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What Makes the Difference 35off


Stevie Boy
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Maybe a dumb question, but I watch some skiers cruise 35off with what appears to be little effort and no drama, then there are skiers who run 35off but at times look like a passenger hanging on for all its worth, at times plenty of drama just strength and fitness saving the day.

So what makes the difference is it just the set up and gate shot or a deeper understanding of what is going on ?

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  • Baller
Wow! Unusual question. Not to be rude or give you the Mr. Obvious treatment, but some skiers are just better than others. But the differences you mentioned are all aspects of the result. For me and a lot of skiers (not all,of course) there is a significant level of skill set difference between 32 and 35. Once I get in season for form I can pretty well cruise 32 anytime. Back to back to back. Put me on Blue and the thing you describe in the second part of your first sentence becomes reality. But there are days when the 35 is more like the first skier you describe, but rarely. I can work through a horrible gate at 32 and longer, but 35 requires me to have a great gate. I have a very hard time being consistent with my gate at 35. Except for the top, maybe 15% of skiers, the gate becomes critical at 35 and continues to be what separates the men from the boys. Just my .02 worth.
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I couldn't agree more @LeonL. I can run a very sloppy and scrappy 32 with an ok gate if need be, but at 35 I have to get a great one ball...and getting that pull-out, gate, and perfect one, took me far more tries than I like to admit....and it still comes and goes
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I was going to say gate as well, even though I don't run 35. I can tell when I have a chance and when I have no chance. The difference is the gate and, in particular for me, the hookup at one ball. The smoother, the better. Get yanked on the hookup and it's over for me at 2 ball.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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And, to add to the gate difference, two things I noticed to help me have a good gate are:

 

1. Be up on the boat/wide.

2. Significant counter rotation and bring the hips around through the turn at one ball.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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Uncomfortably high on boat when you pullout for your gates, not drifting back in before the turn in, and trust. The trust part is huge! You have to get off the gate shot and start to change edges at the top (or middle) of the wake and trust that you are going to be wide enough at 1 ball. I say top or middle of wake; because, if you wait until the second wake you are going to be too late.
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Correct gate is so so important. The other biggie her is your line of sight. Visually everything changes at 35. It looks like we will never get around the ball and this can become a mental block for many of us as we over pull. This is the first pass that the handle really doesn't extend past the ball hence remember only the ski needs to go around ball. Trust trust trust that your ski will get around the ball. My tendency is to over pull because of my vision of the ball.
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Not a dumb question at all. The difference is very simple, but harder to put into practice. As the rope gets shorter the skier has to get higher up on the boat which requires more speed

 

The skiers who look like they are cruising short lines are really hauling ass, but have exceptional control. It's the ease that they generate the speed that makes it look easy.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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35 off is definitely my personal wall, I've owned 32 off for a really long time, and I first ran 35 about 4 years ago but until last year it was once or twice a year. Last year I started running lots of full passes at 35 but no idea why. The gate is super critical and I also agree with the line of sight theory, it's really hard to turn the buoy when my eyeballs are inside the buoy line, also makes it feel like a bigger turn to me and harder to hold my form as a result?
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Most skiers that can run a crappy 32 can put together one or two turns and pulls (I know some don't like to hear pull but at least you know what I am talking about) to get out of a jam, so most that can do that should be able to run 35. My experience is where someone resists the most is usually the doom of any shorter line pass, and most times it is sensing being late and then honking on the line way past the middle of the wake and getting "early" but at 90 mph. Pass over. The comment above about doing the work and being confident you will be able to ski away from the handle to get outside the buoy vs. holding on going 90 until you can just about round the buoy, is the biggest line of divide. The consistent 35/38 skier gets the work done before they hit the wake and then lets the rest happen.

 

Historically, if I charted the reasons why I missed a 35 or 38, the #1 reason was not enough work early and pulling too late and then not being able to turn at 90 mph. I have made passes that I know I am late, but don't over resist, just got the ski outside the buoy and then got caught up by the end of the pass, but if I pulled after the middle to get caught up, it would inevitably end up in a miss.

 

I think that is the biggest difference, knowing when to scrap and when not to..

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Confidence, up on the boat, timing, connection, alignment (stack), speed, direction. That's it. The skiers who make any pass look easy have all of the above figured out.

