7 Steps to Slalom Water Skiing: How to Drop One Ski

7 Steps to Slalom Water Skiing How to Drop One Ski
This blog post will teach you how to slalom ski by dropping one ski. This is a great way for beginners to learn the basics of slalom skiing. It’s easy once you get started!

Learning to slalom ski is easy, especially if you drop a ski rather than doing a deep water start. Use these 8 steps to learn how to drop a ski – every time, without falling.

Keep reading to learn how to drop a ski.

How to Drop a Ski

Learning to slalom by dropping one ski is really easy. It just takes a good process and a little practice.

  1. Practice skiing on one ski by picking one foot up
  2. Decide which foot goes in front when you slalom
  3. Get up on two skis as normal
  4. Drop one ski
  5. Place your back foot in the binding
  6. Ski away into the sunset
  7. Pick up the ski you dropped

1 – Two-Ski, One-Foot Balance

Before you drop a water ski, it’s important to improve your balance on one ski. The best way I’ve found to do is this is by lifting one ski above the water about 6 to 10 inches, and holding it for 30 seconds.

This exercise helps you learn to balance with all of your weight on one ski. This is a very different feeling than skiing on two skis.

Lifting the ski completely out of the water is a good way to be certain all of your weight is really on just one ski. If you transfer your body weight to one side without lifting the second ski up, you’re probably keeping some percentage of your weight on the second ski.

Try this exercise with each leg. Lift your left ski out of the water for about 30 seconds, and then switch over to your right leg.

Do this several times to determine which leg you feel more comfortable with. This will help you decide which ski to drop later on.

You’ve just learned how to ski on one leg! As you lift your ski from the water, bend that knee and hip so that your ski rises directly upwards until it is clear of the surface. Make sure your ski is level and parallel with the water. Keep this balance for as long as possible before gently returning it back down again into the water.

If you feel like you’re going to fall, just carefully place the second ski back on the water to restore your balance.

This drill is not to teach you how to actually drop your ski. This is a different process. This exercise is designed to teach you how to keep your balance on one ski and maintain control with all of your weight on one foot.

2 – Deciding Which Foot Goes in Front

Which foot goes in the front when you’re slalom water skiing? This is the question that every skier asks when learning how to ski on one foot.

The easiest way to decide is the technique I discussed in step 1 above. Pick up one ski at a time and see which one feels better. The ski you have more control and comfort with is the one that goes in front.

Some instructors will tell you that the best way to figure out which foot goes in front is to determine which leg is dominant. This is analogous to being right or left handed. There are several ways to learn which leg is the dominant one.

  1. Take a big step forward. The leg you stepped with is your dominant leg.
  2. Have someone stand behind you and give you a gentle shove. The leg you use to catch yourself with is your dominant leg.
  3. Play the odds. Most right handed people are left leg dominant. If you’re left handed, your right leg is dominant.

I prefer the ski lifting method, but there’s no “best” method to figuring this out. Just do whatever’s comfortable and gives you the best control.

3 – Get Up on Two Skies

Whichever foot you’ve decided to try skiing first, it is important that the binder on your opposite ski be as loose as possible. For example if you have decided to use left-foot forward stance, loosen the binding on the right ski.

How loose should the binding be when you’re dropping a ski?

It doesn’t really matter. When you’re getting up on both skis, the pressure of the water will push the ski onto your foot, and keep it in position. So, whether the binding is barely loose or completely open won’t make much of a difference.

Let the boat know you’re ready to go. Take your time getting up. With one loose ski, you don’t want to make any quick turns or side to side maneuvering.

Don’t rush things. Allow the boat to pull you up. Don’t stand up too soon either.

Once you’re up, get settled in and look for a nice patch of water to drop your ski.

4 – Dropping a Ski: Two Skis to One

The best way to drop is ski is when you’re inside the boat wake. The pull of the rope will tend to keep you directly behind the boat, so you don’t have to worry about steering.

Start by shifting your weight to the foot in the ski you’re not dropping and lift your heel out of the loosened binding. Carefully lift your foot out of the ski your going to drop. With your your toes pointed down, slowly move the ski back. Allow the water so pull the ski away.

Give yourself some time and make certain you have control of your ski. You’ve done the hard part, and you don’t want to do anything that might make you fall.

Wait for smooth water before you move to the next step!

Watch this YouTube video that explains how to drop a ski

5 – Secure Your Back Foot in the Binding

This is the step where most beginners take a dive.

The challenge is you’re moving your back foot and leg from beside your other leg to behind it. This shifts your body weight quite a bit, and you have to constantly adjust your balance.

Once the ski is off your foot, bring the free foot to the calf of your other leg (the one you’re standing on). Slowly move your foot down until it’s resting on top of your ski, behind your foot.

At this point you’re slaloming. Congratulations!

