Club day happening every Tuesday from just after 5pm - Members and visitors welcome.
Correcting your worst slalom habits
Most skiers have one or more bad habits that keep them from advancing. The good news is that these fairly common mistakes are easy to recognize — and not much harder to correct. Chances are, you can find elements of one or more of the following half-dozen technical mistakes in your slalom style. Not to worry. Simply follow Gordon's advice and you should begin to see improvement in the first few days.
Bending the Arms When Crossing the Wakes - This habit shows up when beginners first try to lean through the wakes. Bending the arms is a form of “security blanket” for beginners, and some skiers take this bad habit with them as they advance. Bent arms make it more difficult to lean away from the boat and establish leverage. Bent arms are also a sign that the skier might be trying to pull rather than lean. Your arms shouldn't start to bend until you let up on your lean. If your shoulders are back and your arms are held straight when you cross the wakes, you will find it much easier to initiate the edge change and pre-turn. Correct this bad habit by forcing yourself to straighten your arms as you lean away from the boat. You will feel immediate improvement, but don't stop there. Most skiers find it difficult to resist the urge to pull, and most also maintain some degree of arm bend – even when they know better.
Giving the Angle Back to the Boat in the Pre-Turn - A lot of skiers lose a lot of angle by letting their shoulders and torso get pulled toward the boat during the edge change and pre-turn. Correct this by keeping your direction going outward to the buoy with your shoulders and torso until you're ready to turn the ski. Don't let your outside shoulder get pulled toward the boat in the pre-turn.
Leaning Without Tucking in the Down (Back) Arm - A lot of skiers with otherwise good form will sacrifice angle by keeping their “down” (back) arm across their chest rather than holding it lower on the body. Leaving the down arm across the chest opens the skier to the boat and reduces leverage. Correct this tendency by consciously checking to make sure your elbows are touching your vest just before you get into your lean. In addition, you might want to accentuate the rotation to get your body into an even better position.
Not Edging Through Both Wakes - After establishing a great leveraged position behind the boat, a lot of skiers blow it by failing to stay on edge through both wakes. Coming off edge before the second wake will cause a tremendous loss of angle. The boat will drag you down course, and you will be narrow at the next buoy. To correct this habit, focus on forcing yourself to stay on edge longer. Having your body closed to the boat will also help you stay on edge through both wakes.
Too Much Weight on the Back Foot During the Turn - Shifting weight to the rear foot during the turn brings the nose of the ski out of the water and causes a loss of angle and turning ability. As a result, the turn will be lengthened and the skier will drift down course. To check for incorrect weight shift during a turn, watch where the water breaks on the ski as the skier is coming into the buoy. The ski will turn best when water breaks near or slightly in front of the front binding. A skier with too much weight on the rear leg usually has his or her butt back, which will cause water to break near the rear binding. If you are “tail heavy” during your turns, focus on your front leg and your hip position. Do this while skiing an easy pass, or move to open water to focus on this fundamental. On your off-side turns, work on extending your front leg and keeping weight on it as you come into the turn. Don't straighten your front leg, however. It should still have a slight bend, and the knee should be slightly forward and have weight on it as you come into the turn. On your good side, work on staying over the ski while keeping your hips forward as you come into the turn.
Too Much Weight on the Back Leg When Crossing the Wakes - Most skiers keep too much weight on their back leg. For most of us, this habit began when we first learned to slalom and made that first cut at the wake. Instinctively, we felt that the safest way to cross the wakes was by keeping weight on the back leg. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Maintaining equal weight distribution on both legs allows the ski to stay in the water and cross the wakes with much greater security and efficiency. When weight is left on the rear leg, several bad things happen. For starters, the front leg is often stiffened, causing the skier to lose leverage and balance. Even worse, a weight-back stance makes it almost impossible for the skier to get the hips to the handle – especially on the offside lean through the wakes. To correct this habit, you must make a conscious effort to balance your weight equally over both legs, bend at the ankles, and keep your knees forward. When your weight distribution and lower body posture are correct, you will find it much easier to get your shoulders back and create leverage against the boat. To remove the distractions and pressures of the slalom course, practice wake crossings in open water. Start at a speed slower than usual, then increase both speed and intensity as you gain confidence.
