1 week away from the first tournament of the year. I decided to drop 15 off to start getting ready for the tournament. I also tried out a little tweak to my gate. I have always tried or intended to counter rotate through my gate (or at least the last year or so) in my Tuesday set I didn't like my gate consistency so I tried to do the same concept with a different application. As I reach my turn in visual, I would line up my hip bones to point at 1, or said another way, to point my right hip bone at 1. This set I did this the whole set and while it felt a little different to do it that way, it was very consistent at every line length. Yesterdays set was really good conditions, 10 - 15 mph crosswind, water 80, air 84 (we're finally getting a string of 80+ days). 22, 28, 32 were all really good. 35 was not the cleanest I've ever run, but was decent. I got a really nice start at 38 and surprised my self with how good I got into 3 but I didn't get out of it well and skied inside of 4 (in a tournament I would have got 4) my next 2 tries at 38 were not as good and I couldn't get out of 2 very well. I've been running 35 fairly regularly and it's starting to feel like 32.
Skiing is still progressing nicely and my ability to ski out of the second wake is what's making the difference. Right mix of downcourse component, and outward component.
Moving with the boat.
I'm about as giddy as I can be about my skiing and it's mostly about feel and potential. I don't think I've ever come off the water feeling as good about a set where I missed 4 of my passes. (half my misses were at 22 off). Little tweaks, little thoughts, minor fixes are making the difference.
Yesterday air 72, water 79. 34.2 mph 15 opener (I've been trying to not start here for a week or 2 and I keep convincing myself it's another opportunity for muscle memory), 22 I missed twice at 2 and the only thing I can justify is that I didn't move my inside hip and shoulder out and forward (as I've been indicating in the "moving with the boat"). After I missed it twice the driver asked if I wanted to cut it anyway. I told him if I miss it again I'll cut it, but the next once was nice. 28 and 32 were good but I didn't ski the gate very well at 32. I focused on getting a good gate at 35 which gave me a really nice start but I came into 2 in great shape and froze, just stopped moving the pass was over. Next 35, great gate, 1 and 2 and then froze at 3. Quit moving forward and out and the pass was done. Next 35 may have been the greatest first half of 35 in the history of mankind skiing. (it probably wasn't that good, but it felt so light, tight and right) The second half had a few glitches but was okay. I know I should be running more 35s per set, but my starts are feeling pretty sweet by now so I try a 38. By this time I'm heading into a setting afternoon sun and it gets a little hard to see buoys with a little chop on the water. But my gate, 1 and swing into 2 feels like I'm running 32. I kind of moved a little late but my arrival at 2 felt like I was where I wanted to be.
I've been getting butterflys heading to the lake. I've not been taking ibuprofen. I'm not missing any 32s. 35s are starting to feel like 32s or even 28s, when I have my head in the right place. 38s are getting a little bit of work and I'm feeling good about the things I feel when I get there.
Last week may have been the worst 4 days weather wise in succession that I have ever skied in my life. I've had days that had stronger winds, but never 4 in a row like that as far as I remember. Every day was 20 - gusting to 30+, On the last day the wind was the lowest but it was raining, our water temp is below 70 (usually 85+ in early May). It's been great for adverse weather training and all that stuff and I felt like I skied pretty decent given the conditions but definately tailed off near the end of the last set. Pretty happy with what I'm working on, but still trying to find the best way for me to think about it and keep it as simple as possible. I'm also able to add in spotting the next ball earlier.
It seems to keep coming back to the inside hip action and movement. The more I can advance the inside hip into, through and on the backside of the ball. The faster I head in the other direction with minimal load. If I just had not tried to do the opposite of that for 25+ years it might be easier to commit to.
For us in the south, it's still early in the season but we've been at it for over a month. The water is still unseasonably cool but not frigid. Weather has been a major player for most of us this year. There's been a couple of days when I was struggleing with how I want to address my skiing that I wussed out due to cold windy conditions that I knew I didn't have the answer for on that particular day. There's also been cold rainy days that I went out and skied in the rain. I used to think I couldn't get things to feel very good because it was cold, but then I'd see people crushing buoys in the cold. I've had people tell me I couldn't ski well because my ski wasn't set up properly. I've had way too many people tell me my ski was way beyond worn out. There's been a bunch of reasons that have been ready and available for me not putting up the scores I want to put up. I have briefly subscribed to some of these excuses/reasons at times and tried another ski, changed my fin, moved my boots, etc. I was pretty sure it was the idiot operator. Skiing in strong winds like BillBarton did the other day will tell you all you need to know about your skiing.
15 off - the line length. It's a long rope, but that doesn't make it an easy rope. I see some people make it look easy (not a lot of them). Usually when someone can make 15 off look easy, they can run 35 fairly easily. Once they can run 32 off they usually stop running 15 off at all. So here I am the last couple of weeks wondering about whether to keep skiing 15 off or not. I have an argument both for and against. I think my argument for has won. When I ski 15 off right, it is really fun. When I mess it up a little bit, it's not nearly as fun. When I responded to Joel a couple of weeks ago about the difference between 15 and 38, I didn't have as much figured out as I do now. It's all the same thoughts, it's all the same moves, it's all the same ideas, it's just harder to execute as the line gets shorter. It's harder to perform the correct thing when you get a crazy turn or a crazy off balance load, or you're running late. All these are my reasons for continuing to run 15 off for now. It's 6 easier opportunities to execute correctly. 6 more times to burn into muscle memory. 6 more chances to become a slalom robot (only with feelings). I may not be feeling this way if I hadn't run some sweet 15 offs in the last couple of sets. Too many of them have been too radical and herky jerky after spending a year not running them. As I've said before, a nice 15 off pass is as fun as any nice pass.
First mid week set of the year was Tuesday, I was the only one skiing. It was overcast and cool with a little bit of wind. I was hoping to pick up right where I finished on Sunday. I did a lean drill up and down the lake and then had the driver go 32, 15off. I was kind of hit and miss with my technique. I think I was thinking so much about not overloading that my movements weren't right a lot of the time. Once I figured out some of that, I was getting good starts but messing up somewhere in the pass. I'll let y'all in on a little secret, 15 off is hard when you're not standing on the ski properly and moving properly. There were a lot of ugly passes in this set.
Set 2 of 2013. I have to admit set 1 was not as good as I had hoped. After months of inactivity due to my neck/back etc, I was aprehensive about what this year would bring.I put on 10 pounds and I'm not a large framed guy. I've been ramping up my workouts and doing better about what I eat. I'm trying to find every advantage I can just to close the gap with my main ski partner. (who has been skiing some throughout the winter)
Set 1 was some drills to get my motion started properly about how I want to move in sequence. Pullout drills like a simulated gate pullout on both sides of the boat. I did the same thing for the first 2 passes of my second set. The difference was I had all week to think about what to correct from set 1. Set 2 was much better as far as technique and the difference was easy to notice. I was thinking more about trailing arm pressure, level shoulders and being tall (which essentially means being better aligned). Now I was accelerating a little more like I wanted to. After a couple of passes of pullouts, I started doing some crossings. The first couple of passes had some hiccups in the crossings where I would get pitched at the wake from time to time. Once again I started trying to feel trailing arm pressure and the hiccups went away. Once I had a few of those feeling okay, I moved to skiing ahead of the course for a couple of passes. The feeling of turning with speed is a little flakey right now, but I was able to link a few turns and loads.
I have been thinking about football players and ice baths since I skied set 1. In reading about there seems to be some conclusion that around 55 is the best temperature for an ice bath. It just so happens that our water temp on Friday was close to that. I threw on my shorts and decided to try a giant ice bath. I tried it 3 times but couldn't stay in it longer than about 15 seconds because I couldn't breath. Again, I was not unbelieveably sore the next day (sore yes, but not like I remember).
Approaching 2 and a half months of my situation and I'm getting itchy for some activity increase. It may have something to do with it being 75+ here for the last week. I'm constantly torn between generally taking it easy and wanting to get some real exercise. The days have been filled with range of motion stuff, stretching, rolling and things like that. The pain seems to be getting better each week and the numbness in my finger appears to be going away.
I stopped seeing a chiropractor about 2 weeks ago. I was never a big believer in chiropractor care prior to this situation but I was willing to try anything at the time. I have to say that she opened my eyes to massage therapy (which was another thing I was skeptical about). If it wasn't for massage therapy, I don't think I'd be feeling as good as I am today.
I've also completed 4 Rolfing sessions, have another one scheduled and believe this is helping me. Rolfing is not cheap and I am not doing it because the sessions feel great, but after each session, a day or 2 later I feel significant improvement in my situation.
Starting to get itchy for skiing again.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome appears to be what I have. It is the compreesion of a nerve through my neck down my arm and into my fingers. It appears to be caused by any number of things that fit me pretty well, multiple crashes, not the greatest posture, tight muscles...things like that.
Normally this time of year, I would be working out, skiing a little, getting stuff done around the house and other things like that. This year it's getting massages, connective tissue manipulation, studying up on how to correct this issue, finding stretches for my neck, correcting posture issues, figuring out how to get 1/16" more clearance for this nerve.
At it's worse, it was a nightmare. The pain from every muscle in the vacinity of the nerve pinch going into spasm and bending me up like crazy was about all I could handle. The pain was so wide spread I couldn't figure out what was going on. Once I started getting deep tissue massage, things began to ease up some, but I still had intense wide spread pain through my neck, shoulder and down the left arm.
At this point I owe a huge thanks to Deke for mentioning Trigger Point Therapy and The Rolf Method. Fortunately for me the massage therapist was using Trigger Point Therapy on me without me even knowing it to work out my back spasms. I started using some self Trigger Point Therapy to keep myself somewhat functioning between massage therapist and Rolfing appointments. Eventually a lot of the pain got to a manageable level and then I could start feeling some of the root symptoms.
I'm now over 2 months into this and the progress has been slow and been a little of a roller coaster ride. For the last 2 or 3 weeks I kept thinking I'm a week away from starting to get active again. I think yesterday I came to the conclusion that I have lots of foam roller work left and a lot of stretches ahead to correct my condition. There have been several times where I think I've taken my last ski ride (I don't think it's that drastic, but it could be). The progress has been way too slow for my liking, but I suppose it is what it is. Happy New Year everyone.
Unfortunately, it's going to be a little while before I can ski. We've had mid 70s for a week but today is the first time in a month where I can feel a little progress with my neck. Doctor told me yesterday 2 to 3 months before I can expect to be pain free. It's been several weeks of extreme misery, but I'm starting to feel some relief. I'll probably start exercising a little this week and start slowing ramping up.
I took a couple of weeks off after our last tournament, part of that was it got cold here...okay not cold for you people that have serious cold but cold for down south where it can reach 75-80 any month out of the year (except June, July, August where those are our night time lows). I was a little late ordering a drysuit to replace my 15ish year old Bare Tech Dry and the Oneill Assault arrived this week. I also started this years P90X routine this week and that is always painful for the first week. I got smarter about starting P90X, during the first week I do about half of each workout so it's just painful as opposed to "every part of my body is stiff and sore and I can't tell what is just plain old pain and what is the type of injury that will take 3 months to heal"
After no skiing for a couple of weeks and then using a drysuit for the first time in a couple of years it felt really wierd. I think part of that is I don't wear a vest when I'm in a drysuit. Anyhow skied 6 passes, the first 3 were not good. I was moving too fast and too harsh. After slowing things down it got better and felt like skiing again. Stayed at 28 the whole set, trying to figure out winter skiing again.
