Former Ski Instructor Daniel Pugel Compares Old and New Ski Instruction Techniques

Tuesday, April 5, 2022, 8:27 a.m.

Former ski instructor Daniel Pugel discusses the similarities and differences between old ski instruction methods and new ones. 

NORMANDY PARK, WA / APRIL 5, 2022 / Ski gear, instruction techniques, and style vary between the old school and the new school. Former ski instructor Daniel Pugel received his Advanced Certificate from the Ski School of France more than 40 years ago. He recently discussed the differences between old-school and new-school ski instruction.

“Ski instruction and style have changed drastically over the years,” Pugel said. “Much of the change has to do with the shape of skis. It also involves techniques that are less demanding on the body, so skiers can enjoy the sport longer without injury.”

The Old School

Some old-school ski techniques will seem comical to skiers of today. However, they were all the rage in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Daniel Pugel explained that the old-school ski style involved “wedeling” downhill. Wedeling is a term describing the short and tight Austrian-style turns that involved skidding instead of carving. 

The 1980s brought about the popularity of the “jet turn.” This turn involved transferring weight backward and the skis forward for a sensation of weightlessness. Instructors advised skiers to keep their skis and knees locked together. This position created the skidding turns that enthusiasts see in old ski movies. Modern ski films feature the fast, low carves of today.

Daniel Pugel added that a common instruction technique in the old school was Stem Christie skiing. This instruction technique helped skiers transition from the beginner “snowplow” to more advanced turns. 

“The Stem Christie technique involved creating a wedge by turning the back of one ski outwards, then changing direction with the other ski, lining it parallel to the “stemmed” ski,” Pugel said. “This was a method taught at the famed Ski School of France to help beginners transition from snow plowing to parallel turning.”

The New School

Pugel explained that new school ski techniques are less physically demanding and easier on the joints and muscles. Old school ski methods and equipment require more energy to turn, resulting in quicker exhaustion. 

“The knee angulation of the old school results in a weak stance that can lead to injury,” Pugel said. “Modern, shape skis require less knee angulation while promoting more hip angulation. That means much less pressure on the knees.”

Pugel explained that it is difficult for some old-school skiers to embrace the new. However, new carving techniques and knee angulation make for a safer skiing experience, meaning skiers can enjoy the sport longer. 

Daniel Pugel at the Ski School of France

Daniel Pugel grew up in Seattle, Washington, and attended the Ski School of France more than 40 years ago. He achieved his Advanced Certificate and became an expert skier and instructor in his home state and beyond.