Is there one perfect line to run through the slalom course, one turning radius that places the skier on the ultimate path of least resistance to the next buoy? After watching hours of snow-ski racing this winter, I am inclined to think there may be. In competitive snow-ski racing there are four disciplines — slalom, giant slalom, super G and downhill — each with its own unique set of course layout characteristics. Thus the athletes specializing in each discipline have adopted a particular turning style to navigate their course on the fastest, most efficient line possible. In contrast, competitive water skiers have only one set of dimensions to perfect. Every course is set to exacting specifications, yet there are many different possible paths and many different effective turning styles used to navigate it. So what is the most effective turning style on the water? What is the best line to run? With the help of certified professional snow-ski instructor and world-champion water-ski coach Brent Larsen, we analyze the turning techniques used in various snow-ski disciplines and apply them to the demands of the water-ski slalom course.
The giant slalom approach: If you run long, fast-flowing C-shaped turns, you are skiing lines similar to those in the giant slalom event. Thus you are placing your body under tremendous force caused by your high-speed approach. Therefore, it is important for you to pay particular attention to your skeletal alignment. Because you will enter and exit the turn with increasing inclination you will need to remain stacked. Your hips should remain squarer to the ski than if you were using a slalom-style turn, in which counter-rotation and angulation play a larger role. Chris Parrish best exemplifies the giant-slalom style, riding his turns with less angulation and counter than many of his competitors.