My second ever 32 off pass at 34mph

Huge milestone this summer and shows how many mistakes you can run while still making 32 off. What do you see in this pass? Why did I run it?

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Joel, That is good skiing but not a great foundation for running 35. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but let’s review a few things.

  1. You are not in a classic Stack position on your good side (moving R), and especially on your off side (moving L).
  2. The handle is being pulled away from you on your good side as you are not holding edge through the first wake. It’s your head and shoulders leading the parade on the off side and even going to 3 and 5 is torso forward.
  3. So much of that pass is a result of being pulled by the boat rather than accelerating and letting the boat sling you to the other side.
  4. Gotta drill, Baby, drill! Run the Stack drill and video so you can critique even your drills.

Good Luck!
The Professor


So nice to see the Professor back again!!! It’s been too long. Great observations as usual. What do you think ran the pass despite all of this stuff?

Mostly guts! It’s amazing what we can get away with since ski technology has really advanced and just a bit of technique provides speed. Running a pass, however, is not necessarily our goal so much as being in control of that pass, knowing the foundation is there to give us a chance at the next loop. The reason the pros are so good at a possible 41 is the great technique employed at 39.

For you males over 35 yrs of age, studying the Ladies is very beneficial as they can only rely on technique rather than brute strength. Think about just nearly any exercise or athletic event or weight lifting station that, say, Allie Nicholson or Brooke Baldwin or Regina Jacquess is stronger that you guys. There is probably none, yet the Ladies can be in complete control, darn near early on a 38 pass. TECHNIQUE!, honed by drills and correct repitition. TECHNIQUE!!

Keep up the good work, my good man.

Gentlemen, good to see you all again. Not sure if I should use Blackdog or not but since he’s in doggy heaven we’ll let him RIP. The best thing about that was the gate. The more I ski with Adam Caldwell the more important I realize the gate is. The professor is right about the the girls, those 3 he named and Elizabeth Montavon are the ones I watch a lot of.

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Alignment is king, however it’s nearly impossible to stay aligned if the timing of the movement is wrong or we get the ski too perpendicular to the Y axis on the course. If the speed is too high or too low in the turn it will make the alignment process more difficult. There is an ideal path through the course, the further we deviate from that ideal path, the harder things are to do.

Here’s a thought that I have stumbled upon that might be hard to wrap your head around…I would rather underturn than overturn at the buoy. This assumes the ability to get to at least a 7 on the 10 alignment scale. Does anybody know why?

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Elizabeth M has incredible alignment, she does it better than almost anyone I’ve seen.

Another way to look at alignment is preservation of alignment. It’s relatively easy to achieve alignment in the move-out and glide, then turn in, then wake to 1. As it unravels throughout the course, that feeds other issues that then continue to feed into more downcourse. If I’m not thinking about it I can move out without alignment which sticks me narrow which messes up the whole thing.

@rlacey the underturn thing is a good thought, another way to think about it is the turn just flat out does not matter if you can get things lined up ball to wake.

The turn (or any rotation) is a complicated thing for me, but every time I struggle for a set or two, it often comes back to overturning. This for me causes me to get too slow as the boat is picking me up, then the boat spikes the load and I get squished. What I TRY to do is rotate less than I think I need to. Whether it’s my first move on the gate, the turn in for the gate or the turn on the back of the buoy. If the ski is rotated too much, there is a point where it is not productive in creating swing speed and you get unproductive friction and load. Also can be identified as too much, too soon.

Assuming I did those things, advanced the hips/core/ski into the centerline or first wake with connection, then you want as little angle as possible after the centerline without giving up connection. This is one of those counter intuitive things for most people (highly counter intuitive for me) that took a lot of processing and reps. It still plagues me at times but now I can recognize it quicker.

I am interested to read the discussion on “turns”. I have been to formal coaching for slalom since 1995, yes I am old. I don’t want to name drop, but to make my point I think mentioning the coaches is important: (in order): wade cox, mike Ferraro, Andy Mapple, Jodi fisher, Marcus brown, Chet Raley ( my go to coach for about 9 yrs), Nate smith.

Not one time has any of these coaches “coached” the turn at the buoy. When i would bring it up or ask about the turn, apex, post buoy, etc. all the coaches would down play the importance of the turn or would say the turn (or change in direction) is a result of other things; gate, drop in at gate, speed, angle, stack/body position, rope/handle control, ski set up, on and on.

I remember reading a discussion on another site about this topic. I think Jay P. Mentioned that most falls occur after the buoy or going into the buoy, but not during the actual turn at the buoy unless tail blows out, hit the buoy or rollers.