Quick synopsis, I went into a tournament 2 weeks ago skiing the best I had skied in a few years. Couldn't hardly miss 35 for 2 weeks. I had a lot of confidence going into this tournament. In the tournament, the wheels came off. Saturday I missed 32 twice (2 rounds Saturday, 2 rounds Sunday), Sunday I ran 2 at 38 and then nearly fell through the gate at 28...never got to 1, score 6 at 22.
Then I had someone ride who suggested I try another ski. So I got on the Strada and was having the same issues. I rode it for almost 2 weeks, sometimes it felt good and sometimes it didn't. By my last set before the tournament this weekend, I was struggling as much as I have struggled this year, confidence was at the bottom of the barrel and I was suffering from skiing depression (a mood I visit from time to time). In the last 4 sets before the tournament, I had not even tried 35 and had missed a bunch of 32s. I was planning on riding the Strada in the tournament but I didn't have any confidence in me or the ski by Friday morning.
A big part of Friday was spent analyzing what I was trying and what I was feeling. Someone had also videoed my Tuesday set...but as usual, I didn't want to see it because I knew it would depress me more, if that was possible. Knowing my shoulder movement was a keeper, the only thing I could come up with was that I was not moving in the direction that the handle wanted to take me. I felt like I was moving into the center of the course (trying to ski perpendicular to the boat path). I also decided to go back to my old ski. The more I though about my fix the better I felt about the tournament.
Saturday morning was cold...for us.... 47 degrees. I had only planned on skiing 1 round each day for a variety of reasons. I was skiing about 11:00 and it had already warmed to about 60-65 degrees. The plan was to be kind of cautious knowing that my old ski won't turn nearly as easily as the Strada I had been riding. I got through the first few passes and after struggling for a couple of weeks was happy just to have a try at 35. I got through fairly drama free except for breaking at 5. Got a pretty decent start and got 2.5 at 38. a hlf buoy less than my best of the year.
After Saturday I started processing for Sunday. Thinking about how to do my correction better. How can I move with the boat better. What was I doing earlier in the year when I was getting "magic gates"? Why does "open" work sometimes really well and other times not so well? Why does "trailing arm pressure" work really well sometimes and other times not so well? Trying to tie all those together before a tournament round can go all kinds of different directions. The thought that gave me something to work with was "moving with the boat". Trying to point my hips where I wanted to go (not perpendicular to the boat path). Cocking my shoulders so that it drove my core where I wanted to go (not perpendicular to the boat path). And for the first time this summer counterrotating at the apex.....why?...so that when I cocked my shoulders it would drive the core where I wanted to go (not perpendicular to the boat path). This thought was reinforced by a guy that comes and skis at our lake, that can't run a full pass. (he commented while watching me ski that my turns finish cleaner when I counter rotate in the turn). My action to counter rotate at the apex is to align my hips so that hip bones align with where I want to go.
So all that babbling for a Sunday round that I expected to run 38 before I ever left the dock. It all felt pretty good even with some wind blowing down the course. I think at 35 I got to giddy at 4 and turned with habit instead of focus. I dorked that turn which caused me to loose my hips and then turned into and hit 5 and lost my hips again and couldn't get to 6 which aggrivated the sheet out of me. But I liked what I felt and want to get a couple of sets of this before we lose daylights savings time. I hope this may tie a few things together...
Our water temp is still low to mid 70s and we're still skiing. SC has the summer season which can be brutal and the winter season which can be cool but it's not that hard to ski all year...if that's what you really want to do.
I'm currently trying a 2012 Strada. The first ski I've tried in 5-7 years.
Anybody know any good articles on maintaining outbound direction? I need to do a better job in this area of my skiing to get my buoy count up some more.
I'm a month into my tilt out turn movement and here's the 1 month evaluation. I like this stuff. It's one of those rare things where I liked it when I first started trying it and I still like it just as much 16 sets later. About 2 weeks in I had the ability to crush any pass I was trying...however I could still loose focus if i was knocking it out of the park or if I had a movement glitch. I got to the point where I was keeping the rope on 35 a lot, but would make a silly mistake somewhere and mess the pass up. I was about to start making sure I ran a few 35s where I run a pace 15-20 feet upcourse of the buoys just to make sure I would focus on the movement for 6 or 7 turns at a time at that line length and then I started running a bunch of them, many of them really well. My success rate for the last 2 weeks is about 70%.
Yesterday I tried to add a gentler approach just to see if things got better or worse (and because my lower back has been tight lately because I haven't been stretching enough) and I'm not sure how to evaluate the results. I think I like it better, but I need another handful of sets to figure that part out. I know I don't work as hard, but I'm not as wide and early either, it does give me some adjustability in the pass though. For the first time since trying this latest stuff I started trying to figure it out at 38 and realized I have a ways to go there. I end up wider at 1 at 38 than I do at 32 and 35 so getting the pace and effort level right on the starts is the first thing I need to correct. I tried it 3 times yesterday and only got it started right 1 time. On that one good start I attacked/rushed 2 and got splattered going to 3, peeled both eyelids back. After this tournament I plan on skiing some 35s and 38s 15-20 feet upcourse of the buoys.
Weather is still holding out here 80 water, low 80s air. Although it looks like those will get lower next week.
Progress, sometimes I think I'm making it. I can go back and review my stuff on here or in my notes at home and see that it was an illusion or I could tell something was better but maybe the way I was thinking about it was not how I should be thinking about it.
Trailing arm pressure was one of those things that made me think a lot about how to get it right, being open was a similar thought. I knew I was doing some good things with these but I could also mess up with the same thoughts. Sometime in July I think, one of the guys I ski with some made the comment "Level up your showldas!" (said with an Australian accent....because he's Australian). Now that's a pretty basic comment and depending on how you ski, it may be easy or hard to accomplish. Fortunately (I think so far), I stayed with this concept, not that I didn't try other stuff at times, but I did generally stay with the concept of keeping the "showldas" level. One of the better days was just trying to stay vertical with the upper half of the body, throughout the pass. I have had reasonably successful days thinking that way before, but never consistently from one set to the next. (This is also how Seth told me he thinks of it....staying upright with the top half of the body). The problem was I could do it one set and be right back to square one the next set. I have also had many people tell me to keep my inside shoulder high but I never had ANY success with that. One day I just decided to think completely outside of my box. Driving the outside shoulder lower than the inside shoulder at or just before the apex seemed like something that might work or might lead me to some other way to think about it. I have been surprised about how well it works. The only time it seems to fail me is when I don't focus on the thought and go back to habit.
Yesterdays set was slightly windy which makes for very difficult sun conditions one way. It becomes nearly impossible to see the turn buoys until you get wide of them. 22, 28, 32 which I missed into the sun. I decided to run this one into the sun again and ran a good one. For the most part, the first 3 passes have been going good. It's usually around the 4th or 5th pass that I start getting back to my old shoulder leading habits or I'll get a good start at 35 and get happy with how it's going and lose concentration. This time I ran a pretty good one with the sun at my back. Then I ran a good one going into the sun. Then I ran most of a good one with the sun at my back until I got lean locked going into 5 (which tells me I didn't execute the turn like I want) and didn't get 6. Then I ran another good one into the sun. This is my best repeated success at 35 in years. I did try a 38 at the end but took too much gate load and couldn't execute at 1.
The latest focus appears to be pretty valuable. 35 yesterday felt close to what 32 has felt like for all summer. I have comfortable space and as long as I stay focused on 1 movement, I can get through it pretty well. I'm trying to stay at 35 and work more progressively. The smoother I try to be, the easier it gets.
Finally getting rid of this cold, allergy, virus, whooping cough disease that I got the day before our last tournament 3 weeks ago. This stuff has been annoying, particularly the painful earaches and congestion.
My focus hasn't been the greatest with my erratic skiing schedule. But I need to cement this turn style because it is special for me. As long as I think about this right (the correct way for me) it is special and when I mess something up and come in narrow or late and don't get it right it is special needs.
The evolution process is funny. I learned how to survive somewhat with my inefficient style to a reasonable degree. I learned that if I take my time at certain points with this inefficient style I could survive and ski at a certain success rate. Then I make a trial and error discovery and as long as I execute a certain way, I can carry more speed through the turn and exit the buoy earlier. However if I fall back into my habits and years of what I did, then I can't get off the buoy at all. It's trying to retrain my brain how to react to all situations so I don't have a bad reaction. It's different and aggravating at times, but it's special when I get it right. On side is a very dramatic, wildly fast change of direction when I get it right and becoming a better turn than my offside.......(I didn't know if I would ever be able to say that). Offside has become better, but mind was fairly clean over there anyway. I'm still processing the best way to think about this stuff and now able to work on it while feeling a little better.
Saturday night was good. I had the Diablo Shores water ski tournament on the computer and SC Gamecocks football on the TV. I don't know how many of y'all watched the water ski tournament, but Freddy K doing color commentary on the skiing was fantastic. He needs to be a regular for slalom commentary.
Only 3 more months in this years skiing (if you live in the south and winter isn't too harsh). This time last year I was up against a wall, skiing going the wrong way and not knowing what to throw at it next. Right now, I feel good about what I'm doing and trying to do and just have to work on purging habits and replacing with good stuff.
I do need to replace my drysuit, looking for good recommendations. I got my money's worth out of the Bare Ultra Dry. Wouldn't mind all baggy so I could layer underneath, except that I've never tried one.
I have not skied in a week. We took my daughter to Disney World. It was her first time and my first time. If all goes according to plan, I'll be back on the water today refocusing on keeping the shoulders level. I did get one post tournament set last Tuesday playing with this. I was not feelin all that energetic, I was actually feeling pretty crappy after being sick and not sleeping well for a week. I went tournament set and ran 3 at 38, which is as far as I've been this year and called it a day. I have not had a chance to really work with stuff (level shoulders) much and I hope to be able to put in some time on this the next few sets.
I've had several weeeks of sub standard performance so it was time to try something different. I don't like to be skiing at the same level for very long unless it was something really competitive in my division.
The idea that I had to ski upper body vertical is valid if I could execute it more consistently. I like it but I was not able to execute it well enough to make any gains so I tried a different way to think about it. I decided to try to lower the outside shoulder at the apex (the idea to level the shoulders off the turn, which drives the core where I'm trying to go). This has be to the fastest way I've ever left the buoy. It also seems to send me on a path that I want to travel.
I tried this initially on Thursday and loved what I was feeling when I did it. The first set I was probably executing at 50% success rate. I had a tournament this past weekend and had to figure out whether to try this or not for the tourney. I was able to get a practice set on Friday which is rare for me. I tried it on Friday and bumped up my success rate of execution by about 10%.
I decided trying it in the tournament wouldn't hurt since my progress was non existent with my current methods. The first gate I got airborne more than I think I've ever been in a tournament, but the rest of the pass wasn't bad. My 28 and 32 were pretty decent, but I didn't execute on my 35 gate and ended up with 1 -1/2 on my first round. I was also getting sick (that's not good!)
The next 2 rounds were on Sunday and by that time I was not feeling very spry at all. I had not been sick in over a year and was not ready for feeling like this (but who ever is). The second round was helter skelter, I was not executing at a very high rate. Executing at about a 50% rate for each pass made for some erradict passes. I got to 35 and was hit and miss at every turn. Got to 4 pretty early but but was very stop and go getting there and it caught up with me at 4.
