Are you just starting out as a skier? Are you an intermediate that has hit a ‘glass ceiling’ of sorts and can’t seem to improve? These tips straight from the experts might make the difference and help you break through! From proper pulling position to adjusting your gear, as well as other top tips that will change how you approach skiing, here’s what the experts have to offer.
1 Buying Your Gear
Know your specific needs when you buy your gear. For example, if you are a recreational skier but still ski the course aggressively, look at a stiffer boot. Most recreational skiers don’t look at hard shells, but they can improve the way the ski performs because of the fit. Even if you think the gear may be too advanced for your ability level, it’s still worth a look. Some of my customers come in and maybe don’t think they need a highend ski, but when they ride it, they find they really like it. It can be similar to buying a car. A guy might never drive a Porsche 911 to its potential on the streets, but it sure is fun to get in and have some fun with it. Demo a ski and see how it can improve your performance. If it doesn’t help, don’t buy it. However, you may find you won’t be able to go back. — Bill Porter, Performance Ski & Surf.
2 Check Your Gear
Before you hit the water, take a good look at the rope. Breaking a rope during a slalom run is a good way to break a rib. You want to make sure there is no fraying around the knots or other weak spots in the line. It’s good to inspect the handle as well. Look at the grommets where the rope attaches to the handle. Double-check the ends and make sure they are still in good shape and dry rot has not set in. Beyond a visual inspection, determine how many sets you put on the rope last year. If you used it frequently over an entire season, then it sat in your garage all winter, getting a new rope is probably the best idea. —Russell Gay, Masterline.
3 Start Strong
To master the course, the first thing you need is a solid foundation. Look at your balance and stance to make sure you are in an athletic position. Square up your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles over the ski. In addition, make sure your head is over your hips. Keep your body lined up in a solid position and pointed in the same direction. Your muscles work together when you ski, and if you are too extended, you are trying to compensate with something else. A strong core position is the most basic part of skiing, but it’s also the most important. To work on your core position, try free-skiing. It’s hard to fix problems in the course because there is so much pressure, and everything gets pulled apart. You see the buoy, go a little crazy and pull a little harder, and there goes the technique. I find that when you free-ski, you can go at level three out of 10, fix the problem, then go back to the course. — Cory Pickos, Pickos Waterski and Wakeboard School.
4 Less Muscle Equals More Direction
When you round a buoy, let your body’s natural falling motion roll your ski on edge. The amount of edge created here is the maximum sustainable angle you can take to the next buoy. As your free hand connects back onto the handle, feel your arms fall away from your body. This allows your body to freely extend away from the ski edge, creating maximum angle that you can manage. I see most people coming out of the buoy with their elbows and biceps pulled tight. All that work merely holds your body up, reducing ski angle and reducing direction to the next buoy. If you let your arms out and push them down, your body will go farther away from the handle. Hence, you get more sustainable ski angle with considerably less muscular attack. — Chris Rossi, proskicoach.com.
5 Adjust With Ease
A little adjustment to your ski can go a long way. I always do the easiest thing first, which is to adjust the bindings. Moving the binding forward will help you solve the common problem of riding too far back on the ski. If I’m in the boat and have already moved the binding as far forward as it will go, then I’ll take a look at the wing. If I have 5 degrees on the wing and still need more tip in the water, I’ll move it to 7 degrees. If I still need more, I will go to 9 or even 11 degrees. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go to the fin — but be careful. Once you start moving the fin, you get into infinite settings. Bottom line: Always do the easiest thing first, and adjust one thing at a time so you can easily move it back. — Steve Schnitzer, schnitzskis.com.
6 Angle of Attack: Set it and Forget it
After rounding a buoy, set the angle of your ski before the pull of the boat kicks in. This allows you to focus on acceleration. With your ski already in the proper position, acceleration is your choice. You can choose how rope translate that into fast, crosscourse direction. This not only gets me to the buoy on time, or early, it saves a substantial amount of energy. — Chris Rossi, proskicoach.com.
7 One Step at a Time
To start learning new things, it’s a good idea to get back to basics, especially early in the year. Even at ski school, we back people up in order to move them forward. You will only be able to improve so much if you don’t have good fundamentals. Always start with a solid base before working on the next trick. Then, we use a progressive learning approach, starting with simple tricks that have the least amount of risk. In barefoot, if you can do a deepwater start and you can’t tumble, the next step is probably a tumble turn. If you can one-foot, the next trick is a toe hold. Gradually increasing the difficulty will help you learn new tricks, and learn them with solid fundamentals. — Ron Scarpa, Ron Scarpa Watersports.
8 Find Your Rhythm
Many skiers are afraid they are going to be too fast or too narrow in the course. For example, if a skier is going too fast into a buoy, they are afraid movement, and you have to develop the sensors to see if your body is actually doing it. I’ll give you an example, I asked somebody recently, “Do you know where you are in the middle of your 360?” and they said no. Well, why would I teach them a movement there? If they don’t know where they are, they can’t change it. If you know where your hands, hips or feet are at any given time, then you can make changes in order to improve. For example, if a coach tells you to put your arms at shoulder level, and you already know your arms are at your hips, it’s easy to make the adjustment. — Mike Ferraro, world-class coach.
9 Control Your Speed
People have a tendency to use a heavy hand when they barefoot. That may not be the best practice. There is a right speed for just about everything you do, and for footing, it’s in the mid-30 mph range. If you’re doing anything on two feet as an adult, you should be in the mid- 30s, not 45 mph. By dialling down the speed, you can learn new things easier, faster and without the hard falls. — Ron Scarpa, Ron Scarpa Watersports.
10 Be Body Aware
As a skier, if you want to see big improvements, you have to do two things. You have to understand the movement, and you have to develop the sensors to see if your body is actually doing it. I’ll give you an example, I asked somebody recently, “Do you know where you are in the middle of your 360?” and they said no. Well, why would I teach them a movement there? If they don’t know where they are, they can’t change it. If you know where your hands, hips or feet are at any given time, then you can make changes in order to improve. For example, if a coach tells you to put your arms at shoulder level, and you already know your arms are at your hips, it’s easy to make the adjustment. — Mike Ferraro, world-class coach.
11 Find Your Centre
Improper weight distribution on the board is the biggest mistake I see beginner, and even established, trick skiers make. You know that you have too much weight on your back foot if there is spray coming out from under the front of your ski while in the forward position, or if you catch edges doing 180s to the back. Take a look at the placement of your front binding. I bet your binding is set up in such a way that the anklebone on your front foot is at the centre of the ski. With that said, it is logical to place the majority of your weight on your front foot. To do that, bring your hips toward the tip of the ski. This will allow you to edge with more control, get more air off of the wake, and help prevent “catching an edge” in the back position. Simply put, if you place your weight in the centre of your ski, you will be on the water more than in the water. — Jimmy Siemers.
12 Ski Smart, Not Hard
Using the boat is essential to making a good pass on the course. When I come off a turn, I’m not trying to lay into this hard pull that jerks the boat back. I’m trying to relax into a balanced position. If I have good form and good technique, I can let the boat and the rope translate that into fast, crosscourse direction. This not only gets me to the buoy on time, or early, it saves a substantial amount of energy. — Chris Rossi, proskicoach.com.