Slalom Mythbusters Topics

What myths need to be busted in Slalom? Maybe I can test them next summer and report back. A couple off the top of my head:

  1. Skiing behind a boat hand throttled vs. ZO
  2. ZO Letters/numbers and actual feel behind the boat
  3. Long/Shallow and Short/Deep
  4. Skiing old towboats, I/Os, Outboards
  5. 3 vs. 4 Blade

And so on and so fourth. What do we need to test?

@joel, very interesting. Not sure if they are myths or superstitions??

Number 1. I ski with NO ONE who could pull me in the course straight and yet keep me in tolerance for speed. I would say in our ski community, perhaps a handful of folks could do it consistently, reproduce it time and time again and stay straight.

Number 2. I’ve actually done. 32 off, 34.2 mph and had boat driver not tell me what setting it was, when I would get to the end, I would offer a guess. Only one’s I got correctly, A1, C2 and C3. It was fun and I would highly recommend it.

Number 3. Done it as I am sure everyone has. Surprisingly enough for me, I really ski about the same with both. I do think a neat “experiment” would be to hand your ski to someone with acumen on setting up a fin, having them put settings on, go ski, come back and give the person your ski and have them “change” the settings or perhaps they leave it alone and see if you notice a difference.

The myth I always question is cold vs.warm water. Does cold water demand changing fin/bindings/ wing?? Does warm? I have asked several pros this question, and the majority answer is “I can’t tell you the last time I even checked my fin settings.” Do I believe them…Meh prolly not, but specific to temp changes they down play the significance of this phenomena.

I think there is so many “individual” variables to our sport that myth or not, superstition or not, everyone has their own philosophy or thought paradigm for their own skiing.

Other myths: hand placement on handle, doing opposite what is typical for LFF/RFF, does it matter?
Rear toe kicker vs. back boot. Length of ski? 65" vs. 68? LFF skiers are at advantage due to only 2 toe side turns, 2 and 4.

Literally one could give up their entire ski season doing experiments and myth busting. Since Illinois has such a short ski season, I would offer a suggestion on picking two myths, spend two ski days on each, report back on findings. Or you could assign a myth or two to your loyal web site congregation.

Oh just thought of another one: videoing each set. Does one actually learn and improve from watching and reviewing their set?

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Good stuff. I feel like some content like this would be really fun so keep them coming!

I’m convinced LFF is a slight advantage it would be interesting to see some plots of all scores in terms of where they score and RFF/LFF I would predict to RFF skiers have peaks of scores in the 1/3/5 and peaks of scores for LFF in the 2/4 range. Notably if you have a bad turn on your third offside turn you still probably score 6 and its not like we see a ton of 6 non-continues.

The other part of this is that LFF skiers get to practice their gate on 100% of passes. Meaning that if you want to pull the argument that a LFF skier has the disadvantage of having an “offside” I would counter that because everyone practices that more than anything else in the course.

Interesting. I would say the exact opposite of my ski group. On any given Saturday morning, there’ up to 3 88-92 Pro Stars, plus a 98 Supra and an 04 Moomba, none of which are zero off boats. There is a 2017 ProStar in our group, but only three people, me, the boat’s owner, and a post collegiate skier will regularly take pulls behind the ZO boat. The rest of the group prefers to ski behind the manual boats. These guys are all in their late 50s / early 60s. They’ve been driving tournament ski boats for decades and probably average 5 days per week in the course during the season. I would also add that a typical Saturday morning for them is 3 sets each with 6 complete passes per set. I wish I could ski as well as they do…but I just don’t have that much time in the course. Picking things up as an older adult isn’t easy. But the challenge in the fun.

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@half_past, I agree that LFF skiers are slightly advantaged in that they only have two toe side turns. I really don’t understand your last paragraph however. ??


This is exactly my point. You observe “The exact opposite in your ski group”. a very small sample size per our entire ski community globally. I am 59, so I fit directly into the demographic that you speak of. There are several “hidden” reason why skiers would prefer or “choose” to ski behind a PP boat or better yet a reduced horsepower boat that can be pulled or “directed” by the skier, i.e. the boats you described:

