have fun. Anything is better than being stuck in the piou piou ring, crying and having no fun, and frankly doing very little skiing.

We are going to have a go out the front of our chalet, to try and get him to snow plough with us, without the distraction of wanting to ski around a mountain.

We are staying near Bourg, so can go from resort to resort, can anyone recommend someone for a kids private lesson at La Ros or Les Arcs. Val may be a bit too long a drive for the OH, but I'll google Simon to see if he is available this week.
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I think he’s probably beyond a harness. IMO they are really only needed for very tiny children or in the first few days of skiing when they are just trying to stay upright, and they can only go straight. As soon as they can turn the harness becomes a hinderance.

If he can follow you doing nice long turns, finishing the turn properly to control speed, then sounds good to me.
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@mrtimmybrown, Simon now works for Mountain Masters: http://www.mountain-masters.com/simonmccombe

We got him when he was working at Snowfun and an afternoon lesson was 90 Euros....once he became better qualified, he moved on.

He had my lot in a magical world of snow queens and evil goblins (ESF) and shouting strange incantations going up on the lift. They loved him and would have followed him anywhere....they were a little older. They bounced out of bed to get to their lesson...and their skiing just happened without them thinking about it too much.

I also used him for myself and Lady F and thought he was exceptional. If you do get him, let me know how you get on....he will be a lot more expensive than 90 Euros though. Sad


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Fri 29-12-17 22:47; edited 1 time in total
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Themasterpiece wrote:
I think he’s probably beyond a harness. IMO they are really only needed for very tiny children or in the first few days of skiing when they are just trying to stay upright, and they can only go straight. As soon as they can turn the harness becomes a hinderance.

If he can follow you doing nice long turns, finishing the turn properly to control speed, then sounds good to me.

You could be right...though the harness can be used without the lead, and the handy handle on the back is useful for getting them off chair lifts.

I used the harness up until the point that my kids could bring themselves safely to a stop on a gentle blue...which I think was around 6, but might have been younger (it's a long time ago now).
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+1 For the private lessons. I don't think the instructor necessarily needs to be young and cool though. Old and patient has worked well with my kids who are 7 & 5. Although I'm sure it will vary by resort, I'd also give a big thumbs up to ESI who have been excellent with them in both private and group lessons following a piou piou experience that we feared had put them off skiing for life.
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I've popped an email over to Simon, I'll let you know how we get on. We might also get some reins and tell him he isn't coming out of them until he can snowplough to a stop.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions
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Does your son have some French in him by any chance?? They don't like to control their speed and stop either Toofy Grin Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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mrtimmybrown wrote:
I've popped an email over to Simon, I'll let you know how we get on. We might also get some reins and tell him he isn't coming out of them until he can snowplough to a stop.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions

If he's unavailable, I've used Dave Cowell before, though not for the kids....I think he'd be excellent. Claire Burns would also be highly recommended.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
If he wont control his speed, take his skis away.
Lots of stories of kids as young as 6 getting sued for causing injuries to other skiers.
If he is not in control of his speed, he shouldnt be on the mountain
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@Mr.Egg wow I bet your family ski trips are a right barrel of laughs
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
If I remember correctly there was a school of thought a few years back that learning to snowplough was not necessary? Something about using slightly shorter skies and learning to parallel ski from day one?

When learning to ski my then very young children were told to 'fall over' if they could not stop, but in any case were kept on very gentle slopes where it was impossible to build up much speed until we were sure they could control both their speed and direction.
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Yep, my Finnish ex gf was never taught to snowplough, but then again she was on skis as soon as she could walk. I do remember myself though, that when I was taught by ESF 20 years ago, after a few days snowploughing, we were taken up the mountain, and told to sort of forget about the snow plough anyway, so it did seem a little pointless.

Anyway, after a foot of snow overnight, and most lifts closed at Les Arcs, it's been a bit of a slow morning, but we are going to try and teach him to ourselves this morning.
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dp wrote:
@Mr.Egg wow I bet your family ski trips are a right barrel of laughs


they are. At least until someone gets taken out by someone not in control of their actions
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@CaravanSkier, my understanding is that snow plough is simply means to an end, and not an essential element. If incorrectly taught/learned - as I understand is common as it can encourage the back seat (speaking from experience) - it then hinders progress as these tendencies have to be unlearned. I may need to be corrected on this (hello @rob@rar Very Happy)
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@CaravanSkier, That system was called "Ski Evolutif" and was taught in Les Arcs (and a little bit in La Plagne).

