Beginner Skiing Progression – Braking Plow

The ‘Braking Plow’ (AKA. a Snowplow / Wedge / Stem / Pizza / Pie... or any other triangle analogy) is often used to help the new skier balance, manage speed and stop on gentle terrain. 

Although some more athletic skiers may be able to skip a wedge and go straight to parallel, most students will find the added stability of the wedge useful for those first turns. 

It also comes in really handy in the lift line!

Learn to Ski - Pizza and Fries - Wedge vs Parallel

Objectives: 

Travel in a straight line down a down a gentle slope then control speed and come to a complete stop using a wedge (or whatever you want to call it).

Technical Considerations: 

In an athletic stance, the skier pushes the feet apart while rotating both legs inward to create a wedge. The si tips shod remain close together while the tails of the skis are further apart. In most cases the skis will automatically tip on edge and create some friction to slow the skier. 

Many new skiers find it easiest to just focus on pushing the heels out.

Useful Drills & Cues:

Caution:

A skier at this stage may NOT be able to STOP! Terrain and snow considerations are important to either set the learner up for success.

  • Select a short gentle slope with a safe run out. Ideally flat or slightly uphill to stop the skier should they not be able to do so on their own.
  • Pick a quiet area (typically off to the side of the bunny hill:) and always look uphill before you go.
  • NOTE: Although the wedge is a useful tool for beginners, it's important not to become overly reliant on it for speed control. As terrain steepens the wedge will no longer be effective and the skier must learn to manage speed through turn shape.

Trouble Shooting Symptoms:

  • When pressure moves back towards the tails of the skis the tend to run straight. If the skier cannot turn the legs and the skis take off (Jet Skis) ensure balance is centered through the middle of the skis.
  • Some grip is required to slow and stop. If the skis remain flat roll the feet and knees inward to tip the skis on edge and control speed or stop (See O-Frame).
  • If the skis are over edged and the skier does not glide, roll the feet/knees slighly out to lessen the edge angle. (See A-frame)
  • If the ski tips cross or clan together look to see if both skis are on the same edge angle and tension is kept in the legs.

Too advanced? Head back to...

Too Easy? Move ahead to...

Join the Science Friction Club.

Outsmart your ski instructor and troubleshoot your own ski technique.

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