If you ever feel like you just can't get in sync with the course, the buoys, the boat or yourself, you are missing one of the most important aspects of slalom skiing – rhythm. The way a skier seamlessly assembles the kinetic principles of slalom skiing into one successful slalom pass is what I like to call the skier's “rhythm.” Although the pace may change as the boat speeds up or as the rope shortens, the rhythm should stay the same.
To achieve this rhythm, you may want to spend some time skiing free of any buoys, any points of reference, any time or speed demands. By pacing yourself and resisting the urge to rush back to the other side of the wakes, as well as understanding that there is no need to fight the boat, you enable yourself to swing back and forth behind the boat with much less effort and a more fluid ride.
Tips for getting the most out of free skiing
• Start with low intensity and slowly bring the intensity up as you get a handle on the rhythm.
• Focus on swinging back and forth behind the boat with fluid motion, a tight line and symmetry.
• Keep a narrow approach, starting from about 25-30 feet outside the wakes to avoid turning too aggressively and defeating the purpose of the exercise.
• Make controlled movements with your lower body to initiate the turns, with your shoulders level and facing down course, delaying the load on the rope.
• Stay light on the line in order to maintain control. Try not to overload the rope by leaning away too aggressively.
• Initiate the edge change at the middle of the wakes, but maintain your outbound direction to maximum width in order to keep a tight line.
Seth Stisher is the head coach and co-owner of H2Osmosis Sports, now located at Trophy Lakes. He is sponsored by D3 Skis, MasterCraft Boats, Zeal Optics and Fogman Bindings. For answers to your questions or to find out how to train with Seth, go to www.h2osmosis.com, call 866-213-7993 or visit his new Web site at www.waterskitrainer.com.