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Quote:

When they are able to do that the snowplough disappears, pretty much all by itself.


Your clients, perhaps. But it’s not the majority of what I’ve seen. Maybe they need more or better lessons.

Out of interest, why not teach parallels from day 1?
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@rob@rar, yes I think you are right there.
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rob@rar wrote:
@Dave of the Marmottes, do you think that if a skier is not capable of making a good snowplough turn they are going to be capable of making a good parallel turn? In my experience skiers who struggle to do a good snowplough have the same problems with their performance skiing, when making parallel turns. This shouldn't be a surprise as its the same movements. There really isn't a big difference between a well executed snowplough turn and a well executed basic parallel turn.


No I don't think that at all. I just think too many skiers regard the plough as a sort of endpoint and then deploy less than good ploughs and in particular defensive speed control ones in their eagerness to "get round the mountain". Too often I've picked up the pieces from people who were clearly overterrained and lacking the skills to do anything other than traverse, fall, repeat.
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AL9000 wrote:
Maybe they need more or better lessons.
Agreed, both points but especially the latter.

AL9000 wrote:
Out of interest, why not teach parallels from day 1?
Speed. Skiing parallel requires a certain amount of speed in order to balance with your centre of mass to the inside of your base of support when you are turning. Very few beginners are comfortable with this speed. Using a snowplough allows them to be stable at very slow speed and provides the opportunity to learn the movement patterns which are the fundamentals, or building blocks (which coincidently in the theme of one of our Development Clinics at Hemel this month), of all skiing. There is no need to unlearn a snowplough. I'm afraid if you are convinced that such unlearning is necessary you don't have a good idea of what a snowplough turn is.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I just think too many skiers regard the plough as a sort of endpoint and then deploy less than good ploughs and in particular defensive speed control ones in their eagerness to "get round the mountain". Too often I've picked up the pieces from people who were clearly overterrained and lacking the skills to do anything other than traverse, fall, repeat.
Completely agree. But is that because the snowplough is flawed ski technique?
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Whatever happened to Ski Evolutif, and teaching parallel from day 1? Doesn't seem to have caught on...
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@rob@rar, you have the patience of a saint!

It is clear to me that @AL9000, has little idea what happens on a first week beginner course. Nor much idea of what is involved in teaching skiing more generally. I am particularly concerned with the stated perception that teaching snowplough encourages backseat skiing. The opposite is true in fact, the more you get forward the more effective the snowplough is at controlling speed! That just shows to me that there is a completely different basis of understanding here. So with that i will leave you good people to it!
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zikomo wrote:
It is clear to me that @AL9000, has little idea what happens on a first week beginner course.
Have to confess, I have very little experience of teaching beginners, about four weeks in total. I don't teach anyone below the top end of Central Theme, and it is a frustration when I start with clients who have already developed a big lateral push to initiate their turns.
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rob@rar wrote:
...Speed. Skiing parallel requires a certain amount of speed in order to balance with your centre of mass to the inside of your base of support when you are turning. Very few beginners are comfortable with this speed. Using a snowplough allows them to be stable at very slow speed and provides the opportunity to learn the movement patterns which are the fundamentals
That's a better rationale for teaching something I certainly didn't want to learn. We were in hour-long lessons, and perhaps because we were obviously not worried about speed quickly moved away from that.


rob@rar wrote:
I'm afraid if you are convinced that such unlearning is necessary you don't have a good idea of what a snowplough turn is.
I'm confused by this.. All those intermediate skiers with a little bit of snowplough in their turns are fairly clued in to what it is, as is anyone who watches them.
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philwig wrote:
All those intermediate skiers with a little bit of snowplough in their turns are fairly clued in to what it is, as is anyone who watches them.
That's absolutely not my experience. When I point it out people are often surprised that they do it.
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Quote:

There is no need to unlearn a snowplough.


Ok. I think I understand what you’re saying, it’s supposed to be a natural progression to parallel.

Well, it doesn’t seem to be an effective method of teaching if the teachers aren’t teaching it properly and/or the students aren’t progressing to parallel in far too many cases.

