Windy days don't have to be a complete loss. Learning how to get the most from your skiing in the wind can actually help improve your technique and your mental toughness. You just have to learn how the wind will affect your performance and the best ways to work around Mother Nature.
A head wind will give your body more resistance and as a result will make you slower, giving you more time before each buoy. This is why most tournament skiers choose to ski their most difficult pass into the wind. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when skiing the head wind.
First, keep your speed and width up at your gates. Pull out a few feet later than you normally would on a calm day. Pay attention to keeping yourself outbound (by keeping pressure on the outside edge of your ski) during your pull-up and coast before the gates. This will compensate for the wind trying to slow you down and will help maintain your width.
Once you get into the course, the goals are the same. Focus on maintaining speed and controlling width. Too little speed before the buoy will cause you to be narrow and slow at the finish of the turn. Concentrate on being more aggressive out of the turns and staying in your lean just a touch longer in order to create space and width before the next buoy.
Skiing in tail winds is a bit trickier since the wind is now pushing you down course and giving you extra speed. The key to conquering tail winds is to keep a tight line at the finish of the turn. You can do this by controlling your speed and width at the buoys. If you advance up on the boat too late in your approach to the buoy, you are basically outrunning the boat and this is when slack is created.
Focus on being aggressive at the finish of the turn and work hard into the first wake. This gives you width early and as a result, you will be in control of your speed, not the wind. Once you create this width, its essential to maintain it by keeping your direction outbound in order to keep your line tight. Remember, a tight line is a controlled line.
The effect of a crosswind is exactly that — a cross between head and tail winds. Therefore you must treat part of the course as having a head wind and the other as having a tail wind. The trick is to observe and figure out which direction the wind is coming from at each pass and then adjust accordingly. For instance, if the wind is blowing in your face going into number 1 on your first pass, treat it as you would a head wind and hold your lean a little longer into that buoy.
As you approach the other side of the course, you must then treat it as a tail wind, creating your width early so you can control the extra speed. This strategy should continue the entire length of the course. Don't forget, however, that when coming back for your next pass everything will be switched and you will have the wind at your back into ball 1.
3 tips for making your windy ski days more productive:
• Lower your boat speed so you feel more in control.
• Stick to longer line lengths in order to work on technique versus buoy count.
• Focus primarily on your gates and getting a good number 1. This will not only give you a good start, but it can help establish a rhythm you can maintain throughout the rest of the course.