Third round, I was really congested, nose running, coughing, sneezing, headache, all that good stuff. On my opener, I was as close to falling at 1 as I could be, but I remember thinking I am not going to fall here. I hung on and finished it okay. 28, I had a good gate and 1, and got to 2 amazingly early but missed the handle. Because I was so early and upright at the ball I had time to find the handle and get out the end. Sitting at the end, I decided that I was being too cautious and decided to attack and exagerate my dropping the outside shoulder and ended up skiing a very nice 32. Kept up the aggresive pace and really attacked the 35 gate. This shot me to the end of the line quickly (almost too quickly). I was able to do what I wanted to do and ran it farily easily (which is rare for me at 35, I usually screw up my best ones and run the crappy ones). Time for a pass I had not tried in 2 or 3 weeks, and had not gone any where when I did try them. This was also the first opportunity to try my new way to think of turning. I attacked this one as well, shot to the end of the line quickly again and dropped the outside shoulder down and fired off 1 ball. Usually I'm not efficient at 38 into 2 and stay on a little longer. It got me wide at 2 (a little too wide), but I was able to execute decently at 2 and got to 3 okay, but I was a little forward (which tells me I didn't execute the level shoulders off of 2 as well as I would like). I ended up with 3 at 38, which ties this years high score but the way I look at it, getting there the first time at 38 trying this feels promising.
The idea behind lowering the outside shoulder in the turn is to level the shoulders (not let the inside shoulder drop in the turn). The product is that it drives the core where I'm trying to go efficiently. It was the only thought I took to the water at the tournament. I liked the initial weekend of it, when I did it. Can't wait to play with it more, which won't be much this week as we're taking my daughter to Disney this week. I'll be in the water ski capital of the world and my ski will be 500 miles away.
I've been kind of quiet, cycling through my list, what to keep, what to put aside for now. Running a fair amount of 35s at times and some days I couldn't buy one on Doctor Michael's course. Looking for some consistency with an upward trend. My skiing for the last 2 or 3 weeks has become harder. I was thinking after one particular set the I would like the lower body to swing more. I'm not going into particulars about what I was trying to do, but on the water it evolved into keeping the upper body vertical (which keeps the shoulders somewhat level). Whenever I'm working on something new or something I haven't played with for a while, it becomes a hard mechanical action. This was no exception. There happened to be a photographer at the lake the day I was trying this. What the pictures show and what I felt did not look the same, but I will work on this a few sets and see where it ends up.
Timing, rhythm, pace, feel, calmness. I'm still paying attention to a handfull of things like where the pressure is, where I'm facing, where I'm looking, how much leg tension is being used, how much force I'm applying. Some days I don't get much of those right and still ski okay, other days I get a lot of it right and don't ski all that well.
One tournament last year I was watching this guy run 35 and he took a hit at 1, after that he was as quiet, still and slow and kept a beautiful rhythm for the pass until he killed 5 and stopped the ski. That image of him being really slow moving stuck with me that tournament. When my round came up, I was determined to ski mine that way. I moved as slow off and on the handle as I could and proceeded to run my best 35 of the year that round only to be told I missed my gate. It didn't matter, I was really happy with that pass (except the gate part).
I have been trying to work on this at various times for a year. Some days with great success, other days not so much. Now that I have moved my boots back, my ski carries speed better and doesn't bite so much at the turn finish. This has allowed me to be more patient at the finish of the turn, which has allowed me to run more 35s in the last few weeks than I have in a long time. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but I'm encouraged even with our hot water. Yesterday's set was 22,28,32,35,35 (5), 35 (2.5), 35, 35, 38 (3)
The heat was on in the south for all of July. I believe it was reported that we are somewhere around 40 straight days of temperatures over 90. I had been skiing pretty decent for most of the month but last week our water hit over 96 and both days I did not ski well. No matter how hard I tried, I could not keep the ski from biting at the finish of the turn. The second struggle day, I never went past 32 and ran pass after pass after pass. I will often stay on the water too long when I'm having troubles trying to get as much information as i can. I must have tried 10 32s and none of them were very clean.
On the way home I decided to move my boots back based on what I suspected was going on out there. Then I took another set friday afternoon and things felt much better. I decided to move them back some more and it feels better again. I haven't figured out how to get 38 started properly, but I'm running more 35s than I have since 2003-2004. Now I'm just trying to get where I can make those feel easy. I am not a big fan of chasing fin settings but I am keeping a close eye on water temps and boot placement.
I did jack up my back from that last crappy day. I have a diificult time getting it feeling good first thing in the morning and think I'll just ski easy on my ski days but for what ever reason, I go ahead and ski up the line when I get to the lake.
I ran 38 last night...unfortunately, it was in my dreams...for real. Every once in a while I'll have this dream where I'm running 38 really well, turn 5 and can't get to 6. It's usually in some weird lake or pond with stuff that's out of place in a ski site. In this one, I was scrapping through the pass and there was no boat or rope (I guess you would call this free skiing) and I only remember some of the turns, but there were cypress trees and other stuff very close to the turn buoys.
What does this mean doctor?
Trailing arm pressure (or whatever you want to call it) is back on the menu. I've been revolving through several of the things that I feel are important to my success in the slalom course depending on what I feel is holding me back or what needs the most work.
I got away from TAP for a while due to excessive load off the buoy mostly due to being too aggressive at the finish or another way to look at it is moving too fast off and back to the handle. Locking on the buoy at the turn finish is also something that hinders my turn ability sometimes. I spent a number of sets here recently trying to move slowly & patiently, especially at the gate turn in. While working on this I've run a bunch more 35s, probably more this year than I have in a number of years. I was still having difficulty getting early and wide enough at 2 to get 38 started.
The things I've been alternating through at times depending on what I'm recognizing as my weaknesses are.
vision, being open, speed management-(pace of leaving the handle and more importantly for me, rate of skiing back to handle).
Well yesterday it was back to Trailing Arm Pressure. I expected to struggle since I haven't tried this in a while but it felt like I got into something that had been missing for far too long. The first pass was too aggressive at the finish but space and tight line were much better than lately. Next pass, I slowed things down (me wise) and lightened it up some and it got better. Same with 32. 35, great start and I let my enjoyment of the easy pace distract me and missed at 3, the next 35 was similar but misgripped at 3 - thought I had enough grip to continue but lost the handle right behind the boat (I felt that one a little). Then ran 2 decent 35s. A couple of cracks at 38, good 1's both times, overturned 2 1st time and not early enough at 3 2nd time.
Overall I would say that skiing felt easier than I expected, especially with our hot water. I seem to making slight/slow progress here lately, hopefully that will continue for the future.
In our tournament a couple of weekends ago, my 3rd round was the one I liked the best even though the buoy count was 4 buoys less. This is where I tried to move real, real slow throught the turn because our water had become so hot and soft. The next 2 sets after that were a little off pace as the water is fairley consistenty around 94-96. I decided to move my boots back 1/4 inch for the hot water and so far it appears to be a positive move.
I haven't missed 35 since the move but I'm also trying a mind adjustment. I'm trying to not do something stupid in order to make up for a mistake. What seems to mess me up as much as anything is trying to run passes early or make up time after a hiccup in a turn or load. Finishing on the back of the ball feels nice and you know you're early but it seems to take near perfect execution all the time and I don't seem to be capable of perfection that often.
The hot water we have right now requires that I move real slow in order to keep a connection as much as possible. When I'm doing this at my best, it seems all passes feel very very similar. 22 never feels early, never feels late, it just feels like good course rhythm, 28, 32 and 35 have the same feeling except that hiccups effect me more at shorter rope. I've tried 38 more in the last week than I have all year. I probably have 10-15 attempts at 38 all year. Every now and then I get a pretty good start but I need to work on the same thought process at 38 that I'm using for 35. One feeling that stands out...especially at 38 but at 35 as well is that the more force/lean I put on the rope, the narrower my path at the ball is.
The main thought/thoughts I'm working with currently are slow off the handle, slow on the handle and be open. My biggest payoff at the shorter stuff is being slow, gentle and progressive connecting back to the handle. This seems to give me a slow light feel with a good rhythm.
I woke up Saturday (tournament day) and the first thing I remember thinking was.."I'm gonna run 38 today". I had the nerves going early that day. Got to the site early and it was already warm. Lots of new faces for this tournament. A group of about 10 skiers came down from Cobles, a great group of young people with good attitudes. A very welcome addition. I was due up around 11:00, I got warmed up and it didn't take long this day. I had a great driver in Jeff Gilbert (pro tour driver and friend). As I'm on the dock putting my ski on, one of my competitors comes down and starts jabbering in my ear about something or another that I didn't want to hear at that moment. I tried to politely shoe him away with something about "I'm trying to get my thoughts organized". He didn't get the message the first time and I had to stress it some more. He finally got the message (but he would show again later). I had some strong nerves when I left the dock (I'm starting to like that). 22 and 28 were not some of my better passes but I got through them. 32 was aggressive, wide and early, pretty much what I wanted. 35 got wild early, but I stayed alive and got through it. 38 was something I tried only a few times this year as I'm still trying to figure out how to get through 35 properly and easily. I wanted to make sure I didn't do a bunch of Helter Skelter stuff. I got a pretty decent 1 and got over to 2 in good shape, took my time at 2 and hooked up well, got to 3 in good shape and bout had a cow. The excitement got me there and I decided to rush 3 and got a little bent up off of 3. 3 at 38 is my best tournament score since 2005 and it should have been more....dadgum it....but it was an OK start to the tournament.
2nd round was around 4:00. Very similar to round 1 but I was as close to screwing up 28 as I could be without swimming. I was so bent out of 2 that I know some people thought I was done, but I remained calm and didn't try to get early again and finished it. 32 was again strong, wide and early. 35 I dorked up early again, but I panicked and tried to get on time again...dumb move!...down at 3. Before this round, the same guy was back in my ear as I'm about to ski, talking about how the driver can't keep the boat straight, but he drives better than he used to. I shoed him away again, this time a little more forcefully.
At the end of the day, I had to be somewhat satisfied with a 7 year high score.
I woke up Sunday and once again the first thought I remember was "I'm gonna run 38 today".
I got warmed up and it didn't take long to be pouring sweat. This time I took my stuff to the dock and got away from everyone about 15 minute before ski time, Never engaged "the guy" in conversation, I even went to the point of walking further away when I thought he was coming over. When it was my time, I barely spoke to the boat crew (one a training partner, the driver and the boat judge, another friend of mine). Gave them my setting, checked a fray in the rope and off we went. 2 thoughts slow off and slow on the handle (our water is so soft and slow when it's in the mid to upper 90s) and be open. 22 was in a great rhythm, 28 was in a great rhythm, 32 was in a great rhythm, 35 was in a great rhythm. When I got to 5, I could have done anything I wanted to do there...except what I did, which was get a little to far ahead of the rope and down I went. It was the most satisfying tournament set and the most aggravating tournament set I've ever had. In the brief amount of time I lost my concentration, the set was over. It wasn't like I was early or late...narrow or wide, it was like I was so in sync with things that it was effortless. I had 2 of the chattiest people in the boat and we never spoke at the ends (except to say go). I hardly even looked at them when we were shortening and they knew I didn't want to hear anything and it was a sheet load of fun.
More to come about the tournament.
Tuesday - skied in the offshoot of our 3rd Tropical Storm effects this year. Debbies stuff was giving us rain and wind and some cool temperatures on Tuesday. 68 deg when our normal temps for this time of year are 90 ish. Nothing spectacular on this day. I missed my second pass(28) and then tried to work some things out with a couple of 28s thru 35s and I didn't run the 35s. Trying some stuff with my turns and I'm still looking for easy.
