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My Recent 'Aha!' Moment


One_Ski
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After course skiing for the past 20 years or so and always struggling with anything 28' off or better, I decided to take this year off and free ski. So, instead of a never-ending rerun of total brain shutdown at every ball followed by complete panic as I finish the turn too late for the next pull and I break forward across the wakes, I've found that free-skiing gives me a chance to retain consciousness and actually pay attention to some of the things happening while I ski.

 

For the first several weeks of free skiing, I would ski (fairly well, IMHO) until I was too tired to hang on. Climbing in the boat, I started to notice that the part of my body that gave up first was my upper arms (triceps area) just below my shoulders. I started paying attention to this, and noticed that, in my efforts to force my hips up to the handle, I was working this part of my arm to the point of exhaustion. So, to myself I say, 'What can I do to reduce fatigue on this part of my arm, so I can (in a non-self-centered kind of way, of course!) ski longer?" I reply (not out loud, as I recall), 'Maybe, if I could load my bone structure more and my muscles less, I could ski longer." So, instead of thinking about 'bringing my hips to the handle" and "driving my hips forward across the wakes," I started thinking "take the load off my upper arm muscles."

 

The next set, as I worked to reduce the fatigue in my arms, I started feeling my hips come right to the handle before the pull, and found I was instinctively leaning my shoulders back to put the load directly into my shoulder joints and down my back. Awesome! I kept this up for 20 or 30 turns, and coasted to a stop realizing I'd learned something I'd been chasing for years, but never found.

 

When I started combining this with the "power triangle" Chris Rossi talked about (i.e., keep your outer hand close to your outer hip in the turn, ski that hand back to the handle, and take the pull with arms straight), I started flying out wide, early, and high on the boat. For the first time, with the rope at 35' off, I actually started feeling (and repeating!) that pre-turn and glide I've been searching for.

 

This is fun! It's awesome when something like this happens and the stuff I've been working my butt off to figure out just clicks and makes sense. To top it off, this requires only half the work I'd been putting in. I can ski twice as long! Who would have thought? So, I had to share this, becuase I'm absolutely enjoying the heck out of it.

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@mdb1056 - Thanks!

 

@scorban2 - maybe think about it this way; you deadlift a barbell loaded with a couple hundred pounds. Standing there with your back straight and shoulders back, you can hold it fairly well - most of the load goes through your frame (skeleton). Now, lean forward a little bit. The load on your upper and lower back is barely manageable. Now, still leaning forward, try to bring the bar in to your hips. You can maybe move it a bit, but your upper arms will quickly give out. This is the load your back and shoulders take if you aren't effectively putting the load on your frame instead of your muscles.

 

I've heard all the various tips that work for other people (hips up, push chest forward, shoulders back, keep your chin up, etc.), but for whatever reason, none of them clicked for me. I thought I was there, but the fatigue in my upper arms proved I was not. By paying attention to the fatigue in my upper arms, then straightening myself so this load shifts to my frame rather than my muscles, I found something I could first visualize, then make happen. The reduced load on the back of my upper arms is immediate evidence as to whether I'm doing it right. I'm basically saying the same thing others have said about stack, but maybe in just a slightly different way.

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Nice! I haven’t read the power triangle article. That really helped me visualize a problem I’ve been having lately. I’m not getting my hips in the proper position after my turn, was getting pulled to far down course and was way late into buoys lately. My ski partners and I were trying to think up why but I’m pretty sure after reading that it’s because I was setting too much angle and not being completely connected with the handle for the wake crossing. I have yet to watch video of my last sets but I will be watching for that now. Thanks, will have to focus on the body mechanics of that next time out!
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Nice! I haven’t read the power triangle article. That really helped me visualize a problem I’ve been having lately. I’m not getting my hips in the proper position after my turn, was getting pulled to far down course and was way late into buoys lately. My ski partners and I were trying to think up why but I’m pretty sure after reading that, it’s because I was setting too much angle and not being completely connected with the handle for the wake crossing. I have yet to watch video of my last sets but I will be watching for that now. Thanks, will have to focus on the body mechanics of that next time out!
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