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What do you focus on before the 1st wake and after the 2nd wake?


Lurdan
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I've been interested lately on taking detailed notes on what other skiers focus on while cutting towards the first wake as well as approaching the turn off of the second wake. BallOfSpray has an insane amount of ski level diversity and getting feedback from people at different levels on what they currently focus on in the slalom course can be a great way for me and others to learn something we didn't know previously as well as allow veterans to critique a potentially misguided thought process of someone who may be focusing their efforts into a dead end. To give a perspective between skill and focus please include your PB in your answer.

 

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PB 1.5@38 36mph

 

Exiting the ball and into the first wake I focus to advance my COM towards my desired direction of travel, and relax my arms.

 

At centerline I am engaging my core to advance the ski away from the boat, and keeping my shoulders level in an effort to keep my upper body resisting the boat. That's just the thought process that works for me

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PB 1.5@38 36mph

 

The entire travel distance ball to ball I’m trying to stay tall and balanced and maintain my control over the handle.

 

The goal is to maximize my leverage through the pull and then ride a tight line in a balanced position out to the ball and avoid tipping in and falling to the inside of the turn.

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3 @ 39 55k

from ball to wakes I focus on some combination of shoulders level, eyes level, legs straight, and not working harder than necessary.

 

from wakes to ball I focus on chin high off the water, handle / mass forward and constrained upper body movement.

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3@41 @34mph. I am not insisting this is right for all, it’s just what I try to do

 

Into first wake: be progressive, not static. Allow angle to build and try for peak angle at first wake

 

Off second wake: keep the rope tight in both hands, let my ski cast out. “Strong hands and light feet”

 

Edit: when I said max angle, I don’t mean the maximum possible or trying to get more. I mean timing such that the most angle I will get on that particular swing behind the boat. I tend to get angle too soon and too close to the buoy. I am better off when I felt like my maximum angle is at the first wake. I will now refer to it as peak angle.

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@Lurdan not stiff or static but less movement. No unnecessary movement. I'm actually guilty of being a little bit static at times but there's no need for all kinds of extra body parts moving in odd directions.

 

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@Lurdan, This is a tricky subject as we all describe these things extremely differently. This can end up driving you crazy in practice trying to employ concepts and ideas from others that just do not align with what you are experiencing on the water.

 

Here is my two cents on why.

 

On skis I'll setup for myself the ski moves out to and in from apex in such a way that angle is 'automatic' for me. Therefore the thought of 'more angle' on the way to CL hardly ever will pop into my head, and as the line gets shorter...I tned to thinking/focusin on the opposite of angle. When I am on a dialed setup, I basically stand as tall as physically possible from head to toe and get locked in on the way to CL - and the ski is just doing its thing under my feet to keep me on an early line in the course. In short, I have a job to do AND my ski has a job to do. If I set the ski up to do its job properly, my job becomes a lot easier :)

 

Almost every time I strap my feet into a customers ski, or new off the shelf demo, the first thing I am thinking coming out of the ball is, "damn! I'm not going to make it to the other side on time!".....after that happens, the only focus through the middle is trying to get MORE ANGLE to make up the time & speed and lack of angle carried back inside the buoy line.

 

My point is, don't try so much to focus on whatever other people focus on. Instead, focus on the things YOU need and work on finding things that make things easier and better for you.

 

A competition level slalom ski is a highly tunable piece of equipment. If there were such a thing as "stock-settings" skis would still have fixed fins on them.

 

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I find what happens to work best for me is to think of keeping a connection to the boat after the second wake to the ball. In my case, this is usually thinking about keeping my elbows pinned to my vest to try and maintain outward direction.

 

After the ball, going into 1st wake, I think about keeping my head level (usually spotting the next ball in front of the boat) and pushing straight arms down towards my feet.

