I consider myself to be an expirenced, confident free-skier behind my dad's 22' Cobalt. Last August I had the opportunity to try a buoy course for my first time. After about 6 passes, the best I did was 6 @ 15 off @ 28 mph and no start gate (it was very humbling, but also very addicting).
This August I will have the opportunity to try a buoy course for the second time in my life. What should I do to prepare for this rare opportunity? And what should I do when I'm actually skiing the course to perform my best? Also, what speeds should I begin with and shoot for? Also, should I try the start gate?Thanks in advance for your help!
P.S. I'm 25, 6'4", 180 lbs., and I ski a 68" HO System 8
Last edited by utahslalom (Wed, Jul 9, 2008 11:49 AM)
The best thing to do is get out and practice on a course with a good coach and join a local club. You should look into skiing up at Pioneer ski club in Ogden, contact Dale Brenchley at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. You can also look into joining the Utah Water Ski Club which has two courses on Utah Lake. Go to www.utahwaterski.com for more information.
Thanks Scot! I've heard of Pioneer Lake and have actually been wondering who to contact up there. I live in Centerville and both Utah Lake and Call's Fort are a little too far but Ogden's much closer. Call's Fort is actually where I'll be skiing in August. Like I said, I only get to do that once a year though.
Any other tips from anyone else so I can be ready to try out the course again next month? Thanks so much!
I have had the chance to work with quite a few free skiers just starting the course this year. I will try to list off the biggest things that I have noticed.
1. Many free skiers I have seen lately really seem to like to turn on the back of the ski. Many had been told at one time or another that you want the weight on the back or to "push the tail through the turn". Even if you feel like you aren't on the back currently, work on keeping that tip down and standing up over the front of the ski in the turn. It's fine to have your weight balanced (50/50) across the wakes, but after you do your edge change and get the ski going outward really concentrate on shifting weight onto the front foot. (Especially on your offside)
2. Not enough energy behind the boat. Often times it seems that skiers new to the course will feel fast into the buoys, and then after that end up using less energy and generating less angle across the wakes. Then with little angle it is worse, they then must pull longer and pull all the way to the buoy with more speed and little width (lack of angle). The other issue I often see behind the boat is people letting up on the second wake. This may not apply to you, and if not good. If it does apply to you, just don't do that!
3. Angle is your friend. Angle creates speed. Speed when used right is good. Angle and speed also create more load. However, more load doesn't create more angle, just more speed in the wrong direction. So remember, ANGLE is your friend and very important in the course. Angle will create speed and some load, but throwing your weight away from the boat and pulling as hard as you can will not increase angle just extra speed and load. Finishing a turn a split second later with more angle is much better than rushing a turn and trying to go too soon. Often people get late, and in the rush to go quickly since they are late and down course the natural tendency is to finish the turn and go quickly. It is much harder to continue to build angle once you have straightened your legs and try to push against the ski, so be patient and concentrate on finishing the turn with as much angle as you can. Once you "finish" the turn or put your second hand back on the handle you want to continue to turn and build angle all the way to the wakes. So worry more about finishing the turn with as much angle as you can and building that into the wakes, not trying to finish the turn as quickly as possible. (Across course speed from side to side is a good thing. The faster you get from side to side the more time you have in the turns)
I would also recommend skiing near the gates. Missing the gates about 5-15 feet in front of the gates should be a good starting point. Pulling out straight to one is okay at first, but once you have run the course several times you will actually like it better and feel more comfortable to just do the gates early. So at 28 mph starting, I would first recommend starting your pullout when the boat is about 20 feet before the 55m (green) buoys, and you will likely start your turn into the gates (to miss them) when the boat is 5-15 feet before the gates. If you decide to then adjust the gates to go through them slowly get closer until you get inside them. At first though, just really concentrate on a nice smooth turn that builds more angle up till the wake. Don't go super soft "steering" your way through the gates and then going harder after the gates to make it to one ball.
That is pretty much the major things I can think of now. Hope it helps some. I would watch some video of some good course skiers, and try to watch how they use momentum and the body's mass to turn with the ski instead of fighting it. Work on your technique as much as you can free skiing before you get to the course. Also when first doing the course, sometimes it is better you find a good rhythm and ski a foot or two inside the buoys and continue to the next buoy rather then trying to fight to get that last buoy and be too fast/late to get another. Have fun, work on form, and enjoy the time in the course!
I would watch some video of some good course skiers, and try to watch how they use momentum and the body's mass to turn with the ski instead of fighting it. Work on your technique as much as you can free skiing before you get to the course.
Let me second this recommendation. One of the best things I've done recently is buy West Coast Slalom. It really gives an explanation and videos of people using momentum and body mass in this manner. I've probably refined my technique more in the last couple of weeks by watching this, than I did in the previous 5 years.
It is alot easier to learn something if you not only know what to do, but why to do it. I haven't personally seen the WCS dvd, but from what I have heard, and knowing it is from marcus, I would say it's probably pretty good.
