By Trent Finlayson
Advancing to an effective one-handed turn is one of the most exciting things to learn as a slalomer. The feeling of flowing through a turn – one hand on the handle, full speed, seamless, smooth – is incomparable to anything else in water sports. Follow these simple keys, and you’ll be linking lefts and rights in no time.
If you feel free of the boat as you arc through your two-handed turns, you know you are carrying enough speed to perform a one-hander. Contrarily, if you feel the pull of the boat (heavy tension on the line) through your turns, you will need to work on your speed building and maintenance before advancing to the next stage.
While this may seem obvious, there are skiers out there who let go of the handle with the wrong hand. Let’s get it straight. When making a turn to the left, the right hand should release from the handle, and vice versa when turning to the right. Simply remember to always hold on with your inside hand.
Timing Is Everything
Knowing when to release your free hand from the handle is paramount in maintaining your outward direction through the entire turn. By letting go too early, you will compromise your body position and will likely get pulled to the inside of the turn too soon. Concentrate on skiing through your edge change with two hands on the handle, keeping your direction moving outward. As you feel yourself arcing higher on the boat, the rope tension will start to decrease. Now it is safe to begin your reach.
Reach, but Don’t Reach
The goal is to feel like you are skiing away from the handle as opposed to simply pushing the handle away from your body. This will help ensure you continue your outward direction even as you move into the turn. As you release the handle with your outside hand, direct your reach toward your direction of travel (forward) and allow separation to occur by rotating your inside hip away from the handle, toward the outside of the turn (counter-rotation). The positioning of your free hand is up to you; just keep in mind that it is always in your best interest to eliminate wasted movement.
The completion of the turn is where many skiers unravel. It is crucial to avoid reaching for the handle at this point. Prematurely reaching for the handle will rotate your upper body into the turn causing your hips to fall behind your feet. This will result in diminished forward speed. Instead, keep your inside hip rotated forward as you ski your free hand back to the handle. You will now be hooked up with your hips stacked atop your feet, ready to accelerate.