You started off on 1m skis and then changed to a longer length every couple of days....with 3 different lengths being used. The Snowplough was not taught.

Lady F learned this way in the mid 80s.

The Harald Harb system avoids progressing through the Snowplough, as he says it is something that you then have to unlearn, with some people getting stuck with a slight stem to start the turn.
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@Mr.Egg, you cannot sue a 6 year old for anything. You might be able to sue the person in charge of them but not the 6 year old
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@Old Fartbag, and also in Flaine, as hubby and I learned by that method, although the children didn't.
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Old Fartbag wrote:
The Harald Harb system avoids progressing through the Snowplough, as he says it is something that you then have to unlearn, with some people getting stuck with a slight stem to start the turn.
If a snowplough is taught effectively there is nothing to unlearn. The movement patterns, steering skills and balance you learn as you use a snowplough to link turns are all fundamental skiing skills that we use all the time. The challenge with a straight to parallel method is that it requires a certain amount of speed to balance as you move your centre of mass across your skis to change both edges at the same time. For many, many beginners this speed would be too much for them.
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motyl wrote:
@CaravanSkier, my understanding is that snow plough is simply means to an end, and not an essential element. If incorrectly taught/learned - as I understand is common as it can encourage the back seat (speaking from experience) - it then hinders progress as these tendencies have to be unlearned. I may need to be corrected on this (hello @rob@rar Very Happy)
Hello! A good snowplough is a thing of beauty. A bad snowplough can help reinforce bad habits, although you can say the same thing about a badly taught 'straight to parallel' method.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
rob@rar wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:
The Harald Harb system avoids progressing through the Snowplough, as he says it is something that you then have to unlearn, with some people getting stuck with a slight stem to start the turn.
If a snowplough is taught effectively there is nothing to unlearn. The movement patterns, steering skills and balance you learn as you use a snowplough to link turns are all fundamental skiing skills that we use all the time. The challenge with a straight to parallel method is that it requires a certain amount of speed to balance as you move your centre of mass across your skis to change both edges at the same time. For many, many beginners this speed would be too much for them.

I agree.

I was brought up on Ali Ross, not HH....so am very aware of what you are saying. I was just relaying HH's POV.

Personally, I would find managing on the mountain, without the ability to do the Snowplough, much more awkward.
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Hells Bells wrote:
@Old Fartbag, and also in Flaine, as hubby and I learned by that method, although the children didn't.

That method seemed to promote a slight backward/upright stance (though not with the 1m skis), with a twisting of the feet.....this had the effect, that from an early stage, my good lady found (much to my amazement) turning in unpisted snow quite easy.....though slowing down was another matter!

When she was then taught a more aggressive way of skiing, promoting getting lower, more forward, with pronounced weight changing and edging....that off piste ability disappeared for a while.

She still skis with a deceptive ease, without appearing to do a lot....which may have its routes in Ski Evolutif.
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Old Fartbag wrote:


Personally, I would find managing on the mountain, without the ability to do the Snowplough, much more awkward.


Me too but then I`m not a very confident skier. As soon as I hit 'panic mode' I want to revert to snow plough, if the terrain makes that impossible I am furious with who ever in my family told me I could ski it rolling eyes Laughing
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Rabbie wrote:
@Mr.Egg, you cannot sue a 6 year old for anything. You might be able to sue the person in charge of them but not the 6 year old


At least 3 different stories via google of people suing children, including one who sued the child after she was unsuccessful in suing the person in charge.
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@Mr.Egg, Interesting, which country did this occur in?
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Rabbie wrote:
@Mr.Egg, Interesting, which country did this occur in?


There is one that happened in Austria, with a 6yr old crashing into a woman.
Another from France that involved a 12yr old
& one in the States about 10yrs ago.

No idea if any of them won!
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CaravanSkier wrote:
...if the terrain makes that impossible I am furious with who ever in my family told me I could ski it rolling eyes Laughing
This is a very god point. A snowplough becomes a significantly less effective way of turning on terrain steeper than a moderate blue. On steeper terrain than this people who snowplough invariably push their skis in to an ever wider plough, tipping the skis on to ever increasing edge angles, often dropping their hips behind their heels in to the 'hole' created by their very wide snowplough. That's the opposite of what you want to do.
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rob@rar wrote:
CaravanSkier wrote:
...if the terrain makes that impossible I am furious with who ever in my family told me I could ski it rolling eyes Laughing
This is a very god point. A snowplough becomes a significantly less effective way of turning on terrain steeper than a moderate blue. On steeper terrain than this people who snowplough invariably push their skis in to an ever wider plough, tipping the skis on to ever increasing edge angles, often dropping their hips behind their heels in to the 'hole' created by their very wide snowplough. That's the opposite of what you want to do.