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@adamhcaldwell I completely see where you are coming from, and the feedback is very appreciated! But I'm coming from a place of no experience. I only seriously started course skiing a few summers ago and my basic skiing strategy was to throw my weight around on the ski and pray I make buoys. I was fortunate enough to be able to cut line off of the rope from pure athleticism but I have no understanding of waterski dynamics and the body mechanics involved in the sport. I guess I would attribute it to giving a car to a kid who hasn't taken a drivers-ed course. Sure they can probably get around but nothing will be smooth and they wouldn't have the knowledge to properly utilize the equipment, and I wholeheartedly believe I can learn more from asking people and trying to implement their tips rather than guessing without having a base of knowledge. I purchased fin whispering and am taking extensive notes on the book because I do want to be able to set my own ski up, and the book is excellent at going over the dynamics of a ski travelling through a course but I'm quite lost on the body mechanics of everything. Even if 90% of the advice in this thread does nothing for me the 10% that does is definitely worth a few hard falls to learn.
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@bishop8950 I totally understand what you meant! I've recently learned that the cut should be progressive and that the maximum amount of load on your body and max angle of the ski should be at the first wake. I know I was holding the most amount of load about 10' early to the wake and it would pull me out of my stack, slowing me down and making me late and narrow to every bouy. Thanks for taking the time!
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@Lurdan it helps to back up and ask yourself "why?" a few times when thinking about this. That way instead of having an arbitrary set of instructions you are trying to follow, you have an understanding of what you are trying to achieve and for what purpose. That gives you the ability to see if what you're doing is working and make corrections.

 

Why should the angle be progressive?

Why do I want my hips near the handle?

Why do I want to edge change early?

Why should I stay connected?

Etc.....

 

(this is covered in detail in the GUT articles, but here is the super abridged version)

 

Progressive angle - If you have too much angle before you have generated speed into the wakes, you effectively turn yourself into an anchor. Lots of load is generated which results in lots of spray, but doesn't translate into cross course speed. You need to generate speed before you create angle so that you can accelerate without getting overloaded.

 

Hips near handle - This does a few things - If puts your body in position to handle load, and also gives you more leverage over the edge of the ski. You want to be in a position that allows you to handle the loads that come when you roll the ski over into the wakes without getting pulled off the back of the ski. If the handle is really far from your hips, you can roll the ski over really far, but when the load comes it will "squirt" you out the back and onto the tail.

 

Edge change early - This is purely a result of your speed. If your speed is high enough, your ski load will drop on it's own while crossing the wakes, and the ski will start to transition to the new edge on it's own. If you are still on a cutting edge past the 2nd whitewash, it's because your speed was low and ski load was high, so go back and keep working on generating speed.

 

Stay connected - After crossing the 2nd wake we have to swing up and around the side of the boat in order to maintain the speed we created and get to the turn early. This is a direction change, as our path into the wakes is pretty much a straight line. A force is required to make any direction change (on anything, see Newton's 1st Law). The force that changes our direction from across the lake to down the lake comes from the rope. If you don't hold that load/force, you will not get high enough on the boat and come into the buoy too shallow/late.

 

Understanding the WHY is what should drive your thought process.

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Play by play... I always get a great gate being left foot forward..

Off ball one: yea! I got both hands on the handle......but my ass is draging.... get your ass up before wake.....crap!!!! Nearly lean locked through wake........hang on longer with both hands.....wow! I am early into 2 and fast !!!!! Try to maintain both hands wow ! I am still way to fast to efectavly turn two ,, but here goes keep handle out of water on turn......nope! Slam dunk!!! Got both hands back on handle,,,,ass dragging again......push the hips up through wakes,,,, going to be narrow for three but it is my good side and I know I can RIP the back side,,,, both hands on handle dont release to early!!! Crap! I released to early.... another big slam dunk drag my body around three .... But hey i got great angle for 4 ball now let's clean up the rest of the pass but my ass is draging again but I have some rytham going and am in a better position to back side 4 but still to much speed and I did not get my ass up through the wakes so going to be another crazy off side turn...wow I got a little tail slide help off the ball and am heading to 5 and wow! Am stacked and in a good position but my knees are stiff and straight at wakes only to get jammed back into my ass is dragging position and am really going to have to throw the big body slide turn at 5 . Survived 5 . Have good body position off of 5 but ski is pointing directly at six with little or no angle ok hang on real long lots if speed to six and it goes by me on the right side.....do the slow down dance and hang on to slack going out gate...

Tada !!! Shorten the rope I can clean it up !!!!

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