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What do you expect a beginner to learn in week one?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
For myself, I would think the absolute minimum would be, plough, plough turns, traversing, side slipping, going up surface and chair lifts.

Tell me what you think.
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easiski, that pretty much covered it for Mrs H and I. By the end of the first week we'd got to the top of the mountain (Westendorf) and come back down Shocked I think I thought more in terms of where on the mountain I could go rather than the skills that had been imparted.

Training for the chairlift involved our finely mustachioed instructor telling us to sit down when the chair arrived at the bottom (in both senses) and stand up when we got to the top.
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easiski, some piste etiquette / safety?
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On what ratio of instructor to pupil would this be based on...... Confused
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Depends how many days. In 5 days I think it should be what you listed + semi-parallel turns, with a wide-ish stance and most of the pressure on the outside ski. Should probably be doing easier blue runs in good conditions.
I managed to learn your list (minus the side slipping and surface lifts) on my first day of skiing; but I was about 10 years old at the time and had no idea that my body could actually be hurt Smile I even foolishly tried, and with many, many falls, made it down a blue on my first day. However, this was in Ontario, in the wonderful flatlands of central/eastern Canada.
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easiski, I'd agree, but I'd expect that on average the pupil should be able to move onto and be confident with stem turns and hockey stops by the end of one week of half day lessons.
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easiski, It's (and how to be) safe, and it's fun ! snowHead
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Mark Hunter, so long as it's not something really stoopid like 15-1 then class numbers won't really make much difference, as most of the time a complete novice will spend more time just mucking around getting used to the idea of moving on snow than they will acquiring specific skiing technique.

I should think that yr bog average British punter with reasonable fitness and some previous sporting ability "should" be doing what easiski suggests by the end of a normal skiing week. Any less progression would indicate to me either a failure by the instructor, and/or alternatively a lack of comfortable equipment and/or lack of desire/previous sporting ability/fitness by the learner. A keen skater who wants to join in the fun of skiing is off on a better foot than a couchbound slob for whom lessons are a distraction from spending time with his mates in the bar (it happens).
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....erm, I managed to learn to snowplough slowly in a straight line on the nursery slope, use a tiny slow drag lift and fall over! But then I never claimed to be a natural Embarassed I didn't learn all that until week two! Don't forget some of us are tetative, scared and lack any sense of natural co-ordination or balance...push too hard and we'll give up, I nearly never went again!
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easiski, exactly what you suggest but having fun as well !!!!
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Herringboning or the slower sidestepping-up-the-hill method would be helpful.
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michael stocking, thats pre-snowplough isn't it?
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that the mountains are so beautiful and the camaraderie so unselfish that even if you don't enjoy the skiing you'll love the holiday ...

.... and come back and learn some more
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
marc gledhill, Yes

homphomp, I'm not forgetting it, but interested to know if I'm unrealistic on the whole
Mark Hunter, I agree with Manda, I'm assuming 6 days and up to 12 per class.

I started this thread because in the last two weeks I've had 2 students who were young adults and reasonably fit ets and had both skied a week before. Neither had been taught to traverse at all or sideslip (both i would consider essential first week skills). I was horrified and disgusted at their respective instructors - wish I could get my hands on them. The whole thing has meant that for a week of lessons I've been doing "repair work" rather than moving the poor things on. It's interesting to note that some of you feel that the first week should take the student further than this.

Keep the comments coming! Very Happy
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I'm 50 yrs old , and never skied before Xmas 2004. I confess to having 1 on 2 tuition for 7days x 2 hours. I am not particularly fit (with suitably knackered body) but I had a brilliant instructor. I was doing all the Blues in Les Gets by day 7 and parrallel turns etc... albeit still falling over regularly.

I have become addicted and done another week since ( w/c 22-1).. amazingly same instructor even got me onto easy blacks by end of the week, day trip over to Avoriaz ( yes, I chickened out of the Swiss Wall, eyesight not good enough to see the bottom!). Carving etc... He did howver make me rent a casque in the middle of the week .. I do still fall but now a bit faster. Ooops

What an amazing sport , just found it 40 yrs later than I should!

My advice to all --- pay for best tuition you can afford and avoid 'British' ski schools , they are too expensive IMHO.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I can't remember what I learnt by the end of my first week, but I would say, snowplough, snowplough turns, shussing, sideslipping, and hockey stops. Side stepping, herringbonins, skating. How to use pomas and T-bars, and chairlifts. Also how to recover yourself, clear your bindings of snow, and put your skis back on. I would say that by the end of your first week you should be able to come down a blue run safely and in control.
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So variable. I would like to introduce some friends and family to skiing, some will be on reds in 3 days some will never get off greens. My objective will be that they will all love it by the end of week 1 Very Happy .
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I think that if the person is not too afraid of speed, has decent balance, and really wants to ski, it's not at all unreasonable to expect them to be doing ok parallel turns on blues (though the feet will probably be at carving width, not true parallel skiing width).
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easiski, broadly agree with your list. A couple of my friends have recently started skiing and seemed to be about the level you describe at the end of their first week. What I would hope to see is that by the end of week one they are no longer focused on maintaining their speed to a very low pace, and are beginning to be comfortable to let their skis run a little so they can begin to link their turns fluidly.