  1. Manual driving is easier to ski behind resulting in more buoys ran by the skier. Lot of folks running 35 off and shorter with questionable times. I.e. manual driving with no speed control. I’ve witnessed this first hand and have experienced it on my own lake. I have friends who ski behind their 1993 ski Nautique with no speed control. They report scores into 35 off and very infrequently run 35 and “score” 2 or 3 at 38. Oddly enough, they come ski with me, 2019 ski Nautique, surveyed course and ZO boat…can barely run 28 and not even close to running more than 1 or 2 at 32. Wonder why? It’s more difficult to ski with a newer modern boat that tracks like a freight train and no one can pull it off center, and when you lean hard against the boat, the engine feels the request for more revs so as to keep the speed constant, so they don’t pull boat speed down.
  2. Skiing behind an 86 MC SS is much easier on a 59 yr old body than skiing behind a newer modern ZO boat. My experience…my friend brings his vintage MC to my lake. I ski lights out behind that boat, even though he can’t keep the boat straight in the course and his 34 MPH is really more like 32 ish. My body position is easier to maintain and achieve behind the MC, hence my logic and reasoning as to why your older skier friends prefer the older non speed control boats.
  3. If I were going to take 3 sets at a ski session, I would opt for the older boats with out ZO. Again, easier on the body. I am 59. I am considerably fit for 59, Mr. Hughs can testify to this, I can ski a lot of passes, but choose quality over quantity. If I am going for quantity, go with the older boat, no speed control.
  4. Guys want to ski buoys. They want to say, Yeah I ran X number of balls at such and such off. If I am that guy, I choose older boat, no speed control.
  5. If that’s the boat I grew up on, learned to ski on and that’s the boat that is represented at the lake I ski on typically, I choose the older boat with no speed control.

I would “predict” that if a 2019 Ski Nautique or MC PS showed up on your lake and your group was required to ski behind one of these examples…everyone’s score would be 4-6 buoys less. I am actually being generous. Realistically the scores would be even lower. It’s that much different.

However there is good news. Skiing behind a ZO boat consistently has made me and several of my ski friends better skiers. Once acclimated to the ZO control and have an understanding of how it works, skiing is easier and the connection to your power source does most of the work for you as a skier.

Sorry could have said it better.

The counter point is that LFF skiers have 3 toe side turns but one of them is their gate turn in. So some will say that the RFF advantage is a heel side gate. The thing is both RFF and LFF skiers get to practice their gate on 100% of passes. And I never feel the advantage of having a great 6 ball.

I think Freddie proved it pretty definitively.

@half_past, Got it. My mistake for not getting it, in that I don’t think as the drop in to the gate as a “turn”. Just the way I’ve been trained or brain washed.
I have an opinion regarding RFF skiers however. It’s just my observation so here goes… I have several ski buddies that are RFF. I am LFF. However when I watch them, their 2/4 actually are about the same as mine, which is not really that good, but their 1,3,5 is pretty good. 2 of my ski partners (RFF) I always say to them, “if someone was watching from the shore, they would swear you guys are LFF”.
My opinion regarding this phenomena is this…because the pull or lean from 1 to 2 and from 3 to 4 is their weak side pull/lean, they are not confident heading that direction, so they tend to stay in that lean/pull position too long, causing slack and a big hit around 2 or 4, which typically is their undoing during the pass, especially at 32 and shorter.
It’s odd, because the LFF skiers I ski with don’t have this problem on their heel side turn. ?? 2/4 is my weakness. EVERYONE who watches me, friends, coaches, pros, my wife… they all say if you could get your 2/4 75% as good as 1,3,5, your 38 would be money every time. My response… if my aunt had a penis, she’d be my uncle.

That all makes sense. Thanks.

But there’s just one thing. I don’t really see these guys avoiding the ZO pull to get more buoys. They don’t shorten the line much, if at all. And they certainly don’t spend any time talking about how they skied. They just show up, ski and hang out. I would say they’re like bass fisherman who never fish a tournament, or a runner who trains, but never enters a race. Maybe this is just something fun to do. Or maybe they’re just over all of that. I don’t know.

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I have ski friends like that, ski for the fun and enjoyment of skiing. I love that. I am actually envious of that. I wish I could just go out and be content with running 28,32, 35 and 4 @38. I can’t. I still think I have more. I can’t explain it. So many little pithy sayings…
“If better is an option is good ever enough?”
“Good is the thief of excellence”.
“insanity, doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome”
However, I did ask myself several times this year “is 4 and 5 @38 my ceiling?” This is the first time I have actually questioned this. The reason I don’t’ think so for me…I very rarely miss 35. I ran 4 38’s this year and they all happened within a three week span. Then gone. It would probably be better if I had a season where I never ran a complete 38 and 35 sucked all year.
My sickness/passion for this sport FOR ME is bad. However, I never put MY conviction on other skiers. I have lots of people come to my lake just to free ski. Why? It’s private and almost 100 acres of water. That’s unusual. We love pulling full line 28 MPH skiers free skiing. They are having a ball.
It’s a great sport and everyone has different reasons for their participation and the level they want to participate at. Fun? Running successful passes at a comfortable line length? Pushing yourself to be better and get more buoy? Trying to stay fit? I hate golf so I’ll ski? Whatever it’s a great sport.


The first time I skied behind a Zero Off boat, I thought the boat was trying to hurt me. After dialing in the A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 settings to match my skiing style, I find I like the Zero Off pull better than a Perfect Pass equipped boat.