Thursday - This was an interesting set, 22 was wierd, 28 - I missed it again and then ran 2 28s, then went 2 32s, ran a couple of them without being very thrilled with them. Thinking that what's causing me problems is moving off and back on the handle too quickly, I tried to slow things down in order to be able to open myself up. The next 32 was pretty nice, especially when compared to most of the last couple of weeks. Then I ran a 35 that wasn't so great, it was similar to the 32s I didn't like. Then I missed a 35. I wanted to try 1 more 35 and I really wanted to exagerate the slow movements and I really wanted to make sure I was open. This was a pass that really got me excited, I had a relatively flawless start, really slow moving actions, which allowed me to really get open, which allowed me to get really wide and really early and have a bunch of space. It kind of felt like a good 28...until my patience ran out on the backside of 4. It's kind of wierd when you like the ones you don't run more than the ones you run. Unfortunately, that's my last one before our tournament this weekend. I could end up with anything from missing my gates on my opener to a PB. Hopefully I can focus enough for the PB.
Our water is getting really soft now, so the turn flaws show up more. We are forcast for upper 90s - 100 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday which means our water will be in the upper 90s at some point this weekend. It's gonna be a warm one.
It's kind of funny Joel put out a post about being in a slump about the same time my skiing took a serious dive back to the painful hacking skiing I've been stuck in before. It started out kind of gradually, with passes being a little harder, not getting as much space, then started missing some passes and I could miss any pass. Something has been going on for a few weeks. So as I often due when I'm struggling, I try harder which to me means more force which makes it even worse.
Well Saturday I hit the bottom, missed more passes than I had in any set this year. This happens to go together with the water getting into the 90s.
I was already struggling before Saturday, so I was very optimistic about my plan to fix stuff. I decided that I would try looking down the buoy lines again with the idea that it would keep me open better. That didn't work, so I switched to looking down the boat guides. That didn't work, so I tried a few other things with little to know success.
The driver said I'm going to give you 1 more pass so I went into survival mode where I turn gently and just keep the pass alive. It wasn't an early pass or a particularly wide pass with space, but it was in decent course rhythm without much drama.
I start replaying it on the drive home and on the next 6 hours on the lawnmower. I had to come up with a gameplan for the Sunday ride which became do all the things I've been working on lately (which are pretty much 2 things, being open and spot the next turn ball in front of the boat before I finish my turn) but this time I want to spend a longer period of time finishing the turn. I guess it's like adding .2 or .3 seconds to each turn finish. When our water is this warm, you can still build speed if the acceleration mechanics are decent, but when you let the handle out, it's like hitting mud and you lose speed quickly. What I'm trying to do is ride the connection longer and move slower off and then more importantly slower back into a loaded position. (like a snow ski racer, stay off HARD edges).
Sunday - this worked well on my opener, not so well on my next pass, missed 28. Then ran a couple of decent 28s. Then went to 32 for about 6 passes. Missed a couple but ran some good ones, everything I missed was due to turning to aggressively, but everything I slowed down the turn on was pretty good, some even had me a little giddy. I went to 35 at the end and turned a few too aggresively most particularly 4. There's a little rewireing my brain for this, but after trying a handful of things to get me back on track, this appears to be the fix. I have 2 more sets to find out before it's time to try it for real. Tournament this weekend.
I had a hard time this weekend, every pass was hard. Line was loose, path was narrow. The next day I figured I would fix it and it got worse. I decided I was trying to hard, depending on lean, being stuck and static.
My thought was to depend on twisting into the front foot WITHOUT trying to lean, just let myself kind of fall off the edge of the ski (as Rossi says). Try to keep pressure off the legs and feet. My reasoning was that this is what's preventing me from opening up when I try so hard to be open and stopping me from swinging. This seemed to work well. I was also trying to not add load as the line got shorter, just twist open into the front foot and fall off the edge without adding/applying lean....let it be easy.
Once I started trying this, I noticed my gates weren't great, but as I got into the course, I liked the flow. On the gates, I felt like I was too nuetral before moving in. I tried keeping some light away pressure to keep the line tighter and that seemed to make my gate better.
Yesterday was a decent day after a weekend that made me want to find another hobby.
Sometimes I have too many things going on upstairs, to be able to fix it in a set makes me happy.
I was feeling like I was making some good progress this past weekend, not necessarily in score, but in feel, flow and space in the course. I could hardly wait until I got back on the water. I was finding some good things for my skiing.
I hit the water with 2 thoughts, stay vertical through the turns, open the hips through the finish. I was also using a brand new rope, so I was expecting some rubber band effect even though I stretched it out good with a come-along. Opener 22, down at 2, (a little bit of eerrrr!) run 22 and 28 twice. Turns are nice...but....I don't feel like I have as much space as last weekend. 32, down at 2 (now missing my opener didn't bother me as much as missing this 32...a bigger eeeeerrrrrrr!!!!) run the next 2 32s with nice turns but not enough space and not as early as I would like. Sit down at the end and ponder. I'm thinking if I'm not wide enough and not early enough, then my hips aren't open enough. Okay abandon vertical upper body concentration and get those hips open before load.
Hooty who! Magic gate is back, space and time before every buoy. Super nice 32. It can't be that easy, lets do it again. Another nice 32. It can't be that easy, let's do it again. Another nice 32. By this time I'm feeling good about skiing. Let's try this at 35. Often times I try to brute force 35 just because that has become a habit for a few years, I'm often apexing at the ball instead of before. This time I've got space and time, I am running the dog dooty out of this one, about halfway into this I'm thinking, I haven't run that many 28s this well. I make a critical mistake coming into 5 by coming off the handle too early and run out of speed before I get to the ball. If you're late, you can come off the handle early and fast and survive, but if you're this early it won't work. It didn't matter, up to that point, it was easily the best 35 of the last several years...maybe ever.
I think I may have come up with the baseline fallback thought for my skiing, open the hips before the load. As I sit here right now, thinking about my best passes of the weekend, the most space I could create, the easiest feeling crossings, etc. The common action was open hips.
The trailing arm pressure thoughts, the open shoulders thoughts and the vision thoughts have all kind of steered me in this direction, but the focus of opening the hips has been a consistent producer in it's brief appearences.
This is kind of a take off of the professor's post about changing things. I will go down a path of thinking and depending on how it feels and how the progression goes, I stay with it, try variations of it or if there feels like there's no benefit to it, abandon it.
The first day I tried openess, I felt like there was enough benefit to continue to explore it. Skiing felt easier and earlier. I was just looking for something to create more space and it appeared to be something Nate Smith was doing. I was finding that even if I got really deep, being open allowed me to handle more load.
So what's the problem? Well some days felt ridiculously easy to be wide open, facing down the lake, creating space, light load, etc. while other days I wasn't that open, no matter how hard I tried and the path was more direct. The worst part was, I was not able to duplicate the "magic gate shot". The one where I feel fast and fluid, light feeling load and I'm arriving early and wide at 1, with as much space as anyone could want.
So I started watching videos on youtube. Mostly 2 skiers, Chet Raley and Nate Smith. There's a video of Chet at 38 off in 1/2 speed. I noticed Chets gate turn in and I watch it over and over. I also watch Nate's turn in and his 2 - 4 side turns because I believe they are the best in the business. To me these 2 skiers seem to do something that I felt was important to my skiing. It's something I want in my skiing and would find from time to time, but needed to figure out how to think about it. From the apex to the turn finish, they have a vertical upper body and the whole upper body moves in behind the handle with very little shoulder tilt.
So how do you do this? It has been explained various ways and now that I understand what I'm trying to do, it makes those explanation's make more sense. Here are some ways I've heard it explained before: Sit on the buoy; or Left butt cheek on the ball (going from 2 to 3) right butt cheek on the ball (going 1 to 2). So why does it matter which cheek you ask? Well this has to do with keeping your upper body vertical and facing down the lake. (keeping shoulders over hips). Now I'm going to TRY to paint a picture. Imagine standing on your ski, tall, weight on both feet, shoulder over hips over feet. One foot in front of the other, ski pointing down the lake. (we've pulled out for the gate, so we have a SLIGHT edge away) How should we initiate the move for the gate? Imagine there's a bench, PARALLEL to the ski about mid thigh high. How would you sit on the bench AND keep the ski parallel to the bench? You would have to open the hips to sit on the bench. This is the way I was picturing it this weekend. I started getting some good gates again (not all the time, but more than I have been). I keep this thought for both side turns and had very favorable results.
I was getting more swing, good line tension, good space and a good mood. Saturday's set 22,28,28,32,32,35,35,32. Sunday's set 22,28,28,32,32,35, 35 (1/2), 35 (3-1/2). In the 35s I ran, I didn't get good starts in any of them, but made up ground in the course to finish them in decent shape. In the ones I missed I got really good gates, but put a little too much energy in the gates and ended up very, very wide and early at 1, and couldn't handle prosperity.
Does any of this make sense or did I confuse people?
4 straight days on the water - I won't be going through each set, because theirs not much note worthy until the last set. I've been focusing on vision for about 7 sets and doing a decent job with my vision. The problem is when I'm thinking of where to look, the habits of closing off resurfaces and my line starts getting flatter and flatter (or more with the boats direction).
This weekend I went to a plan where I run 28s until I get a few of them I really like, with a bunch of space. Then I go to 32 and run a bunch of them. One of the guys I have been skiing with has been giving me good feedback from the mirror and from the feel from the boat. He has been telling me that I am not open enough (which I kind of knew, but haven't been correcting). So after a couple of passes yesterday that did not make me happy, I put my mind back on full exaggerated open twisting ness, from the very first load, I was like a kid in a candy store. The more I can get everything facing down the lake (except the ski) The more speed, angle and space I can create. It's like the course got longer and narrower. I can take my time, getting into a twisting openess position and gain gobbs of space. I think the key for me is keep twisting through the load, no static position, just trying to get my body facing down the lake until the release point. The more I can load it up through the twistyness, the more it rockets to shore upon release. I still haven't found the point of too much openess and I've tried about as hard as I can. When I can tame the vision and the open twistyness at the same time, new PBs will be coming....must be patient and stay the course grasshopper.
Tuesday - 100% chance of rain...at least that's what they said. Beryl was suppose to be on top of us by now, but the winds were calm and it wasn't raining so off to the lake I went. When I got there and got ready, it started to rain. We went to the boat under a canopy with all my gear on and waited. It started raining harder so we sat there and waited then it lightened up some and I decided I would do what I could do in the rain.
The plan as it has been lately is to be open and spot my targets at the apex. As long as I do a reasonable job of this, I'm running decent passes through 35. So I have decided to try and cement this into my actions, try to commit it to muscle memory. In order to do this I need to be focused on it pass after pass after pass until it just starts happening because that's what you do when you get to these points in the course.
When this is my focus, I'm usually pretty good for the first 4 passes or so, but I'm trying to be good through 8, 9 or 10 passes. So I go out at 22, then 28, then 32, 32, 32, 32, 32, 32, 32....I really don't know how many 32s it was. I just wanted to keep running them and keep spotting my targets. Somewhere in there, after a few of them it started getting harder and choppy. I didn't recognize that my target spotting was getting weaker, I just reasoned that if the passes were getting harder, then I must be failing in my goals so I tried to strengthen my target spotting skills and things got better again. I'll work on this for some sets until I get a good grasp and don't have to think about it as much. This really seems to clean up my turn finish..as long as I don't rotate the turns.
We had our first tournament of the year and Tropical Storm Beryl sent us some wind to try out later in the day. We were low on officials and I ended up in the boat way more than I should have. First round conditions were pretty good, unfortunately I didn't get to play that round since I was in the boat for the first round and a half. The wind started becoming more of a factor as the second round started. It was affecting the skiers more than the water since it wasn't blowing down the lake.
