Mastering an effortless deepwater start is paramount to slalom success. Regardless of your size or strength, a deepwater start does not have to be a battle. By keeping a few simple points in mind, even the burliest slalom skier can effortlessly pop right up.
SET IT UP
While your starting position may seem quite obvious, there are a few small details that will make getting up a lot easier. The first thing to consider is which side of the rope to put your ski on. Left-foot-forward skiers should have their ski on the left side of the line and vice versa for righties. This will direct the boat’s pull straight down your body’s centerline and keep you from tipping to one side or the other. Next up is your ski’s orientation. By angling the tip slightly away from the rope you will further encourage a straighter path as you get pulled through the water. Left-foot-forward skiers should aim for 11 o’clock, while right-foot-forward skiers should point their tip toward 1 o’clock.
The most important factors come down to your knees and arms. Your knees need to be flexed all the way into your chest. This will help control the pressure on the bottom of your ski and keep you in a position impervious to the power of the boat. Extending your legs and pushing against the boat’s pull will only increase pressure and jeopardize the strength of your body position. Your arms need to remain straight and relaxed. Attempting to “pull” yourself out of the water will cause you to break forward and make your efforts all the more challenging.
As the boat starts to engage and the pressure begins to build on the bottom of your ski, resist the urge to dig your heels in and push back. Instead, allow the mounting pressure to push your knees further into your chest by simply relaxing. This will keep your ski’s tip above water and make you more compact and better able to withstand the force of the pull. From your compacted, knees-bent position, allow your back to round as your chest and hips get pulled over your feet.
THE FINAL VIRTUE
Patience is the final component to an effortless deepwater start. There is no rush to stand up. Attempting to rise before you have adequate forward speed will cause your ski to heavily plow through the water, increasing the load on your body and resulting in either a missed start or, at best, an incredibly exhausting one. Allow the boat to pull you atop your ski before engaging your quads to stand up.