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Never too early to wedge in a lesson

Watch out, Bode, Giorgio, and Manfred. Gianni is coming.

Four-year-old Gianni Davilli of Westminster was having a great time cruising Mount Wachusett when I joined him for a run. Or, I should say, tried to keep up with him. Gianni, with his grin wide, wanted to go down the mountain with no stops.

When we did stop for a moment, I attempted to explain wedge christie turns to get him out of the constant wedge (pizza slice) position. But after a lot of talk I eventually realized that at his level imitation, not explanation, would be the better teacher.

I suggested we play follow the leader and that he be the leader. He smiled and said, "Let's go," and we proceeded down the mountain in the constant wedge position, back and forth. This soon had my legs screaming, so I told Gianni it was my turn to be the leader.

At a gradual spot on the trail, I started with a wedge position heading straight down, then doing a slow-motion wedge christie -- my skis became parallel as I completed the turn to the right. Because of the slowness of the turn, Gianni came to a stop.

So I suggested he position his skis side by side but on their uphill edges as we traversed the slope and made a turn to the left, then resumed a traverse in the opposite direction.

Gianni followed closely, and I could observe him trying to master the parallel traverse position. He soon insisted that it was his turn to be the leader, and we took off down the mountain back in the wedge position.

Gianni then paid attention to my final demonstration of the wedge christie, a skill for him to work on so he can compete with Bode Miller, Giorgio Rocca, and Manfred Pranger in the future.

It is important for all skiers at or near Gianni's age to follow an instructor or at least a better skier. I remember a friend's comment at an instructors' meeting when the discussion topic was ski technique. "You folks don't realize that these children didn't come here to learn to ski but to ski," he said. "By skiing they will learn, especially at the young ages."

Bob Dunn is a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America.

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