I finally got out and got a ski ride in right at the end of the second round. I expected to be nervous, but I was fairley calm. I took 2 thoughts out with me like I did the last set before the tournament. Be open and find my vision target. I didn't feel anything special but did a good job of finding my targets the whole round and got through 35 fairly clean despite the wind. The only hiccup in the set was being to hot on the gate at 38. We had a 20-25 mph quarterly tail wind that happens to push me out on my gate pullout. I was too fast when I wanted to turn in. My mistake (I think) was that once I realized I was too fast, I started creeping in towards the gate when I should have stayed away from the boat. I lost my hips through the gate and ended up heading at 1 instead of out and wide. I ended up with a weak 1 at 38.
Here's where I really made a mistake, I ended up driving the rest of the tournament at someones request but also trying to make sure that everyone knew I wanted at least one more ride if not 2. When everyone got finished and I brought the boat back, everyone started leaving their positions and I again requested a round. (now I'm starting to get aggitated). I was able to round up a boat crew and someone else skied while I got ready. The boat came to pick me up, I'm ready to go and the boat calls in to the judges and scorer.....nobody's home. By this point, I'm not exactly happy as I take my ski off while the boat goes to see WTF is going on. 5 - 10 minutes later they come to get me. At this point, I'm way more aggitated than focused. Anywho, I run 22 and 28, at 32 I miss grip the handle at 2 and only get 2 fingers on. I'm able to get back to 4 in good shape where I think, "okay I got back to a point where I can fix my grip" only thing was I didn't spot my target and I go down.
I learned 2 things, don't let myself be taken advantage of if it's going to make me angry. and my mental focus needs some work to overcome things like this. I'm not blameing anyone even though it probably sounds like I am. I let it happen. I just need to learn to look out for myself a little.
Today is suppose to be my normal ski day but Beryl is passing back through again.....not looking good so far.
I flaked out for a set or 2, trying some variations of thoughts that were obviously not a beneficial way to think. So yesterday I tried 2 basic things: Being open and downcourse vision by the time I hit the apex. My confidence was not at a peak because of my last set, but I tried to do a lot of visualization and dry land movements prior to this set. I had planned on grading myself after every pass while at the end and try to visualize getting it right prior to the next pass. Very little words between me and the boat between passes.
I get off the platform, the boat tightens up and then the boat won't accelerate, several tries, boat won't go.@#$%^! Take the ski off, try some things with cruise and boat. %$#&@ ILLMOR motors!!!.
I guess the boat decides it's finally ready to go up and down the lake. Grading wise, I'd have to give myself a pretty high grade for spotting my intended target. I was able to spot my target everytime by the finish of the turn. There were times I should have spotted sooner, but if I can spot everytime before the finish, I'll be reasonably happy....for a while. I'll go B on the vision grade. As far as being open, I'll have to grade myself a C or C-. I did not exagerate this enough for my liking. I was not closed off, but I was not as open as I would like. Skied 22, 28, 32, 35, 38 (1/2), 35 (2.5, was in better shape on this one and left the handle too soon and too quick, then a 1-1/2 again too soon and too quick).
I think I've got a little better grasp on what I want to refine right now. I want to get better on the 2 things I discussed above. I'll ski this tournament and then get back to just running passes. Run more 28s and 32s, hoping to move the work lines to 32 and 35. I want to thank the professor for reminding me of a few things and talking me off the ledge at times. There's going to be a few fun nerves this weekend.
Ohh! and guess what...another Tropical Storm is expected to develope off our coast this weekend.
Tuesday - I put too much into my head yesterday. Well it was really only 1 thing too much and I didn't think about it the right way. I was carrying a thought of keeping the shoulders level as much as possible which caused me to lose the thought of how to ski under load and where to look and when. First handful of passes were not good, no width, no speed and no direction. It felt like I was learning all over again. Missed some 28s and ran some crappy ones. It got better once I got back to being open and keeping vision down the course. Hopefully I've eliminated that goofy idea. I'll stick to those 2 ideas for a while until I can do them all the time without thinking about it too much. Near the end of the set I ran some better 28s and a couple of 32s. Not the kind of day I wanted heading into a tournament weekend....but it is what it is.
Tropical Storm what's her name formed off our coast this weekend, tropical storm usually sounds worse than it is unless it sits on you for days and days.
The skiing has been a little stagnant and the gate seems to be not as easy as it once was. I saw some several week old video of my skiing. It's the first time I've seen my skiing in 8 years and I'm amazed I can run the buoys I run. I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw it. Yesterday I had a skiing partner ride and his comment was "I'm getting a better look at something that I see in the mirror and it's been bugging the sheet out of me. You need to level your shoulders!" One of those things that I sometimes think about when I have a free moment in the course. When ever I take the time to have that thought, It usually results in a better crossing. He made this comment about 5 passes in, and I worked on it a few passes. I had to go back to 28 to try to get a decent feel for doing it everytime and when I did that, the pass was relatively drama free and felt pretty easy compared to what I had been doing which was being open but leading shoulder dominant or tilted to the lead shoulder. Hopefully I can do better with this next time out because I could use a jump start in my skiing about now. I've been running a bunch of 32s, but feel like they should be less work than I'm doing. Hopefully this change will make that difference.
We had a fair amount of wind this weekend with the TS. After running a bunch of 32s, I thought I'd take one try at 35. I had my worst crash of the season without a doubt and was pretty stiff for Sundays set.
Late in the work day which also happens to be my ski day, I started hearing rumbling and noticed things darkening so I looked out a different window and saw a dark ominous sky. Checked the weather on the computer and saw lots of red and yellow on the radar along with severe t-storm warnings, high winds, quarter size hail, all that good stuff. Very slow moving and practically on top of the office. The lake is twenty miles west of my office and I decided if I was going to ski today, I'd better haul butt to get it in. So I hurried out of the office, hurried to the lake, hurried and got my stuff on, hurried a very brief warmup, you can kind of see where this going. Never got my mind quieted and focused on the movements I want to have, never got a mental picture of what was going to be happening. Rumbling in the sky continues, water is up and nervous from severe storms the night before.
22 went by in a blur, seemd like a 5 second ride, 28 went by in a blur, I know some things aren't what I want, but the mind is scattered, not much focus going on. I'm not early and wide like I've been getting more of lately, I'm not taking my time to get the moves right. Nothing feels extremely terrible, but it also is not what's been going on the water, there's no exagerated movements. I know I'm not facing down the lake near as much as I want. 32 is okay but not as early and not as wide and not carrying as much speed as I have been lately. 35 is about the same, run it okay, but not how i want it to be. To many thoughts not associated with performance skiing. 38 gets a decent start (I think this might only be my second attempt of the year), then it comes to an end at 2. Thats where the fast, scattered thoughts end the ride. I'm surprised it got this far. Go back to 35 and don't get far this time. Go back to 32 and don't get through that. I then try to get my focus and get several ones, but not with the feel I'm looking for. Wierd ski day. On one hand I get as far as I've gotten this year so far and all I can think is that some of my skiing has evolved into a little more openess out of what I've been trying to do. But vision, exagerated openess, high speed, high angle, direction, etc stayed on shore and never got in the boat with me. I would have rather skied the first 3 like I've been skiing them and miss 35, than run the buoys I ran. I'll have a much better focus next set. At least I better because today is not how I want to ski....I was in too much of a hurry the whole time.
I like this square to the course stuff because it's kind of simple and kind of forgiving, it's easy on the body for the most part. But as Johnseed mentioned it will let you know that your core area is doing some work. I have been doing more stretching and more yoga as a result of what I'm trying to do now to keep the lower back from being to tight. I am now getting to a point where I can be wider at 32 off than I was at 22 off a month ago come back in and hit the backside of the buoy with my shins. This is important to me because I haven't been able to do this since 2004ish. Now the wierd part is I didn't miss many 35s that year, but right now I'm capable of having an earlier and wider line right now than I ever could then, however I'm not running near as many as I think I should be. Right now I get to exicited when I do something really well , for example: Lets say I get this crushing start at 35, 1,2,3 with a nice tight smooth line, my brain will start talking to me going "that was a freaking awesome start!" or "you just nailed that load turn combo!" and I'm out of the moment. I love the feel of a good pass, no matter what the line length or speed.
Yesterday I go out and have this amazingly fluid start on my opener and I'm coming from what feels like 20' wide and 40' early (probably an exageration) on buoys 1, 2, and 3 hitting the backside of the buoy, about as tight as I can finish a turn, carrying more speed than I know how to carry and I have this flash "THIS FEELS FREAKING AMAZING!" and in the blink of that sentence, I've goobered that pass. So I go back and run the 22 this time instead of being amazed. 28 uneventful, 32 goes just like the start of opener, wide, early, fast (but in a slow feeling sort of way). This time I'm hitting every buoy on the shin at the backside of the ball. I'm surprised I stayed focused on that one. Then went to 35 and was cruising well through 4, when I just had to go back to old habits and rotate in which killed my speed and I went down at 5. Even at 5 I should have taken my time and did it right and would have run it no problem. I'm to used to being narrow and late at 35, that i don't know how to handle prosperity. Now along those same lines, I did detect something on my gates at 35, I tried several of them, and even though I was having a gate problem, I was still running them well until I would make a big blunder somewhere, often times in very good shape. By this point, I was starting to get a little tight in the arms and get a little frustrated. So I went back to 32 trying to fix my gate problem, which was loading before being open or rotaing in to the load as opposed to rotating out in the load. For what I had just butchered at 35, this was a good pass. I'm going to spend the next set with a bunch of 32s...but a 35 or 2 as well...right professor?
One of the early entries I put on this site was called "Trying to make it feel easy" (it may have even been my first). It was about trying to replicate my 2004 skiing which was the best year I ever had skiing. That year I went from struggling at 28 & 32, with some occasional miracle 35s to running 35 and deep 38s all the time and the occasional all 6 at 38. Back then I knew what I wanted it to feel like, and I knew I had certain keys or things I wanted to do. I thought I knew what was making me successful at the time but that apparently wasn't the case. Since then it has been a lot of reading and watching videos (none of me) of the best of the best.
I have tried a bunch of things, if I could get to a certain relative high point, I'd stay with that method until I could find something that worked better. Trailing arm pressure was something that when I could get right, was amazing. The problem was, some days no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it right and it was frustrating the crap out of me. I decided to try it with being open to the boat and I could duplicate it again with reasonable success. So this moves being open to the boat/course as my base thought. When I started trying this it felt very foreign to me because it was. It is the complete opposite of what I thought I wanted to do with my shoulders/body. When I watch Joels video, it reinforces that even more. I have never seen Joel move that fast from one side to the other, that cleanly (through the gate, off of 2 and off of 4) with that much direction.
I am starting to feel some of the things from 2004, I'm not there yet, but I may be closer than I've been in a long time. I told my driver from yesterday that sometimes I want to be further down course than I am. He questioned "further DOWN COURSE!!??" I said yes further DOWN Course! I actually fear coming back into the middle of the turn buoy and it disrupts my rhythm.
Right now it feel's like I should run almost every 35 I try, but I have this bicep, forearm injury that hurts like heck if I scrap much. So now I'll be in a 35, making mistakes, but in reasonably decent shape, get to a point where my mind will flash "go big here!" but instead of going big, I'll abort the pass because I want to ski "quieter/cleaner" than I have up to that point. Yesterday I did that at 4 twice and 5 once. In the past I would have done whatever I thought it would take to get through it.
There may be a big test of this method this weekend, I got a fringe name at the pro level to try this last weekend and it may transform his skiing. 1 week is a short time to grasp this, especially at the 39/41 level, but look for the initials AA at the Masters Last Chance Qualifier coming up.
