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Dropping a Water Ski to Go Slalom Waterskiing

Instruction on How to Kick off One of Your Combo Skis and Go Slalom.


After a water-skier is comfortable skiing on combo skis (two skis) the next step is usually to try skiing on just one ski, commonly called slalom skiing. There are several ways to make this transition. You can do a dock start, which some consider to be the easiest because it requires no weight shift or dragging through the water, but there's not always a dock near to use this start.

Another choice is to go straight to the deepwater start where the skier is in the water and is pulled up on only one ski by the boat. And then there's the drop ski method, which involves a combo skiing start and is followed by the skier releasing one foot from a ski and putting the foot in the rear of the remaining ski.

Extra equipment is not needed when going from two skis to one ski. Most combo skis come with one ski that already has a rear toe plate for slalom skiing.

Step-By-Step Instruction - How it Works

    1) Before putting on your skis determine which ski will go on the drop foot and which ski will go on the forward slalom foot. You'll want to have the drop boot on snug enough that it won't come off during your start, but loose enough that you'll be able to remove your foot from the ski without struggle on the water. For more information on front and back foot placement on a slalom ski see my article "Which Foot Forward."

    2) Designate someone in the boat to keep track of the location where the skier drops the ski in the water. This is important because often when a ski is dropped it turns upside down, making it difficult to locate. To keep the ski upright after a fall and to make the dropped ski more visible attach a drop ski buoy (Overton's).

    3) Get up on two skis as you normally do, whether it be a deepwater or dock start. The boat driver should be pulling the skier at about 21-25 mph.

    4) Never drop a ski in a high traffic area, which is a good place for a boat to run over the ski and not only mess up the ski, but also mess up a boat. Neither are cheap to fix or replace. It's also not a good idea to drop a ski in a narrow waterway or channel. Doing this runs the risk of the ski drifting under a dock, onto shore, or in marsh grass, making it difficult to get to or locate.

    5) When you are comfortable skiing on the two skis and feel you are in fairly calm water, slowly begin to practice transferring your weight to the ski which contains the foot you want in the front boot binding. You may want to practice lifting your drop ski out of the water, putting it back down when you feel out of balance.

    6) When you are ready to transfer to one ski put approximately 85-90 percent of your weight to your forward foot ski. Use the ski with 10-15 percent of your weight as a balance keeper. Slowly lift your drop foot out of the ski. An abrupt move can cause an abrupt crash.

    7) Once the drop ski is gone, carefully place the drop foot in your slalom ski's rear toe plate, behind your forward foot. You may first drag your toes in the water for a few seconds to help with balance.

    8) Stay straight behind the boat for a while until you get the feel of skiing on only one ski. When you've got that nailed try weaving a back and forth a little and crossing the wakes. Do this by pointing the ski in the direction you want to go.

    9) Once the skier falls the driver should pick up the skier and immediately go pick up the dropped ski.

After you are comfortable riding on one ski try doing a deepwater slalom start. Once you are an experienced beginner slalom skier you might want to think about advancing from your slalom ski that came with your combo ski set to a ski made specifically for slalom skiing. For more information see my article "Choosing The Correct Slalom Ski." Slalom skis have several advantages, such has holding a better edge when crossing the wakes and carving in the water in turns.

What experiences or questions do you have when dropping a ski? Post to the forum.

Getting Started In Slalom Waterskiing Email Newsletter If you'd like to receive information to get you started with the sport of slalom waterskiing, subscribe to this 13 day e-newsletter. You'll learn about purchasing equipment, deepwater starts, slalom course basics, buying a boat, and more.

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