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15 Off at 28


ricar116
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So my ski buddy and I have been learning the course this year on an ez-slalom on a public lake. Attempt to set the course once a week. We have been living at 15 off 28mph. We are running it 1/4 to 1/2 the time. Should we be running it consistently before we move up in speed.
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I'm a big fan of a 4-pass "schedule," because you build good habits on certain passes and learn new things on certain other passes. Both are required to advance. Note that as a beginning slalom course skier, it may be necessary to use 1 or even 0.5 mph increments to make this work:

 

Easy pass. Expect to run every time, even with mistakes

Core pass. Expect to run nearly every time, unless you make a huge mistake

Hard pass. Expect to run a lot, but requires doing most things right

Challenge pass. Expect to fail, but hope to run

 

On those days where the challenge pass gets run, then it's fun to try the next one, which might be called a super-reach.

 

For the level you've described, these passes might be 26 mph, 27 mph, 28 mph, and 29 mph, respectively. When you're learning the basics of a slalom course, 1 mph is a big deal.

 

If you are interested in tournaments (which I suggest as something to do very soon -- as soon as you can consistently run one pass), then leading up to the tournament you'll probably want to restrict yourself to actual tournament speeds and do 26, 28, and maybe 30.

 

Hopefully it goes without saying: Do what's fun for you!

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@kfennell Firstly, there are awful lot of ways to skin this proverbial cat. I learned most of my practice regimen from @MikeT, who has been very successful. And it seems to be very similar to what most of the better tournament skiers I know do. But it's definitely not the only way!

 

The most common 8-pass sets that I would do are one of the following:

 

A) Easy, easy, core, core, hard until you run it, challenge a time or two, back to hard if haven't hit 8 passes yet.

 

B) Straight through, but only advancing after success. After a miss or two on challenge pass, drop back to hard pass and again only advance after success.

 

On days when I feel strong and the conditions are good, I'll take one shot (or at most two) at the one beyond these (in my case -39), just to stretch my mind and learn about where my weaknesses lie. That exercise seems to make -38 feel a little easier.

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One thing I do every so often, that I really should do a bit more, is a "workout" set, which just looks like 2 "easy" passes and then 6 "core" passes. The goal is 100% success, building both good habits and strength. This is a great thing to do, but it's a little boring, and ultimately I'm in this for the fun!

 

Also, at the very beginning of the season, things are different: I start out 100% on the "easy" one, then eventually switch to that "workout" style I just mentioned, and then slowly start sprinkling in some "hard" attempts, until I run a lot of those, after which I settle into the A or B routines of my previous post.

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@ricar116 When you are just starting out like you and your friend appear to be, you really need to focus on skiing correctly as much as possible. Practice makes permanent. So, you don't want to always be pushed so hard that you cause repeated mistakes which then become your muscle memory habit.

 

It sounds like you have already slowed the boat speed down to a point where you feel you are not sinking but also are not overwhelmed by the course. That's a good first step.

 

Next, don't get too driven to go around every buoy every time. It is more important to develop a good wake crossing body position, with effort primarily as you cross over the white water (where the boat's spray falls outside of the wake) and through the first wake and center line. It is also more important to establish a good rhythm of timing that coincides with the placement of the buoys, even if you are not getting wide enough to go around them.

 

Width comes from an efficient lean, in the right position, with resistance/effort at the right time as you move from turn to turn. The worst thing you can do is give up on good principles for the sake of getting around a buoy. It will often be the last buoy you round and typically in bad form.

 

Many skiers who are new the course find this process to be successful: Start by going through the entrance gates, shadow (ski narrow the ball, but in sync with it) buoys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then go for 6 ball and exit gates. Once this becomes easy and you round 6-ball in good form, then add 5-ball. Keep working the course backwards, adding buoys when the prior ones retain good form.

 

@Than_Bogan posted earlier in BOS a good document describing the proper body position for an efficient lean. Maybe he will post the link again here. This is really key at your stage.

 

I commented in another thread that every moment you are on your ski, you are building habits. Thus, every moment you are on your ski, you should be in perfect position. This includes while you are approaching the course, after you exit the gates, while you are waiting to set down, while you are going around a turn at the end of the lake, etc. Practice makes permanent.

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@Than_Bogan said, "Running all 6 is a habit you want to get into ASAP." I'd clarify that making six good wake crossings and six good turns all in good form is a habit that you want. Thus, if going for the buoys means rounding 1, leaning all the way to 2, then coasting the rest of the way down the lake with only 1.5 buoy score; then you are not doing yourself any favors. In fact, you are teaching your body to only ski 1.5 buoys and stop.

 

I believe that a skier at any level, should make 6 turns and wake crossings on every trip down the lake whenever possible. For example, if I have poor angle out of 2-ball, I will turn 3 narrow and successfully ski (in better form) 4, 5, & 6. I know what happened going into 2, but I got to practice correcting that at 4 & 6 ball. Plus, if you happen to run over a buoy while in good body position, you may find yourself able to keep going like not much happened and complete the pass. This is a good habit to build as well, since in many class C tournaments, a skier who is that on top of a buoy can convince the judges to cut them or assume it was valid based upon if they keep skiing the subsequent buoys or stand up and admit defeat. I'm not saying skier should cheat. (I'm saying that skiers should ski all six buoys and let the judges decide if one was missed or not...)