You don’t want to put any weight on your back foot while you do this – the slightest touch is all that’s needed. Gently feel for and find the rear binder with your other foot, then gradually transfer some of your weight onto it. You can ski with all of your weight on your front leg for a long time. Rushing will only cause you to fall!

Carefully and slowly, slide your foot into the back binding. If it’s on open style binding, you just have to move your foot forward into the binding until it’s snug.

Some bindings have a heel. If you have one of these, you’ll need to wiggle your foot into it. Do it gently so you don’t throw your balance off.

Make sure the binding is secure on your back foot.

6 – Skiing on One Ski

Once you’re on one ski with your back foot set in the binding, it’s time to start slalom skiing.

I recommend beginner slalom skiers spend some time inside the wake. This avoids having to traverse the high wake – which can be a scary mountain to climb!

Steer back and forth within the two wakes.

Initiate a turn by leaning slightly to one side, then lean even more as you bring your hands toward your hips while moving forward on that ski.

Skiing is a thrilling experience. One of the most important things to remember while skiing on one ski, especially for beginners, it that you should always keep your arms straight and hips towards the handle.

Practice this technique on land before attempting any maneuverings in water. Also make sure you are leaning with shoulders pointed to the side rather than back or forward so as not to lose balance. Focus on maintaining correct body position.

7 – Retrieve Your Dropped Ski

Dropped skis are often lost, stolen or – worst of all – run over by other boats. If you’re lucky enough to have a helper on shore and can safely jettison it nearby, then that’s the best case scenario. Otherwise you’ll be driving back to collect your dropped ski which is not ideal.

The next challenge for you is to learn how to do a deep water slalom start. Don’t worry about that yet. Enjoy the fact that you’ve learned how to slalom!

What is the Best Boat Speed to Drop a Water Ski

When you’re dropping a water ski, it’s best to drop at a speed that is ideal for a slalom skier of your weight.

This might seem confusing, because you’re on two skis when you start to drop a ski. However, skiing on two skis has a different (and slower) optimum speed than slalom skiing does. The instant you drop a ski, you transition from skiing on two skis to slaloming on one.

If you do this at too slow a speed (the optimum speed for 2 skis), you might sink into the water and fall. Here are the best speeds to drop a water ski.

  1. Adult male – 20 to 24 mph
  2. Adult female – 18 to 22 mph
  3. Teenagers – 14 to 18 mph

FAQs for Dropping a Ski

Should You Drop a Ski Inside or Outside the Wake

It is easier to drop a ski when your inside the boat’s wake compared to outside.

When you’re pulled behind a boat, the force of your weight pulling on the rope will tend to pull you towards the center. If you stay directly behind the boat, then the forces will naturally keep you there. This allows you to just ski straight ahead without having to steer.

If you drop the ski outside the wake, the force of the rope will pull you back towards the center, behind the boat. This would force you to either cross the wake or continuously steer away from the center. Neither of these are helpful when you’re off balance with one foot in the air!

Make it easy for yourself. Drop your ski behind the boat and stay there until you’ve got your foot securely in the binding.

Once you’re all strapped in, you can cross the wake and enjoy the ride!

What’s the Best Way to Retrieve the Dropped Ski

You and the captain should work out a plan for how you’re going to drop the ski in advance. I’ve found that it’s usually easier to get the skier up on their feet and then loop back to where they started off from – ideally near shore or the dock where you keep the boat. Try to time it so they drop the ski right at the spot you’re targeting. If possible, approach the drop zone on a straight run so the skier is centered behind the boat and in control.

Since you’re required to have a spotter to keep an eye on the skier, you could have a second person watch the dropped ski. This will make it easier to find the ski when the skier is done.

Why Not Try a Deep Water Start Instead of Dropping a Ski

If dropping a ski isn’t ideal, why bother learning it? Shouldn’t I just start out learning how to slalom in deep water?

That might sound more efficient, but it’s a lot harder to do a deep water start on one ski than it is to drop a ski. If you (or the person you’re teaching to slalom) can’t get up after a few tries, they might just give up entirely and never learn how to slalom.

Since dropping a ski is a much easier way to learn how to slalom, I like to have people start this way first. This gives them a chance to ski on one ski and get good at it. Once you have good balance and ski control, it’s much easier to try a deep water start.

My Thoughts on Dropping a Ski

I’ve been slaloming skiing for most of my life and it’s a very rewarding experience. It sounds easy enough, but getting up on one ski is really difficult for a beginner. There are many ways to make your first attempts at slalom skiing more successful.

I’ve found that dropping one ski is a great way to teach someone how to slalom. It makes it easier for beginners to get up on one ski so they can focus on learning how to balance and control the ski. Once you’re comfortable and have a few hours of slalom skiing under your belt, try a deep water start. You’ll look and feel like a pro skier!

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