(Not your school of course Little Angel )

Have any instructors gone straight to parallel I wonder? Side-slipping, garlands, etc. It would be an interesting experiment.
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rob@rar wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I just think too many skiers regard the plough as a sort of endpoint and then deploy less than good ploughs and in particular defensive speed control ones in their eagerness to "get round the mountain". Too often I've picked up the pieces from people who were clearly overterrained and lacking the skills to do anything other than traverse, fall, repeat.
Completely agree. But is that because the snowplough is flawed ski technique?


No but that's just a repetition of @ zikomo's challenge earlier. I think pupils need to understand that just because you are in control in this specially selected environment with this tool then it doesn't automatically translate to everywhere on the mountain.
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AL9000 wrote:
Ok. I think I understand what you’re saying, it’s supposed to be a natural progression to parallel.

Well, it doesn’t seem to be an effective method of teaching if the teachers aren’t teaching it properly and/or the students aren’t progressing to parallel in far too many cases.
Most skiers can't carve. Many skiers can't do an accurate parallel turn. Is that because carved turns are flawed technique, parallel turns flawed technique? I don't think so.

If you don't teach people to use a chisel properly it's not the chisel's fault.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I think pupils need to understand that just because you are in control in this specially selected environment with this tool then it doesn't automatically translate to everywhere on the mountain.
Completely agree, but you can say that about lots of things. People failing to carve properly, kicking their back foot around, using very fat skis to virtually straightline a powder field as if descending in an elevator, etc, etc. The snowplough is not unique in how it is abused.
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@zikomo, The results of those beginners courses are plain for all to see, except to you it seems. But what do you care, anyway.
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snowdave wrote:
Whatever happened to Ski Evolutif, and teaching parallel from day 1? Doesn't seem to have caught on...

Lady F learned this way in Les Arcs, back in the Mid 80s, when we were there for 2 weeks. When trying to get her onto lifts and the like, I ended up teaching her the Plough, as it was totally impractical without that skill. Her Instructor wasn't impressed...but he wasn't there when I was trying to get her on lifts and along paths.
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AL9000 wrote:
Have any instructors gone straight to parallel I wonder? Side-slipping, garlands, etc. It would be an interesting experiment.
Doing accurate garlands is an extremely challenging drill, unless you're happy to throw the tails of your skis sideways (which is the exact problem that a good snowplough will avoid). It's simply a matter of physics that if you want to ski parallel you have to have enough speed so you can balance with your centre of mass inside your feet so you can tip both skis on to the same edges. Doing that on Day 1 is beyond many people because they will be unhappy with how fast they have to travel, especially if the terrain you have to work with is not terribly cooperative.
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@rob@rar, Ok. I’ll mull over the speed issue.

For a complete beginner, speed would be an issue, so yes, I can see how a snowplough might be more stable in turns at near stationary speeds.

With ankles flexed (weight forward) the parallel skis would naturally turn into the fall line, even at slow speed (even stationary). Then tip the edges to start the turn. We can call it a twin snowplough. Little Angel
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AL9000 wrote:
With ankles flexed (weight forward) the parallel skis would naturally turn into the fall line, even at slow speed (even stationary). Then tip the edges to start the turn. We can call it a twin snowplough. Little Angel
I think I can visualise that, and I think I'd find it a challenge to balance during that manoeuvre. No hope for the vast majority of beginners.

As far as I'm aware, every major national training and qualification system uses a plough turn as a fundamental element of the progression that beginners follow. Terminology and emphasis might vary a little between the different systems, but it is broadly the same for everyone. I think there are perfectly sound reasons why all these professionals associations, from the mighty Alpine nations to the lowly lowland systems, have settled on this path. I fully agree with you that there are too many people who do it badly and use it as a crutch, and I wish the teaching of it was uniformly done well, but sadly it's not. But if it wasn't snowploughing that some skiers clung to, it would be something else. I think you're right to express frustration, but I think you're pointing it in the wrong direction. It's the teaching (and the learning) that is the problem, not the curriculum.
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rob@rar wrote:
AL9000 wrote:
With ankles flexed (weight forward) the parallel skis would naturally turn into the fall line, even at slow speed (even stationary). Then tip the edges to start the turn. We can call it a twin snowplough. Little Angel
I think I can visualise that, and I think I'd find it a challenge to balance during that manoeuvre. No hope for the vast majority of beginners.

