I took a little time on my memorial day weekend to take some still frames from several videos I have of me skiing. The stills can be seen in the Photos section of this site. A still from video is more powerful than a simple picture from a camera because you have exact context with the still frame. In looking at stills, you are going through the video frame by frame and you are seeing exactly where in the turn or pull you are at that time. It's more powerful than video alone because in pausing the action you can really absorb what's going on at a specific time. In my case, the camera does not lie- this is some ugly skiing.
Looking at these shots you might think they ended up in a yardsale, but every single frame you see in this still gallery comes from a FULL PASS at 30 MPH. These are not odd turns that I miraculously pulled out of – every turn looks like this. This is a huge revelation. Looking at these ugly, ugly stills I've learned a couple things that I did not pick up on from my videos or pictures:
1. My hand goes off the handle and returns to the handle on the off-side before I even reach the ball. It comes off right after the wake and goes on just as I hit the ball. Every single time. What the hell am I thinking here?
2. My shoulders are nearly vertical on my off-side turn. How I pull this turn off every time is beyond me. Talk about fighting the boat! It's impossible to come out of this turn with the correct handle position.
3. On my on-side turn, my hand comes off the handle just after the wake, and comes back to the handle just after the ball at about eye-level. Just about 3 feet from my hips.
4. I ride the ski flat in the "transition phase" on both sides of the wake. I stick my arm out with the handle, slowing down, and waiting for the ball. This results in a whacky stop-and-go turn every time.
Readers, I have more work to do than I ever thought before. I don't know how I got this way, but these stills clearly show how bad it really is. In some ways, this could be encouraging to those who are struggling with 15 off at 30 MPH- if I can run it with this form, anybody can. So, I guess the moral of the story is that if you take a video of yourself, look at it frame-by-frame. It might be the best look at your skiing that you've ever had! Looking at these stills I can see immediately what the instructors at Bennett's picked up on. They had different words for it, such as my upper body moving all over the place, or that my form made those on the boat worry that I could bail at any time, but I get it now. It all makes sense. Can't wait to get back out there and work on these stills. This may be the best training tool in your skiing toolbox.
uk exile, 5/28/2007: Yes, you're completely right. Those video still make you look like a cr@p skier but take heart as you're better than me ! I can run full course including gates but at lower speed, not at 30mph as you can prove you are capable of. Enjoy what you do and enjoy it more in the future if video helps you get better.
Don't read too much into the few frames showing flat ski just after the wakes. You have to swap edges sometimes and the video stills could just be at the instant you roll from one edge to the other. Break things in milliseconds and I'm sure you even get pics of pros riding a flat ski !
BobMac, 5/29/2007: I have skied with a coach in Santo Domingo 8 times this month and still can not get through the course at 15 off 30 mph, however he says my form is getting decent. My coach says not to worry about chasing the balls, get the form right first and the balls will come. Big thing that helped me to keep shoulders level was to keep my eyes, and head looking straight at the boat pylon at all times, your body follows your head. Sounds like you do some of what I do also, hurrying to hook back up with the rope, coach says wait for the ski to finish before hooking up, easier said than done, tight rope is always like a security blanket to me so I rush to finish the turn. Keep workin at it, ski with a coach if you can some time. Bob
beth, 5/29/2007: Well you have until August to make some adjustments and then your videographer will be back in the boat!
Luv2Ski, 5/29/2007: Hey Joel don't get too down on yourself about your form.You have made it through the course at 30 and I can't say that yet(although you have given me some hope..LOL)There are some things that are "right" about your skiing. I notice that you seem to be plenty early for the ball on your offside and are actually backsiding it.You seem to be a little later on your on- side. I surmise you are like myself. i.e you have a pretty good onside cut but your offside needs work.It is a difficult sport and takes time to master.I free-skied about 8 times in the past month to prepare for the course. I felt really good free of the course and my form felt on.That is until I tried the course for the first time this year this past Sat. My form seems to go out the window when the bouys come into the picture.I think vision is very important in the course and I haven't got that down yet. I think I tend to look at the bouys too much which makes me in a hurry to crank the ski around the bouy resulting in a stall.Then of course I'm never gonna make it across to the next one.
I was also frusrated because my forearms gave out after 5 passes on both sets I skied.I was in the gym all winter preparing and I didn't feel this while free-skiing and I ski a couple of miles or more without stopping.I must have a death grip on the handle or something! I did get 3@30 in my first set so I quess that's not too bad for a 6 month course layoff. I'll be trying again tomorrow. It's nice to know I'm not alone struggling with this and it's great you've started a site where we can chat about it.
GottaSki, 5/30/2007: Hiya Joel
You seem so focused on the turns...
You missing amplitude that is compromising the turn, thus compromising the next cut..
Getting wider also translates to carrying more speed out of the turn, instead of burning all that speed into water in the air after the turn.
Work on that cut, rotate those ankles forward, get those hips forward and lock-em there, even is you have to temporarily cool it down a bit.
Hollywood, 6/1/2007: Well if you did all the little things right you'd be a professional skier Joel! A little progress at a time and most importantly, have fun. Maybe you're going out there with too small of a cooler?