Thursday - I had the girlfriend of one of my ski partners riding in the boat while I skied. She is a young attractive girl who happens to be a snow ski instructor. So at the ends my simple instructions were to keep my chest facing down the hill. As long as we were doing that, or making sure I get back to that quickly, we would keep running buoys. 22, 28, 32, 32, 32, 32, 35 2-1/2, rushed rotation, 35 3-1/2, 35. I still have a tendency to rush turns at 35 even though I'm in fine shape. I don't take the time to make sure I'm open before I take the load. On the one I ran I was able to take my time and finish turns before I load. I should be running these everytime now based on the space I have. This is the best paths I've ever had at 35 when I execute the plan. Back in 2004 when I was running this all the time, I don't think I was running them with as much space as the ones I'm running now. I just need to get my consistency up. I'd like to be spending my work time at 35, but only if I'm running most of them.
Well I was writing a synopsis of yesterdays set and trying to do work when I somehow exited the site and lost it without posting...arrrrgh.
I'm trying to be open under load 1st and foremost, but I'm also trying to add in picking up a downcourse target prior to and through the turn finish. When I do both, I'm not as good at either one. I get the most benefit from being open without a doubt, but the downcourse target keeps me from finishing the turn to hard. I'm pretty sure I'll need both to get where I want to get to, but I'm trying to focus on being open, because I can create lots of space with it. Not only does it create space, but it gives me an edge change I like and keeps the line tight.
Yesterday I went 22, 28, 32s (a bunch of them, maybe 8-10, I did miss 2 trying to do both things at once). I did decide to try a 35 at the end because I didn't want it to feel foreign when I start trying them again. I was trying to focus on being open at 35 (I tend to start closing off more here) and created a lot of space at 1, but at the end of the turn I rushed it and got a bunch of tail slide, thinking I had screwed the pass, I tried to keep opening under load and ended up running a pretty decent, on time pass. I got to the end and thought about trying another one, but decided to end on a decent, successful pass for a change.
Saturday was the day to recognize I needed to back down on my line length to figure out something, so on to Sunday. I have accepted the fact that I have to clean up some things to continue making progress. Sunday I came out with opening up as a priority (I believe in this more every day).
22 & 28 were very wide, almost scary wide. I'm trying to be more aware of controlling the line, now that I'm getting used to more crossing speed and direction. Staying with the handle and moving slower off the handle just adds to the width I'm getting. Then I decided I would stay at 32 and just keep running passes and see where it took me. I wanted to experiment with a few things and see how clean, wide and early I could ski. First I tried to see if I could find the ability to be to open to the boat. So I would just try to open as much as I could and kept finding that the more I opened up to face the boat in the load, the better the wake crossings felt and the earlier and wider I would get. I think I'm actually getting used to this a little now after a few weeks of trying it. While I liked the width and space, the turn finish felt to hard so I started looking for a way so finish the turn with a little less bang. First I just tried to tone it down and skied a really lame pass. So in replaying some of my better previous passes, I realized that I had a long time to look at the buoys from a early view, but I was locking on them at the finish of the turns, causing some bite at the end of the turn. I started getting back to picking up the next buoy out in front of the boat and the turns got much better, but at the expense of being open in the load. It looks like I'll have to work on those 2 back and forth for a little while to get the skiing to take another uptick. Hoping to add some rope shortenings if I can get these two intergrated.
I wanted better focus today than the last time out when I was kind of hit and miss on the main goal. I did a little better job of opening up under load for the first 3 passes, although I was moving kind of fast off and on the handle. 22, 28 and 32 were all good early wide passes with the exception of moving to fast. I was probably looking ahead to much once I got to 35, because I didn't run any of them and I tried a bunch. I think I went down at every buoy except 6. There were several of them I should have run, but I'm making to many mistakes in to many places right now. Mainly related to moving to fast when not connected. I was making a mistake on my pullout that took me 3 passes to figure out. I'm going to start spending some more time working in a quiet spot on my visualization skills. I'm also considering retrying something on turn execution. Outside cheek (butt cheek) sitting on the turn ball. I've tried this before, but I wasn't creating the space I have now, so it will be worth a try...hopefully. I've had some tendonitis bothering my knees here this week, so I'm hoping some extra stretching will make that go away soon because knee pain stinks for skiing or pretty much anything else.
Usually sometime in May, summer arrives here. I think it actually arrived last weekend. Our water is now over 80 and in a couple of months it will be mid 90s.
I tried to add some vision improvements to my skiing yesterday but it became obvious that it was to soon to try an addition if I was going to be as open to the boat as I wanted. So far I have not found out how far to open to the boat is. Before this year I don't think I've ever thought about being open to the boat in the load and it feels very different than any way I've ever skied before. I don't think about hips/core leading the way or getting staked or aligned or anything like that, I just think about having my chest face the boat and space/speed just show up. But I do have to think about it and open up as much as I can and this is what I notice: It feels like I'm going faster than I've ever gone at times. I fly past the buoy line and it feels like there's no way I will be able to turn with a tight line and then as long as I don't rotate in (which I still do way to often), I come in right on the back of the ball early and hopefully open up as I'm doing this.
I'm starting to realize with my speed and direction, I can slow my moves down some. I feel like I'm getting to the point where 35 will be my work on things line. Even though yesterday was not as focused as I wanted in the opening up part and I missed more passes than I would like, it was another day to be able to learn and grow.
Missed my 22 opener (yea!), then spun a 22 (forgot we had a high water level and it was bumpy), ran 28, missed 32, ran 32 twice, ran 35, 35 (3.5), 35 (2.5), 35 (3.5), 35 (5). I'm mostly early even on my misses. Here's what I think I'm finding. When I ski in a closed to the boat fashion all the time, I can ski fairly consistently, through 32 and then anything could happen at 35 and I have virtualy no chance at 38. When I ski open, I'm earlier, faster and wider, and it feels like the ceiling is much higher (we will see)...however when I rotate in on a turn (while skiing open), the pass can be over in the blink of an eye, so now my survive ability of errant turns (rotations) is much less....now the variations in my body positions are working me over a little bit.
Skied 4 straight days. I needed to figure out some things and find me a little bit of a comfort zone to go back to when things get confusing and sometimes it doesn't take me long to get confused. I had been reaching a point in my sets where my space starts vanishing. Most of the time it's after my third or fourth pass. It showed up in Fridays set on my fourth pass and I couldn't get it back so the set ended with me doing some searching in the nothingness that occupies the space between my ears. Saturday it showed up my third pass when I couldn't get off buoy 2, fourth pass was the same thing, down at 2. I was briefly frustrated and let out some growls. Once the driver picked me up and I was headed down to the end, I started replaying in my head why I went down. I realized that I didn't have much space or speed. Desired directional speed is one of the best things that can happen to my skiing.
My habit is to rotate my shoulders into the turn and I'm wanting to rotate my whole body open under load. I realized that I wasn't executing the plan very well and decided to try to simplify the plan in order to get a little more focus on being open. I dropped the trailing arm focus in hopes that I could execute my ability to open up under load. I started to exaggerate my openness to try and have my chest face the boat. Before we get into the results, one of the things I had been noticing was that my line wasn't as tight before I made my move for the gate and I don't think I was as far up on the boat in the last few sets. So when I pulled out for the next gate I made sure I face the boat with my chest on the pullout. The width, speed and line tension returned immediately. When I turned in for the gate, I faced the boat with my chest when I loaded and took off. Now it wasn't the elusive magic gate I've been getting at times but it was a good gate. I tried to just face the boat under load the whole pass and my space and speed returned. For the next few passes my space and speed was there, it was like a different sport compared to the ones I was missing. I tried a 35 at the end of the set and was running it well, but rushing things at 35 keeps me from running some of those.
Sunday, I'm just going to open up under load the whole set and I do a decent job of executing. The habit still tells me to rotate in and my brain is trying to get me to face the force (boat) so we have this little rotate in rotate out thing going on, but I'm getting the brain to override the habit, after the habit initiates the first move. I run 22 and 28 like I want for the most part. My 32 starts out flawless (well not really, but it felt that way), I'm riding the arc of the handle like I want and start enjoying the ride when I lose focus and have a big break...instead of trying to get back into the pass I just ride down to the end of the lake smiling, because I started that one like I owned it. The next 32 , I just open and load, open and load, stay wide and stay early, turning on the backside of the buoys. Even though it wasn't flawless (I wasn't just swinging on a fluid path) It was an early wide line that I felt like I could mimic with not a lot of thought. I went to 35 with the same plan and had the same result, lots of technical glitches, movements to quick and things like that but I had space and I was decently early and easily my best 35 of the year. It was probably as good as any I ran last year.
This time I didn't go to 38. I stayed at 35 to work on getting better. I tried about 4 more I think and was on time and wide but rushing some things needed to process some things. The difference is now I'm feeling like I should be running those every time. I was getting 3.5s and 4.5s and screwing up good passes, but now I feel like I can work at that pass, which is where I want to do my work (for now).
I think the next thing I want to try is reverse my focus. Before Saturday it was first establish trailing arm pressure then twist into load. I want to turn that around and twist into load then tailing arm pressure. I still think I need both of these, I just need to figure out the best way to do it.
I toyed with my vision some, because I know I'm looking at the buoys I'm coming into to long. This will be more of a focus as I get better with with the things I'm doing right now. I will also be getting taller and more controlled into the buoy, but right now I'm improving buoy to centerline movements. This really helps with my path and line tension into the buoy.
I've been all over the board with a few things in my skiing. Somedays I'm trying one thing and leave the set thinking I'll go try thinking about things in a different way. Before Saturday, I thought about the pointing the inside hip where I want to go (from Joel and Deke taking about it on here). I t5ried it the whole set. About 12 passes at 28 off, some parts of it felt okay and some parts of it felt wacky. I could not get consistent or wide or early. So I watched some big dawg and Nate Smith you tube. Then I started thinking about my skiing and what I'd focus on the next set.
The best think I llike about my skiing right now is my acceleration and direction on the pullout. The thing I hate the most is my skiing is my inward rotation on my 2, 4 turn. I also thought about my thought the first time I ran 38. I want to get my hand back on the handle before I try to accelerate. So I tried to combine those 2 things and leave out the inward rotation thing by thinking like this. Establish trailing arm position, twist open into the load. Ski to the buoy line, then I don't try to turn, I just try to reestablish trailing arm pressure, then twist open into the load. I know this sounds goofy but if I think about a turn, I'm a mess.
I ran up the line (I'll only do this if things are feeling good). Good start at 35 until I got to early in to 3 and messed up my pace but still was able to keep my thinking alive. I wanted to run some more of those but my driver was pressing me to 38. I try a couple of those and get to 2 okay, but the thoughts get a little scrambled there right now.
My mental evolution continues, at least I think I know what I WANT to do. Now I have to change my habits. The habit is to rotate my upper body IN on the finish of the turn. I want to make that habit to rotate OUT at the finish of the turn. (this points the inside hip where you want to go as Joel and Deke were talking about, another way to think about what I'm trying to do).
Yesterdays set was an interesting contrast. I probably missed more passes than I missed in any set all year. I ran a really nice opening 22, then a middle of the road 28, and then I never ran a 32. Missed the first one by rotating in on 4, then rotated in on 2 probably 5 or 6 times. I was wide and early everytime at 2, plenty of space but would not execute the finish properly...habit over took focus. Normaly I would be very aggravated at that, because I would not know what was causing the misses. I decided to go back to 28 because I need to create the proper turn habit.
