Patience! Have not been skiing well at all this year. I've even dropped back to 30mph to see if I could figure out what was going wrong. (I tried 28mph once but with the S1 I have it was just too much work. That S1 comes alive at 32/34 mph).
Patience! I'm watching some video I have taken of my skiing over the last couple of weeks and I spotted it. Or, I should say I spotted one (one of many) thing I have been doing wrong. I have been reaching for the handle too soon after the turn. You hear it over and over, "ski back to the handle". I know this in my head but why is it so hard to execute out on the water! By rushing the turn I have been rotating towards the wake which has been dropping my weight towards the back of the ski, which is like a brake, instead of keeping it moving forward. By reaching for the handle too soon I connect with it too far away from my body and haven't been getting it close enough to my hips before the boat picks me up. Once that happens it is "do the best you can with what you got". Now I have the pull coming more from the shoulders instead of through the core.
Patience! I had fixed this problem last year by nailing my free elbow against my vest all the way through the turn and focusing on bringing the handle to it insead of reaching for the handle. So, Saturday and Sunday all I did was free ski focusing on just this one aspect. I must have done 100 turns with just this in mind.
Patience! Right off the bat I noticed that I was now getting closer to the first wake before the boat was picking me up so I was evidently carrying more speed through the turn. I felt more balanced on the ski. I view the "power" zone as being from froth to froth.The handle is now closer to my hips and more toward the trailing hip than dead center. Much better acceleration through the wakes. I'm liking it!
Patience! I'll work on this for a while and then address the many other problems. You have to ski with intensity but with control. In this case haste really does make waste. Patience Grasshopper!
Another evening of skiing litteraly blown away and now at least 2 days of rain. It has been really hard to get into ski shape this year. Staying in ski shape has been impossible.
Free skied Saturday and Sunday. Acutally taped Sunday's skiing on an old tape from last fall. I was able to compare late October skiing to April skiing. October skiing, smooth, tight line, fast, nice crisp turns, and good body position through the wakes. Fun!! It was free skiing and I skied forever. April skiing, slow, slack line in the turns, offside school bus turns, and after only 10 turns I'm sucking wind. The problem is I thought I was skiing OK!
Any muscle memory I thought I had, I think I've lost it!
I did notice that in October skiing I was doing a much better job of keeping my weight forward so the tip stayed down all the way throught the turn and into the wakes. Major bad habit of mine is the tendency to sit back on the ski especially in my offside turn. Got to work on it more.
I believe that you really need to record your skiing and critically review it soon after a session if you really want to get better. After all the Physics has been analyzed it comes down to how did it feel on the water. Did that feeling produce the expected results? I dont' know how many times I've said, "That felt good!" only to look a the tape and say, "That really sucked!"
I think skiing coaches have a very difficult job. If I was coaching, basketball, soccer, or baseball, I could go right up to the kid and adjust a hand, a foot, or a body position to correct a problem. In skiing you are 60 feet away from the coach. You can't hear a damn thing due to the engine. You make your 7 turns and stop. Now, your coach has the task of trying to convey what you are doing wrong, after the fact, with words, while you are sitting in the water trying to breathe. It goes something like this, "Remember what you did at 2 ball compared to 4 ball....". Ah, not really because all I can remember is going throught the exit gates. Maybe your coach grabs the rope and shows you but you can't feel what that position is supposed to feel like because you are sitting in the water still trying to breathe.
If you are lucky you will translate what your coach is saying into understanding and make the necessary biomechanical adjustments. Then if you are really lucky you go out and actually feel the improvement. Once you have that feeling and get it locked in, you know when you are doing it wrong because it doesn't feel right and correct it. Sometimes even in the same pass.
I skied at Seth Stisher's this past Saturday for 2 sets. I managed to get my 2 sets in before the winds picked up. Unfortunately for my wife she only got one set in. The first pass of her second set had white caps at the far end of the course. She tried to ski back but it was just too windy.
Back to the topic. I didn't have Seth's usual driver for my first set. It was someone who had been there all week. Seth's regular driver was taking a break. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate anyone who will drive for me but it reinforced to me that when I drive for someone I have to concentrate on driving just like I concentrate on skiing, maybe even more. Anyway, here are some things that went wrong and the consequences.
