photo: Thomas Gustafson | words: Seth Stisher
One of the most common problems with water ski slalom training is that our bodies just aren’t able to spend enough time on the water to really go through the motions as frequently as we would like. The sport is so physically taxing that most of us only spend 15 to 20 minutes per set for one to two sets per day on the water. Another obstacle is the fact that a body in motion (as our bodies are on the water) moves a lot differently than a body at rest (when we are standing dockside). In order to tackle this obstacle, we have come up with some things you can do on dry land to simulate slalom skiing when you can’t hit the lake.
Biking through cones
Set up some cones or other small obstacles to weave in and out of just to practice moving your center of mass in the direction of travel without rotating your upper body.
Carving on a skateboard is a great way to practice the basic movement of slalom ski turns by moving your center of mass in the direction you wish to go. As you shift your center of mass, you will feel the pressure created on the edge of the board and the skateboard will accelerate in the direction your mass is falling.
This doesn’t directly emulate slalom skiing, but it will teach you how the lower body and center of mass create movement. When standing on a balance board or a slack line, if you twist to the right, your center of mass generally shifts slightly to the left and the board starts to move to the left and vice versa. This knowledge is paramount in learning to move athletically on a slalom ski. Hone in to what your body does naturally to maximize your movement on the water.
This one is obvious whether you believe in the complete crossover concept or not. The act of carving and carrying speed from one turn and linking it up with another helps even if you are as old school as they come. Running the trees One of my old training partners, Jason Hutchins, showed me this one. Pick a line of trees, or you can even use cones. Start running toward them. As you approach the ﬁrst tree, move your mass in a direction such that you just sneak around the tree and maintain speed headed toward the next. As you approach the next tree, repeat the process in order to switch directions, and move opposite to the original direction change.
This is old school, but you can approach it in a more progressive manner. Tie your handle to a sturdy post (or if you have access to a machine designed for this drill, you can use that). Secure your stance by ﬁrmly balancing on both feet and allow yourself to drop away from the handle slowly. Make sure your head stays upright, your body stays countered and your core is the base of power. If you lean away aggressively with your upper body only (which we see people do all the time on the course), you will lose your balance and become completely dependent on the rope. Simulate this movement until you no longer lose your footing and have complete control of your body.