My dryland onside turn simulation is flawed. I will make a bunch of dryland onside turns before my next ride on Saturday.
In the quest to get more buoys, I don't mind trying things. I try to have an open mind (some times I don't) when trying stuff and need to look at parts of what I'm doing and not necessarily the totality. I'll give it a fair chance and if the progress isn't there, I'll look for the next thing. Sometimes I'll have to reach back to get something I tried and combine it with something I'm doing now. I'm looking for the most production for the least amount of thought. The thing that produces the proper release, direction, line tension, consistency, etc. without having to think about those things.
I've had a couple of things I've tried earlier in the year for a handful of sets and was not getting the results I had hoped to achieve. Then I went back to trailing arm pressure and for the first 5 or 6 sets, I was wondering why I ever left it. One day (the next set after my best set of the year) I had a driver I had never had before and had one of my worst sets of the year. I spoke to a few people that also had bad sets behind this driver, so I didn't dwell on the bad set. After that, for the next 3 or 4 sets I was very inconsistent, sometimes I could do what I was trying to do and sometimes I couldn't (even when very focused on it).
I needed to get back to feeling like I was progressing and thought I needed to open up more (open to the boat) and the next set tried opening the shoulders to the boat. This worked decently for a set, but then the next set was having trouble again. Thus time I was trying to open up various ways, shoulders, hips, whatever I could get to face the boat. When I finally tried tucking my trailing elbow into my trailing hip...this is something I've done for my pullout fairley consistently at times which creates a fast fluid acceleration with direction and good line tension. This was also something I was doing to get some really good gates a number of sets ago, I just didn't know why I couldn't do it in the course. (probably because I didn't know what I was actually doing).
So yesterdays set was trying to do that on every acceleration move. My first couple of passes was just attacking that movement or position without flowing into it. This was making me load before movement and while it was still productive, the best results were from always fluid gentler movements as opposed to the aggressive, attacking movements (which I tend to do when trying something different).
Yesterdays set was 22,28,28,32,32,35 (1-1/2), 35,32. Best results were from getting the movement right at the gate and moving fluidly. Anytime I rotated shoulders in the turn I would lose my hips. Anytime I was able to stay square, slide and tuck the trailing elbow into the trailing hip, I would get really nice angle and carry out into a wide early position set up to make the perfect turn.....now I need to make a habit of making the right move everytime.
Skied my first "during the week" set yesterday, fighting the afternoon sun. I've started working on fixing an old, old, old habit that has prevented me from having a decent onside (heelside) turn. I'm the dork that has never really had an onside turn. Well I shouldn't say never because I somehow accidently fixed it for a brief period but without knowing why I mess it up. I hopefully now know what causes it and I'm working on the correction. Changeing something that has been a habit for as long as I've been a slalom skier is really tough, but if I can fix this area of my skiing, I'll be a happy skier for a while. Time to get focused on a fix!
One of my ski partners is in the Southern Hemisphere, living the dream. About a month ago or so, we're texting back and forth about skiing and stuff. I was not really thinking about skiing that much, if at all, when he ask me about what I'm going to do skiing this year. I replied something about skiing smarter, getting better, controlling the load more, blah, blah, blah to which he relied "so..same as the last couple of years, right?"
Immediately, after that exchange, I had to process that a few minutes. I've got to see/process some things different on the water and in my head to get better. My reality tells me I'm a skier who runs 35 off a fair amount and can get 2 at 38 most days and 3 or 4 at 38 on a really really good day. Last year showed me glimpses of better skiing but I'd fall back into my bad habits that limit my buoy count and make me feel old.
My first set of the year was sometime in January and I was planning on skiing light, keeping a connection, riding the rope out and all that stuff. What I did was load the line, loose the connection, free fall out to the buoy feeling like I was traveling 100 mph, overshooting course width slamming a turn and then repeat until I was either swimming or out out of course rhythm or somehow managed to run the pass. I was feeling the abuse on my body immediately.
A few weeks later I ski again with the same plan...the only difference being I have to trick myself by saying "I don't want to get to course width, I just want to be light/easy and control the line tension, turn slowly, just ski to the end of the line, move slow back to the handle". This time it was different. I felt slow, I had tension on the line most of the time, the pressure felt like I wasn't doing near enough to be as "on time" as I was. I was able to "2 hand" out to the buoy line and stand up the turn. Now it wasn't perfect, but it was a whole lot closer to what I was looking for. For the 2 billionth time I gave myself a lesson in load management, hopefully 1 day it will stick and become habit.
2 Hand out to buoy width is something I have to be able to do, if I can't 2 hand out to the buoy...(in control and feeling slow) then I need to be able to recognize that I've loaded to early and to hard and focus on correcting that. Thinking here right now, I will need to work on 2 handing some passes this year.
We had some fantastic weather here yesterday and I've been starting to get that fever a little bit so I went to the lake and got a ride in. I skied once in January and it was not fun. I was skiing in shorty in temps I found a little to cold. Yesterday the water was in the 60s after a warm week here.
This time of year, I have no feel for skiing and I tend to lean on the rope to much even when I do have a feel. I'm hoping to make a correction in my skiing this year to permanently fix that. So the plan is to load progressively and never "spike" the load. 1st pass I do a faily decent job of that for the first time behind the boat in a month. After that, I do about 6 passes at 28 off trying to be gentle and for the most part do a half decent job of that.
What this allows me to do is be 2 hands longer without having that "fast" feel to it. If I spike the load, I can't control it after the centerline. If I'm gentle, the pass has a good rhythm and feels very controlled, slow and safe. The key for me is the mindset at the finish of the turn. Be gentle and slow makes the pass fell gentle and slow.
Spikeing the load at the turn finish makes it feel barely possible, fast and dangerous. Someone on here (I think) made the comment "Try not to try". Thats kind of the way I have to think about it.
Just got back from the H2osmosis warehouse with 2 sets of high quality (I hope!) buckles. No more duct taping myself into my boots. By the looks of these I should get a few seasons out of them. I've got so many scavanged boot parts in the garage and even have 1 set left to scavange the buckles off of, but that's my wife's boots....best to stay away from those even though thay haven't seen water in a few years.
I haven't skied in a few weeks, maybe this weekend.
Started doing P90X last week, after a few days of soreness I went and skied on Saturday for the first time in a month. My drysuit stll has flowage to fix and so does my boots, but I needed to go get wet. Once I started to get close to skiing I started thinking about to many things so it was some paralysis by analysis. Always starting to hard but after a few passes it got better and better...at least as far as the starts went. I ran a a 22 opener and then skied about 6 28s missing a few of them. I still have to accept that I don't need to work as hard as I'm working. When I get the intensity close it's a really fun pass, when I don't it's as hard as any pass I ski. I hope to start skiing 1 set a week, when I can find someone to play.
So...I hit a burnout wall. I guess it was to many tournaments, to much afternoon glare, to many things not getting done around the house. I skipped skiing in our last tournament and haven't skied in over 2 weeks...which is the longest time off the water in about a year and a half. Depending on how you count, I skied in 6 tournaments in a 4 week period, the last one with my 5 year old in tow all weekend.
I failed to meet my stated goals this year, although I intentionally put them very high in the hopes that I could really push myself to never seen heights (that didn't work). So where did I really end up this year? Depends on how you look at it. I rediscovered how easy I can ski at times, I just have a problem trusting it all the time...or even half the time. I didn't equal my best tournament score of last year or my best practice score, however I feel like 38 is more doable now than I did last year (I don't know how this works)
Physically, I feel pretty decent, a few aches, but nothing bad. Trying to motivate myself for off season conditioning..but I talked myself out of it yesterday.
I want to try to get on the water once every week or 2 and try to incorporate some of the good things I did this year and hopefully weed out some more of the bad....mainly trying to remove the excess force and load.
Oh...the most importatnt part was my daughter wanted to ski, ...in the tournament....on a cold weekend....after not skiing in the last 2 or 3 months. I guess she's a cool weather skier as opposed to those days when it's in the 90s. I was able to get her up from shore, she skied around the lake more than she ever has and then the driver was able to drive right along the shelf of the lake where I was able to hope off the platform right into 2 foot deep water and pull her to a standing stop. Then we did the same thing again the next day.
Is anybody still skiing?
The season is changing here, we'ver been dealing with sun for a few weeks now and I'm getting a little better at skiing without knowing where some buoys are. I guess now I'm skiing with the thought of "I've gone this way long enough, I guess I can turn safely now". It's much worse with any wind that chops up the water and makes super bright glare everywhere (or lake runs mostly east-west). The water temp was upper 70s last week it is now upper 60s. Yesterday the air was 62ish and I'm pretty cool in a hot top. We are generally good in a hot top until November and sometimes through November. My gates were not great yesterday...well they were okay except that I was turning in to quickly (dadgum wind was messing with me).
Tournaments this weekend, it's going to be cool. I have TC responsibilities and a 5 year old to entertain at the same time (wife is out of town). Cold stuff to put on after the first round. We're kind of far north to be throwing some of the latest tournaments in the southern region but normally we're warmer than this at this time of year.
I'm not working on any new things, just trying to get the ones I am doing right most of the time. I think my stuff is good enough to run 38 if I can execute most of it properly, but I haven't proved it yet and I've cut my skiing in half now due to coolness and bright sun. My equipment needs repair (I'll probably be duct tapeing into my boots for this tournament as my buckles are worn out).
One more tournament after this weekend. It's time to get the exercise program going and winter skiing...at least as much as I can stand.
Last Thursday, bright sun and wind was not the inspiration I needed heading into tournament weekend, I did not ski well and the tournament performance anxiety was jacked up. Checking the weather report meant it was going to be more wind, all weekend, with the possibility of rain.
Tournament morning, the wind is already blowing 10-25, mostly down the lake. I have to figure out what to do today that I couldn't do on Thursday. The plan is to go with the same tournament thing, easy, quiet, still and move slow with 2 hands, in other words, ride the arc that the handle wants to take...you know that pendulum thingy. The wind is up and down. You might get a lot of wind or you might get a little wind. The first 2 passes were pretty good, then the wind starts blowing hard for a tailwind 32, I run it pretty decently. As we set down on the end, the wind swept waves are all around. 35 head, in my head, I'm going to have to work hard and stay connected, move slow.....I think this sounds like a good plan...only problem is now it's a light wind and I'm over shooting buoys, I panic like a doofus and start moving to fast..game over 2.5 at 35. Little did I know at that point, that I just had the best conditions I was going to have all weekend.
Next round is around 4:00, unfortunately prime sun for making visibility tough. The several skiers in front of me are dropping like flies. Complaining that you can't see 2, 4, 6 at all. My opener, the wind isn't to terrible and I'm able to find the buoys and run a decent opener. I start thinking "it wasn't so hard to see them". The wind picks back up for my next pass and it's pretty choppy, but it's a decent pass for the conditions. 32 tail the wind is staying up and nearly whitecapping. I get a good start get over to 2 and think "where's the buoy!!!!?" and it wasn't lost in the sun. The windswept waves were washing over it and it'd pop out, then disappear. I caught a glimpse and did a splash pivot turn. Get to 3 okay enough to be calm, expect the disappearing buoy at 4 and get through that one. It's kind of funny because at the starting dock the wind seems strong but not to bad, when you get in the course, it's fierce. I'm sitting at the end, the rough end, and waves are pounding me. I'm looking at the flags down the lake and they are whipping around. I keep staring down the lake, hopeing the flags will drop a little but it's not happening...okay lets go, I pull out as hard as I can and get up on the boat, as I turn in, vision disappears in the spray. I go as hard as I can and turn 1 and stop, go as hard as i can to 2 stop, swimming, 1.5 at 35.