I should have confirmed Zero Off settings before getting out of the boat. I didn't. I should have specified the type of start I wanted, I didn't. So, I got a hard pull up when I like a slow to medium start and 32 mph when I had asked for 30 mph. At least Zero Off was set to A2 which I like.
Since the start was hard, Zero Off engaged at 32 mph before we hit the turn island. I'm just recovering from the unexpected hard start when I'm heading into a sharp right turn at 32mph on the wrong side of the wake. Zero Off backed off in the middle of the turn then hit me with a big acceleration coming off the back side that almost dumped me as I try to get across the wake. Now I'm rushed getting set for the gate pull out. I don't get the pull out I want, never get free of the boat and when I try to turn the boat picks me up before I'm ready and it's an OTF, big time. My wife caught it on video and it hurts to look at it. The good news is everything is intact just really sore. I managed to dive into the water and roll a few times instead of hitting it with my chest. However, my skiing for the rest of the passes in that set were terrible. A great way to start things out.
Next, instead of slowly taking the slack out of the rope before a pull up, the driver just put the boat in gear and kept going. I see it coming and try to brace for the jerk. I can't hold my position and I'm getting drugged down the lake. I'm trying to yell, "Stop! Stop!" while trying to avoid swallowing half the lake.
Anyway we got things sorted out but the lesson learned is that communication between the driver and the skier is really really important and a driver can really influence the performance of the skier. So, when we are driving for others it is our responsibility to give the best pull possible for the skier. It is not just something we have to do between our own sets.
Second set, much better. The major takeaway is that I have to get more pressure on my front foot, especially in my off side turn. When I do that the turns are sooooo much easier. The second coaching point was to work on the rhythm of the course to be more fluid. All in all I expected to be doing a whole lot more things wrong that needed correcting. Now I have to go practice, practice, practice.
The count down is on. A little over a week and I'll be at Oz for some South Carolina skiing. Unfortunately, winter decided to come back here in NC and my plans for being in skiing shape have taken a turn for the worse. Cold, wind, rain, and the water temps have dropped back below 60. Bummer! I know, it's better than some parts of the country.
One of my ski buds moved up to Chicago this past fall. He moved into a development that is on a ski lake. What a year to move to Chicago. I think his lake still has ice on it.
Anyway, my goal is not necessarily to be running the course but to find out what I need to work on so I can run the course better.
Gordon Rathbun's email newsletter this week has a nice picture of Seth coming into the wakes from his offside turn. Something to strive for.
Skied Friday evening and Saturday. I'm still working on getting into ski shape with free skiing. Getting more comfortable on the ski even thought I feel like the Pillsbury Doughboy with the wet suit and jacket.
My two handed turn, crank it through the wakes, get as much speed as possible, drill is paying off. I've been skiing at 32 mpg -15. At -15 you don't have the angular momentum helping you with the edge change that you get at the shorter lines, so speed is important. I really concentrate on elbows tight against the vest and arms straight and relaxed, handle on the trailing hip. In the work zone I've been getting the little counter rotation I need and am holding it past the second wake. Off the second wake it is trailing elbow (right elbow going from 1 to 2) locked against the vest for as long as I can hold it there. I even look back towards the boat for a little counter rotation as I move out on the swing. It really feels good. Lots of speed and I'm getting way up on the boat.
Sometimes I think when I ski at -15 in the course, since I don't have to get up on the boat, I don't really get free from the pull of the boat for a nice controlled turn.
Saturday, I finally let the ski cast out at the apex on both sides! I have a tendancy to keep it more under my body on my off side. The hips got lower and with getting further up on the boat the ski came around nicely. Elbows locked in and I was off to the races.
I wish I could do that everytime.
Inspite of 10 - 20 mph winds, my wife and I did manage to get out both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Managed to find "relatively" calm water, at least it wasn't white capping where we skied.
Concentrating on the wake crossings with the "handle to the hips".
I prefer to think of it this way instead of "hips to the handle". If my hips are low then the ski is on edge and I want to keep it there, so "handle to the hips". If the handle is high and I think "hips to the handle" then the hips come up and the ski flattens out a bit.
