"It is better to ski than to swim", said Jack Travers, Waterski Coach and Star Maker, Florida Waterski Federation Hall of Fame Inductee, National Coach of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee, to name a few of his awards.
After a long winter, we just can not wait to be back on the water slaying buoys. We think of how well we were skiing at the end of last summer, and adrenaline runs through us pushing us to ski, assuming we would be where we left off. One of the biggest mistakes we do is start the season too quick, without getting your body and muscles conditioned for the ski season. I spoke to Jack Travers, on how to start your slalom season the JT way, and here's a little on what he had to say:
"Free Ski, without buoys, at 28-34mph, 22 or 28 Off, depending on your ability. Take care of your hands and calf spray burn. Keep your expectations low, don't expect to start out where you finished the season. You are going to need a few sets before your rhythm comes back. Be patient and go easy."
Jack then referenced a book he wrote. I read through the book, and although it was printed quite some time ago, a lot of it is still valid, and thought it is worth sharing. Referencing "Waterskiing, A Waterski International Guide", (Jack Travers, Fernhurst Books Publishing, 1990, Page 46-47):
"After a lay-off:
Every spring so many skiers who, at the end of the previous season, were running 13-14.25m (28-32 off) have trouble getting around the first buoy. So , for those of you who have had a long lay-off, here are a few ideas about getting back into the slalom course without falling around number one buoy four times in a row, wondering if maybe someone swapped skis with you during the winter, or maybe you forgot to put your fin back on.
What you should do after a long lay-off is simply start the course without the entrance gates and ski around the buoys, trying to get the feeling back at a lower speed, say 32 or 31 mph (52-20km/h). Once you have made a couple of passes in a row without the gates, try one pass crossing the wakes from left to right, just before them. Gradually work your way closer until you are passing through them.
It is less frustrating in the long run to swallow your pride and work on style. I realise that your season is short and you must get back into it as quickly as possible, but when the water is cold it is better to ski than swim.
Another exercise to work on during the early part of the year is two-hand skiing at 14.25 m (28 off) at 4 mph (6km/h) below your maximum speed.
Ever since the introduction of the foil, the biggest mistake skiers make is under-pulling. This method of short-line slalom skiing at slower speeds forces you to pull long to reach the buoy yet, because of the speed, reaching the buoy is not impossible. I used this system on a student of mine. He persevered with it for about three weeks. His rope length was actually 13 m (32 off) and his boat speed 32 mph (51km/h). On the Friday of the third week, he began his second set at 16 m (22 off) at 36 mph (58 km/h) and ran through to 3 at 12m (35 off).
Now this score was not something he had not been able to do before, but his style was drastically improved and his 13 m (32 off) pass was negotiated with a tight line. The point I am trying to make is that if you take a bit of time to work on style and technique, even if it means dropping the speed, at least you are skiing and not swimming. The more time you spend of the water, the more you learn.
I don't claim to be the originator of this exercise, I just use it because it works. Not only does it work for the advanced skier, but it also teaches the intermediate skier the proper pull."
(WATERSKIING, A Waterski International Guide, Jack Travers with Chris Boiling, Fernhurst Books, 1990)
Written by Paula Sleiman.