Water Skiing Basics

Getting Up on a Slalom Ski

Brad Dwyer
An article by Brad Dwyer
Published: June 20, 2007

After you've become proficient with skiing on two skis, you will probably want to move on to slalom skiing. With two-skiing, there's not much you can do once you've mastered the basics (apart from ski jumping, but that's a whole other article). But with slalom skiing, there is always another goal looming just in the distance to strive for.

Generally, slalom skiing is seen as the next rung up the ladder from skiing on two, but that is not necessarily the case. If you really want to try slalom skiing first, go for it! What's the worst that can happen? Just be aware that most people find two-skiing to be easier to learn.

Now that all of the formalities are out of the way, let's jump right in.

The first thing that you will need in order to slalom ski is a slalom ski of course! A slalom ski is a water ski with two bindings. Most sets of skis will come with a back boot on one of the skis, making that the slalom ski of the set.

Putting on a slalom ski is a bit more tricky than putting on a set of waterskis because you have to determine which foot will go in front and which foot will go in back. This is relatively easy to do. What you will need to do is stand on your swim platform facing away from the boat. Have someone stand behind you and push you without warning. Whichever leg you step forward with first is the foot that you should put in the front binding on your slalom ski.

Now go ahead and put your ski on. Wait to put your back foot in the binding until you are in the water (if you are able to, just put both bindings on while in the water). The back binding will most likely just be a piece of rubber that will arc over your foot. There's nothing to adjust, just shove your foot into it until it feels secure.

Now you should just float in the water until the driver gets the slack out of the rope. If you are left foot forward, put the rope on the right side of your ski. If you are right foot forward, do the opposite.

At this point, you need to assume the position. You want to be ball-like, just like when you were skiing on two skis, but the fact that one foot is behind the other will make your ball a little less condensed. Your ski should be facing the boat, and your front knee should be bent as far as you can make it bend without assuming a hunched-over position. The handle, your two arms, and your chest should form a lasso around your front knee.

Once you have this position, have the driver idle for a second to get your ski fin tracking in the right direction. If you are not accustomed to this sort of thing, you may loose your balance and tip over. Don't fret. It happens to the best of us.

When you are ready (make sure the ski tip is above the water and pointing the right direction), yell "Go Boat." The driver should gradually put the boat into gear. Getting a slalom skiier up for the first time is really a two-person effort. It takes as much from the driver as it does from the skiier, so it helps to have an experienced boat driver pulling you.

The key now is to lean back and not to stand up too early. There are two common falls I see from people trying to learn how to slalom ski. The first is getting pulled over the front of the ski because they don't lean back far enough. And the second is getting the handle yanked out of their hands because they try to stand up too soon. Wait for the boat to pull you up.

It will probably take you a few tries (or more) before you finally get up, but just keep at it. You can do it! And once you do, it's time to learn how to go over the wake and how to cut on a slalom ski.

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