As far as I'm aware, every major national training and qualification system uses a plough turn as a fundamental element of the progression that beginners follow. Terminology and emphasis might vary a little between the different systems, but it is broadly the same for everyone. I think there are perfectly sound reasons why all these professionals associations, from the mighty Alpine nations to the lowly lowland systems, have settled on this path. I fully agree with you that there are too many people who do it badly and use it as a crutch, and I wish the teaching of it was uniformly done well, but sadly it's not. But if it wasn't snowploughing that some skiers clung to, it would be something else. I think you're right to express frustration, but I think you're pointing it in the wrong direction. It's the teaching (and the learning) that is the problem, not the curriculum.

The first person I was aware of, that explained it properly, was Ali Ross. He showed how the turning leg was exactly the same, whether Parallel, or Snowplough.

He was also the first person who i saw explain how a ski's shape was designed to turn and how one's body position was as a result of resisting Gravity/Centrifugal Force. That was in the late 70s!
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Old Fartbag wrote:

The first person I was aware of, that explained it properly, was Ali Ross. He showed how the turning leg was exactly the same, whether Parallel, or Snowplough.

He was also the first person who i saw explain how a ski's shape was designed to turn and how one's body position was as a result of resisting Gravity/Centrifugal Force. That was in the late 70s!
Indeed, but this isn't rocket science so it really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the turning leg (the outside ski) is doing the same thing regardless of snowplough or parallel. The inside ski only differs (held in a plough or matched parallel) depending on speed and the skier's ability to be laterally balanced (which are, of course, interconnected).
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rob@rar wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:

The first person I was aware of, that explained it properly, was Ali Ross. He showed how the turning leg was exactly the same, whether Parallel, or Snowplough.

He was also the first person who i saw explain how a ski's shape was designed to turn and how one's body position was as a result of resisting Gravity/Centrifugal Force. That was in the late 70s!
Indeed, but this isn't rocket science so it really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the turning leg (the outside ski) is doing the same thing regardless of snowplough or parallel. The inside ski only differs (held in a plough or matched parallel) depending on speed and the skier's ability to be laterally balanced (which are, of course, interconnected).

Back then, the Parallel was seen as a big advanced manoeuvre, that we aspired to and was almost out of reach of ordinary mortals. The Snowplough was often perceived as a Beginner move, which morphed into a Stem Christy (which is where you then got stuck).

Ali Ross showed just how important the Snowplough was and there was no stigma attached to it. In fact, he said he would take Advanced skiers and revisited it, to ingrain proper technique. This, for me, changed how I looked at it.

IME. It's easy to forget how much simpler the modern carving ski has made learning....but you still need good instruction.
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Old Fartbag wrote:
In fact, he said he would take Advanced skiers and revisited it, to ingrain proper technique.
Yes, I think this is a very powerful learning tool. We run a clinic which does just that, looking at performance skiing through some of the progression path for beginners. Often the issues you see in a skier's performance skiing will be apparent when they slow everything down in a snowplough or plough-parallel turn. One way of addressing those issues is to fix them in snowplough and then take the revised movement or timing in to their performance skiing.
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Interesting thread.

AL9000 wrote:
@rob@rar, With ankles flexed (weight forward) the parallel skis would naturally turn into the fall line, even at slow speed (even stationary). Then tip the edges to start the turn. We can call it a twin snowplough. Little Angel


I think this assumes there is a fall line? A total beginner will be going very slowly on almost no slope, so this won't really work. Or only very gradually and it'll be like trying to turn an oil tanker.
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Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Fri 12-11-21 21:19; edited 2 times in total
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@Tom Doc, Would work on the beginner slope at HEmel.

TBH, I’ve only tried it on green runs, which are by no means flat.
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@AL9000, Ok. I've only ever done it on steeper slopes than that.

I'm not an instructor and am happy to accept expert opinion that the problem isn't the plough - it's that people stop lessons too soon, or have a poor instructor. Makes sense to me.

(I particularly get and can picture that there is a progression from plough turn to ever narrowing plough turn to parallel turn)
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Quote:

the mighty Alpine nations to the lowly lowland systems, have settled on this path…


I suggest they take a cruise around any resort in Europe, see what they’re producing and find out how they can raise their game.

Almost every one of those skiers has had beginner lessons for a minimum of 1 week (at a guess).

