Are you a passionate slalom skier who’s surrounded by snow and ice and living closer to a ski mountain than to a ski lake? If you answered yes, I’ve got a great sport for you to check out.
The skwal board has been around for a couple of decades now, but very few people have heard of it, much less seen it on the slopes. (Thias was the first company to make the skwal, in 1990.) It’s a difficult board to ride, and thus many people turn to snowboarding or snow skiing. Here’s the good thing, though: If you know how to slalom ski, skwalling is much less difficult to learn. Plus, if you get the hang of skwalling, it’s sure to improve your slalom skiing on the water.
After talking to skwal specialist and sports salesman Heinz Benz from Davos, Switzerland, I realized just how similar his tips on how to sqwal echoed those given for slalom skiing. Here are seven reasons why skwalling might help your slalom skiing:
1. On a sqwal board, as on a slalom ski, you stand with one foot in front of the other, with the back foot slightly turned outward (optional). This will give you a feeling similar to that of being on a slalom ski and help with maintaining your balance once you hit the water again.
2. As you carve from one side to the other down the hill, you will want to make sure that you have as little upper body movement as possible. The same goes for slalom skiing.
3. Your feet should always be moving in front of and ahead of the rest of your body. This feeling will be very similar to what you have to do in slalom skiing after hitting that second wake.
4. Your shoulders stay parallel to the ground. There’s a big tendency to want to drop in with your inside shoulder when turning around a buoy on a slalom ski. Think about this as you carve your way down the hill on the skwal board.
5. Your hips and upper boddy remain still and stable, with as little movement as possible as you descend the hill, just like in slalom skiing.
6. The standing position stays central over the ski; by moving your center mass in the desired direction of travel, you keep the momentum going, which results in smoother turns and finishes, both when sqwalling and when slaloming.
7. Practice quick and smooth edge changes. You always want to be on your edges with a skwal board, carving from one edge to the other.
Once spring starts to come around, the ice begins to melt and warm weather arises, you’ll be happy to know that the first set of the year won’t feel quite as off balance and unfamiliar as it may have in the past. Although skwalling may be a bit challenging at first, you’ll learn to love carrying speed across the mountain while going through key slalom movements in your head. It’s definitely a fresh and fun switch-up from the gym. — Geena Krueger