One of the first challenges every slalom skier will face is the daunting task of crossing the wakes. Done correctly, it looks and feels effortless; the wakes are barely a side note. A few misguided motions, however, and that mild patch of disturbed water behind the boat quickly begins to resemble a minefield. With these few keys, you will easily navigate the wakes and be on your way to building speed and maintaining direction.
From Point A to Point B
The most basic principle is to first acknowledge where you are attempting to go. Too often skiers will forget their end goal: to reach a point on the other side of the wakes. Instead of pulling hard to the wakes, only to get pulled out of position, just pick the line you are hoping to travel, and concentrate on just maintaining that line. The result will be one smooth lean from one side of the boat to the other.
To avoid getting tossed by the boat's wakes you will need to be in a secure position. This means you want to be in a stance that will both promote acceleration and be easily maintained. Directly over top of your feet is the best bet for power and balance. You want to avoid leaning back, and conversely, you do not want to be hunched over. Ideally, your shoulders should be upright and facing toward the boat throughout your entire cut, and your hips should be directly over top of your feet. From this stacked, balanced position you will be in full control, able to make any necessary minute adjustments.
The Perfect View
Your visuals regulate your balance; the position of your head will often dictate how the rest of your body will respond. Therefore, where you are looking can have a direct impact on your path through the wakes. Try at all costs to avoid looking down as you approach the wakes. Focusing on the crest will lead you to build your pull into the wakes, as opposed to maintaining your direction through to the other side. Instead, keep your head up, and focus on the point where you intend to begin your edge change on the second side of the wakes. As you approach that point, extend your gaze to the point where you wish to fi nish your turn. By continually looking ahead you will keep your rhythm fl owing forward with the boat and with your direction of travel.