Hitting the wall at -35 off, Behind the boat vs High on Boat slalom.

GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
edited October 2017 in Technique & Theory
With the change in technique and equipment over the past 3-4 years my ski buddies and I have been getting through -32 off consistently by using, and I guess rwefining, what I call "Behind the boat" slalom. Where a decent stacked position after the ball will get you far enough and fast enough across the wakes to run all 6.

The problem for us seems to be at cutting the rope to -35 off.
It's like we're in a different world and it in my case, might as well be 38 off.

I find I'm coming in AT the ball with very little chance of getting it and typically only score 2-3 balls. Honestly I'm not close to running this pass yet trying to improve by free-skiing at 35 off with consistent decent turns! It's like there's 2 worlds: Behind the Boat slalom, ("BHB") 15-32 off, and beside or High on the Boat ("HOB") slalom. I have read the GUT articles dozens of times and can't unlock the secret.

In the videos I've watched, (many dozens of them!) -35 off seems so,..well, easy! Set up a good glide, stacked position, cut decently, but briefly for 1 ball, keep the handle close till course width, reach with a small counter, fully turn the ski, hook up in the great stacked position you started with and zoom across the wakes in the early and wide position you came in with! Voila! "Lather, Rince, and repeat" I swear it looks like I'm pulling harder at 28 off than it seems any of the guys or gals running to 38 are doing at 32 off!
I have coached guys going through -38 off on proper technique, and can recite each detail and aspect of a great pass at very short line. Translating it to our skiing is a different matter.

It almost looks like I have to do a drastic style and strategy change that includes cutting and gliding much higher and wider for 1 ball setup, cutting with much more intensity enroute to 1 and gliding out super-wide and high to run this advanced pass. I mean a drastic change, not a refinement of my present technique.

My issue / question is to that point: is 35 off such a significant difference in technique that I should effectively throw out what we've got vs refine and do more? I feel that the skills and strengths we've built getting through -32 at this top of the scale for Behind the Boat (BHB)slalom, don't serve us well enough to have a decent chance at -35?!

So what were your breakthrough techniques, thinking or strategy changes that clicked and made -35 off consistent?

Here's a link to some 32 off practice,

I put it here to show where I'm at, but I'd really like to comments on keys in breaking through to decent -35 off.
I need to ski back to the handle obviously.


  • ski6jonesski6jones Posts: 820 Crazy Baller
    What @Bruce_Butterfield said.
    Carl Addington, Lakes of Katy, Texas
  • RichRich Posts: 248 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    Bruce is right on point. Put some tape on the side of the boat in your free skiing so you will know you are getting wide on the boat. You are getting close
  • SethroSethro Posts: 237 Baller
    I'm at the same point you are. Last time out in the course, I got my typical 3 at -35 then decided to slow the boat down to 32mph and fairly easily made a few passes at -35....but it taught me that I need to get WIDE enough to make a -35 pass no matter the speed. The first pass at 32 mph I caught myself at 1 and 2 ball not carrying the handle out far enough and also not fully extending the reach. These were things I knew I needed to do, but to be able to feel it at 32 mph where I seemingly had some time to think really helped out.

    Though tired, I sped back up to 34mph and made 4 and just kissed the inside of 5(celebrating thinking I was going to run it) as I flattened out for a moment coming out of the turn at 4 ball.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    @Bruce_Butterfield Thanks for the info. I guess I'm just surprised that it might be as simple as that. (Although I'm not saying it's easy!) I, at one time thought about going to 36 mph as it would give me more speed while wide and high of the boat. I bailed on that idea while remembering some of the spectacular falls I had in the 80's while competing in Open Men.

    @Rich I will definitely put a piece of tape on the boat to make a marker to achieve the width and height for -35. Great idea.
    I recall in The GUT articles there was a drill that talked about going super wide, doing a front foot slow turn in for 1ball and following the handle path higher on the boat. Then no turn, just glide, then turn again like a 1 ball turn to get used to the speed, angle and timing.
    I did this drill one time at Phillip Tellier's place on the st Lawrence but haven't done it since.
    It's interesting that we spent all of the 80's working on the turn trying to slow down, now in the new millennia speed and control are king!

    I've learned early speed from a very wide position is the best, allows us to get wide and high earlier and bleed off speed well before the oncoming ball's turn.
    I found during the whip drill I have killer speed that might be delayed or late.
    Got to work on that aspect too.
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • John BrooksJohn Brooks Posts: 307 Crazy Baller
    @GaryWilkinson You may also want to place a noodle with an anchor (a brick or similar) as a zero ball which may help you pull out, stay out and turn in with sufficient angle. This is a great training tool, IMO.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    @John Brooks great idea John. I shall try it.
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,657 Mega Baller
    edited October 2017
    @GaryWilkinson one of the Denali boys was talking about a beat the boat drill in another thread. I forget whether it was @AdamCord or @adamhcaldwell. Basically it was pull out wide like you are turning in for the gate and work all the way through the wakes and try to get ahead of the boat on the other side. Then repeat from the 2-4 side. I have never done it as I am in recovery mode right now but I love the sound of the drill. Hopefully I represented it correctly.