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I might offer a countering opinion on whether or not to speed up. I agree with @Than_Bogan in that I wouldn't mind seeing a 26 mph pass in the mix that they might have more success with. After running 28 mph I am okay with a try at 30 mph to get a sense for what it is like. If you can get to 4 ball I would be okay with a second crack at 30. If you only get 1 or 2 balls I would go back to 28 mph and work on that.

 

A set progression might be a pair of 26 mph pass a pair of 28s, a try at 30 mph then back to 28 mph.

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Deciding when you try the harder pass can be difficult, but for me 30mph didnt start to seem "slow" and "easy" until I started making attempts at 32 and 34.

 

I would try 1 mph increases, and I would start weaving them in after you complete at least 1 full pass and you have made 3 attempts.

 

This way your body has warmed up and you get a feel for rythm before attempting faster speeds

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I'm sorta in the same boat as the skier referenced by the OP. Here's some food for thought.

 

Facts:

 

* I ski on average one set per week. (you don't have to tell me thats not enough, I know already)

 

* I came into the year occasionally running 28 mph.

 

* Early in the season, my skiing was limited to a boat with an old version of PP Wakeboard pro (lake down, only boat in water, no feasible way to dip another boat in, I was only person using lake & boat, etc.). I never calibrated it, I knew it was fast.

 

* I continued to ski at the fast speeds and never checked it (one set a week, did it really matter?). Other than a few nasty OTF's everything was fun, though I never ran the full course. I came mighty close (would make six turns and turn just inside a buoy or two).

 

* Fast forward to several weeks ago, I skied with Jody for the first time all year. Keep in mind I haven't ran the full course all summer outside a few skis early in the summer at another lake behind a boat with ZO. With Jody I ran 28 mph four out four passes. I wanted to ski another set and I knew I would only get a few minutes rest so I got in the boat. Next set was 30 mph where I ran full passes 3 of 4 attempts and got 5 balls on the other. (I know Jody will fact check me, I didn't count a pass where I fell at one trying something different).

 

*With a GPS I checked the boat I had been skiing behind all summer. Its was running 32+ mph on the 28mph setting.

 

In summary, I went from occasionally running 28 mph to easily running 30 mph within a period of 12 - 15 sets skiing at 32 mph and never completely running the course.

 

Would I have progressed as quickly skiing 28 mph all summer until I "nailed" it? I'm thinking not, but we'll never know.

 

 

 

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This was my first season in the course. I started at 28mph and kind of just banged my head at it until I made it through. I was still pretty inconsistent after getting it. I hit a small stride near the end of august/early sep or so where 28's were falling pretty consistently but not 100% automatic. I still worked on speeding up to 30 and almost found a measure of consistency there but it was still pretty hit or miss. As the season winded down I could only get out once a week or once every two, and 28's became a bit of a struggle again. I haven't decided how I want to approach next season yet. I really want more consistency at the slower speeds, I feel like they should be almost automatic by now but maybe I'm rushing myself.

 

@ctsmith - There's a section in Andy Mapple's Ski Paradise video of Gordon/Andy doing 15 off at various speeds. Gordon runs 26 and Andy runs 28 on their normal skis. Granted, they are obviously a lot better than us. I think that says though that with proper techniques that keep you connected and keep your speed up that you shouldn't really be sinking (within reason).

 

Is it quicker progress to bang your head at a slow speed and try to learn those techniques, or speed up? Or stay slow but get a wider ski which will alleviate that somewhat but perhaps is letting you get away with bad habits?

 

I don't have any idea. The only thing I've really found from a lot of research is that everybody is going to tell you something different :)

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@buski To me the key is that it doesn't have to be "or" -- it should be all of the above. Work on almost painfully easy passes trying to make changes in your technique, as well as learn rhythm and confidence. Also try reach passes to more quickly expose what you need to work on (and because they're fun).
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Couldn't agree more... I hear all the time "I cant go that slow I'll sink" And yes, you will if your form and technique is bad. Not many will try, but its totally possible to ski 34 mph at 35, then drop back to 15 off and make a pass at 18 mph. Sinking? Your form isn't right.
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My 2 cents

 

at least half the time I do not go to a pass that I often miss. I try to run 6 passes (36 balls) as smooth as I can most often. Late in the season I may work on 38s but early in the season it is all about linking 6 smooth balls together.

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I just started skiing the course this year, mid-July. I started skiing at 28mph, I was able to run the course at that speed and was obsessed with trying to get to 36mph so I always wanted to up my speed. One thing that helped me was trying to focus on being solid in the passes rather than progress my speed and be loose in the course. What I would do is run my opener and then just work on my next pass until I ran it 3 - 4 times in a row. If I did this I would allow myself to progress to the next speed. At the end of the season, which for me just happened earlier this month, I threw this out the window and the second I ran 36mph I chopped the rope just so I could say I did it. Next year I'll probably go back to 15 off at 36mph and work on that pass until I can run it 3 - 4 times in a row and then start chopping the rope again.
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