 

Confidence is a big part of it. If you are worried about getting up/wide enough, you will likely not commit into the turn soon enough. If you are worried about getting to the next buoy in time, you will likely not fully finish the turn or will over load or pull too long, and so on. Any of these types of worries cause a competent skier to change their skiing from confident to unsure. Unsure skiers over-react, over-compensate, over-delay, over-protect, etc. How many stories have your heard of the skier unaware that a change (faster, shorter) in the pass and killing it? They weren't thinking about, "Oh, no. This is that hard pass." Rather, they were focused on fundamentals and skiing their best. They were skiing it with blissfully ignorant confidence.

 

Additionally, Nate mentioned in a recent article that the most important thing he focuses on is being stacked, aligned, and patient at the finish of the turn. He continued that if he hits this mark, everything else just works out. There is some truth to that. If a skier finishes the turn patiently, stacked, with handle control, alignment and ski pointed on an early line; the boat and ski just take care of the rest. So, that is his goal. I'm sure that up on the boat, staying connected, speed, etc. are all how he gets there. Oh, and I am pretty sure he has a confidence to his mental focus at all passes, probably including 41 off.

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I think 35 off is where some real professional coaching can really pay off. When I first started trying it way, way back in the late 1990s, I was taking a beating. Slack hit after slack hit, but I didn't know why. Went to ski with Lucky Lowe. While we can debate different coaches all day (and I have skied with 7-8 of them), he got me to understand what needed to be done. What I remember most was him telling me "you need to be at buoy width, 30 feet before the ball". In other words, get to width FAST. That will give your ski time to slow from down as you approach the ball, allow the boat to move back ahead of you again, and allow you to turn on a tight line. There are many different ways of saying the same thing, and I use different terms now, but his concept of getting to width early (speed early) I think remains a key. To paraphrase @Deanoski - it isn't how fast you ski, but where you ski fast. @Bruce_Butterfield nailed it too -- the reason the pros look like they are slow at the ball is because they are so frickin' fast from buoy to center line.
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Short answer. 35 is the first pass where you have to have real technical skills. Muscle and determination are not enough. 38 is just like 35 but even more technical.

 

You can do a lot of jackass things and still run 32 pretty easy. Not so at 35.

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The other part of the 35 gate that really matters for me, assuming I'm high enough in the boat, is initiating my turn in to the gates at the right speed (and on my front foot) so I can begin to get angle before too much load impedes it and shoots me straight at one
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skied some 32 and 35 this morning. Here's my conclusion after thinking about this while skiing. At 32 off you can long pull and it actually feels fun. You create tons of space and width and crush buoys. However, at 35 off you get punished for long pulling. It becomes crucial that you change edges earlier, keep your handle and move up the side of the boat. Said differently, 35 is the first pass where you have to focus on getting up on the boat rather than just trying to get wide. Now, we should all have early edge changes even at the easier lines, but sometimes we don't. When you get to 35, change edges early.
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As the rope gets shorter equipment choice and set up become more critical. I have run 35 on some really terrible skis but will not even try 38 unless things are totally dialed. Not getting past 1 ball at 38 without the right gear.
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So, I've given my post above more thought... Revised:

 

Confidence is the final puzzle piece.

 

You must have the pre-requisite skills, technique. However, the final step to cross over into the consistently easy -35 skier population is Confidence. A sufficiently-skilled confident skier just skis, proactively, correctly. A sufficiently-skilled skier without confidence reacts when skiing which creates issues causing more reactions, etc. So, a skier with all the skill pieces of the puzzle can still fail or not be smooth because of the lack of confidence.

 

I think confidence is so important, that a skier who is 90% sufficiently skilled and has confidence will master the pass faster than a skier who is 100% skills and not confident.

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I was at a competition recently and there were some good skiers there, some were around the 17 - 20 years old, during some banter amongst them,one was concerned that he was not getting his 35Off , somebody stated that he looked tense, he agreed and said that the next round he was going to relax and not try so hard, the next round he relaxed and ran a very easy 35Off, do we try too hard sometimes, instead of just riding the ski ?
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That's awfully kind banter... When me and my friends are on the dock (same age group) all you hear is "dang, 3 ball looks awfully rolly" "those boot screws look a LITTLE loose.. I wouldn't think about it too much" my favorite "hey don't fall around 1 ball on your opener"
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Of course skiers are stuck at 35 for a number for different reasons. I like what @markchilcutt said about vision and the gate (@OB also).