And maybe thats why being taught to snowplough in the first place is not such a good idea?
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@Mr.Egg, In most countries the age of liability is about 10 so 6 year olds are effectively immune. IME most 6 year olds do not have enough assets or insurance to justify suing them.
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CaravanSkier wrote:
And maybe thats why being taught to snowplough in the first place is not such a good idea?
No, being taught a good snowplough in the first place is an excellent way to introduce beginners to skiing at a pace they are comfortable with, developing the fundamental skills from their first day on skis. I don't think there is a better way to start beginners, assuming you teach them a good snowplough, on appropriate terrain. There is nothing to "unlearn', it will develop good movements, timing, balance, etc, and equip them with useful mountain skill. What's not to like?
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@Mr.Egg, the case against the 6 year old girl in Austria was dismissed:
http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/skifahrerin-scheitert-mit-klage-gegen-sechsjaehrige-a-1073958.html
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mrtimmybrown wrote:
I've popped an email over to Simon, I'll let you know how we get on. We might also get some reins and tell him he isn't coming out of them until he can snowplough to a stop.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions


In all seriousness and I think rob has said the same, don't fixate on him having to snowplough and especially snowplough stop, if he can control his speed and line and stop by turning, then great, crack on!

Most decent instructors won't teach a snowplough stop anymore.

however as rob@rar also says there are some key skills around balance, timing etc that you can learn from a snowplough. But if he can do the same parallel, then don't hold him back!
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rob@rar wrote:
CaravanSkier wrote:
And maybe thats why being taught to snowplough in the first place is not such a good idea?
No, being taught a good snowplough in the first place is an excellent way to introduce beginners to skiing at a pace they are comfortable with, developing the fundamental skills from their first day on skis. I don't think there is a better way to start beginners, assuming you teach them a good snowplough, on appropriate terrain. There is nothing to "unlearn', it will develop good movements, timing, balance, etc, and equip them with useful mountain skill. What's not to like?


I don`t know, it was just a thought given that panicking back into snowplough is really not helpful on steeper terrain. Something I know, something lots of people know, yet it seems lots of folk do it.
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CaravanSkier wrote:
I don`t know, it was just a thought given that panicking back into snowplough is really not helpful on steeper terrain. Something I know, something lots of people know, yet it seems lots of folk do it.
Neither is panicking in to a hockey stop, or a mistimed stem turn, or a failed parallel turn. The problem is the panic, which is likely to lead to less control of your turn shape (and therefore speed) than you would like to have at that point. What I'm trying to say is its not helpful to think of the snowplough turn as something unrelated to the skiing we normally do, which needs to be learned and then forgotten as soon as you can.
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Rabbie wrote:
@Mr.Egg, In most countries the age of liability is about 10 so 6 year olds are effectively immune. IME most 6 year olds do not have enough assets or insurance to justify suing them.


yes but there was a law in Austria that allowed it.
It seems it was dismissed by the judge - but an ambulance chaser did at least seem to take it to the point of going to court.

TBF - if a 6yr old crashed into me, the only person hurt would be whoever cushions my fall on my fat ass snowHead
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@rob@rar, Indeed, panic is never helpful, and I take your point about progression!
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Well, I'm pleased to report that we now have a snowploughing 6 year old. What ESF couldn't manage to teach in 9 days, we got him doing in 2. A couple of days on the nursery slopes at Val D'Isere and he is a different lad. Nice snowplough position not in the backseat, with a good smooth turn to one side at least. He's still enthusiastic and didn't want to leave today.

Simon McCombe was booked up all week, so sadly we couldn't have a lesson with him. His lessons are 195€ for 3 hours, incase anyone else is interested, but looks like he is booked up well in advance.

Thanks for all your helpful tips and advice, will definitely go for a private lesson on future holidays, rather than the ESF group route
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@mrtimmybrown, Its always good to hear that youngsters have made progress in spite of previous setbacks! Well done.
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