Notice that this article is titled Five Keys to Your Ideal Slalom Stance and not Five Keys to the Ideal Slalom Stance. Why? Well, because there’s no such thing as the ideal slalom stance. After all, eight different people have run 41 off and each of them got there with a different stance. While there’s no single ideal, there’s most definitely a perfect stance for your body. Finding it will help your spine better handle the load, translating into fewer injuries, and will allow your edge change to begin without a reduction in line tension, which ultimately translates into more buoys. Grasping the concept that your ideal body position will differ from your training partner’s ideal body position early on will have a huge payoff down the road as the line gets shorter.
Identify The Problem
If your back is hurting or you’re losing line tension through the edge change, there is a very good chance your body position behind the boat is not appropriate for your genetic makeup — regardless of how close it looks to the skier on whom you’ve modeled your technique.
Do Some Dry Runs
The original “handle to pylon and lean back against it” drill isn’t fancy but it’s still the best. If you find that your dry-land position differs from your on-water position, there is a disconnect between what you think you’re doing and what you’re actually doing. Often, skiers will aim for a body position on the water that their bodies are legitimately incapable of achieving. If you want your hips to be more closed to the boat relative to your shoulders being open to the boat, understand that there is a limit to how far your spine can twist. If the position you are trying to achieve on the water is hard to get into off the water, align your body in a way that feels more natural.
Take It To The Water
Once you’re comfortable on land, it’s time to take it to the water. But don’t go directly into the course. Instead, cut out to the left and stay cutting out to the left. Unlike when you’re running the course, you’ll have plenty of time to play with the location of your feet, hips, chest and head.
It’s all connected: Your feet, hips, chest and head. Each has a huge impact, and if any one element is erratic in its movements, there’s a good chance it will start a chain reaction that puts you in the water. Keep this in mind as you test out new techniques. Focus on tweaking one element at a time while keeping the others consistent. This will allow you to effectively gauge the advantages and disadvantages of each alteration.
Evaluate Your Lean
Failing to recognize the significance of leaning your body away from the boat is a major hurdle for many skiers. Watching from the boat, it’s difficult to gauge the angle of a skier’s body relative to the water. If you sit on the shore between two buoys, however, it becomes evident that body lean has a greater influence on buoy count than body position.
Don’t Overdo It
One of the most common mistakes when it comes to stance is overdoing a technique change that initially worked well. Say, for example, you want to replicate how Chris Rossi keeps his shoulders really level through the wakes. You try it and it works, so you go further and further until your shoulders are even more level than Rossi’s. You may have gone too far, and the alteration that was once an asset may very well become a liability.