WATERSKI: STEP BY STEP SLALOM SKIING
Slalom skiing is one of the most addictive sports. It is a constant personal challenge. I hope that with this article I will help you improve and enjoy your skiing. Here I will describe each phase of the skiing process, focusing on the necessary steps required to complete each phase successfully, while highlighting the most common mistakes and giving you helpful tips to overcome these problems.
1. Deep water start:
Many people struggle to make a deep water start because they try to fight the boat and use a lot of effort to ski.
The best tip is to WAIT and let the boat and the ski do the work. Get your arms relaxed around your knees (almost as if you are going to hug them), press the knees to your chest, point the tip of the ski OUT of the water, look up , RELAX and wait as long as possible with- out trying to stand up.
1. Tip out of the water
2. Looking straight and up (never down)
3. Arms straight and relaxed
WAIT and let the boat do the work. NEVER fight the boat! RELAX!!!!!!!!!
a. To let go with one hand when you are about to start. If you feel you are loosing balance, hold on and try to recover your balance with your hips rather than with your arms.
b. Not having enough strength to stand up. Stay relaxed rather than standing up to fast.
c. The boat is too small to take you out of the water. It is easier when you have a powerful boat, but boat power should not be a problem as long as you let the boat do its work, rather than trying to stop the boat.
d. It’s always easier to start with a wider ski, only one binding and a rear toe plate.
e. Let the driver drag you in idle speed for 15 to 20 ft so you will get the feeling and then he should ac- celerate in a progressive way.
f. If you are wearing LONG BOARD SHORTS you need to stay in a crunch position longer so the water wont catch the shorts and inflate them as parachutes.
SKIING IS THE ACTIVITY OF GLIDING OVER WATER USING SKIS.
That is why you should try to stand in the best position in order to slide easier, instead of dragging or resisting the boat.
Skier Position=sliding Dragging
The most common mistake is to ski leaning backwards, with a stiff front leg and the arms to the hips. This position will not take you anywhere but back.
The idea is to lean against the boat not backwards. But I will explain that later. The best position is the same you will use to stand on shore with one foot behind the other.
Arms should be part of the rope instead of trying to hold the rope as tight as possible (causing your fore arms to get tired very fast). Relax and try to hold the handle with the least amount of energy. If you do not do this you are not in the right position.
3. Leaning position
Once you are able to ski you are ready to learn the leaning position. Step outside the spray line. This is the best place because the water is flat and there is less resistance with the boat. Start directing the ski to the outside and come back to the starting position. Without loosing skier’s posi- tion On the way to the outside try to have:
Shoulders back and ALWAYS parallel to the water
Back strong and straight
That is the leaning position!!!!!
Try it a couple of times. Before you get too comfortable switch to the other side.
Balance position outside the wake, 6ft/2mts.
Start directing the ski to the out side. Keep your upper body position.
Keep the handle down and load the rope. Make sure your shoulders are horizontal to the water.
Stand up BALANCE and glide. Wait for the rope to get tight before coming back. Don’t try to turn!!!!!!!! When standing up your shoulders should be square with your body and facing down- course.
Most common mistakes:
• Trying to lean too fast and getting slack rope. Start easier and just focus on the position not on the speed YET.
• Letting your shoulders out. • Putting too much weight on the rear leg. • Leaning with your shoulders causing you to loose balance.
4. Edge Changing = turning
Many of you are wondering how I make the slalom ski turn.
If you watch professional water skiers it takes them more than 50ft to turn around a buoy. When you are leaning away from the wakes you are on one edge of the ski and when you come back you will need to ride the other edge. The transition from one edge to the other is called edge change.
Pull out to 45 to 60 degrees from the wakes no more.
Stand up AWAY from the boat, WAIT for the ski to loose speed and the rope to get tight.
Once the rope is tight start riding the ski to the other side.
Bring down the handle and load the rope.
To be able to do it properly you need to lean away and when you get to 45 to 60 degrees from the wakes you push on the ski and you stand up. When you stand up you should: Have your lower body relaxed
Have your upper body facing down course Have your arms relaxed Keep the same direction of the ski so the rope will be tight Be able to ride the ski without resistance
Most common problems: • Getting too much line (more than 60 degrees from the boat) causing you to over accelerate and have a slack rope • Pulling on the rope • Too much weight on the back leg and too stiff the front one • Standing up in the same direction of the boat • Standing up with your shoulders to the boat
5. Wake Crossing
Now that you know the skier position, how to lean and the edge change you are ready to cross the wakes!
When I was 7 years old in Mexico an old woman (sra lombera) explained to me that the wakes were like a piece of bread and the ski was a knife. To be able to cut it, the bread and the knife needed to be in a 90 degree angle and on edge. The same applies to crossing the wakes.
Go easy, not too far away from the wakes. Cross the wakes with controlled speed and with the same skiing position. Pull out, stand up, wait for the ski to loose speed, for the rope to get tight and come back to cross the wakes. Every time try to go faster and faster towards the wakes. Each time with more angle and with more edging. This is a matter of TIMING, just like a clock.
A GOOD WAKECROSSING WILL GET YOU A NICE TURN IF YOU TRY TO TURN YOU WILL HAVE A BAD WAKE CROSSING
Most common mistakes: • Loosing skier position while crossing the wakes • Starting too hard and stopping the direction right before the wake • Leaning too hard after the second wake causing a big slack in the rope
Free skiing is the base of slalom skiing. Never get tired of free skiing. It’s always good to go back to free skiing even when you are already running the course.
6. Running the course
Once you are able to cross the wakes with nice timing, great skiing position and great direction you are ready to run the course!
Start with a shaped ski. I recommend HO free ride series. The reason is that you can slow down the boat with great stability.
Try to ski as slow as possible. YOU WON”T SINK! Between 18 to 24 mph depending on your weight. The slower you go the easier it will be to get to the buoys.
The slalom course has 6 buoys and 2 pairs of gates (shown in picture). Let us forget about the gates and go straight to buoy number one (always on the right hand side).
The trick to running the course successfully is to be as early as possible at each buoy, maintaining speed, position and direction.
Think of the buoys as the finish of the turn rather than thinking of them as obstacles. There is a straight line from 1, 3 and 5 and 2, 4 and 6. The steps to run the course are:
Pull out to the right about 150 ft before you get to buoy number one, trying to direct the ski to the out- side. The idea is to clear the straight line of 1, 3 and 5.
Stand up before getting to number one at least 15 ft before you get to the buoy and start carving back towards the buoy. You should be able to get to number one on the way back.
Accelerate with direction all the way to the second wake. Once you get to the second wake stand up and start carving back to number two. You should be able to ski back to number two.
There is a big difference between skiing to the buoys and skiing to the shore. The former will make you be later and later, until you will not be able to clear more buoys. You should try to ski to the shore line and finish at the buoy.
To run the slalom course you need:
A) Position B) Direction C) Rhythm and Timing