Contributed by: James Metcalf
Tricks are all very well but when competing, to get an overall result you need to be able to slalom. I have applied quite a few ideas and techniques that water-skiers have come up with to kneeboard slalom. You don't have to have someone in the boat watching that knows a great deal about kneeboard slalom. For example Tim Hazelwood watched me slalom when I was having trouble keeping the board down over the wakes. After watching a few passes he told me to keep my weight further on the back of the board as I went into the wake. I made the adjustment and it made a great deal of difference. From getting a few outer buoys at 14 meters, I was now able to run the 14 and 13-meter line lengths with a reasonable amount of ease.
Crossing The Wakes
It is inevitable that you will jump a little when crossing the wakes but there are two main methods of crossing them in order to get minimal height. These depend on what type of board you are on. If you have a board that edges aggressively and is designed for slalom then you need to adopt a similar style to that used by slalom skiers. Keeping your shoulders back, arms down into your hips and push your hips up. This stops you breaking at the waist and going out the front at the wakes. If you have a board that is more suited to doing tricks you will need to have a more upright position when coming into the wakes. As you approach the dip before the wake, lift your knees up. This makes the back of the board hit the wake first and the board flattens out over the wake.
This also depends on what board you are using. A board that is designed for slalom will turn much sharper and harder than a trick board. When using a slalom board I would suggest releasing your outside hand in the same way as slalom skiers. This will give you a bit more reach when going into shorter line lengths. As you round the buoy place your free hand on the handle and wait for the pull. The second method is for boards that do not lose any speed when coming into the buoy. These are usually trick boards and you have to slow them down. This is done by releasing your inside hand and dragging it in the water as you go round the buoy. If you don't do this when you get down to the shorter line lengths you will have too much speed into the buoy which will result in you being late for the next buoy. I find that it is best to release your outside hand as this gives you more reach and if you do get late for a buoy you can hook it.
You do not have to go through the entry gates but you lose valuable points if you miss them. It is best to get as close to the right hand gate buoy as possible, making you early for number one. I use another idea that Tim suggested to some skiers. This is to look at the right hand gate buoy when you start your cut and keep it in the corner of your eye as you go through. This makes sure you go through them and pick up those extra 2 points. When you get to the other end of the course you must go through the exit gates in order to complete the pass and go on to the next one.