    I think that drill can help with 35 off. Two things I found helped me at 35 off was to make sure I stretched at the ball. I used to think about skiing away from the handle to make the turn then skiing back to it. The second thing was to realize that you only need to get the ski around the ball not your whole body. I only ran 35 once but my last season I was really healthy I was running 3, 4 & 5 regularly and I ran 3.5 and 4 in tournaments a few times.
    Mark Shaffer
  • gavskigavski Posts: 173 Baller
    Have a re-read of this thread:


    Insightful as hell...
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    @Chef23 ya mark, that's the drill I was describing above but only had the chance to do it one time this year. With our season coming to a sudden end this week, (forecast low tonight is for just above freezing) I may get out one or 2 more times and will definitely do the drill.

    But I really like your advice on developing a better reach by "skiing away from the handle" gives a great visual for extending at the apex of the turn.
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    So far with about 15 sets into this year I’ve made a commitment to ski faster, higher and more efficiently.

    Remember this posting from @AdamCord and @Bruce_Butterfield ?

    “I came up with a drill to try train my brain to think understand this concept. I pull out like I would for a normal gate, then cut through the wakes and try to get as high on the boat on the other side as possible. Then just wait on the line and cut the other way, also seeing how high I can get on the boat. I don't try to run the course or even make any turns in this drill, it's all about seeing if I can pass the windshield.

    With some practice you'll find that you can get super aggressive with this. Since you aren't trying to get wide, you're just trying to get way up on the boat, you automatically change your trajectory and ski more along the handle path. This makes it easier to stay connected and you naturally stay on the handle a long time.

    This is exactly what we should be doing in the course, except obviously you'll need to reach and make a turn.

    I do this drill at super short line lengths, because it makes it feel super easy to do at the longer lines in the course”

    I’ve been doing this drill for about half the sets I’ve done this year and have gotten pretty good at at it generating enough speed and energy/momentum to get my ski to the height of the windshield about half the time (although I was only doing it at -32). I’ve got the stance, turn in, edge setting and “launch” across the CL with tremendous speed and ski following the handle path to a very high point on the boat. Cool!


    Now what?

    I stay at that length and boat speed and then try to introduce buoy turn with really no success.
    I get massive slack and take a decent line hit when I haven’t really finished turning the ski.

    I literally have to really dial it down to much narrower, lower on the boat skiing to get an edge and turn into a stacked position and ski away.

    Long winded post to basically ask a simple question that is: How do I transition this drill into real slalom course timing and turns?

    I really really want to learn this because during the drill I can get SO high and generate so much speed with I’m sure HALF the amount of pull or effort I use in running -32 off.

    I can only imagine how great it will be once I I find the magic key to link them together.
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • AdamCordAdamCord Posts: 613 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    Can you post some video of what you like like now?
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    Yes will ski this week and do the drill and the pass at -32. @AdamCord
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,893 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    That entire vid is narrow of the course...nice tight line for free skiing. I agree with others gotta get higher as uncomfortable as it may feel initially. I'm out of on IR right now so coaching my ski buddies and wow now that I'm not driving them and can observe all I can say is they are not nearly high enough on the boat right from pull out. They then pull long to one to get there, turn past the ball, starting down course and so it goes...
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • MNshortlinerMNshortliner Posts: 98 Baller
    How far would you say you should be outside the buoy line on the pull out?
  • AndreAndre Posts: 987 Crazy Baller
    2 great advices right there!
    Thanks guys!
    How far back for 32 ? Need to clean my 32 off first,still early in the season for us...
  • skiepskiep Posts: 277 Solid Baller
    Andre, I will check when I get to the lake and post tomorrow.
  • AndreAndre Posts: 987 Crazy Baller
    Thank you Sir!
  • skiepskiep Posts: 277 Solid Baller
    Andre , 15 off 38". 22 off 32" 28 off 25 " 32 off 20". 35 off 17". 38 off 16". Again just a guideline
  • WBLskierWBLskier Posts: 431 Baller
    Question. Should you then be the same distance up on the boat at the apex of each turn or are you wider at the gate than when in the course?
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    You’re right Shane @BoneHead I’ve been dropping inside shoulder since the 80’s!
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    Any keys how to fix that Shane ?
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • 76S&S76S&S Posts: 70 Baller
    One thing I see in the video that hasn't been mentioned is handle control. It appears that your elbows are leaving your sides as soon as you cross the wake, which will kill your outward momentum. It's a little difficult to see since you are fairly narrow in the video, but would be more pronounced were you skiing wider.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    Ok @AdamCord and all else who are bored ,...

    Here’s some video shot this morning

    First is whip drill: 34 mph 32 off

    Then the attempts at turning while going wide, high and fast:

    Then I dialed down the speed to 30 mph and skied at 35 off:

    So yes I could and should go higher on the boat. When I do my second set in the day I go very high, tip of the ski at the motor box kinda high.
    I have to stop dropping my shoulder, got the get hips higher etc but I’m really interested in finding the key in jumping to 35 without scrambling.

    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    edited July 2018
    Mind blown @AdamCord

    Did 2 sets yesterday and HUGE difference.

    Zero ball turn in, cut through the wakes, kept elbows in, tight control of handle, rode up high on the boat while watching for its pull away,... ok now reach, and initiate turn from the feet, knees and then hips, (thanks Matt Rini) stack and go!

    2 sets, about 18 passes of 10 turns = zero slack hits!

    Fantastic. Reminds me of the drone footage we see lately showing sharp through the gates, glide up on the boat on inside edge then when speeds match up, reach, turn and Go!
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
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