How important are traversing skills in this modern age of narrow waisted skis? I appreciate that it is a useful tool to get down 'steep' slopes when you aren't confident at turning, but shouldn't we be encouraging skiers to link their turns from the earliest possible stage?
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rob@rar.org.uk, I think traversing gets beginners used to the idea that their skis have edges, and their effect, which they can then incorporate into turns. Put another way, I think alternately setting and releasing the edges in a traverse develops feeling.
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laundryman, if traversing were used to teach new skiers the skills of setting/releasing edges then I'm all in favour if it. I think those are pretty high level skills, and any ski teacher who gets week-one skiers to think about that gets high marks from me! My worry is that traversing can be easily used as a way of not linking turns when skiers get outside of their comfort zone, and therefore not developing the ability to link strong parallel turns on all terrain. After 25 years of skiing I still have the urge to traverse when the going gets really steep, even though I know it makes turn initiation more difficult.
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rob@rar.org.uk, I see what you're getting at. I know the feeling!
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ponder, what do you mean by "carving width" as different to "true parallel width"? Puzzled

Surely if the skis are parallel, then it is parallel skiing.
If you mean "boots touching skiing" I thought that went out with straight skis.
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Wear The Fox Hat, my thoughts exactly.
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There is only one thing that you need to learn in your first week and that is to enjoy the sport. It doesn't make any difference how far you progress so long as you enjoy it enough to come back for more Very Happy
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Quote:

Surely if the skis are parallel, then it is parallel skiing.


well I only use 1 ski at a time, so I have no problems at all with the ski being parallel Shocked
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Alan Craggs aka Bode Miller wink
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rob@rar.org.uk, traversing skills are the basis of everything. Even now many ski teachers use the traverse to teach edging, and personally I would always try to give the students the ability to edge and control the edging to either turn up the hill, maintain a straight line across it or release the edge to make a diagonal sideslip.

NB: I've just started with YET ANOTHER pupil who was not taught to traverse or side slip in the first week. this is fine if all they want to do is to potter on the first lift, but if (as ususally happens) their ski-ing friends take them up the mountain onto pistes that are too steep for them, how are they going to cope if they're doing linked turns? They'll generate too much speed too quickly and not be able to control it.

Personally I would expect my beginners to be able to do more than my initial list - note that I did put ABSOLUTE MINIMUM! Most of my able beginners do in fact achieve parallel on greens by the end of the first week. I was looking for a general view.

Thanks for the comments and keep on keeping on ..... Very Happy
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Oh, and another thing they should learn in the first week - the Responsibility Code!
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easiski, it's interesting, but side-slipping is considered a more advanced technique in the US. I'm not sure if they teach it to beginners, but they certainly consider that side-slip movements are important for level 7+ skiers.
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Wear The Fox Hat,

My second week's skiing was last year in Arc 2000 and I joined ESF level 1 class (just above absolute beginner level). We were taught (shown?) side-slipping on the first day as a means of coping with any too-steep bits. I think it was also part of the tuition I took at the local dry-slope but it didn't sink in then - much more difficult than on snow!
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In my first week (1986) we learnt:

Snowplough, Snowplough turn (aleady knew from dry slope lessons though), stem turn, hockey stop, traverse, side-slip, side-step, penguin walk, kick turn (very useful), how to stand up again (!) and not to try to turn on sheet ice.

All of which served me in very good stead for the next trip. And the traversing did include the set-release-set-release excercise.

>> edit: I should add that I'd had 6x 45min dry slope lessons before I went, and our instructor in Andorra was a Scottish chap named Andy - so no (well, little!) language problem.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Mon 7-02-05 16:01; edited 2 times in total
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Excuse the long reply and the fact that it covers 4 not 1 weeks. But it covers when I learnt what some seem to think can be covered in 1 week. I thought I was a quick learner by the way.

My first 'week' was in Igls in Easter 1969 but we only had 4 days because of thawing. We started stepping up then ploughing down and turning. We didn't cover traversing though. On day 3 I got bored and decided to just start parallel skiing using ankle strength. A passing canadian taught me a hockey stop and to pedal my parallels.

My second week was in Sauze d'Oulx in 1994. I had had 3 dry lessons and went into the "top complete beginners" class. We quickly moved through plough to stem christie, exercises on one leg, traversing and edging which we were told was the key. We were encouraged to pressure the traverse to gain height and to step up whilst traversing.

