When dishing out cool the poor misunderstood snowplough (wedge) is so many degrees above freezing it has melted into a puddle of water. It certainly isn’t the glamour puss of the ski world. It gets very little press. It doesn’t thrill like a powder turn on the front cover of a magazine, or the high speed carve of a GS turn during a World Cup race, it is certainly left hugely lacking in the cool department when compared to a 1080 Rodeo off a backcountry booter….. When did you last hear of Jon Olsson, Herman Maier or TJ Schiller doing a really awesome snowplough? Hmm I thought so much….
(Ted Ligety www.skichannel.com)
However, think again.
All great skiers have one thing in common..they all started out with our good old buddy Mr. Snowplough. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is just for beginners though. A number of the greats still incorporate the snowplough or variations of it into their training programs and to be honest so should you! This poor little gem of a technique is the unsung hero of the ski world.
If you analyse a skiers snowplough you can spot areas of skill deficiency that when progressed to higher levels of skiing are magnified tenfold. Get the snowplough right and you have a solid foundation to build on. Get it wrong and you will always be playing catch up. Many instructors fail their higher level exams on .. you guessed it.. the snowplough…so spend a little time and get it right. You will not regret it.
Herein lies one of the major conundrums when teaching skiing…when to progress your pupils past the snowplough phase? Personally I like to move people on from the snowplough as soon as possible so they can get out and enjoy more of the terrain. For the vast majority of recreational skiers they only venture out one or two weeks a year so it woudln’t be fair to be totalitarian about it and keep them snowploughing till their technique is good enough to pass a Level 4 Technical exam. You need to be realistic! Also, your clients legs aren’t going to last long snowplouging down a black diamond run.. well unless they are kids. It never ceases to amaze me how 6 years old can hold a deathplough the full length of a black run and still be smiling at the bottom screaming for more.
When doing my first CSIA course the course conductor showed us the all new sparkly CSIA Technical Video. He stopped it just after the snowplough section and told a little story. When putting the DVD together they were at a bar in a ski resort having a beer and listening to some live music. They had a few drinks with the band after they had played their set and told them they were filming a ski movie and asked if they could use their tune as part of the soundtrack….little did they know their song wasn’t going to be used in the latest TGR or Poorboyz production but as the soundtrack to a bunch of dudes in red suits doing synchronised snowploughs…
If I was that band I wouldn’t of been so disappointed though…okay well maybe just a little bit.
When it comes to ski skills dismiss the snowplough at your peril. It pretty much covers all bases. Stance and balance..pivoting..edging..pressure control.. timing and coordination. During the coming winter I will show you how important our old pal is and give you lots of drills to work on that will help improve your skills and skiing enjoyment.
This technique may not be cool..but sometimes the opposite of cool is just as important..so lets start getting out on the slopes and playing with our hot little snowploughs.