Balance Is Everything:
Look at the Pros

From 2013-05-22

All of the world’s best slalom skiers keep their shoulders level and their head upright throughout the turn. Adopting this posture affords you optimum balance and the ability to maintain your speed, as opposed to falling clumsily into the turn. The key to this upright approach, however, lies far in advance of the turn itself.

By Trent Finlayson

Photos by Bill Doster

1. Watch the Handle’s Height The farther the handle is from your body, the higher it will be in relation to your hips. Initiating your edge change with a high handle will cause your upper body to tilt to the inside of the turn, making it impossible to maintain level shoulders. Ensure that your elbows are near your vest as you leave the second wake, so you have a low handle and an erect upper body. Chris Rossi’s flowing style is defined by perfect arcs off the second wake that allow carving turns with little loss of speed and ideal cross-course direction out of the buoy.

2. Transition Instead of Release As you move through your edge change, it is imperative to maintain pressure on the rope. A rapid decrease in pressure indicates a significant loss of outward direction. Keep your upper body and handle as still as possible as you swing out toward the apex of the turn.

3. Control Your Reach A hasty reach toward the boat’s pylon will result in decreased pressure on the rope, causing you to tilt in toward your turn prematurely. To maintain your balanced, level stance into the turn, slowly feed the handle out, toward your direction of travel. This will allow your ski to arc out to its widest point later, nearer to the buoy or the point at which you wish to complete your turn.

4. Resist Rotation Mastering the final component of a balanced turn often comes down to patience. Rotating your upper body into the turn will result in your inside shoulder dipping, effectively putting on the brakes. Instead of rotating, keep your upper body facing down the lake until your outside hip and free hand come back to the handle together. This will allow you to complete your turn with your elbows near your vest and your upper body erect, ready to start the whole process again.