Regardless of your skill, technique, speed or rope length, the gate is something you always need to pay attention to in slalom. After years of testing new approaches, I found three major variables that occur no matter what specific technical movements are made. These variables include distance, intensity and duration.
I’m not offering any special gate techniques, but simply listing several helpful things to look at when addressing each variable so you can achieve a consistent gate. These guidelines can be used for both the one-handed and the traditional gate. In this water ski how to, you’ll learn how to gain control of the three most important variables affecting your gate.
The first variable to watch for is distance, which determines the starting point of your pullout. To manage distance, estimate the number of feet between yourself and other objects in the course, like the pre-gates or the actual gates. To help gather this information, ask yourself a few questions: What is the distance from the pre-gates when I make my first move? How wide am I from the wake? Am I in a balanced starting position? Did I wait for my starting point, or did I see it and go? How will the wind influence my pullout?
Intensity describes the level of strength or power, estimated in percentages, you use to pull out to the side of the boat. How much strength you use is based on the pressure you want to apply to the ski as well as the rope. Depending on the level of intensity, your ski will react in different ways and directions.
Duration deals with the amount of time you use to achieve certain results. How much time is needed to pull out, keep the traction and continue the effort? Durations can be very long or very short and can be measured on a scale of one to 10, where 10 is the absolute maximum range of your pullout.
Once you are aware of the variables, you can use them to standardize your own gate so you have a reference point to start with every time you ski a new site. Don’t be afraid to change the variables, to move away from the standards or to try something different from everyone else.
Vincent Soubiron is an international water-ski coach based in Seysses, France, and Clermont, Florida. Learn more at vincentsoubiron.com.