Ski instructors love to debate the merits of two methods of ski instruction. Some teach beginners the classic wedge position. When students show confidence and understanding of the movements, as well as on-slope balance skills, these instructors teach drills designed to help students transition to parallel skiing. Other instructors argue that the wedge is a useless movement. They favor a direct-to-parallel approach. The best technique depends on your learning style.
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Pizza & French Fries
When you hear a ski instructor yelling "pizza" and "french fries" to her class, she is not asking students what they would like for lunch. The pizza and french fries technique is a classic method for teaching kids. The pizza refers to the wedge position, and the french fries cue indicates parallel skiing. Children ski down the slope, while the instructor tells them which position to assume. While the technique is designed for kids, adult ski learners can use it as means of distinguishing the sensations of parallel and wedge skiing. Select an easy, uncrowded slope if you plan to try this drill.
The stem christie provides an effective confidence-producing drill for skiers wishing to make the transition from wedge to parallel skiing. Fearful skiers find it particularly effective, because their skis assume the wedge position at the scariest part of the turn -- facing directly downhill into the fall line. Begin with your skis in a wedge position and glide into the fall line. Steer your skis to the right to make a right turn or left to make a left turn. Before you turn back into the fall line, glide your uphill ski so that it is parallel to your downhill ski.
Stepping Out of the Fall Line
Beginners use the wedge position to help them slow down at the end of a turn. Once they master parallel skiing, they turn their skis up the hill to slow down. Harald Harb, creator of the direct-to-parallel method titled the Primary Movements Teaching System, developed this drill for novice skiers. Go to the edge of an easy slope and stand with your skis parallel, pointing across the trail. Step uphill with your uphill ski and balance the uphill ski on its little toe edge. Bring your downhill ski up to meet it. Keep moving uphill and continue for about five minutes, then try the movement in the opposite direction.
The pivot slip incorporates parallel rotational movements. Instructors use this drill in preparation for parallel mogul skiing. Traverse to the side of an intermediate slope, point your skis across the hill and position your upper body so that your chest and ski poles face the fall line. Keep you skis flat and slide sideways down the hill. If the slope is particularly steep, remain in the side slip until you feel confident. Then, simultaneously pivot both skis toward the opposite side of the slope. Traverse across the hill and try the exercise with a pivot in the opposite direction.