You'll never feel clumsier than you do in those first few sets of the season. The clean movements that were so natural last year seem to be in permanent hibernation. But there is a way to wake them up again and pick up where you left off: Reclaim your balance. When you can stand with your center of mass over the balance point of the ski, clumsiness gives way to confidence.
When you're balanced:
-Your arms are relaxed and you're standing tall.
-Upper-body movement is lessened as more energy transfers directly to the ski.
-You're at the ideal point from which to start your turns, with the ability to move in the direction you want to go.
-Edge angle comes much easier, no matter your style of skiing.
-The boat is allowed to do most of the work in the speed-generating phase, leading to more power.
-You're on the sweet spot of the ski, efficiently moving, changing direction and taking edge angle.
When you aren't balanced:
-The pullout when your weight is too far back is much harder as you try to apply adequate edge angle to reach your desired width.
-Your feet can be too far ahead too soon at the finish of the turn, which will cause a loss of upper-body direction after the centerline.
-The overall effort to ski seems greater and you wear out faster.
Balance for Beginners
This concept isn't meant to be just fine-tuning for advanced skiers in the course. If you're only now starting to slalom ski, even simply carving in open water, you can and should focus on your balance. Here's how.
1. Relax the arms and stand tall on the ski when waiting to pull out for the first turn. The more you bend down or crouch, the more the weight shifts to the back of the ski and the harder it is to power up.
2. Keep the shoulders level and open to the boat. This will allow you to use the speed from the turn and not load against it.
3. Reach for the apex of the turn. Leading with the handle will shift your center of mass slightly forward to compensate for the inward move so that, by the finish, you'll again be balanced for acceleration.
4. Keep the handle low through the wakes. Letting the handle out too far or too high will raise the point of connection to the boat and pull your weight forward.