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The hardest part of slalom skiing to get right


Razorskier1
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Snagged this picture from Schnitz's FB feed. Kyle Tate from second wake to pre-turn. I find this to be the critical phase of slalom skiing that requires discipline, balance, and consistency to take it to the next level. From buoy to wakes -- lean and go. I get that. This part reflects what I call "staying away from the buoy", meaning that you need to continue outbound at the very end of the line rather than rolling in too soon and being inside the optimal line. Problem is that sometimes when things are happening fast (almost always) I have a tendency to release early in an effort to "get ready" for the turn. This hurts performance. A better goal for me is to slow things down off the second wake, stay at the end of the line with two hands on, heading outbound, and let the boat bring me to the buoy. I do it right sometimes -- if I can do it right consistently, then we'll be getting somewhere.

 

nz7cl7drma18.jpg

 

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@Razorskier1‌ I gave you a disagree because I think this phase is a challenge but not the hardest. Most skiers get from the ball to the wakes the way you describe but the best skiers do a lot more.

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The first time I really started to pay attention to this phase was when TW started skiing at the top of the heap and more videos of him cropt up. He was the only skier at the time (maybe MB and Tgas) that looked as though he was working harder during this phase then anyone else...still does IMHO. Was then that I started to really pay attention this and knew the majority of my problems at shorter line existed there. And still do to some degree. But @Razorskier1‌ I do think your title should be changed. At first I thought it was a poll and I was ready to click on "properly stacked" if that was an option. To me from the beginning of my skiing till it clicked, stacked took forever to get right and consistent.
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I tend to agree this is a commonly deficient area for those running -35 but stuck at either -38 or -39. I certainly include myself, especially coming into my so-called "on" side. @brooks was focusing right there last fall, and I need to keep working to incorporate that advice and more.
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@Horton, I gave you a disagree since I think this is the weak link for "most" shortline skiers. While the longer line skiers most likely have other things to correct (stack, width, speed, et. al), for 35 and shorter, this is the critical piece.

 

Glad you have this part nailed and can work on the easy stuff!

 

WTH is it with the follicly challenged and handle control anyway? Maybe I should shave my head......

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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@Bruce_Butterfield‌ when I screw up between the wakes and the ball it is generally because of something stupid I did at the previous ball or from the previous ball to the wakes. Honestly I can screw up a pass at any point but generally normally if I have done the right things coming into the wakes I am going to be mostly mistake free until I get to the ball line.

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That's a pretty critical place for me too. I think it's a very common place for us long liners. I have found I have to start practicing at 28 to make myself work on carrying direction outward. For some reason, at 22 and especially 15, I let off as I leave the second wake. I would guess it's because it's easier to make up room and, for me at least, there is such a thing as being too early. Every buoy is like waiting for my gate drop in, when I'm doing it right. Whatever it is, it's killing me moving past 32.
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For myself and pretty much all of the people I know and ski with (we're all 35 off and/or longer line lengths) the number one issue and lowest common denominator seems to be patience at the finish of the turn. When I/we fully finish the turn before trying to get to the next buoy, allowing time to properly get stacked etc etc it's almost always automatically an improvement in performance. There are myriad other issues of course but for us longer line skiers this seems to be the one common issue where when done correctly improvement begins.
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For me the hard part here is that the transition from the load phase to the "tension" phase is difficult. The easy thing to do behind the boat is to ease up too much and give away line tension. That's fine at 28, 32, and you can get away with it at 35. Shorter than that and it kills you.

 

For sake of argument lets call everything from leaving the second wake to returning to the first wake the turn. Further, lets call the part in this picture the back of the turn, and the part after the ball the front of the turn. I believe that the ski works best when you paint the back side of the turn as a smooth arc with a tight line, as Kyle does in the picture. When you do this, your ski follows the arc of the line outbound, begins to roll where it should, and then completes that roll with somewhat minimal input after the buoy. Conversely, if you don't do this part correctly, you come into the buoy without an optimal arc and are forced to create angle/arc at the ball with much more significant input. This will often happen with less than a tight line, and will result in an overturn as we attempt to get the angle necessary to get to the next ball.

 

@aupatking‌ -- no such thing as too early if you keep the line tight, IMO. If, however, you give up line tension and are no longer under the power of the boat, yes, you can be too early, stall, and not get to the ball.

 

@Ed_Obermeier‌ -- agree that overturning can be a problem, but I believe it is often a result of not doing this part correctly. I've overturned my share of buoys, and it is usually a result of what I said in paragraph two above.

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Also need to consider your flexibility in the pelvise, hips and lower back. Upper and lower body (shoulders relative to hip direction) movent are not facing exactly the same diriction in this phase. Hard to resist the boat moving you out of position when your own body wants to, for lack is a better term, snap back to alignment. zv974rblfb1a.jpg

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I'm definitely not a shortline skier, so sometimes I say stupid things, but I agree with @Horton. Staying connected really let's me ski at another level when I do it right, but other things have to be clicking for that to happen.

 

It's something I work on during every pass, but unless I have the right position coming into the wakes then I'm not going to be able to stay effectively connected. However, when I have the right position it feels like I have near complete control of the edge change.

 

Of course, the physics at -15 and -22 are surely different than -38 and beyond.

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From TW tech article posted on BOS.

 

A common problem I encounter when coaching a waterski lesson is the skier's lack of proper body alignment. What I mean by body alignment is how do the head, the shoulders, the hips, and the feet line up. And, where does that put the skier's weight over the ski?

 

What the skier should be striving for is perfect alignment through the body at almost all points throughout the course. If you were to draw a straight line through the skier's body it should go through the center of the head, the shoulders, the hips and right in between the feet. This type of alignment will give the skier the strongest possible body position against the hard pull of the boat, and it will also put the skier's weight directly over the "sweet spot" of the ski making it turn sharper, and making it faster across the course during the cuts.

 

The problem most skiers experience is that usually their body is out of alignment. This creates a weak body position against the pull of the boat, and inhibits the ski from performing as it should. A weak body alignment is easy to spot... The upper body is usually too far forward with a bend at the waist, and the lower body is sitting back too far towards the tail of the ski. A weak body position makes it nearly impossible to hold on to a big turn, and it makes the ski want to slide more down the course instead of being able to dig in and carve a path going across the course.

 

Of course, there will be some changes throughout the slalom course where the upper body moves around a bit, and the ski will swing out in front and then move behind the central balance point of the body. However, if you can learn to limit some of this movement, and focus on keeping the body more quiet and aligned you'll find that you can increase the power of your pulling position and increase your ability to turn and carve the ski more in the direction you want to travel across the course.

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Once you've crossed the center Line of the wake and you feel the rope pull you over that is when you make the transition to the pre turn. At least that's my thing.

Just be sure to never ski flat. It's almost as though you begin the pre-turn but you keep the ski traveling outbound.

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@GAJ0004‌ if pull length is perplexing I wonder if the real issue is something else . if I had to make a wild guess i would review your stack.

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