by Ty Oppenlander
For the past few years, high-end skiers and coaches have been preaching that “you must have level shoulders when you approach the wakes.” Not necessarily true, in my opinion. I believe that when your shoulders are completely level, your ability to create angle and power in your pull is limited. As you can see in these pictures, my leading shoulder is dropped for more leverage, power and angle. When I lean, my balance point is still centered (not over the front of the ski), my outside hip (in this case, my right hip) is connected to the handle and my chest is facing the boat. I hold this position through both wakes until my ski starts moving outbound for the edge change.
TRY THIS AT HOME
Practice this position on land with the handle attached to a tree or pylon first. It is crucial to keep your balance point centered. Now take it to the water!
– Let your ski finish the turn and relax your arms before lowering your shoulder.
– Keep your chest facing the back of the boat. Don’t let your chest turn toward the direction you are going.
– As the pull intensifies, a 2- to 4-inch shoulder drop is all that’s needed. Too much will create negative side effects, like a possible lean lock or getting pulled to the inside of your turn too soon and being narrow at the ball.
– The pull from the boat is strongest right at the wakes and through the second wake, so by that point, you need to have this strong shoulder position established for maximum leverage.
– Keep in mind that your offside lean is the weaker pull, so it is more important to create extra leverage to make up for the lack of power compared to your onside.