 

One consistent theme I see is skiers turn too hard too soon at 35 vs finishing the turn inside the buoy line. You can get away with snapping a turn and yanking the rope tight at 28/32 because it are still enough behind the boat to get sided to side. At 35 you are up on the boat more and spend more time free of the boat. So you have to ski farther through the back side of the turn before you load the line. If you don't you will get pulled up into the first wake. I see it over and over. You need to step up your rhythm and timing to get through 35. Extend the back side of your turn. Carve farther inside the buoy line. Accept the load progressively into the first wake so you get the ski to release and cast out off the second wake.

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I agree with the confidence aspect of it. The biggest difference between 32 and 35 is intensity and direction through the wakes. At 32, you can run a pretty narrow line and run the pass with low intensity. If you don't amp up the intensity for 35, you will find you get later and later. I have had some really bad turns at 35/38 and still ran the pass due to the ability to generate direction across the course.

 

Now to run 38, that is where the superior skill comes in. I know a lot of guys who can run 35 all day long, but 38 is impossible.

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  • Elite Skier
Like @Horton said, 35 is where more polished technical skills are needed. In my mind I always say 35 is where the gate becomes more important and without a correct gate it becomes a lot harder then it is. Also confidence, sooner or later it just becomes another pass you don't think about it.
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@bishop8950 interesting perspective. Essentially are you saying that one should make a smoother, delayed turn thus going further down course in order to not load at the buoy line, but between the wakes and then giving more speed in the second half of the traverse pushing you wider and higher?

 

Have I captured your concept? Because I always thought yanking in quicker and turning harder at shorter lengths was the norm.

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Close. I don't think of it as delaying the turn, but maybe delaying the finish of the turn. I want to carve an early line in the course. I want a crap load of angle. I also want to carve as far inside the buoy line as I can before the rope comes tight. Many skiers will fall back or stuff their skis at the buoy to yank the line tight in an effort to feel proactive and getting ahead of the pass. But at 35 this fails. The boat and geometry will kick your ass. Instead you need to carve inside the buoy line so you are more behind the boat when the rope comes tight. Hope that makes sense?
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I cannot ski 35 off but hope to get there in the next couple of years. I came back to the sport last year after a 20 year layoff and my practice average this year is in the mid -32 range @34mph , so I am not speaking from experience, but what I understand @bishop8950 to be saying that you have to take the angle that the ski will give you by allowing the ski to finish the turn before loading the line otherwise the boat will hit you too early pull the ski flat or down course and take all the angle back. This forces you have to reset the edge without sufficient time to get to the other side.

 

When I watch tape of my sets, my -28 and -32 efforts are much better when I let the ski come all the way through the turn.

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This past summer I ran a lot of -35's and rarely if ever missed -32. Complete ownership of -32 helps a lot, ski it hard, ski it easy. Play with your gates, up course, down course, early with space, ball to ball.. If you really really own your -32 then your on your way to -35.

 

The one thing that got me through a lot of -35's this summer was a much better gate, getting up on the boat until it felt uncomfortable and getting up over my ski more (see GUT discussions)

 

The other one thing was learning a lot more about ski setup, and by setup I think the biggest light bulb moment was sorting out my bindings so that I could move over the ski with ease. Before that it was a sh1t fight. Understanding fin adjustments was the icing on the cake, I ran into -38 on three different ski's over summer because I took the time to tune the ski.

 

If I'm having a hard time at -35 / -38 from a technical perspective its almost always because I'm off the handle early and / or I don't allow the ski to rotate completely through the turn. Its counter intuitive because things happen that much quicker, the temptation is to get back on the line and load which for me is a mistake. Its a split second of self discipline that has made a big difference.

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So I think I get it, starting the carve (turn) inside the buoy line instead of getting wide, standing up with a flat ski then slamming the turn and forcing the hips and body hopefully, all the way around in a jerking turn. Starting earlier gives a more stable, predictable carve the gets you into good, angled position early and wide.

 

I think of a video I've watched a few hundred times of Terry Winter at 1/4 speed marvelling at how early he's starts his carve. Essentially as soon as he's off the white water of the 2nd wake.

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