What makes a ski turn

My daughter is wheelchair using water skier, she currently uses liquid access equipment. I've been around the water my whole life, but have never skied. She's been working on slalom for 2 years now and is getting around 2 balls on the disabled course pretty reliably (skipping the gate for now) and occasionally getting a third.
I'm attempting to coach her, I've taken a coaching class and they talked about positioning, and 'engaging the shovel' whatever that is, sometimes followed up with a comment about how that wouldn't work for my daughter due to her ability level, size, strength.....
So, I'm trying to get back to basics so I can help her improve and qualify for nationals (minimum qualification in slalom is a full pass at 15 off at any competition speed, whatever that is).

What actually makes a water ski turn, is it weight shift, center of pressure vs center of lift, is it the shape of the ski vs the position of the skier.... A disabled skier has much less control of some of those things and my daughter even less than most (she's an MP2 on a scale from MP1-MP5 where 5 is the most able seated skier).

All the online tutorials are more structured towards improving a standing skier's performance and are hard for someone like me who 1: has never skied, and 2: is trying to translate this into disabled skiing.

We ski with an 82 mastercraft power slot, she likes to run the course at around 19mph (the speedometer on the 82 reads 17 where she likes to run, but by 'feel' it's similar to 19 mph on a zero off equipped boat she has skied behind so I think the speedo on the mastercraft reads low).

a confused parent


  • WishWish Posts: 7,335 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @usaski1 may be able to help as he is a disable skier (...or way more abled then most of us I should say). He needs another room for all his trophies. He is amazing to watch. I'd think he would have some of the best insight on here to help. Best of luck to you and your daughter. It's great that she has a passion for the water and the sport.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • AndreAndre Posts: 989 Crazy Baller
    edited January 2018
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,230 Mega Baller
    Where is her injury? I may be able to ask my neighbor, Muffy Davis, who waterskis for a little guidance, and her husband/driver/coach/tech support Jeff to see what works for her. Muffy's injury is in the thoracic area, so she cannot control her stomach muscles or core really at all independently. I am thinking it is weight shift primarily for her. But will see what I can find out and find out if they are willing to chat with you or your daughter.
  • james_shoemakerjames_shoemaker Posts: 4 Baller
    She has Cerebral Palsy, not a SCI. That's part of the issue, most other skiers are SCI and have full control above a line and almost nothing below. She has partial control up high and less and less as you go down, but the 'no control' parts aren't lose and floppy, they are stiff and immobile. Lots of the standard coaching statements (lay forward on your knees, stop pushing with your feet...) get a "my body doesn't do that" from Suzanne.
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,230 Mega Baller
    Hmm. I will ask Jeff. He may have some ideas. He has a degree in adaptive and may have worked with that issue.
  • james_shoemakerjames_shoemaker Posts: 4 Baller
    Thanks for the hints.
    We are getting her a higher seat this spring (second higher one, first up 2" new one will be 2" more. not sure she's comfortable that fast, she's been skiing at around 19mph. Once the ski season starts I'll have her just wake cross free skiing. Would some sort of audio signal to trigger her turns help?

    Here's some video clips from last fall:
  • usaski1usaski1 Posts: 716 Crazy Baller
    I cant seem to access those clips... consider uploading to youtube. I don't think audio is that big of a deal, unless its someone coaching in the boat with a whistle where she would initiate the turn.. Also, the ski she is on, I think all the Liquid Access skis like the seat to be pretty far back. I cam measure, but I bet my seat is about 14 inches from the tail (just a guess as I'm at work)
    Mark Turner -- Water skiing changed my life forever.
  • james_shoemakerjames_shoemaker Posts: 4 Baller
    She's on a Rocket and everyone we've talked to up to now has said she needs to be more forward (they all also seem to want her off the rocket, but the alternatives they offered were so wide she couldn't turn them). We'll try moving her back when spring gets here and we get out on the water. I'll post some to youtube tonight, odd you can't see the dropbox video. Thanks everyone for your guidance.
  • Tom351Tom351 Posts: 71 Baller
    There are plenty here that are more knowledgeable than me but my understanding has always been that it is the rocker of a ski that primarily makes the ski turn. This probably where the phrase "engaging the shovel" comes in.... the forward portion (talking about regular skis here) is wider like a shovel and has more rocker than the rear/narrow portion of the ski. If you are balanced on the ski and roll it onto edge it should carve a turn. I skied a while back on an antique wooden ski from a combo set (the ski had no rocker other than a slight curve at the tip).....It was amazing how I could come off of the wake, roll onto inside edge and the ski would just keep going outbound...there was no "carve" and the only way to turn on it was to shift weight back and "pivot" the ski.

    In my mind, I come off of the wake, change edges and let the ski travel outbound while rolling onto edge knowing that as it engages the inside/forward edge it will come back around in an arc to end up between me and the boat. I think that learning to turn in slalom has a lot to do with trusting that when you let the ski continue outbound it will come back around in front of you.....
  • ski6jonesski6jones Posts: 820 Crazy Baller
    edited January 2018
    Carl Addington, Lakes of Katy, Texas
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,660 MM Trick Skier / Eccentric Person
    The title of the thread scared me - endless discussions of esoteric details about specific skis. I was going to come on and post that a 2x4 can turn (which it can). But...

    Sit skis are hard to get up and ski on! My respect for disabled skiers is so high! @usaski1 is incredible. It's hard enough to qualify for able bodied Nationals but Mark made it and put up a good performance. The disabled community that I was exposed to is a great enthusiastic group of people. @james_shoemaker You are on a good track.

    I built a sit ski. It wasn't magic. Maybe I wasn't able to tune it well enough - there are so many parameters to get right. My skills on the sit ski are limited and that was probably the biggest factor in tuning it right. I struggled as well on the factory sit ski (Kando if I remember right).

    The turning of the skis seemed to be less of a slalom problem than getting thrown by the wake. It's hard to crank a turn when you know you are going to get launched after a good one. And it's hard to turn when the wake has thrown you off balance. Without seeing her, I'd still recommend working on the wake crossings to improve the buoy count. But that applies to everybody so I'm pretty safe with that advice.

    I actually had better luck on the sit ski trick ski. It was fun to play on and do some tricks. Slightly easier to get up on. At slower speeds, it did quite well in the course. It handled the air better and was easier to turn. Not much fun faster so limiting as she improves but it might be easier to run the course for the first time. Adding some fins could also help - but there's the parameters testing thing. Of course, she might enjoy that aspect of skiing.

    I saw a kid without legs rock a fairly conventional kneeboard. Until he jumped out of his jeans hiding his prosthetic legs I didn't understand his handicap. For him, the kneeboard suited him perfectly. Something to consider?

    Good luck and enjoy the water time.

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