You're comfortable on a pair of combos, and you're ready to step up to a slalom ski, but you've struggled with deep-water starts. Sound familiar? If so, it's time for a different approach – dropping a ski. Let Jodi Fisher, 2004 Qatar World Cup champion and coach of his own ski school in Orlando, Florida, show you how.
Lifting a ski
Lifting one ski off the water is the first step in learning to slalom because it gives you the security of putting the ski back on the water if you start to lose your balance. To lift the ski, transfer all your weight onto the ski that you want to stay in the water – just as you would if you lifted one leg on land. Bend the knee and ankle of your standing leg, keep your weight on the ball of your standing foot and keep your eyes focused on the boat to help maintain your balance.
As you lift the ski, pull the toes of your lifted foot upward while keeping your foot out in front of your knee, and point the front of the ski up slightly so the tip doesn't catch the water and trip you. Ski the length of the lake with one ski off the water, then do the same with the other ski. Repeat four or five times for each leg. Once you can hold a ski out of the water for 300 to 400 meters (about 1,000 to 1,300 feet), you are ready to drop a ski.
Dropping a ski
Based on the lifting exercise, pick your strongest leg. This will be your front leg once you've transitioned to a slalom ski. But first, you must drop a ski. Before you get on the water, outfit the ski of your strongest leg with a rear toe plate, and loosen the binding on the ski you intend to drop.
Transfer your weight onto your strongest leg just as you did for lifting a ski, but this time keep the unweighted ski on the water. Do not lift the ski off the water or try to kick it off. Try to move as little as possible. If you move around too much, you can lose your balance and fall. Next, slide the unweighted ski backward while maintaining a straight body position. Continue sliding the ski backward as you slowly lift your heel out of the loose binding. When the ski is back far enough, water will pull the ski off your foot. As you feel the ski come off, drag your toes in the water to help you balance.
Once you are comfortable, slowly move your free foot to the heel of your other foot and slide it down until your toes feel the ski. Rest here. Don't rush to find the back toe plate – simply place your foot on top of the toe plate for the time being. Once you are stable with both feet firmly on the ski, slowly slide your free foot back until you feel the entrance to the back toe plate. Don't look down at the ski to find the toe plate. Instead, while keeping your head up, slide your foot forward into the toe loop. Congratulations! You are now a slalom skier.
For lessons with Jodi, contact Jodi Fisher's Ski Skool at email@example.com.