sound advice or crazy talk?

crashmancrashman Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
edited September 2012 in Technique & Theory
I've been getting lots of advice out at the ski club and I'm trying to sort out what makes sense and what doesn't. I've been getting 2 pieces of advice lately and I'm trying to decide whether it's worth dedicating much time to experimenting with them.
Background: I'm a LFF skier, been skiing the course for a little over a year, 15 off 30mph is a pretty easy pass for me right now, I can make 31 if I'm skiing well, 32 is in sight. I'm not a natural athlete and I'm a slalom dunce- I can only really focus on one or maybe 2 things per set.

First piece was that I'm too open to the boat and I need to hide my leading (right going from 2-3) shoulder from the boat. This one kind of threw me because I've been thinking I wanted to stay as open to the boat as I can, bringing my leading hip over the ski, chest high etc.
Is it possible to be too open to the boat at my level of skiing?

second was that as I round the ball I should look at the opposite shore. I've read about this in other threads and I've read Chris Rossi's article on vision ( and it sounds like doing this is kind of "old school" but I tried it and it seemed to have some promise.

So do you think that at my level of skiing these 2 concepts deserve much of my time, and if I apply them am I likely to develop habits that I'll have to undo later. I don't really care what style I develop as long as it's a style that gets around buoys.

as always thanks for your thoughts- without BOS I'd still be a guy searching for #6 for the first time
slalom addiction triggering irrational behavior


  • IlivetoskiIlivetoski Posts: 1,181 Crazy Baller
    @crashman The too open to the boat reminds me of a guy who coached me about a month ago at my lake. Will never listin to him again. I advise the same for you. I cannot stress this enough: YOU CANNOT BE TOO OPEN TO THE BOAT. The second point, not so bad. The purpose of that is to make you not look at the buoy (hips get behind you, cannot end good). This is one possibility that many people practice. Another way is too: look down course as rounding the buoy, spot the boat, look down the line at the pylon, spot the next buoy across the bow of the boat. All of these are great, just gotta keep your eyes off the buoy while rounding the buoy. Your ski will completly stop... Like I said, cannot end good. As I said before, stop listing to whoever said you are "too open to the boat"
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,346 Mega Baller
    You're getting advice that's about 20 years old. There could be tiny grains of truth (post video if want evaluation), but somebody focused on those elements is waay out of date with modern technique for modern equipment.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 6,028
    You actually can be so open your twisted. See it all the time from newer skiers. You just want to equalize the load between the arms.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,346 Mega Baller
    Btw I HAVE seen folks too open to the boat, to the point where hips completely turn and they can't resist with their big muscles. But this is quite rare. For most people trying to be more open is the way to go.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • crashmancrashman Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    edited September 2012
    excellent I'll go back to some of the other things I've been working on- moving though the gate progressively (worked awesome today), keeping a low anchor point with straight arms and chest high (easier said than done) keeping my head up rounding the buoy.

    I believe the guy who told me these things had been coached by Rathbun a long time ago. He also tells me I should slow the boat down and ski at 28 off. And sorry my friend if you're reading this-I just wanted a second opinion.
    slalom addiction triggering irrational behavior
  • jipster43jipster43 Posts: 1,418 Crazy Baller
    Jodi Fisher coached me to keep my head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet, and ski tip to all be lined up. In my case he is attempting to quiet my body movement which tends to get a little busy on every axis! At your level it may not be a bad thing. Many top pros still have a more closed approach. It seems to me that Andy Mapple, Jeff Rodgers, and Chris Parrish employ a more old school technique and do not seem to suffer from it. My movement analysis may be way off here though - again I'm the worst skier on this board!
  • WishWish Posts: 7,714 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I da know....she makes open to the boat look down right perfect.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 797 Crazy Baller
    edited September 2012
    @crashman, I think we're mostly agreed that your coach is giving you some old school advice.
    when I take myself back 20+ years when I might tell a skier the same things, I was usually saying those particular things because I didn't think that skier's "pull" (lean) was hard enough. When you are skiing your hardest pass, are you getting later and later? If not, ignore this post (your coach just doesn't like your modern, open-shouldered style). If you are getting later and later, I wouldn't take his old school advice, but I might take to heart that he's trying to get you leaning through the wakes more aggressively in a strong position, and to stop skiing straight towards the ball. As the amazing video above demonstrates, you don't need to close your shoulders to do this, but you do need to get your hips up and lean more away from the boat.

    I know I'm going to sound old school here but while Rossi's advice on where to look seems right for a seasoned shortline skier, I can't help but wonder if looking more across the lake might do more good than harm for a fifteen-off'r. When we look where we want to go, we tend to work (lean) only hard enough to ski where we're looking. If you find you're getting later and later at 31/32 mph, it might help to aim 30'+ in front of the ball (ie., look more across the lake, not at the ball).

    My 2¢, open to criticism. To be honest, I'm still trying to learn to not crank my head and look directly across the lake.
  • crashmancrashman Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    @anjules thanks- I agree with your first paragraph for sure and that is certainly what I'm trying to accomplish. My concern is that I'm not sure at this point that I'm capable of looking across the wake without rotating my entire body- shoulders and hips-in the same direction. I skied like that for 20 years- looking across the wake trying to spot rollers and riding the ski flat through the wake. I feel like I'm finally starting to get away from that so I don't want to regress.
    slalom addiction triggering irrational behavior
  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 6,028
    Then look at the next set of boat guides. It's not so important what you look at as it is that you shift your vision and keep your head up.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • lakeaustinskierlakeaustinskier Posts: 347 Solid Baller
    Go get coaching from a good coach and use that advice. I'm not sure where you live but if you have to travel to get coaching then do it. I wish I had done this this back when I started getting serious in the course.
    Ted Thomson, Austin Texas, Aquaplex
  • MrJonesMrJones Posts: 1,761 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    You have to be careful about this. What works for one may not work for another. I have been trying to find a way to stay "open" for the last couple of years. Down the lake, at the boat, at the next buoy... nothing seemed natural or to be fixing the problems I was having.

    Skiing with a friend this summer he told me to focus more across course through the white into my toe side. He saw that I was not holding enough outbound direction through the second wake. I really didn't want to do it, but it has worked.

    I agree with lakeaustin. Get some experienced eyes on you. Don't try to fix something that may not be an issue.
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 797 Crazy Baller
    edited September 2012
    Just to be clear: when I wondered if there is still some value (for some skiers) looking across the course, it's not to "spot rollers", get psyched out by the wake or just mindlessly look across. Exactly the opposite: we used to say look across, pick a tree, and lean like you want to ski to that tree. That's the value of it. (Yes, there is a lot on these boards - between deep shortline skiers - about not getting too much angle, being light on the line, etc.; but for those just getting into course skiing and not getting enough angle...)

    You don't need to look across course to get more angle, and certainly can be at odds with the concept of skiing open, but back in the day we did teach it for a reason: it consistently helped newbie course skiers to i) stop skiing straight to the ball, and ii) increase their aggressiveness through the wake.
  • jipster43jipster43 Posts: 1,418 Crazy Baller
    @Triplett @MattP Is my previous post an accurate portrayal of Jodi's coaching? I'd hate to be responsible for spreading misinformation. I'm not always capable of digesting concepts when I'm sitting in the water and feeling dislexic.
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,052 Mega Baller
    Probably told you that because you are standing up behind the boat with the handle way off your hip.

    The ONE thing to keep doing over and over = get your hip up and around in the turn, stick the handle on your hip and lean AWAY (NOT BACK), with straight arms with elbows glued to your sides. You can be open, or have a shoulder lower than the other intially, but if you keep it down and loaded, it will pull you up and narrow after the white water after the second wake.. IF you like a shoulder down, you need to come up and transfer some pull to the trailing arm, this helps you cast out wider.. sort of an advanced maneuver for a greenie skier, but you should at least understand the concept.

    IF you do that through both wakes, skiing the course is a simple process. It just gets harder to do that ONE thing as the speed increases or rope shortens.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,346 Mega Baller
    edited September 2012
    Fwiw: as awesome as Neilly is, if I tried to load with that much twist in my spine, I'd be in the hospital.

    Picking your degree of openness is partly a question of genetic makeup. I always say "as open as you can while still comfortably having your belly button facing the direction you are going."

    (Note that directly 90 degrees across is NOT the direction you are going. Even at deep shortline it's a way shallower angle than that thanks to the constant progress of the boat down course.)
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • PBDPBD Posts: 190 Baller
    I know that Rossi's tip about picking up the ball in front of the boat is one of the major keys I focus on in the course. It really seems to help me find my strongest position coming around the ball.
  • crashmancrashman Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    @andjules should I just look with my eyes toward the shore and keep my head still or would you say rotate my head as well? The time I tried looking at the shore last weekend I felt like my head was all over the place looking back and forth plus trying to keep it level during the turn.
    @lakeaustinskier amen on the get coaching- really hoping to this winter or next spring-wife and 3 young boys including an infant made it hard to get away this summer so I've been grateful for the knowledge you guys have given me here. I hope my next coaching experience goes better than my last- I was brand new to the course and went to a ski school near Orlando- the only thing the coach would say is "skier did you pay for the entire ski?" (answer: yes) "well then use the whole ski" (how?) "by using more of the ski." He was a famous coach but I couldn't find any actionable details in his advice. I spent the next 6 months trying to lean over the front of the ski in order to "use more of the ski"
    slalom addiction triggering irrational behavior
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 797 Crazy Baller
    @crashman, I wasn't necessarily advocating the old 'pick a tree and ski for it' technique, just trying to open discussion on why we used to say it and how it helped... and wondering what others would say to a skier today, because - as @Than_Bogan hints at - we don't really want to pretend that we're going to ski @ 90º to the boat, especially in a zero-off speed-controlled world.

    I'd say tie a handle to a doorknob and do some dry-land visualizing and find what's comfortable for you, not too busy, and will help you to start leaning away from the boat harder (with hips up, of course!) through the wakes. Thinking about a spot 30'+ ahead of the ball helps me.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,810 Infinite Pandas
    The ski should never be open to the boat. If your ski is pointing straight across it doesn't matter what you are looking at or how open you are.

    Open shoulders can make for a better balanced pull position and allow more ski angle. But you must have good twisting flexibility to make it work. In many instances, a skier can be too open to the boat - aiming hips and maybe even shoulders more to the path can increase ski angle.

    Looking cross course is one of the easiest ways to improve ski angle. As soon as I look at the ball, I ski straight at it. Keeping my vision focus straight out for as long as I can stand it really helps.

    Attacking the wake from whatever gives you the most agressive and balanced attack is the style you should use. Never let up at the wake regardless - unless you enjoy yard sales!

  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,052 Mega Baller
    Just gave me some inspiration for a sign at our starting dock:

    Yard Sale Today!
  • MarcoMarco Posts: 1,407 Crazy Baller
    @crashman- Something that has helped me, but is a contradiction to what some of the folks here are saying, is to keep my eye's looking "outside the line (rope)". As I hook up after the turn, I keep my eyes to the outside of the rope. As I get closer to the centerline, my vision is straight up the rope. After crossing centerline, I am looking outside the line on the other side. This helps me stay open, especially at the hook up. Might not work for everybody, but it works for me.
  • crashmancrashman Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    OK so I found and read Bruce Butterfield's article on staying open and it helped clarify for me what I'm trying to accomplish- especially as a small guy (155#) who probably only stands a chance at being successful at this by being efficient. Thanks Bruce!
    slalom addiction triggering irrational behavior

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