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Cross-over lessons

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Cross-over lessons

Postby Williamtele » Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:02 pm

Lots of fun and provocative discussion at Sunday's Telemark East Instructor Day regarding how to teach an alpine crossover……probably the most common lesson that we see. It was generally accepted that the most difficult part to teach and learn is how to establish and maintain a telemark stance when moving into, through, and out of turns. You can reduce an accomplished skier to a flailing newbie if you're not careful.

The question of when to introduce more complicated drills like the monomark seemed to bifurcate the group. Some felt it was appropriate if the student was displaying requisite skills and needed the additional challenge. Some felt it was unrealistic (especially if it was a group of mixed-skill skiers) to impose a drill that many seasoned telemarkers can’t master. It’s a great area of discussion since one the goals of a cross-over lesson should be to “sell” telemark as a fun, challenging and versatile alternative to alpine. Finding the teaching “sweet spot” will be different with every customer.

When you teach cross-over lessons what THREE variables drive your lesson planning? I think I would say 1) student’s alpine skills, 2) time available, 3) weather.
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby Biff » Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:29 pm

Williamtele wrote:Lots of fun and provocative discussion at Sunday's Telemark East Instructor Day regarding how to teach an alpine crossover……probably the most common lesson that we see. It was generally accepted that the most difficult part to teach and learn is how to establish and maintain a telemark stance when moving into, through, and out of turns. You can reduce an accomplished skier to a flailing newbie if you're not careful.

The question of when to introduce more complicated drills like the monomark seemed to bifurcate the group. Some felt it was appropriate if the student was displaying requisite skills and needed the additional challenge. Some felt it was unrealistic (especially if it was a group of mixed-skill skiers) to impose a drill that many seasoned telemarkers can’t master. It’s a great area of discussion since one the goals of a cross-over lesson should be to “sell” telemark as a fun, challenging and versatile alternative to alpine. Finding the teaching “sweet spot” will be different with every customer.

When you teach cross-over lessons what THREE variables drive your lesson planning? I think I would say 1) student’s alpine skills, 2) time available, 3) weather.


Good discussion to have… I've been waiting for you to introduce it. I would throw in a few other variable probably on the lesson planning… Is it a group lesson, a semiprivate or a private? If it is a group, how big is the group? My goal teaching was to not just try hard to teach them something but also to try and make sure they enjoyed the lesson. If I see the student/s starting to wane or grow bored then maybe it's time to change the lesson plan. Sometimes a student is very "cerebral" and wants to know the why's and how's of what you are teaching. Another might be very movement oriented and would rather just follow you down and mimic your turns. Of course the bigger the group the more chance you will have a real mix of learner types and you will need to mix it up.

But… of course the discussion is about crossover clinics and, for the most part, that means a student that has alpine skills but never tele'd. I totally agree with you that the very first and most difficult skill to learn (for most) is the stance. It's been said that in no other sport except many bowling do you have to put so much weight on a bent knee. Those of us that have been tele skiing for years can easily forget how tough it was to find that stance… hold it…AND THEN .. turn that ski.

If you have an hour lesson with a group of six or seven you can really see quite a mix of abilities. Sometimes you get the natural..he or she finds the stance almost right away and starts turns. He or she might be a good candidate for the mono mark exercise. (For any reading wondering what the heck the mono mark is… you hold a telemark stance, say right foot forward and left back, and then make turns in both directions down the fall line without changing leads.For those that water ski, it's a little like slalom skiing.) ) But, I have found, that most students, even the very athletic ones, will feel very awkward at first. So finding a number of easier and, hopefully, fun exercises that encourage proper stance is key.
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby Williamtele » Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:54 pm

This is off the cuff but here's a hypothetical one hour cross-over lesson...keep it simple and don't be the dreaded instructor that talks too much. Pick appropriate terrain.

