Key Slalom Gate Truths to get 32 and make 28 easy

As I shake the rust off this season I’ve realized that many gate truths from last year were forgotten and are absolutely critical to running 32 off and beyond. What I’m talking about here are basics that anyone who runs 32 consistently (not me) know inside and out. So, I’m not trying to be some gate master here, I’m just trying to cover the 100-level fundamentals that screw ME up consistently in the hope that maybe it will help someone at this level.

Note: 28 off CAN be run with a pretty crappy gate (I’ve proven it for 5 seasons), 32 cannot. So, if your goal is to run 28 then you’ll have to have a better gate than your 22 pass but you can get away with a lot less width than you’ll need for 32.

The reason that a consistent, high, wide gate has been elusive to me is that ALL of the truths below must be believed and corrected. You can’t fix one or two of them and expect any big result. Why? Let’s expand on this below.

The boat is moving 50 feet per second at 34.2mph. You have maybe two seconds from your move-out point to your final glide position going into the course. TWO SECONDS and the boat has gone 100 feet further down the course, you need to not only beat it in that 100’ journey to come up alongside it but you must also move OUT 43 feet to the left in the case of 32 off. You can’t half-do this because you have such a tiny window to create this width and height, things move very very fast. Further math tells us that even .1 second is 5’ of forward progress by the boat, again every .1 counts to do the right thing.

So, here we go:

Truth #1: You must be tall and aligned before you start your move out. You can’t move out with your hips back or in any squatty position. In the 2 seconds you have to move left, you must do it with alignment of the body.

Truth #2: You must “lean” out to the left to move left. You can’t “pull” left or be flat-skied left or on your tail and left. Look at any skier moving out and they are LEANED out left. The thought is going “left” and using the “left entire side” of the ski.

Check out Danyelle and Shelby below, they are LEANING out.


Now, here’s me (below). In my mind here I think I’m doing this but I’m not. Look how much flatter my ski is, look at how far back the water is breaking on the ski as well. I’m not using the left edge of the ski and I’m not getting lean angle into the ski. Subtle differences but again, every detail matters here:

You have to do those two things things. Be aligned and lean. I forget this all the time and it kills me. If you don’t, the rest does not matter, but here’s the rest assuming you do those things:

Truth #3: You must come up from the lean slowly. You can’t just “pop” back up because you’ll get drawn back in toward the boat

Truth #4: You have to “carve” in for the gate. In other words you can’t just lean back on the tail and “pull” the boat through the gate. I like to actually think of the front right edge of the ski when turning in for the gate but you may have other methods of doing this. GENERALLY if truths 1-3 are followed this is going to happen a lot more naturally. If you’re narrow and late you’re going to have a harder time doing this part right.


Excellent!! 1+ for this post. Since my very first lesson with Chet I have been concentrating on gate. Pull out, glide, drop in. This starts the entire pass. Thank you for acknowledging this part of the ski pass.
I will also refer folks to the Denali gate video. I have modified this gate to fit my style and it has really improved the consistency of my gate. Great stuff @joel.

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Thanks, one more thing- in the freeze frame of me, look how bent my back leg is. Must straighten back leg too!

I’ve been listening to Spraymakers podcast recently. I’m learning a lot by listening to it. They constantly reinforce gates as the start of great passes and not something you just happen to do before a pass. They also often comment on the need to always turn before the boat starts to drag you in. If it’s already got you it’s too late.

I really enjoy that podcast as well. It’s funny that I wrote this post and literally the next day their gates episode came out!

I really like this post and the way you’ve presented it. The spraymakers podcast is good and the reasonings they provide for each aspect are great, however I often struggle to visualise what their words are trying to portray. Photos and video (with written word or verbal commentary) are easier to understand. For me anyway!

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Excellent. I’m going to add Truth 1.5: Level shoulders in the move out. Huge difference here vs. dipping a shoulder to move left.

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After a few more sets, here is my revised gate script:

Stand in left spray
Shoulders LEVEL
Tension in left hand
Up Slow
Back leg STRAIGHT still
Turn in on front (right) pinkie toe

I add one thing to the end of that as well which is to keep tension in that left hand in the glide. Up slow does the same thing but I’ve found even if you don’t come all the way “up” you do ok.

Thanks for bringing this back up- I realize I haven’t been focusing as much on standing up as I had been 2 months ago as I read this.

Comes and goes. I freeski more than Id like due to availability of a course and the number one difference is that going from a regular boat to a zero off boat is sort of like playing peekaboo with the engine.

Getting angle, riding the angle and coming off angle on that outside edge lets you ride the whip from the ZO acceleration but leaves you with slack potential.

Regular boat or RPM on PP as you come off the boat is free and the boat speeds up the opposite of a ZO boat which actually comes off the throttle as you come off your pull.

So the harder you spike the boat the harder it lets off in your glide.

Thanks for this useful post! I have a couple of questions:

  • How exactly does standing up quickly mean you’ll be drawn in towards the boat?
  • Would you say there are any specifics a LFF skier should focus on?
  • Do you find that on 13m you can (or even should?) lean a bit longer through the wakes than at 14m?

Welcome @Gray_Mac ! So when you come up fast from the lean out you’re instantly stopping your momentum left and often it kinda creates a little countercut right without you even realizing it. Coming up slowly keeps everything moving left the entire time you’re on that left edge.

I don’t have anything specific for LFF but anybody else want to chime in on that?

Regarding different lean times per line length no, that’s not something I think about specifically.

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Thanks @joel
Yes that does make sense. I just thought that by keeping the handle close (or in front) one can sustain the width during the glide, without being pulled back in. I do tend to stand up quickly so I’ll try what you suggest.

I’m LFF. I heard your request @joel. So the first recommendation i will give is to listen to the Denali Gate video on YouTube. He specifically talks about coming up out of your pull out in a slow steady gradual fashion. This is not to allow your self to be pulled back in toward the boat wakes. Riding a flat ski is ok during your glide. I am not suggesting “doing” the gate, but I am saying listen to the part on coming up out of your initial pull out and starting the glide.
I will also reference the Podcast from Rossi and Trent. I think it is called Gates?? Extremely helpful. Trent is LFF.
For me, I imagine the ski is a skate board. To initiate my pull out, I apply pressure to front left wheel and lead with left shoulder slightly anterior or moving in an 11:00 position over the ski. I make sure my left elbow is tucked into my left iliac crest. At or slightly before 45* to the boat I slowly come up over the ski and glide on flat ski. I want to stay wide, and DROP in at the widest point of my glide. ( Don’t get sucked in toward the wakes). The first instant I begin to feel I am gliding slower than the boat, I start my drop in toward the gate. It is a gradual and progressive move to the CL. I keep elbows and handle close to my body with as much lean angle that I know i can handle on the other side after the second white water.


@Papawskier those are some helpful pointers, thanks!

When you say “DROP”, what does that feel like? Is it literally like falling to your right, or do you initiate it with your knees or hips?

Listening to the podcast:

@Papawskier this is gold.

Drop is a move. Again its deliberate BUT progressive NOT AGGRESSIVE. I’m LFF so the first thing i deliberately do is dig my right elbow into my love handle area. Bring my left hip (outside hip) around with left knee and point it toward where I want to go. Ease and build into your desired lean angle. Carry this position into the CL. That is my drop.

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