Obviously the water-ski handle is a big part of the sport. How you handle the handle in your slalom ski "style" can be a difference maker.
Handle positioning might be a pro secret or skiers might not realize they're doing it. Today, most of the top pros are very specific in how the handle is positioned throughout the course.
The technique is to have the handle level and gradually releasing out forward to setup a killer turn. On your offside you want the long-end of the handle end pointing into the course. For the onside you want the opposite, the handle level and long end pointing to shore. Some skiers raise the long end a bit here too.
The reason pros like early-adopter Karina Nowlan and similarly World Champion Freddie Winter do this, is to keep balanced on the ski, moving weight forward without the need to shift the core. The low-forward handle movement naturally puts more pressure on the front inside edge of the ski, while directing the ski outbound to keep a tighter line. The arm is a heavy appendage so that extra 10lbs of forward move is significant.
The specific positioning of the handle also creates a counter-twist through the body that results in a massively quick turn if done correctly. While most pros employ some sort of handle move, Nate Smith's low, level and forward onside is one of the best. Will Asher, and Jon Travers and further examples of pros that have become handle gurus on the water, with great results.
To get these killer turns you need to have an awesome pull so you can be fully free of the boat after the 2nd wake. The process starts at the gate with a 1,2,3, pullout, 1,2,3, glide and go. Moving the handle lower in the pull not only increases line load but speed and acceleration, so experiment carefully!
A high handle in the pull is generally known as a weaker and slower position. The handle does hit a peak height relative to the body at the apex of the turn, to get the most reach. Whitney and Jason McClintock are examples of an authoritative handle reach at the turn apex, much like a big back-swing with a tennis racket or golf club.
The goal is to be balanced and strong on the ski and your handle style can set up the phases in the course to link your turns and pulls in a predictable way. Just in case things do not go as planned, we recommend a Fluid Motion handle guard. The FM guard will reduce the size of the handle yoke opening thus preventing hands, arms etc. from slipping through the gap and getting hung up. Guards come in a variety of sizes, two colors and attach to most handles.
Perfect your stance and handle moves and you'll be dropping elbows and looking back at your biggest sprays ever!