Introductions and get on the lift (5 minutes).
Talk on the lift to set expectations, describe what you'll be doing, and relax the student (5 minutes).
At the top of the lift review gear, check boot fit and tightness, describe and demonstrate stance (5-7 minutes MAX). Get them moving!!!
Run #1 - A full run doing alpine turns, concentrating on balance and rotation skills. (5-7 minutes)
Run #2 - A full run introducing lead separation via striding, marching, hopping, or moon-walking during traverses only. (10-12 minutes)
Run #3 - A full run extending those activities into the end, then the middle and finally the beginning of turns. (10-12 minutes)
Run #4 - Repeat #3 adapting activities to students' abilities, energy level and attitude - ONLY IF TIME ALLOWS (10-12 minutes)
Run #4 (alt) - instead, do some flatland exercises like skating, side-stepping, kick-turns or other fun stuff (5-10 minutes)

Review the lesson and give encouraging feedback. Focus on ONE thing for them to work on and offer sources for additional information about tele gear, instruction and events (5-7 minutes).

Now hold out your hand and asked them if they had a good time :roll: .
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby teletante » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:38 pm

Just as with anything else in teaching the answer is always "It depends". The your hypothetical hour seems a reasonable approach, not knowing your terrain. I'd be looking at a similar progression but at my home area only 3 runs in an hour, 2 if the client is a thinker, terrified of speed, or wants to drill down deep on every drill. That said I would rather err on too few rather then too many drills.

I guess I hadn't been introduced to the concept of the monomark being hard, at least any harder then a tele turn in general. The snowboard crossovers I've taught love the monomark. I've found most alpine crossovers can really benefit from an early introduction of the monomark (or sculling, or ruddering*) because it takes away the complication of when to change leads. Most alpine crossovers will start to change the lead before they start the turn. If you watch their feet they will stand up and square up their feet before they start steering either foot down the hill, letting them switch their weight to the new outside ski before the turn, and then pulling the now unweighted inside ski back. It looks like a tele turn and even kinda feels like a tele turn, if you don't know what they feel or look like, but it's just the dreaded fakeamark. The monomark puts them into a good position to feel how the stance works through the turn making it easier to introduce the concept of starting the new turn before starting the lead change. That makes it easier to keep both skis weighted through transitions between turns. The thing is I'm not looking for people to perfect any drill in a lesson. The point to drills is to give people a feel for something, then take it right back into skiing. If they want to perfect the drill, great! They can work on it after the lesson, but I've seen a lot of solid fakamarkers make their first true tele turns after a few wobbly monomarks.

XC crossovers are mostly adjusting to edge control (and speed) potential so I tend to use more of a wedge or skate based progression. Being used to 2 footed steering and striding through turns, but not to the ability to actually powerfully engage the edges, I've found sculling more useful then the monomark.

* Sculling: On very shallow terrain in a good tele stance pointing down the hill. Change edges on the trailing ski while staying flat on the lead ski.
Ruddering: On very shallow terrain in a good tele stance pointing down the hill. Both skis flat on the snow and steer only the trailing foot.
Both these exercises let them feel the potential power of the trailing/inside ski through the turn and most people I've seen after showing them these drills have said how they really made their alpine turns also come alive.
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby Williamtele » Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:40 pm

Quick update....2 lessons this weekend (one official, one with a fellow instructor who is learning to tele) and I introduced monomarks to both of them. I would say that I'm reasonably happy with the results. For the official lesson, an alpine cross-over, it was not well executed but I hung it out there as something he should work on. With the instructor friend, he said it really created an "ah-ha" moment for him and you could see him start to appreciate the importance of pressuring the trailing ski. Is it right for everyone? Not sure, but it's definitely an arrow in the quiver for cross-over lessons.
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby Biff » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:43 am

Williamtele wrote:Quick update....2 lessons this weekend (one official, one with a fellow instructor who is learning to tele) and I introduced monomarks to both of them. I would say that I'm reasonably happy with the results. For the official lesson, an alpine cross-over, it was not well executed but I hung it out there as something he should work on. With the instructor friend, he said it really created an "ah-ha" moment for him and you could see him start to appreciate the importance of pressuring the trailing ski. Is it right for everyone? Not sure, but it's definitely an arrow in the quiver for cross-over lessons.