My third week was with a kamikaze french nutter from La Plagne ESF who almost ended my love of skiing by whittling down the initial class of 12 to 5 partially injured remnants (I cracked 2 ribs) by taking us down steeper and stepper mogul fields without providing any instruction. I side-slipped out of necessity for the 1st time, in an icy gulley, not knowing what to do but wishing I had been shown.

On my 4th week I had a one-to-one lesson - we only covered traversing and hip position. And a friend showed me how to side-slip.

How typical is this.
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Personally I quite enjoy the "kamikaze French nutter" approach (well, to a point, and as long as you have some content to work at), but I'm still at the stage where simply skiing and picking up one new point of technique a day is plenty for me. A Chilean nutter in Andorra was responsible for taking me off-piste between the trees on a incline similar to red slope; was scary at the time, but I was delighted I did it, and I came away confident I could do it again.

I suppose that's partly about the instructor guaging your ability and resolve.
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Wear The Fox Hat, I was taught side slipping in a level 3 lesson - came in useful in a level 7 lesson yesterday, whilst negotiating a mogul field that's classified as a double black on the piste map! Luckily we saw the lift was stopped before we went any further so traversed across to an easier route (I knew what was coming next if we had continued but the other person in the lesson didn't). The comment from the instructor when we went round and looked at the cliffs and chutes from below was "well, you have the technique to ski that, but your mind would have had a hard time"! - yes, I was scared stiff, but then I've only been skiing since last January!

easiski, My first day out I had a 2 hour private lesson and learnt to wedge stop, traverse, wedge turn, link wedge turns, and use the lifts. Oh, and how to fall and get back up. By day 7 I was taking US level 3 or 4 lessons (I don't quite remember) so was side slipping, doing wedge christy turns, and learning parallel turns, and had been introduced to pole plants. At this level I was confident on all green runs and was building confidence on blue runs. A year and a month later (now) I'm skiing anything groomed on the mountain, carving large radius turns and about 40% of my medium radius turns (I tend to skid the tails of my skis). Short radius turns are still skidded, but I'm getting there!
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Wear The Fox Hat, and pollittcl, it's very interesting about side-slipping being condiered more advanced in the States. While it's quite a difficult (subtel) thing to learn, I do think it's vital for all beginners as it can get them out of any amout of trouble.

My experience is that well meaning friends or family will almost inevitably take the unfortunate beginner onto a slope that's much too difficult for them. If they can side slip they can get down without losing all the confidence I've instilled into them - if not then it's back to the repair work!

What is US level 6 by the way? I had some Yanks last week who said they were that level, and they were about 2 day(mum) to 1 week (Dad & daughter) skiers accoding to our thinking. How does your system work?
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easiski, US level 6 is able to ski parallel turns on most groomed runs. You should have a well established pole plant, and be comfortable with turns of different radii, with a strong upper body, heading down the hill and be fairly athletic. At Squaw the lesson description is "Introduction to Carving, Steeps and Moguls". I wouldn't have thought that a 2 day or a 1 week skier would be level 6 - I ski level 6/7 and I had 31 days last season and 35 (and counting) this. I am known at the ski school for having progressed very quickly (I work hard at it), so I wouldn't have thought your clients were at that level. I usually take group lessons, and I have found that people do over estimate their ability - and it's not just the blokes! I think that ssh would be the person to talk to - since I only take the lessons, not teach them! snowHead
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I have been a boarder for 10 years and in exactly 10 days I am taking the quantum leap into the world of two appendages. I am doing learn-to-ski in a day at Tamworth. In April off to Courchevel and have a weeks lessons with New Gen lined up. I have never even pulled a ski boot on before and don't have a clue about skiing. However. I have the benefit of the experience of those little things that a complete novice doesn't. What a piste is. What a blue, a red or a black looks like. What a mogul tastes like!

This thread is therefore very interesting to me. I have a few questions if I may. Not sure if this should be a new thread. Perhaps a mod can sort it out - Paul Weller need not deal with it.

Am I likely to learn more than a complete novice?
Are New Gen as good as I have been told previously?
How much am I likely to pick up in a day at Tamworth?

Comments gratefully accepted.
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You probably will pick it up faster, because:
a) You won't be too afraid of speed, due to boarding experience
b) You know what snow and edges feel like underfoot
c) Some of the technique is shared, such as bending your knees, leaning into turns without turning your ski/board to carve, etc.
My guess is that by the end of your first day you should be: traversing with snowplough turns, able to do pretty much every green run but nothing else, and hockey stop.
I have no personal experience with New Gen, people on this site seem to like them for the most part.
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Thanks ponder. Now. some dumb questions in reply:

What is a hockey stop?

Is traversing with snowplough turns literally z'ing across the piste?

Crystal ball - how far will I get after a week, using the assumptions of the first day?
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