USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Kneeboarding: It Is Always Sicker Off The Kicker!

Kneeboarder riding over kicker

 

Note: This article first appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of The Water Skier magazine, the official publication of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports. If you are not a member of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and you are interested in receiving the quarterly magazine, join now.

 

Written by Tom Kohl and John Haile

Photography by Ted Bevelacqua

The cable park scene is quickly becoming more popular with kneeboarders around the world. If you are looking for a new way to kneeboard, the cable park might be just what you are looking for! Whether you have already thought about trying a cable park or if this is a new idea, I am sure you have seen the size of the jumps (kickers) and thought, “Wow, those are much bigger than the wake behind the boat!” Not to worry, John Haile and I have your back! Here’s everything you need to know to get you sailing safely over a kicker.

Where To Start?

First, get to your closest cable park! Start small and take gradual steps. Don’t go for the biggest kicker in the park on your first try. Start with the smallest jump and work your way up as you get more comfortable.

Approach

For your first approach, begin directly underneath the cable, and make a gentle cut toward the bottom inside corner of the kicker. Imagine continuing your cut angle across the face of the kicker. As you progress and become more comfortable, you can start your cut further away from the kicker to gather more speed.

When To Edge

Generally, a good rule of thumb is to start edging when the carrier is in line with the kicker. But you can adjust as necessary. The goal is to be moving away from the cable when you ride up the kicker.

Handle Placement

Keep the handle low and into the bone of your lead hip (inside hip) throughout the entire process. This will keep your center of gravity low and will allow you to control your pitch in the air. The closer the handle is to your hip, the higher the tip of the board will stay. The farther out the handle goes away from your body, the more it will bring the nose of the board down. Fully extending your arms will equal a face full of water. Always keep your elbows bent and the rope into your hips.

Riding Up The Kicker

Aim for the bottom left corner, moving toward the right. Once you start feeling more comfortable, you can start aiming closer to the top right corner. Be sure to flatten out and stop edging right before riding up the kicker. The plastic features on the kneeboards can be slippery and you don’t want to slide out on the kicker.

In The Air

Keep your back straight, shoulders back, head up, and your eyes pointed toward your landing. Hold this position through your landing. Remember, moving your handle closer to or farther away from your body will control your pitch. Always keep the nose of your board up!

Landing

Your goal is to land with the nose pointed out and away from the cable and slightly on edge. This will keep you moving away from the cable and ensure a softer landing. As you come down, put a little more weight on your outside knee. This will help break the water tension and reduce the impact of the landing. Regardless of how you land, remember to keep the rope tight to your hip. Hold that position through the impact of the landing. 

Next Steps

As you become more comfortable on the smaller kickers at the cable park you can push yourself a few different ways. The first is by making a more aggressive cut toward the kicker. Making a harder or longer cut will increase your speed coming into the kicker and result in a farther jump. Waiting and starting your cut later will not only increase your speed but also the line tension on the rope, which will cause you to go higher off the top of the kicker. When you get proficient on the smaller kickers, it is time to take it to the larger kickers at the park where you are riding.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out to Tom via social media - Instagram tks_h2o and Facebook @Tom Kohl!