The Perfect Water Ski Slalom Release

Nate Smith’s Cross-Course Attack

Kristin 2014-02-12

Your chances of a perfect release or edge change into the next buoy are much greater if you build your attack angle and speed early. “I try to have my hardest load between the white wash and the first wake,” Smith explains. “Once I bring my hips to the handle out of the turn, I want my shoulders, hips and everything else facing down course – square with the boat.” He says that when he gets to this point, he’s giving it about 85 percent of his maximum load.

Photo 1: The second wake marks the target area of Smith’s release. He says, “I start my transition [edge change] from the waist down to release the ski onto its other edge, and it’s important to keep the ski moving outward.” To assist with that outbound ski path, Smith recommends maintaining a focused effort on back-arm pressure (his right arm in this photo). “I’m continually using back-arm pressure, or line tension, throughout the entire transition.”

Photo 2: He says that, as the ski moves outbound, “I rise up over the front of my ski, I think about getting most of my weight on my front foot, and I’m pushing really hard.”

Photo 3: Smith likes to think of his reach as the boat taking the handle away from him, so he stays on the handle longer than normal, which helps him maintain width on the buoy. “The rope offers security for me — it helps me stay balanced and feel where the boat is,” he says. “One frame after this photo is where the handle starts to release.”