@foxriverat asks "Hi Chris. For us new ballers that are just starting to try running the course. What advise or most important steps should we follow in order to succeed in making our first pass through the course."
Thanks for your question @foxriverat. Learning to run the course can be a frustrating experience. I have three ideas to focus on that may help you:
Lets start with an important concept that holds most skiers back and that is their desire to run the course at all costs. For the most part, I see skiers at this early stage of course skiing putting maximum physical effort in an attempt to make all six buoys. I believe the natural thought progression running through this skiers head comes down to trying to pull harder with the thought that it will make them earlier to the next buoy and give them a chance to make it to the end of the course. If any of this rings true to you, I have a solution. Firstly, you need to let go of these thoughts. You are focusing on the wrong things. I like to start by telling skiers that running the course is easy. Don't take that statement the wrong way. It will be physically easy if you change your approach. Almost everything in this sport is counter intuitive. By pulling harder, you are taking away from good form. This would be equivalent to a new golfer trying to simply swing harder to hit the ball further. Instead, focus on completing your turn and getting into a lean that is not trying to pull the boat backward. No matter what your turn just looked like, when you feel the boats pull come through the handle, don't fight it, but rather accept it. Any bit of bent arms that may have come from a rushed turn should immediately be relaxed. Straight arms are key to running the course. By straightening your arms, you allow your body to lean more which rolls your ski on edge more. I try to think of myself hanging off the end of the handle with straight arms in a stacked position. I define a stacked position as having straight arms, handle low by our waist or upper thigh area, and having our feet, hips, and shoulders all in a line. For more on being stacked, check out my article "The Power Triangle" (http://slalomguru.com/articles.php?article=power). This concept will have a huge effect on your ability to run the course and will set your early course mechanics on the right path.
The next concerning thing I see beginning course skiers do is skiing at too fast of a boat speed. Don't be afraid to slow the boat down considerably. Over and over I see skiers trying to learn the course at 30mph or faster. I recommend adults learn the course at 22-25mph on a ski that is wider than a traditional high end ski. Now a days, there are a lot of choices in mid range skis that offer the support of increased surface area with the turn characteristics of higher end skis. By slowing the boat down, you increase your likelihood of successfully completing the course.
My third piece of advice is to miss the entry gates on the easy side. Almost all of the new course skiers I see drastically alter their first cut through the gates in an attempt to go through the gates (turn in, start a good cut, stand up and wait to go through the gates, then cut hard again to get out to the first buoy). If you look at all skiers who run the course on a regular basis, one thing they ALL have in common is a decisive cut for the gates. The moment you decide that it is time to cut for the gates, go for it! Even if you miss the gates by a large amount, it is better to develop strong habits at this stage of your skiing.
These three ideas should make learning the course a much faster and more enjoyable experience. Good luck and thanks again for the great question!