You've heard it a hundred times: You can't win a power struggle with the boat. Forget fighting. This is one example where the best philosophy is to hide from the foe. There are certain points in the course where slalom skiers should simply stay invisible to the boat.
The most common battle area is at the finish of the turn. Here, most skiers fall into one of two groups: those who push, and those who absorb. When you push through the turn, your legs and back go stiff. To compensate, you straighten your arms to keep your body from falling away from the boat. When you push, you load the ski and become visible to the boat at a very vulnerable moment.
To become invisible out of the turn you must make a progressive lean away from the boat as you approach the wakes. The problem with managing this load is that you already pushed your legs straight in the turn. The only tools you have left are your hands, arms and upper torso. Basically, you're in trouble.
We all know the lower body has more power and balance than a top-heavy upper body, but few of us use this knowledge to our advantage. To bring the lower body into play, try to absorb the force of the turn with your legs rather than stiffening and pushing through the finish. When you absorb, your ski will come farther around and will point more in the direction of travel prior to the lean away from the boat.
Since you haven't pushed with your legs, your arms don't need to straighten for support. You aren't leaning away from the boat, and you have established a body position that's ready to generate angle from the boat's power.
As the pull comes from the boat, there's not much left to do. Your upper body is poised and ready, the ski is pointed in the right direction, and you're compressed and capable of increasing angle with no loss of balance or vision. The boat won't see you until it's too late.
P.S. Practicing what you're already good at provides little challenge and a slim chance for improvement. Take a risk and try something new. How hard can it be?
Slalom instructional editor Chet Raley is on the HO Sports and MasterCraft water skiing team and is one of the world's top coaches.