1. SWITCH TO THE ONE-HANDED TURN
There’s no feeling like swinging up alongside the boat, dropping your outside hand and powering your way through a fast one-handed turn.
Plan Your Attack
It may seem obvious, but it’s helpful to visualize your turn and know exactly which hand you’re going to release beforehand. At first, many skiers release incorrectly with their inside hand. You want to let go with your outside hand as you flow into the turn, but start planning for the release well before you make it.
Timing Is Everything
Avoiding choppy, unbalanced turns takes perfect timing. If you release your outside hand too soon, the boat’s pull will cause you to bend forward at the waist. If you release too late, you won’t be traveling outward into the turn. You should drop your outside hand after you complete the edge change and begin to feel free from the boat’s pull.
Patience Makes Perfect
The finish of the turn is crucial, as this sets your angle and body position for the next cut into the wakes. The biggest mistake is reaching back for the handle with your outside hand too soon. To avoid this, rather than reaching across your body for the handle, leave your free arm at your side and ski all the way back to your cutting position before grabbing the handle again. This will ensure the turn is complete
and will leave you with a great angle into the wakes.
2. CROSS THE WAKE WITH EASE
They may not look that big from the safe confines of the passenger’s seat, but the boat’s wakes can feel like giant speed bumps if your wake crossings aren’t dialed.
When approaching the wakes, avoid crouching. Getting low may feel somewhat more stable, but it actually places more load on the rope, increasing your chances of bouncing as you hit the wake. By staying tall, you’ll be in a stronger, leveraged position, and you’ll feel lighter on your feet.
Keep the pressure even on both of your arms and shoulders. Too often, skiers twist their upper bodies toward the direction they’re cutting, but this places all the pressure on the lead arm, making it difficult to hold your position. Instead, keep your chest facing down
the lake as you begin the cut.
Stay Relaxed and Low
as you approach the wakes, it’s important to keep your arms relaxed and the handle low so the boat’s pull comes through your shoulders and down your entire back. if your handle is too high, the pull will hit just your shoulders. The lower the handle, the stronger you will be.
3. BALANCE THE OFFSIDE TURN
Whether you call it toeside, frontside or offside, this type of turn feels less natural than the turn on the other side of the course.
although you’re standing in a slightly closed stance (hips facing toward the boat) as you enter the offiside turn, the mechanics of the turn are simple. Your shoulders should remain level, your hips should be as square down-course as possible and you should remain balanced over both feet. This will place you in the same position as an onside turn would.
Most offiside turns fall apart well before the turn begins. The cut preceding an offiside turn is an onside lean, and many skiers overdo it here as they approach their offiside. Make sure your hips are up and the handle is low as you approach the wakes, but don’t overlean. Leaning too hard will cause your arms to come away from your body through the edge change, causing you to lose your outward direction and ruin the turn.
Even if you’re balanced in your approach, the orientation of your hips during an offiside turn will make the turn feel slower. Because of this, many skiers tend to rush the completion of the turn. instead, continue to ride the speed all the way back to the handle. Remaining patient in the turn until you reconnect with the handle will leave you in a strong position with good cross-course angle.
4. RUN YOUR FIRST COMPLETE PASS
Once you run a first successful pass through a slalom course, you’ll always be hungry for more – more speed, shorter lines and the constant pursuit of surpassing your personal best. This is when your addiction to carving turns really reaches a whole new level.
Slow It Down
To effiectively learn the rhythm of the course, drop your speed – 4 to 6 mph slower is typically enough. The water should feel soft beneath your ski. Although it will be harder to retain width, the extra time will help you learn to complete the turn properly.
Forgo the Gate
initially, begin the pass at ball one, skipping the entrance gates altogether. Standing to the right of the wake, make a strong cut toward one ball as soon as you pass the gates. This will ensure your timing is in sync with the rest of the course.
Pick Your Spot
As you round the first buoy, your goal is to ski to a point 15 to 20 feet before the next buoy. By aiming for this spot, you’ll have plenty of room to initiate your turn. The earlier you start your turn, the tighter you’ll finish the turn.
5. KEEP THE TIP DOWN
Few things are more frustrating than feeling yourself slip down-course as the tip of the ski pops a wheelie at the finish of the turn, especially when it strikes without notice.
Keep Your Speed
Maintain a strong leveraged position all the way into and through the edge change. if you’re encountering wheelies on your onside, there is a good chance you’re letting up and coming out of the cutting position too soon. Remaining in the cut a fraction of a second longer will result in greater speed and a more level ride throughout the turn.
In addition to keeping an adequate speed, you also have to address where the speed is being directed. If you ease up through the edge change, your weight will abruptly shift forward, causing you to change directions too soon and putting you narrow into the buoy. Keep your upper body still and your core engaged through the edge change. This provides for a balanced transition, allowing your ski to track out before the buoy.
To avoid tip-rise from this point, think about moving with the ski all the way through the turn’s completion. Counter-rotate your hips to the outside of the turn as the ski begins to pull back underneath you. This helps ensure your weight is always moving in the right direction.
6. GRADUATE TO THE NEXT LINE LENGTH
You’re running one pass with ease, but as soon as you shorten the line length, just getting more than a buoy or two feels impossible. This is often described as “hitting the wall.”
Harder Isn’t Better
When the rope gets shorter, most skiers automatically try to go harder. But you should keep the same intensity on all passes. As the rope gets shorter, it becomes much easier to establish and maintain angle across the course, so you don’t need to load any harder. Just concentrate on keeping the intensity the same from one pass to the next.
Take It Slower
As you progress to a shorter length, slow the boat down a quarter-mile an hour. This will give you a little extra time coming into the buoy and will allow you to relax. A slightly slower speed gives you a bit of breathing room, and it’s usually no problem to bump back up to regulation times once the pass feels controlled.