I won’t ask the instructors on here about what they’re turning out because there are many variables. But I will ask if they think about it much, if at all.
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AL9000 wrote:
Almost every one of those skiers has had beginner lessons for a minimum of 1 week (at a guess).


The majority of them aren't particularly fit, aren't particularly athletic and aren't particularly motivated. They are probably hungover.
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Tom Doc wrote:
Interesting thread.

AL9000 wrote:
@rob@rar, With ankles flexed (weight forward) the parallel skis would naturally turn into the fall line, even at slow speed (even stationary). Then tip the edges to start the turn. We can call it a twin snowplough. Little Angel


I think this assumes there is a fall line? A total beginner will be going very slowly on almost no slope, so this won't really work. Or only very gradually and it'll be like trying to turn an oil tanker.


Yes you’re right, you’d need a fair bit of momentum for that to work and so correctly taught (and learned) linked snowplough turns gives them enough speed not to be scary, they can travel around feeling like they are making progress and at the same time teaches them how to steer their skis (which carries through in their skiing going forward) and control their speed. I think for the vast majority of beginners they worry about going too fast, not being able to control their speed and crashing/hurting themselves.
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Quote:

to parallel turn


That’s the bit that is rarely happening for the vast majority of skiers (evidence is based on observation). But I definitely see the previous stage, plough parallel or whatever it’s called, in abundance. I’ve seen plenty of power-plough* too, usually out of Fing control, including at Hemel’s main slope.

(* I understand that it’s not proper snowplough)


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Fri 12-11-21 21:46; edited 1 time in total
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Tom Doc wrote:
AL9000 wrote:
Almost every one of those skiers has had beginner lessons for a minimum of 1 week (at a guess).


The majority of them aren't particularly fit, aren't particularly athletic and aren't particularly motivated. They are probably hungover.


I’m not so sure. You don’t have to be particularly fit or athletic to ski OK parallels. I’d say it’s less taxing than SP.

Difficult to judge motivation. Some may be happy as they are. Maybe ask them if they’d like to be able to parallel ski? Vast majority would like to I think.
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AL9000 wrote:
I suggest they take a cruise around any resort in Europe, see what they’re producing and find out how they can raise their game.
Sure, we should all reflect on our practice and think how it can be better. That process should happen all the time. Within BASI and IASI, the two systems I know best, that sort of occasional review does take place, and even within my time as a member there has been some changes of emphasis in the progression used for beginners. Fairly subtle of course, not as crude as changing it completely for a direct to parallel approach.

What makes you think that the general standard of skiing would be improved if instructors no longer taught a snowplough? Wouldn't it be something different which skiers did badly, or would they magically become better? From what I see, people who skipped a structured approach to progressing through snowplough to parallel have the worst faults by far. Too often they have developed an approach which involves skiing a zig-zag path down the piste by pushing their skis sideways to initiate a turn (sometimes simultaneously, sometimes sequentially) and trying to find grip in the final third of the turn. It's ineffective, potentially unsafe and provides no foundation for skiing all of the mountain. That 'stye' is particularly unsuited to steep, deep, icy or fast, massively limited the fun the skier can have.

So I circle back to the point I made earlier, if you don't teach people to use a tool properly it is not the fault of the tool when it goes a bit wrong. If we want to avoid the concerns you have about skier ability we need (a) better teaching of how to use that tool and (b) a bit more commitment to the learning process for those new to the sport. What we don't need is to skip the basics and start with even more challenging tools, because sure as eggs is eggs people will struggle more with the challenge.
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Having had lessons with top notch instructors, I can no way imagine that the majority of their beginner classes (if they held them) would leave with plough-parallel turns even after just 2 days, let alone a week.
Maybe class sizes are too big for beginner groups and they’re not getting to parallel. It’s not rocket science.
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AL9000 wrote:
That’s the bit that is rarely happening for the vast majority of skiers (evidence is based on observation). But I definitely see the previous stage, plough parallel or whatever it’s called, in abundance. I’ve seen plenty of power-plough* too, usually out of Fing control, including at Hemel’s main slope.
I don't think you do see a good plough-parallel turn very often, which I think most instructors would say is harder to do well than a snowplough. What you are mostly seeing, because it's extremely common, is skiers pushing their ski (or skis) sideways at the start of the turn, mostly pushing the tail away to create a steering angle at the start of the turn. When this becomes a habitual movement pattern it limits their ability to make a clean parallel turn, kills their ability to carve their turns, makes life difficult on icy snow, bumps, is pretty scary to do when skiing fast, etc. They might well match their skis to parallel within the turn (hence the name: plough-parallel), perhaps almost as soon as the turn starts or maybe after the fall line of they have really pushed the outside ski a long distance, but they have not setup the turn well, limiting their ability to get performance and control out of the ski later in the turn. But that problem isn't because they started skiing by making snowplough and plough-parallel turns, in was because they started skiing by making badsnowplough and plough-parallel turns. If they started skiing by making parallel turns it's even more likely that they would make bad parallel turns.
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AL9000 wrote:
Maybe class sizes are too big for beginner groups and they’re not getting to parallel.
That's an important question. Would beginners, especially those who don't know if they are fully committed to this expensive and somewhat crazy activity, be happy to spend even more money on lessons to be assured of smaller groups?

