Slalom Skiing Instructional - On-Side Turns

Author: Joel Wing   Date Posted:26 September 2016 

OK, it might sound a little odd to do an instructional on the onside turn, especially before looking at the off side, however, there is some method to my madness, please read on…..!

Your on-side turn is the one made to the right hand side of the boat for left foot forward skiers, or the left side for righties. As the name suggests, most skiers find it easier to turn on this side. What is surprising, however, is that this very fact means that many skiers, in particular recreational and entry level skiers both in the course and in open water, actually turn better on their off side.

Why? Because for the very reason that it is easy to turn on your on-side. Skiers can easily fall into bad habits, straightening the front leg, putting all of the weight on the back foot and just leaning back into the turn. For the off-side turn, as it is more difficult, they are made to concentrate more, make sure they have weight over the front foot, their front knee bent and generally use better technique. Many skiers not using the course may not even realise they have fallen into these bad habits, without the slalom course it is difficult sometimes to notice that you are actually not turning as quickly, or generating as much angle on one side than the other. I regularly see skiers progressing to the course needing, to their surprise, far more work on their on-side than the-off side. Nowadays, it’s easy just to have one of your ski buddies take a quick video from the boat with your phone, and you can quickly see the difference.

Good news, I have the secrets to make your onside turn rip better than your off-side quickly and easily! To begin with, make sure you prelude your turn with the tips I have provided in the last few issues, make sure you are wide, have good angle out of your previous turn, and maintain that angle through the wakes and edge change as you set up for your on-side turn. Use your hips and knees to get the ski to its maximum width as quickly as possible, while being patient with the releasing of the handle, don’t throw the handle at the boat.

Once at your full extension, this is where the fun begins, make sure you maintain approximately 60- 70% if your weight over your front foot, this will be the hardest thing to change for most skiers. To get the ski to start moving inwards, use your inside hip (left hip for left foot forward skiers, right for righties). Attempt to drop this inside hip onto the water, imagine you are standing at 90 degrees to a bench with your feet side by side, with your front foot closest to the bench, then without moving your feet, sit your butt cheek onto the bench, you will obviously need to keep your upper body vertical at the same time. If you can do this while keeping your weight on your front foot, on a modern ski, you will find the ski will turn very aggressively and generate lots of angle easily.

The angle generated, and how quickly it is achieved is great, however without this final tip, any level of skier will be left in the water, or pulled out of position at the end of the turn. Here is why: Most skiers (myself included) will continue to rotate their head and shoulders through the turn. This is both natural, and an older technique, when the skis used to sacrifice turning ability for speed. They needed your upper body to help get the ski around, as they ran flatter rocker patterns as the skis were not stiff enough. Now with modern materials and design, skis can turn easily and still accelerate well. As such, if we get our lower body and ski to turn aggressively, we do not need to do anything with the upper body. My easiest tip is to keep your shoulders level and look at the boat through the end of the turn, I find this keeps everything still and prevents you from turning your head and shoulders. It will enable you to have more angle, but with less tension on the rope and be in a better position to maintain this angle across the wake. It is even possible to look directly in front of you the start of the turn, just as you start to move your hips in, then take a look at the boat as the ski finishes the turn.

You will find yourself coming out of the turn with great angle, but without too much pressure on the rope. This is great, because it allows you to maintain the direction you have generated through the wakes and into your next turn, and we have coved how important this is in the last couple of articles. Have a great start to the season and look out for some more tips in the next issue, or come and have a ski with me!

Joel is sponsored by Eyres Optics, KD Skis, Malibu Boats and Wing Wetsuits 

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