Here's an off water workout .....
To help you get in your best skiing shape here is a full-body attack that will simultaneously improve your strength, balance and core stability. Work through the steps in this simple, 30-minute workout and get ready to accelerate your skiing.
Begin this workout with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up and follow it with a 10- to 15-minute cool-down.
• Single-leg squats with stability ball
(2 x 12)
Squats are perfect for building a strong lower body. By focusing on one leg at a time, you not only eliminate the urge to favor your stronger leg; you will also increase core involvement and add a balance component to the exercise.
Keep the stability ball behind your back against a wall. While performing this squat on one leg, the core should remain neutral as the tailbone lowers toward the floor.
• Single-leg dead lift
(2 x 10)
This is a great exercise for working glute, hamstring and especially lower back strength. When you perform this exercise on one leg, you will introduce an incredible amount of hip stability work, which is a key component in slalom strength.
Begin by standing on one leg with the other lifted behind you. Lower your chest as if you were bowing, keeping your lower back straight. Return to your starting position. Focus on strong hips and a neutral spine for balance. Progress to using light dumbbells in each hand. If you are new to dead lifts, master this standing on both legs before progressing to single-leg dead lifts.
• Unstable arm/single-leg push-ups
on medicine ball (2-3 x 12)
Push-ups are known for increasing your chest and core strength, but by having one hand on an unstable surface you will also improve the strength in your shoulder stabilizers, which will aid in preventing slalom's common shoulder injuries. Performing this exercise on a single leg also works the erector spinae (lower back) muscles.
Start in a raised push-up position with your right hand on the medicine ball and your right foot elevated slightly off the floor. Focus on using your lower back muscles to help lift and hold the leg in the air. Slowly lower into a push-up position without letting the core sag, then return to starting position.
(2-3 x 10)
Chin-ups not only help increase the strength in your latissimus dorsi (lats/upper back) muscles; they can also improve your grip strength.
Complete chin-ups using varying grips, such as overhand, underhand, and baseball wide and narrow. Think about relaxing the biceps. Focus on putting the work into your lats while keeping your core tight.
• Back extensions on stability ball
(1-2 x 10)
These exercises hit one of the most important areas for a slalom skier — the lower back. The key to this exercise is to let your lower body relax, instead of letting your hamstrings and glutes take over. Think about spinal extension and rotation, not hip extension.
Place the stability ball under your hips and stabilize your feet against a wall for support. Begin with your chest on the ball. With soft legs and glutes, lift your chest off the ball. Lift your chest straight up, lower it, and then raise your upper body to each side to complete one rep.
• Front/side lunges
(1-2 x 10)
It is important for slalom skiers to improve their lateral strength. Side lunges laterally load the hips and core, and also train you to counter the lateral movement.
Start with your feet together, step forward into a front lunge, push back to starting position and quickly step out to the side into a side lunge with the same leg. When performing the side lunge, keep both feet facing forward and push the hips sideways over the knee. Next, complete the lunges with the other foot leading.
• Single-leg biceps curls
(1-2 x 12)
Add an element of balance to your traditional biceps curls. Focus on keeping a neutral spine and tight core as you curl. A hammer grip will recruit more of the biceps muscle groups than a traditional open grip with your palm up.
Standing on one leg, perform alternating biceps curls.
• Leg drops on bench
(2 x 6-8)
This is an exercise that takes some focus. If it feels easy, you have probably let your core relax and have called in your hip flexors. By contracting the core tightly, you should be able to make these more challenging as you become stronger.
Start by lying on a bench with your bottom close to the end. Bring both feet up into the air and bend your knees 90 degrees. Secure your arms beside your head by gripping the edges of the bench. Push your lower back into the bench and lift your chest slightly (similar to a crunch). With heavy, relaxed legs, slowly lower one leg toward the ground and return to starting position. Repeat with your other leg to complete one rep.
- Medicine ball (approximately 10 lbs.)
- Dumbbells (a challenging weight for upper body)
- Stability ball
- Chin-up bar (or any suitable bar to perform chin-up exercises)