Exactly! You hear people saying things but can't really grasp what it is they're talking about without seeing it personally. And that video is awesome in that it's explaining it, explaining why, showing slow motion video, and also showing slow motion computer generated modeling. I would highly recommend it, even if you have no desire to try "west coast" as a lot of the principles can be applied across the board. After watching the video, I then showed my ski buddy(who skis into 38 every set) some of what I learned from it and in one week he has picked up 2-3 bouys. He's now averaging a strong 4 at 38 instead of weak 2 at 38.
i'd suggest forgetting the gates altogether. if you're rolling the course with perfect passes of 6 buoys each, then you can try getting closer to the gates if you want. fact is, you're not ready for the gates. don't worry about it, one day you will be ready for the gates.
the gates are only good for tournaments. practice, nobody cares. rule #1: make sure you have fun and don't let missing a gate screw the entire 6 turns for you should you mess up the gate.
never think "oh i've got it, this is easy." if you do, you'll end up missing the freaking buoy and the pass.
if you miss 1 ball: just ease in toward the wake toward 2 ball, then just rape 3 ball. by that i mean really corner 3 ball aggressively and concentrate on finishing the rest of the buoys: 4,5,6. use the same rationale to handle a miss on 2 ball, fade in twoard the boat at the 3 boat gates, then cut out wide and gear yourself up to really turn strong around 4 ball, then 5, then 6. don't let missing any one buoy cause you to stand up straight and ski straight behind the boat all the way down the course and thru the exit gates. use all your time in the course.
if you miss 1 ball: just ease in toward the wake toward 2 ball, then just rape 3 ball. by that i mean really corner 3 ball aggressively and concentrate on finishing the rest of the buoys: 4,5,6. use the same rationale to handle a miss on 2 ball, fade in twoard the boat at the 3 boat gates, then cut out wide and gear yourself up to really turn strong around 4 ball, then 5, then 6.
don't let missing any one buoy cause you to stand up straight and ski straight behind the boat all the way down the course and thru the exit gates. use all your time in the course.
That's great advice! I feel like I wasted my chance in the course last year because once I missed a buoy, I could never catch up to the remaining buoys. I'm excited to give your advice a try.
Also, last year the boat driver told me to stay between the wakes until the boat hits the gates. Then I started out to buoy 1 and went from there. Is that good advice? or should I be starting outside the wakes? and if so, when should I cut in for buoy 1 ??? 5-15 feet before the gates like RKSskier said???
Last edited by utahslalom (Fri, Jul 11, 2008 2:05 PM)
Also, last year the boat driver told me to stay between the wakes until the boat hits the gates.
for your first tries: i would ski just outside the left wake. just make sure you don't get caught in the wake, or the wake grabs your ski. like i said, just outside the left wake. then, make your cut out to the 2-4-6 side, an easy cut, nothing too radical. smooth and in control. when the boat passes through the gates, make your smooth corner, set a hard angle straight across the course for 1 ball, and start skiing toward the 1-3-5 side. don't worry if you don't ski exactly between the gates.
caveat: if you take 3 tries at making the gate and fail, then stop wasting your time on the water and do what i said in the 8th post.
Then I started out to buoy 1 and went from there. Is that good advice? or should I be starting outside the wakes? and if so, when should I cut in for buoy 1 ??? 5-15 feet before the gates like RKSskier said???
definition of "behind 2 ball": when you have not yet skied past the line drawn by drawing a line through 2 ball and connecting the line to the boat guide gates for 2 ball.
a dead start from the wakes out to one ball doesn't sound to me like good advice. what you want is a natural carrying of momentum from the 2-4-6 side, then pass in behind the gate if necessary and out around 1 ball and set a hard angle across the course and *BEHIND* of 2 ball. don't set your angle for 2 ball, set your angle behind 2 ball. then a little drift towards 2 ball won't cause you to miss 2 ball.
RKSSkier's advice sounds good as well: "should I be starting outside the wakes? and if so, when should I cut in for buoy 1 ??? 5-15 feet before the gates like RKSskier said???" yes that should work as well.
a good rule for beginners: if you never fall down, you aren't trying hard enough.
. - Jim McCormick
So should I start at 28 mph? Maybe a dumb question but I just thought I'd check. It looks like I might only get to try 1 set this year (sucks cuz I'll probably have to wait a full year to have another chance at the course). Thanks so much for all the tips and advice so far.
When it comes time for you to do the gates, realize that at 28 mph, you should delay 1 to 2 seconds after the boat clears the pre-gates before pulling out. Then, pull out with good angle so you are wider than the bouy line, hold the pull, and make your turn into the gates a moment or two after the entrance gates appear behind the platform of the boat after it passes through the gates. This causes you to set up good angle through the gates. When I wait this long, I initially feel like I waited too long to make the gates, but if my angle is good, I suprisingly ski through the gates with room to spare. Hold the angle through the wakes so you arrive early and wide at 1 ball, sometimes extremely wide. This is hard to do if you've been skiing behind an IO because you are used to letting off on your pull to avoid some of the slap from a steep sided wake . Don't let up! If you arrive early and wide, you have time to see and feel the turn, and this gives you a split second to think about the advice you have been given for turn technique and hooking back up. If you are wide, you will feel yourself skiing back into the course and skiing very close to the ball, backsiding it.
If you arrive this way to 1 ball, the rest of the course all the way to 6 feels smooth and easy. If you ski straight at 1 ball, you will feel rushed through the rest of the course and never feel like you arrive early to the outside of the course and wide so you can turn back into the course. No matter how many times you hear that you don't have to "pull hard" to ski the course well, you do have to give it some gusto to build the speed needed to ski the course leasurely. Speed is king.