I locked my elbows against the vest as tight as I can get them for as long as I can hold them there. Since I'm free skiing with no buoys, I just do 2 handed turns and try to crank my wake crossings (applying a little counter rotation between the first wake and the center) getting as much speed as I can and try to get as far up on the boat as possible. I let the speed bleed off and then its another 2 handed turn trying to get as much speed as I can.
I think it gets me into the habit of not releasing the handle too soon. It's getting better each time I go out.
It has been a cold winter but two weeks ago the air temps were in the upper 60's and the water temp finally got back to 50 degrees. Thank you, O'Neil Psycho II 4/3 wetsuit. Never felt the cold in the core or extremities. Hands and feet, well that's another story. They were cold.
My ski buds talked me into going right out and ski the course. I never do this. I normally free ski for about 10 outings first and then start chasing buoys. First of all, I almost didn't get up out of the water. It was my fault. The boat wasn't lined up with the course when I got in. I just zipped up and jumped in. Being LFF I natually move to the left coming out of the water and the boat had to turn left to get lined up. Not a good start to 2011.
I get lined up and the course is really looking sweet. Something about green, yellow, and red buoys all lined up that just makes you feel really good. I had been watching Slash all winter and picked up something with JB's pull out that I wanted to try. It worked too well. I had lots of acceleration on the pull out and immediately lost my balance. Also, every thought I had last summer about what to do what and when flew right out of my head. Managed to recover and turned for the gates. I had a clear view of the gates as they passed about 5 feet infront of me. Still, the brain isn't registering anything. Oh well, timing can come later.
One ball! I don't remember one ball. Somehow I got around it but the brain is still somewhere else. Surprise, surprise I have lots of space before 2 ball to screw up which I did. One rule of cold water skiing is DON'T FALL. I forgot that rule and as the 50 degree water went down my neck I thought, "Yeah, I'm skiing"!
The rest of the passes were uneventful. I managed to find the gates and actually saw 4 ball as I passed inside of it a number of times.
That was Saturday. Sunday, I free skied behind my boat, slowed things down and actually got the brain engaged. First time firing up the BU this year. God, I missed the sound of that Monsoon engine.
The guys at work think I' nuts. My wife thinks I'm nuts. Everybody thinks I'm nuts except my ski buds. They think I'm as sane as they are!!! We just enjoy the hell of this sport! Come on summer!!!
The Mid Atlantic boat show is in Charoltte this weekend. I'm going because I'll get to see April and Chris Eller there. I haven't congratulated her on her first pro win yet. Hard to believe she hasn't won before. I've seen her in so many run-offs for first place only to loose to Karen Truelove or Regina.
I'm betting I won't see 1 ski boat there. I already talked to the Malibu dealer and they don't even have one on their lot this year. The Nautique dealer isn't even going to participate in the boat show. Mastercraft will be there but I bet they only have their cross-over boat.
My definition of a cross-over boat is, "Nobody is happy"!
Changed email addresses and wanted to correct the one I had on Fifteenoff.com. Wow, I expected to see the old site but this looks really nice. I'll have to poke around awhile to get comfortable.
Didn't post much in the last year. I had the wrong set of priorities but am going to correct that this year. I got my Assistant Scorer rating and am planning on working and skiing a lot of local tournaments this year including the NC State Tournament.
Trying to get to Seth Stisher's place on April 9th for some coaching to start the season out right. It was another cold winter in NC this year. The water temp dropped below 50 really fast and hasn't recovered yet. 50 degree water is about as cold as I'm willing to tolerate. I'm hoping to get back in the water around mid March. I know, I shouldn't complain.
I did get to ski behind the new Centurion ski boat last November. It is definitely a tournament ski boat. The wakes were very nice at 30, 32, and 34 mph. Are they better than the Nautique 200? In my opinion they are about the same. It had one really nice feature. On the front starboard gunwale there is an adjustable sight that the driver can use to line up his boat path. It was adjustable from inside the cockpit with a remote control lever. I didn't get to drive it but everyone who did said it handled really nice.
I also got a new ride last year. A 2010 S1. What a difference from my 2005 Monza. The S1 is so easy to turn and really fast across the wake. It's my new BFF.