Course skiers tend to overlook free skiing but there are some benefits that can complement training in some situations. Free skiing can be adopted at the start of the season to gain fitness, if there isn’t a course available or if the weather is too rough to go through the course. Free skiers may also be looking for some variety when they hit the water, so here are a few drills that would suit anyone riding a slalom ski.
1) Super Lean Drill: It’s as simple as pulling out to the side and holding a lean to maintain width. This can be quite physically fatiguing when held for a period of time due to the load that is transferred through your body in whole body isometric contraction. The drill can increase body awareness as it is quite easy to adjust body parts in this lean to find the strongest and most comfortable position. It also helps your balance to find the sweet spot of the ski, this is done by transferring your weight forward and backwards until you feel the ski increasing speed and climbing on the boat. The main idea of the super lean drill is to replicate the ideal wake crossing position.
2) Butterfly Drill: This is a cut to one side of the boat followed by drifting back to the wakes and repeating (tracing half a butterfly). For a course skier this can be desirable to repeat and ingrain your ideal gate pull out, reaching the width and speed that you aim for consistently. For a free skier this is an effective intermittent exercise that avoids the impact of crossing the wakes. It is also important to do an equal amount of work on each side to reduce any muscular imbalances.
3) Two Handed Drill: Performing two handed turns when free skiing and in the course can improve balance and control throughout a turn. Without the counter balance of a release hand it forces your body to become more centered over the ski. It also forces a stronger hip rotation to finish the turn because you no longer have the momentum from the release hand returning back to the handle. Two handed turns can be quite a difficult exercise for some skiers who haven’t performed this movement since they learnt how to ski, but it can be an effective way to improve body awareness when on the water.
Written by Patrick Crisp
Australian water skier
Crisp Water Sports