For my journey, the turn or change of direction which Chet refers to it, has and is somewhat automatic if others things are correct.

Bruce Butterfield has a really good article on handle control and I opine this thinking is a really important aspect that results in an efficient “change of direction”

Again, my comments are for me and throughout my ski journey.

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@Papawskier, Quite the impressive list there. So I’m one of those skiers that has had a similar list of ski partners and or associations but have struggled more than others in my similar situation. I skied with Chris Parrish every day for a year back around 1999-2000. Skied with Doug Ross for a couple of years, Seth Stisher a few years (my boat driving skills are better than my ski skills). After Chris went back to Florida, we were talking on the phone and he said come ski with Lucky. So I went down there as a hacky -32 off skier that could get through -35 here and there. Skied with Lucky for 8 sets, a month or 6 weeks later I was running -38 easier than I could run -32 before I got there. I didn’t run it bunch, but when I did it was easy (assuming I got a good start). I messed more up by not accepting the rhythm and trying to get earlier. I deviated from what I learned because I didn’t understand it and how it worked. My mind got polluted with my interpretations of other peoples ideas…(looking at you West Coast Slalom).
Adam Caldwell starts skiing with me regularly a few years ago and when I first start watching him, I said to myself, “there’s no way I can ski like that in my mid fifties and survive”. But the more I ski with him and the more he tells me and the more I digest and as I have now hit the 60s, I figure it’s my only way to keep doing it. My back spasms through much of the last 10 years told me what I was doing was not sustainable. Anyway, I start trying to ski like an I-Beam, understanding the role of everything, boat settings, ski, setup, fitness, everything I can think of. Start skiing better than I have in years. I had not run a -35 in 3 years before this year and start running some, probably screwed up a bunch of early line -35s for the same reason I had previously stated about -38s.
As the season progresses, I’m skiing well for me at this stage and I start missing passes, falling at 2 or 4 usually (RFF) usually or from something that happened at 2 or 4. This has ALWAYS been my problem area. I over rotate my onside, it became a habit and one I didn’t know the cause of and nobody ever called me out on it (people have addressed issues with it but never the root of the issues).
So I come out one day after a couple of struggling sets and decide I will not rotate the ski beyond 45 degrees. I tell my other ski partner (Former National Champ and Skis Big Dawgs, etc.) what my plan is and he says bad idea, doesn’t agree, wrong move, etc. Well it works for me and I am still working on the way to execute. So while it was never something that was coached to me, it is something that I have to utilize to overcome a flaw in the way I process how this whole slalom stuff works. The way I think about it is I have avoid things that make me slow and the over rotate is my best way to be slow.
The older I get the more I understand that I don’t process things the way normal people process things.

@joel. so i am watching the 32 vid over and over. If one just watches it one or two times, the consensus is joy for you and enjoying the moment with you because we’ve all been there. however, you keep watching it and one has to wonder how did you complete the pass?

  1. start was really good…excellent. way up on boat, handle in tight with elbows squeezed tight against vest, tall and looking down course.
  2. allow the ski to start slowing in the glide and time the drop in perfectly. handle stays low, arms straight and tight into the body.
  3. let ski go out in front and roll off second wake. HANDLE CONTROLLED ALL WAY TO BUOY LINE.

now after two ball, its pure athleticism and determination, but one excellent thing is consistent… you stay on/with the handle, never disconnecting from your power source. This is why you can ski with your behind trailing way back and arms out away from body, but holding handle keeps rope tight from pre buoy/apex and back to handle. all tight rope. if you let go too soon into the buoy with that body position, the rope goes slack and you have nothing to connect with coming back to handle.
so even though this is not the way you want to run your passes, this is a great example of how important a “few” things are during a pass and despite our efforts to screw it up, these important factors play a big role in completing the pass.
great job.

Great feedback. Yeah for me the gate is what got me running -28 in almost any conditions and gets me -32 very occasionally (OK twice last year total).

The rest is pure strength and grit, I have near-zero efficiency from body position. My scrapping abilities, the ability to get from one side of the course in any position, I guess are good for whatever reason. Being pretty strong and generally athletic has been a blessing and a curse in the course. Lean vs. Pull is my focus for 21! Otherwise I’m going to blow a bicep or lat or both at some point.

well there are several drills to do that help with getting the hips up and keeping buttocks engaged behind the boat. watching adam caldwell may help. can’t say i would suggest adopting that for your skiing but he definitely keeps hips up and moving cross course.
Gordon Rathburn had a drill or two to deal with this issue
in the gym or home…hip thrusters. glute bridges, anything to activate the buttocks, glutes, posterior chain.