Deepwater Starts Made Easy
Deepwater starts may seem too simple to fret about. After all, you have plenty to focus on during your run — who cares what happens before it? Trouble is, improper technique at the origin of your set can put you in a hole before you ever reach the course, leading to unnecessary fatigue and even injury. Follow these keys and you’ll be on the path to effortless, injury-free starts. — Joel Howley
Start with both hands palms down on top of the handle, which will make it easier to keep your shoulders level. Skiers typically fall to the inside of their front foot, so place the rope on the opposite side of the ski from your front foot — a left-foot-forward skier, for example, would place the rope on the right side of the ski — which will help keep the ski straight as you come out of the water.
The most important keys to the perfect deepwater start? Straight arms, bent knees and lots of practice. Keeping your knees bent allows the ski to naturally adjust to the upright position as you get dragged through the water. If your legs are too stiff, the ski will choose the edge you’re favoring most and lock on it, causing you to get dragged through the water sideways. Keeping your arms straight puts the mass of your chest behind the ski. If you pull your arms in, chances are you’ll end up getting pulled over the front of the ski.
Don’t Do This
Injuries most often occur on deepwater starts if skiers lean back, straighten their legs and spread their knees. If you’re unlucky enough to do all three at once, things can go bad fast.
Trying to stand up too early is one of the most common mistakes on deepwater starts. Before you can stand on the water, the ski must pivot at your feet and become parallel with the water level. This requires the proper amount of forward speed, and if you try to stand before you’ve reached that speed, your ski will plow heavily through the water, resulting in a failed or thoroughly exhausting start. Inevitably, the skiers who pick up perfect deepwater starts the fastest are the ones who recognize that their drivers may not give them exactly the same pull every time. They adapt by standing up only when they feel the ski has transitioned from 90 degrees to parallel with the water level.
Go with the Flow
When the boat begins to engage and the rope tightens, less is more. Many skiers will over-correct and try to hurry the process, but inevitably the boat is what will pull you out of the water, so until it has reached speed your job is simply to hang in there.
Today’s ski boats are so quiet that communication between the skier and driver has never been easier. If you’re the skier, take control and tell the driver when you’re ready. If you’re the driver of a skier who is not communicating, don’t stress them out with lots of questions. Just watch in the mirror, take control and tell them when you’re about to accelerate.
Stick to the Basics
When you start to get confident with your starts, it’s easy to start looking for a way to exit the water that requires less effort. Typically, though, that can cause inconsistency, so stick to the fundamentals and save your tinkering for the course.
Connelly 2014 How To Series