How to Get Up on a Slalom (Single) Water Ski

Slalom SkiingWater skiing has become a fun activity for family and friends. There is just something refreshing about the water spray in your face during those hot summer days.

As far back as I can remember, my family has always had a boat. I grew up on water skis. I think I was 8 years old when I first got up on a set of water skis. It wasn’t long after that, that I learned to ski on a single ski. Believe it or not, I first got up on a single ski starting from shore, called a shore start.

There are several different ways to slalom ski. When learning to get up on one ski, you should consider the various types of starts, and pick one that you fell comfortable with. A good thing to do to help you get a good feel for a single ski is to get up on two skis, and lift one foot up, so you are skiing on just one ski. Try alternating, lifting up one foot and then the other to determine which ski feels the most comfortable to balance on. Whichever ski that is, is the foot you should put in the front binding when getting up on a single ski.

Let’s review the different ways to start and how to get up:

  • Dropping a ski – This is the easiest way to ski on one ski. You first start on two skis. Have the boat pull you close to shore (Be cautious to not get to close. Safety is important) so that when you drop a ski, someone from shore can retrieve it. As you are close to shore, left up one of your skis and shake your foot free (It might help to have the binding loose on this ski). Once you have freed yourself from this ski, then put your free foot into the back binding of the slalom ski.
  • Deep start – All the way in the water, with either one foot or both feet in the ski. I personally prefer the one foot start, with my left foot in the front binding. I then drag my right foot on the water to balance myself as the boat is accelerating, and then put the foot into the back binding once I’m up. Having both feet in has a tendency to drag, making it more difficult to get up. So for now, let’s talk through the one foot approach to a deep start. It is preferable to have a deep-“V” ski rope that you can put the tip of your ski through. It helps to stabilize the ski and keep it straight during the boat acceleration. Hold onto the rope (single handle) with your hands inverted (Hold the handle with one hand up and one hand down). Keep your arms out straight. bend your knee to a sitting position. Then say “hit it!” As the boat begins to accelerate try to keep your center of gravity over the ski, trying not to lean too much forward or backward. Hang on tight, keeping your balance, and the boat will pull you up until your ski planes. Once up, slip your back foot into the back binding. Now that you are up, try and lean back on your back foot. This will help to stabilize the ski, giving you more control.
  • Dock Start – With a dock start, you sit on the edge of the dock with both feet into the ski bindings, with the ski in the water. The boat should line up so that it will pull you straight out from the dock. Take about two loops of rope, so that you have some play in the rope. Say “hit it.” As the ski rope tightens and starts to pull you, put your weight on the ski, keeping your center of balance over the middle of the ski, not leaning forward too much or back too much, keeping your arms out straight. You will sink into the water a little bit, but the momentum of the boat will pull you right up. This is somewhat like a deep start, but you are giving the boat about a 5 foot start with momentum until the two loops of your ski rope tightens up. When you get experienced with this, you could even start on a dock standing on the dock with your feet in the bindings.
  • Shore Start – This is my preferred way of starting. It does take some additional skill and timing.  To shore start, you stand in about 2 feet of water, with one foot in the front binding. Take three or four loops of rope. You hold the ski handle in one hand with the looped rope in the other hand. When the boat is ready, heading straight out from the shoreline, you balance on your free foot, and hold the ski up on the surface of the water with your other foot. Say “hit it” let go of the looped rope, lean back slightly as the rope starts to pull you, and step up on the water, keeping your center balance over the center of the ski, and keeping your arms out straight.

Don’t worry, you’ll take plenty of attempts until you finally get up. I was told by a skiing mentor that every time you fall water skiing, you are pushing yourself beyond your limits. And that is how you improve. So each time your fall, you are getting better.