Got a chance to ski with Jamie (Beauchesne) this morning. I learned all sorts of stuff, some of which I'm not sure I grasp yet. However, I think I *did* grasp one thing, and at the risk of totally butchering it, it seems worth trying to share. I can tell this tip worked because I went from barely outside 2 @ -38 to a solid 5 (which I shouldda run but I kinda ran outta power). 5 @ -38 is also my lifetime practice best for the month of July.
In a sentence, you need to allow the ski to follow the natural path of the handle.
This might sound like "how could you possibly NOT do that?" because you're holding the handle, right? But in fact there are all sorts of off-balance out-of-control paths that one can force through a slalom course.
And at -38 and in, as we've often discussed here, the geometry itself becomes a challenge. And those of us in the big "-35 is easy; -38 is impossible" crowd almost always find ourselves fighting with it, instead of working with it.
What NOT to do: In my case, I have been "trying" (not really intentionally) to hold as steep of an angle as I could through the wakes and beyond. But as early as the centerline, this steep angle is trying to ski away from where the handle must go (which is to swing up on the boat and toward the buoy). The handle, of course, will pull you onto "its" path, but now the ski must go away from the handle, and that famous "connection" is lost. Other bad things then cascade, including a tendency to "fall in" because the rope is pulling you off balance. In the end, this effort to go wider has actually resulted in feeling fast and narrow!
What TO do: Point the ski in the direction you are actually going to go, which in this case is quite a bit more toward the ball after crossing the centerline. Because you're not forcibly separating your ski from the handle, you can now do things like handle control, maintaining the connection, and riding the outbound arc -- all the buzzwords that result in the idea speed, width, and control.
It's sort of crazy how this results in doing much less work, feeling slower, and -- most unintuitively of all -- feeling wider at the buoy.
Important: I'm not talking about easing up -- if anything this lets you have a "pull" type feeling longer. But by skiing in the direction that the handle wants to swing, any effort you put in is productive, instead of just breaking your connection.
Interestingly, Jamie noted that his instinct is sometimes to jump onto the turning edge and ski *inside* of the handle's natural path. Obviously, that isn't what you want either -- you want to stay "at the end" of that handle, but not try to fight with its path.
Easier said than done, but as advanced techniques go, this one seemed relatively easy to pick up -- at least a little. As a starting point, he had me just try to point a touch more toward the ball starting at the centerline. And right away some things were better.
We also spent some time talking about staying "behind" the handle, but I don't think I can explain that yet. Maybe after practicing with it some.
Boy do I hope this makes one iota of sense!
Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan