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A quote from WaterSki Magazine - from Gordon Rathbun

Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
edited October 2012 in Technique & Theory
“MY PET PEEVE is when coaches tell skiers to edge through the wakes with their shoulders level. There isn’t one pro skier who crosses the wakes with their shoulders level. I think it’s important to have your shoulders relatively level at the buoys, but crossing the wakes, you’ll see the pros with their shoulders down about 20 to 40 degrees. Once a skier passes through the wakes, the shoulders naturally rise and become more level. I think it’s more important to have your arms extended and glued to your vest when you’re crossing the wakes.”



  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,146 Administrator
    Yea but many skiers lean more needed and that causes other problems

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  • ripa38ripa38 Posts: 54
    He is correct.
  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    I have found it is more about load than anything else. I try to keep my shoulders relatively level because it helps me to manage the load on the line better. Too much load will result in a fast edge change that you must initiate yourself because the boat isn't pulling you up where you want it to, and it will then spring you toward the ball. Less load, held longer, will allow you to travel outbound until the boat brings you up at the end of the line resulting in an earlier, wider line and a smoother, better edge change (and turn completion). Lighter for longer.
    Jim Ross
    Hmmm, I usually just close my eyes and hold on.
    Doug Roberts San Diego, CA ski rating: 2 balls
  • BobSBobS Posts: 7 Baller
    Learning how to keep my shoulders square to the boat or, down course was more of a self preservation technique than anything else. I cut my yard sale falls by 90% which made it a lot more fun to work on other stuff. Maybe coaches are stressing that aspect to get skiers to get their center of gravity (hips) down course thru the wakes for best loading. It starts with the eyes then rolls on down to head, shoulders and hips. I haven't looked at a lot of pictures of short line skiers to validate this but did notice it in a couple. They may not have level or square shoulders but the hips at least seem to be. They (thru instinct or muscle memory) keep the stack in the correct place.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,881 Mega Baller
    Thoughts? most of us have our back shoulder so far down and back through the wakes that saying "square" gets us maybe halfway back to where the "pro's" are through the wake.

    Chest Proud
    Arms to chest, handle low
    Back arm load, head control etc.etc.etc.... Frankly my biggest fight is trying not to move, damn the other stuff.
  • Bruce_ButterfieldBruce_Butterfield Posts: 1,546 Mega Baller
    That's one of those "yes, but..." comments. If we all had perfect position, we could maximize load with the shoulders level and be nice and smooth. But when the rope gets short, the default is to get after it with whatever position you need. The need to get more speed/angle is achieved by dropping shoulder, but it is at the expense of smoothness and control.

    Gordon's comment should give some insight into what the pros think is more important.

    I definitely agree with his comment "I think it’s more important to have your arms extended and glued to your vest when you’re crossing the wakes.”

    I'm Ancient. WTH do I know?
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
    @razorskier1 - I like that analogy of lighter for longer. Easier on the body too. The only person I have seen ski level is Neilly Ross. Perhaps "keeping level" allows you to concentrate more on keeping that load lighter for longer rather than trying to get all your speed at once. If this is the case, then where is it that you get aggressive? (perhaps that should be a poll question)
  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    @Skoot1123 -- over the last two weeks I've learned to not be aggressive ever. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but I am literally never loading the line. I am pointing the ski where I want to go and putting very little lean on the ski and very little edge in the water. In doing so, I am skiing more "constant speed" through the wakes and through the turns. @6balls can probably comment further as he was in the boat on Monday when I ran 38 like it was 28. Absolutely no effort, no load (ever), slow and soft.
    Jim Ross
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    edited October 2012
    Neilly Ross, in my opinion, is doing something very effective, but that most people simply cannot do: Her shoulders are square while her hips and belly button are pointing down her ski. My spine would just shear off if I loaded in that position.

    In general, I think Gordon is right. In the past almost everyone skied too closed, and I still include myself in that group. So telling people to open more was almost always good advice. But then it got a bit out of control, with people instructing to be dead square. For most people, skiing literally squared shoulders rotates your largest muscles out of the position where they can be effective, and therefore costs leverage.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    edited October 2012
    Also, the problem with being closed is not what it does during the loading phase -- it's what happens right around the second wake. Being closed too much prevents you from getting into the proper position for the "rideout" that is required at very short lines. (I know -- I do this a lot!)

    I've noticed that many good skiers' shoulders face almost 90 degrees immediately off the ball, but they quickly open them up as they make their way across. Another way to think of that is keeping your shoulders facing mostly down the rope but slightly inclined in the direction of travel. Because the rope angle changes rapidly at very short lines, the "absolute" angle of your shoulders would, too.

    This same basic idea can then also apply on the other side of the centerline, which is something I am trying to learn based on Jamie's instruction. I heard someone, I think it was Matt Brown, saying something along the lines of wanting to face the force he was trying to resist. That seems to fit with what other high level skiers have told me, and for me is something simple to understand. (Not simple to DO, mind you.)
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
    @Than_Bogan - that is exactly what my coach was telling me when I skied with him the first time this year. "Your trying to ski to perfect! Your reducing your leverage when crossing the wake. Turn/Dip your shoulder a little bit and then the leverage will be there."

    Every pro skier I have seen in video - while coming across the wake, has some shoulder dip. Probably not as drastic as it was "back in the day" but there is a little. I suspect there is a balance for shoulder dip/turn depending on natural body position and style. The trick is finding that happy medium and replicating it!

    Neilly Ross - since she has learned that skiing style since she probably began water skiing she will have built muscle memory and the needed flexibilty to maintain that. I wonder how that will translate as she gets older/stronger.

    Wonder if any of the pro's care to comment on this?
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 827 Mega Baller
    I've been freeskiing the last couple of rides of my season (the course is out) and thinking a lot about openness. Like Than says above, I think it's gotten a little out of control. It's a theoretical idea that eventually conflicts with reality. The other thing we don't talk enough about is the difference between onside and offside pulls - skiing symmetrically is another elegant idea that helps to a point but eventually conflicts with reality. Trying too hard to be 'open' or 'level' on your offside - I think - will lead to a weak position. I keep thinking: if someone put me in a tug of war but told me I had to have my feet inline and pointing in a particular direction (imagine your onside pull, then imagine your offside pull)... what would I do with my body to get the most leverage?
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 827 Mega Baller
    I don't think I understand the part about 'facing the force you are trying to resist'. Works (to a point) behind the boat, but after the second wake, aren't I trying to resist being pulled down course? so I begin my counter rotation, no?
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    @andjules. If you're at -28 or longer, then the force is almost always coming from approximately in front of you, so this concept doesn't really matter.

    At -32 and -35 things start to change a little, and then at -38 things change a lot. The pull phase is super-short, thanks to the rapidly increasing rope angle after the center line, but you have to keep resisting on the other side of the wakes or you'll get sucked right in.

    The counter-rotation doesn't really begin until you are ready to release the handle, which should almost always be later than you think. In fact, I haven't heard folks like Chris Rossi or Jamie Beauchesne talking about counter-rotation at all lately. Chris even said to somebody at a tournament last year that with modern slalom technique, explicitly thinking about counter-rotation isn't very important. (At least I sure think he said that! My apologies if I misunderstood!!)

    PLEASE NOTE: I am just starting to grasp these concepts and am doing my best to explain what I've heard or read from top skiers. I reserve the right to be completely wrong.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • MarcoMarco Posts: 1,412 Crazy Baller
    I've always considered counter rotation to be a position you are in, not a move you make. If you are reasonably open to the boat in the pull phase, and keep that same position through the edge change and turn, you will be in a counter rotated position at the buoy (upper body facing down course as opposed to cross course). Think of a quiet upper body that doesn't really change position throughout the course, and all the movement is happening in the lower body. Very similar to, for all the snow skiing folks, to keeping your shoulders facing down the hill when skiing the fall line.
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 827 Mega Baller
    @Than_Bogan fascinating stuff... trying to absorb it. And let's forget I said 'counter rotation' for now, because I didn't really mean it in the strict west-coast/apex-of-the-turn sense.

    But still, when we see pics of skiers coming off the second wake, their shoulders aren't actively turning down course - but instead, they're involved in trying to carry cross-course momentum and RESIST having it converted into down course momentum, no? I guess I'm just saying that 'facing the force you are trying to resist' makes some sense when you are on an outside edge (leaning away from the force), but not so much when you transition to an inside edge?

    I guess I'm struggling with this idea because I ski better when I focus on inside-elbow-to-vest, shoulders-pointing(-comfortably-)outbound coming up off the second wake.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    The line length is an extremely important consideration. If you're not trying -38 right now, I suggest you cover you ears and say La La La while I continue...

    "But still, when we see pics of skiers coming off the second wake, their shoulders aren't actively turning down course - but instead, they're involved in trying to carry cross-course momentum and RESIST having it converted into down course momentum, no?"

    In fact, the answer to this is no. When Jamie first started to explain this to me, I thought he had lost his mind. But the fact of the geometry at extremely short line lengths is that the handle MUST advance downcourse relative to the boat. In fact, it's not long after the centerline that you are travelling more downcourse that crosscourse. If you insist on trying to hold a crosscourse direction, what must happen is that you travel away from the handle (because the handle is going downcourse whether you like it or not). Thus you lose your connection and your leverage.

    After I started to learn about this, I began to watch skiers at -39 and -41 with a different focus. I was quite amazed at how soon they "allow" the ski to begin facing downcourse and how much they are facing the boat shortly beyond the centerline. Just like Jamie said, they all work "with" the handle path rather than trying to ski an "impossible path."

    For me, this has begun to help my gate and 1 at -38 (and even at -39) tremendously. I'm still learning it for sure, but if I've improved one thing significantly this season it's been my approach into 1 ball. In the past, serviceable 1-balls were rare for me at -38 (but if I could somehow get one I might go deep). This season serviceable 1-balls became fairly common at -38, and I sorta figured out how to get out of 1 at -39 (sometimes).
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
    @andjules - I think @than_bogan is thinking of the "reverse C" concept that Nate Smith has "perfected." After the second wake, Nate has already switched edges, yet his upper body is still in a "lean (away from the boat)" position. There is a good pic of this on Schnitz's website. I'd be curious to see what the "reverse C" looked like from either in front of or behind the boat (rather than the side). Correct me if I am wrong Than!
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    @Skoot1123 You are exactly right.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
    I have tried to copycat that reverse no avail. I am thinking it is created by a combination of shooting that ski out in front of you and still being in that lean - if even for a split second. Any idea how long that lasts? Is it related to line length at all?
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    VERY related to line length. I would say it's almost impossible to do that at -15 (well probably Nate could find some way!), because you are advancing so little on the boat.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 827 Mega Baller
    Thanks @Than_Bogan. So below -35, I'm not crazy to stay focused on riding outbound...
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
    AHHH, if only I had been able to get to skiing more 28 and 32's this year. Looks like I may not get too many more sets in this year.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    edited October 2012
    A BIG THANKS to everyone on this thread for helping me figure out what I've been doing wrong the last 2 weeks!! With all this stuff on my mind, about halfway through my first set last night I suddenly realized that I wasn't resisting after the 2nd wake at all. I was following the arc of the handle, and holding on to it relatively long, but I was allowing it to come away from my body almost right away, and thus being unable to maintain resistance during the outbound ride.

    End result: Narrow and fast at one.

    The funny thing is: This isn't really that hard to do. I just had to remind myself to keep the handle close to my body all the way until I begin to swing the ski out for the buoy. Voila! Instant width and controlled speed. Even on a -39 I was goofing with I got plenty wide enough (though made other mistakes that sent me into the drink).

    Also funny: When Jamie was describing the concept of "handle path" to me, he several times mentioned allowing the ski to go upcourse a little, but usually followed that up quickly with something along the lines of "but don't be a pussy" (or less-printable phrasing). Usually when he said that, he would demonstrate being an [insert derogetory term here] by exaggeratedly giving up the rope and bending his upper body toward it. So, pretty much exactly what I've been doing the last couple of weeks.

    Seems I forgot to not be a pussy.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Texas6Texas6 Posts: 2,197
    I find that when I work on fixing one of my bad habits, I oftentimes regress one of my good habits. Very annoying but rewarding when they all come together the right way
    Daryn Dean - Lakes of Katy, TX
    ***Robbed out of Hundreds of Panda Worthy Posts***
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,510 Mega Baller
    @Texas6 AMEN TO THAT!
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
    I too would like to thank you all for some good comments and discussion. I can't believe how much I have learned in the past two months since I "joined" the BALLERS! I won't claim to be able to do what I have learned......but at least I can think about things a bit!

    I like the comments about handle path. At my long line lengths it isn't such a huge deal, but if I ever want to get into shortline (32 and 35 and beyond) then it is all that much better to practice it now when I have "time" before the buoy.

    I wonder if when I have a bad ski set if I am letting the handle come away from my body too quick after the second wake. Then at the turn it feels like I have to get my hand back on the handle right away, which means I end up with bad angle (not letting the ski finish the turn) and then shooting down course and getting progressively later. Voila!

    @Than_Bogan - great to listen to your insight and what the Pro's are saying. Thanks!
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 827 Mega Baller
    Made me think of this clip, apologies to those who find it offensive. Funniest thing I'd seen in a while:
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,184 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @than_bogan, the impossible line is less impossible at short line (I'm talking 38 here), if you take less angle...I'm sure you will understand the difference w/out reading further.
    This allows you to keep your handle lighter but later, and apex where you should. If you take too much angle you run the impossible line and get taken up-course. You may feel early b/c the ball is way out in the distance, but you are going to need to ride a long up-course segment to get there and then try to turn. By that time you are slow and overturn only to hold onto load and attempt to repeat, crashing a ball later.
    Ride the handle on a light pull out wide taking advantage of the ZO swing, off handle, back on with less angle, less pull intensity, keep handle, repeat.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
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