I talked to Ron Lessard about that as well and he likes to introduce it in the first lesson. I had always thought it too advanced. Go figure. Like you say, another arrow.
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby teletante » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:33 pm

I've taught a couple tele lessons since posting and found that perhaps instead of thinking of mono marks, you can take it into a traverse and treat it as a garland. Uphill foot back, steer towards the fall line then steer back to the traverse in the tele stance. Once you can do it across the hill you can take it down the hill into a mono mark, or just try a tele turn and see if they have acquired enough of a feel for the flow of the turn from the garland.

I personally have had a hard time with garlands because to me they feel like starting one turn and finishing the other. As when going left to right across the hill you start a left turn but before reaching the fall line you finish a right turn. I did do mono marks with the first lady and found that in working across a hill to where we needed to get to the mono mark does have garland like attributes. Fortunately for my poor head, by crossing the fall line and continuing the turn mono marking becomes snowboarding.
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby teletante » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:41 pm

Biff wrote: you hold a telemark stance, say right foot forward and left back, and then make turns in both directions down the fall line without changing leads.For those that water ski, it's a little like slalom skiing.) ) But, I have found, that most students, even the very athletic ones, will feel very awkward at first. So finding a number of easier and, hopefully, fun exercises that encourage proper stance is key.


Speaking of snowboarding...... You may have better luck introducing the mono mark with the left foot forward. Most people are naturally left foot lead (ie regular foot) maybe <20% of us, like me, are naturally right foot forward (ie goofy foot.)
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby Biff » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:28 pm

teletante wrote:I've taught a couple tele lessons since posting and found that perhaps instead of thinking of mono marks, you can take it into a traverse and treat it as a garland. Uphill foot back, steer towards the fall line then steer back to the traverse in the tele stance. Once you can do it across the hill you can take it down the hill into a mono mark, or just try a tele turn and see if they have acquired enough of a feel for the flow of the turn from the garland.

I personally have had a hard time with garlands because to me they feel like starting one turn and finishing the other. As when going left to right across the hill you start a left turn but before reaching the fall line you finish a right turn. I did do mono marks with the first lady and found that in working across a hill to where we needed to get to the mono mark does have garland like attributes. Fortunately for my poor head, by crossing the fall line and continuing the turn mono marking becomes snowboarding.



Garlands were always my go to for teaching stance and introducing the turn.
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Re: Cross-over lessons

Postby Brenda » Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:46 pm

Biff wrote:
Williamtele wrote:Quick update....2 lessons this weekend (one official, one with a fellow instructor who is learning to tele) and I introduced monomarks to both of them. I would say that I'm reasonably happy with the results. For the official lesson, an alpine cross-over, it was not well executed but I hung it out there as something he should work on. With the instructor friend, he said it really created an "ah-ha" moment for him and you could see him start to appreciate the importance of pressuring the trailing ski. Is it right for everyone? Not sure, but it's definitely an arrow in the quiver for cross-over lessons.

I talked to Ron Lessard about that as well and he likes to introduce it in the first lesson. I had always thought it too advanced. Go figure. Like you say, another arrow.


I think they can be very hard for a novice, but it may depend on the novice. They were really rough for me at one point in my learning, and I took some scary falls trying to monomark by catching my inside edge, so it's always made me wary about introducing them too soon.Of course, not having an alpine background, I tended to start my turns in a wedge, so that may have had something to do with it at the time.

Two things I work on with cross overs--femoral separation and really smearing/edging the back ski. Many crossovers keep their thighs together and just fake-a-mark with the back foot. I try to point out that they need to be able to see daylight fore-after between their thighs. I also at some point show them how to make a bow-tie in the snow with their ski and then have them use that same motion on the back ski--it's proven quite successful with a few students. (Hard to explain without showing, it's a small progression).

I agree that snowboarders (I've taught a few :) ) do well at monomarks almost off the bat. They also tend to need to stand up straighter and look ahead--many sort of crouch over as they are used to doing while riding, and it really helps to get them to look ahead and stop bending at the hips.
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