I think there's also an important question about how ski schools schedule their instructors - it seems to me that placing your best instructors in the beginner classes might help ensure the best start for newbie skiers. Does that always happen? I don't know if it does?
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Quote:
..
trying to find grip in the final third of the turn.


Almost like linked hockey-stop turns with a heel push. I’ve seen that a lot too, usually with huge shoulder rotation.

Maybe the fear of crashing is just psychologically too powerful for them to face the fall-line and so they kick out?

I heard what you said about the faulty application of the tool. Is there another tool that’s easier to apply correctly? Maybe there isn’t.

Fact is, as hemel will show you, OK parallel turns ain’t happening, to the detriment of thousands of skiers (although they may not realise it).

Or maybe it’s merely a case of lack of practice? Highly plausible for a 1 week a year skier.

Good to hear system tweaks take place. I wonder what and why.
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rob@rar wrote:
Completely agree, but you can say that about lots of things. People failing to carve properly, kicking their back foot around, using very fat skis to virtually straightline a powder field as if descending in an elevator, etc, etc. The snowplough is not unique in how it is abused.


Steady on, you can punt all sorts of dirty technique but keep your filthy mitts off the powder elevator. Don't diss it until you've tried it. Laughing
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AL9000 wrote:
Almost like linked hockey-stop turns with a heel push. I’ve seen that a lot too, usually with huge shoulder rotation.
Yes, too much of that.

AL9000 wrote:
Maybe the fear of crashing is just psychologically too powerful for them to face the fall-line and so they kick out?
Yes, undoubtedly that's a factor. Which is why you need to develop effective movement patterns on gentle terrain so the fear of losing control and speeding down the hill is much reduced. What this needs then, is a mechanism to allow beginners to ski slowly with their inexperienced balance skills while they develop the movements to make effective turns. It's called a snowplough.

AL9000 wrote:
I heard what you said about the faulty application of the tool. Is there another tool that’s easier to apply correctly? Maybe there isn’t.
I don't think there is a better alternative. More importantly, it seems as if none of the national instructor training and qualification systems think there's an alternative. The one systematic approach to a direct to parallel pathway, Ski Evolutif, never really gained much traction and died out relatively quickly. I don't think there's a grand conspiracy amongst all these various professional associations to deny beginners an easier pathway to becoming better skiers, so maybe the progression via snowplough and plough-parallel turns that has emerged everywhere is the best, albeit not perfect, approach?

AL9000 wrote:
Fact is, as hemel will show you, OK parallel turns ain’t happening, to the detriment of thousands of skiers (although they may not realise it).
I taught two skiers at Hemel today, one experienced and a very good skier, one pretty much starting out on his ski career. Both were making very good (relative to their experience) parallel turns, and in both the lessons we focused on making adjustments to their movements in the setup phase of the turn, to allow them to get more performance from the ski through the load phase. Both the skiers gained a good understanding of effective movement patterns in the setup phase, and could see when it worked well and when it didn't work well in their own skiing, especially after the video feedback following the coaching session. It's not difficult to get this stuff right, but instructor and student both need to be committed to making it work. For the vast majority of skiers it's just a holiday to enjoy, rather than something to obsess about and be self critical.

AL9000 wrote:
Or maybe it’s merely a case of lack of practice? Highly plausible for a 1 week a year skier.
A lack of practice of the right things, for sure.
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