Sunday morning, winds blowing, but today it's more steady, there's strong wind and then there's really, really strong wind. My guess is 20, 25 and 30, mostly down the lake. I get off to myself and try to gather my thoughts. My plan had been working relative to how I've skied the last 2 weeks, until 35. So I kept the same plan. Trying to be quiet, still and move slow. Once again, it's decent at the starting dock and starts getting tough around 1. This is the most wind I've skied in, in awhile, I do a little something different by trying to slow down my 2 hand movement, trying to be a little extra cautious around the buoys. 22, 28 and 32, I'm very pleased with my skiing at this point, given the conditions and my past 2 weeks of skiing. Coming back for 35, I didn't want a repeat of the last 2 rounds. I decided to be lighter with the load, because I think I was way to heavy on the load and my ski wouldn't advance out the last time. We're sitting down in whitecaps now, as I look down the lake and the boat crew is laughing at the situation. I'm waiting for a break in the wind that's just not happening. I turn back to the boat and say "let's go kick it's _ss!". The wind is the hardest headwind I've skied into in a long time, but being lighter allowed me to get up on the boat more and I made a gentle turnin, stayed connected, moved slowly with 2 hands, loaded progressively, but hard behind the boat and just kept swinging and riding all the way to 5 where I moved to fast, sat on the tail and made the 5 to 6 more difficult than it should have been but I was pleased with that one in some really tough conditions. What would have made it better, would have been to get 38 started better that I did. I turned in quick, got overloaded and only got 1/2 at 38.
I rode in the boat for MM and Open men. Some of them handled it well and some of them didn't. Jeff Rodgers was one of the MM guys. I've been fortunate to be able to watch Jeff a bunch of times from the boat, but this was the first time at 34.2. Jeff had always been impressive to watch, but this was in and out of whitecaps. This was the most impressive skiing I have seen at 34 in a long time, maybe ever. Jeff is here to become the first person to run 41 at 34mph ever, after being the first person to run 41 at 36mph. If I were going to bet, my money would be on Jeff. He ran a very impressive down wind (25-35 mph guessing) whitecapping 39 off after debating opting up to 41 downwind. He ended up with 2 at 41 this round. Ran 3 in an earlier round.
Overall, it was a fun experience in challenging conditions. Some people skipped rounds due to the conditions and some people ran some impressive rough water buoy counts, with a handful of scores in the mid 39 range.
Skied yesterday in wind, which luckily for us creates a BRIGHT (and boy do I mean Bright) glarey approach zone. I did not handle it very well. If I had been consistent lately perhaps I would have had the ability to trust where I thought I was and make an easy turn. But I was trying to find an unseeable buoy and react. To rub it in my ski partner runs 38 both ways.
I had to go find some Chris Rossi articles this morning. Tournament 3 out of the 4 next weekends.
Anybody reading my stuff lately probably figured things weren't going the way I wanted them to. I was heading the wrong direction before heading out of town for a tournament and then colder water didn't help things. When I got back to our site it got much worse. I've been without my regular skiing partner since last Tuesday, which meant I was either going to accept how some people drove or try to change it for the better. One of the guys I ski with is an excellent coach and skier, but not the greatest driver. Over the weekend I decided to help him be a better driver (whether he wanted to or not....fortunately, he was open to it).
Saturday was not good. I've been having a similar situation to what Joel has been describing, thinking about handle control and riding the arc of the handle but unable to make it feel anything close to right. Kept trying stuff, kept asking the driver what he feels (this is something I do a lot of and one of the reasons I like a good driver who can give me feedback). I had gone from running over a hundred 32s in a row to someone who might run it 50% of the time. Left this set feeling pretty depressed about my skiing. Not sure what to do, thinking I'm doing certain things and not getting the same results. We talked some more about driving. I shared some things I've learned from other great drivers that he said he never heard of before. Drove home and did yard work with skiing never to far from my mind. I replay thoughts of things that I've been doing and really don't think my thoughts are that far off.....I'm confused.
Sunday comes and the wind is blowing down the lake which normally doesn't bug me but with my current state of skiing, it could easily make a bad day worse. We go through the 22, 28, 32 and while I run them all things still don't feel right. I'm noticing problems from the 1st buoy. I'm not easy wide, my path feels to direct, the lines not tight. We continue to talk about the gate, he's telling me what he feels on the pullout and the turn in and I'm processing how to make it feel different. Based on what he's telling me, I start my pullout sooner and softer, so that I can progressively unload while maintaing line pressure, then turn in slow and try to build load slowly. Then like magic, I'm rediculously wide at 1 (too wide, to easily to be honest), the pass wasn't great but more due to off rhythm then goofy technique. Next one I'm trying to do very similar but with less load (more like trying to get where I want to be than anything else). I've had this gate technique being described by others as "sneaking up on the gate". It's a good way for ME to think about it. After a handful of 32s, I decide to try a tailwind 35 (I haven't tried a 35 since the tournament). I manage to rodeo that and decide to try to back it up with a better one into what has become a fairly stiff headwind. I'm not concerened with whether I run it or not, I'm just trying to get it started decently, my start is fantastic. I start applying to much force in the middle because that's what I do in a stiff headwind. Get to five in decent shape but sit on the tail badly out of 5 and have probably my biggest crash of the year.
The bottom line is I thought I was taking gentle progressive gates but apparently had migrated to more forceful gates. Once I put some gentleness back into them, I started getting my rhythm and tight line starts back. My best gates really feel to easy to be right....I guess that's why it's so easy to start putting in to much work.
Can't blame it on conditions. Yesterday was better than Tuesday (it pretty much had to be). I'm still trying to work my way back to quiet and still. I'm not there yet, but I'm a little closer. I'm still working to hard and I kind of feel it this morning a little. Thanks to my boat driver who changed up my ZO setting a couple of times, I may have a new setting. After struggling to run 35 he switched me from B2 to A3 and A2 a couple of times. I was able to hack one out at A3 with a bad gate. But my gates on A2 felt better. I may have to get back to trying not to run the pass....I seem to manage the rope better that way.
Less is more, less is more...be quiet and still...hopefully if I keep saying/thinking it, I'll start doing it again. 2 weeks ago I'm getting through half of 38 everytime out, now I'm hacking up 32s....stupid challenging sport.
I probably ran a hundred 32s in a row, then missed 3 out of 6 last week (2 in the tournament).
Skied at the home site for the first time since the journey.....what in the world is going on? I've got some sorting out to do....it doesn't even feel like skiing....it probably feels more like bumper cars in a washing machine. Maybe I had the wrong foot in front or my ski on backwards or something. I'll try again later in the week. Stupid Sport!
Left home for a tournament for the first time in 6 years. Skied behind a Ski Nautique 200 for the first time ever. Didn't ski the greatest but had a fantastic time with a bunch of good people. Saw some faces I haven't seen in a while and met some new people.
I went to a little area north west of Charlotte, NC called Maiden, home of the Little Mountain Ski Club and if you ever get a chance to ski one of these tournaments, you need to do it. This club is passionate and the state of North Carolina knows how to do tournaments, they don't let things like weather and Murphy's Law (which did manage to spend some time at the site this weekend) affect them. For example, the first round when I left the starting dock I could not see the pregates 500' away....I have never skied in fog that thick ever in my life.
I got to ski with entry level tournament skiers and the best in the world, along with everyone in between. Got to witness the Phenom (Nate Smith) ski, including running 41 with a highway worker safety vest on (the large reflective neon type vest). Jeff Rodgers tied his pending Masters Men record and then upped it by a quarter buoy the next round to 4.25 at 41. Jon Travers also ran 4 at 41.
This area of North Carolina has at least 5 world class ski sites within a 45 minute driving radius. This is one of the coolest places I've ever been to as a skier....maybe it has to do with all the rolling terrain.
The 35 streak is done and it wasn't even close. I knew this was going to end and I needed to get it out of the way so I can think about what I'm trying to do instead of thinking "I'm not gonna miss this no matter how bad it is". The mind set continues to be move slow, be quiet and still. That's the dry land mind set anyway, I,m still working on it on the water. Still going to hard more than I want to. I missed my first 35 and my second one. Then ran one with about a 10 mph tailwind although I was taking to much energy into the apex (it was a bit of a rodeo ride). The next 35 into the wind was also to much energy but the wind made it seem better than it really was, I was on time and fairly wide, left 4 in good shape and then had the thought of "This ones pretty good as long as I don't do something stupid here"...well you can guess what happened there. Took another tailwind when I got the start I was looking for, hit the gate easy, rode out to the perfect spot at 1, turned gently, same thing at 2 moved to fast at 3 and messed up a great start. That was the feeling I want there and at 38, nearly perfect start. This is the precision I'm striving for at 35 and 38. Now the difference here is that there's not as much margin for error, but it's easier on the body if I can ski this way. It would be easier to replicate if I were able to ski about 5 or 6 days a week. Here's the problem it's a narrower line, but as long as I'm controlling the rope, getting there is not a problem, it's when I move to quick, then things can go bad quickly. I'm still looking for just the right amount to start with at 35 and 38, I can rodeo through 35 quite a bit, it's probably getting close to where 32 was in the middle of the summer, but I'm going to have get a little more precise to get through 38s. If I didn't have these tournaments coming up, I would be trying to run a handful of 35s in a row....I probably should be doing that anyway. If I can own 35, I can run 38.
The 35 streak is still alive but it is wanting to end. The last 2 days I've worn a top because our air was in the low 60s when I skied and I'm a sissy for cool air/water. We've lost 10 degrees of water temp in 3 days. In September our average high is about 84 so this has been unusual. Earlier this week I was letting skiing be easy for a change, but once I started trying 38s, I've gradually started applying more force. I do this a little at a time, set by set until everything starts feeling difficult....next thing you know, I start missing passes that I can run 100 times in a row.
Yesterday, after running a 35 I had no business running. I allowed myself 2 tries at 38. then I went back to 32, the first 32 I ran but it was a lesson in what skiing to hard will do. Force and bad rhythm don't feel very good and make a pass difficult. The next 32 got the start I was looking for and even though I fell at 2. I enjoyed the 1.5 much more than I enjoyed the whole pass prior.
Hopefully back on track today...if not it will be from trying to ski at 30% effort rate instead of 50%.
Our weather this week has been spectaculer...although that ended last night. Currently it's rainey and windy and cooler. I was feeling a little off yesterday, thinking I might be getting sick, stomach felt queasy but whatever....it was ski day. In my head the plan was the same as the last handful of sets. Start gently, get wide, turn in gently, connect lightly, control the line. It was the turn in gently I was having the problem with today. When I do what I referenced above, skiing has been feeling pretty good. But it was off some yesterday, I was recognizing it (fortunately) but not doing a good job correcting it. Skiing to hard and skiing to wide. When I got to 35, I was still trying to soften things up but got a hot, wide 1 and 2, knowing I was in trouble on this one I said told myself "don't you miss this" and rodeoed on through it...it was not the best 35 of the week (actually it was the worst). The 38 start was the same way and I end up with only one. Since the tournament "set" was done, I took some tries at 38 since my short stuff gates need a lot of work. By now I'm trying to convince myself to trust less energy into the gates and trust being "narrow" at 1. The gates and one started tightening up some and by the third one i was getting some pretty decent starts (better than I've had in years). Then I get a "magical" start and get in and out of 2 in really good shape....coming into 3 on the right path, with the right feel and start getting a few buoys ahead of myself and forget to be calm and control the line....spastic release and the pass is done. That one should have been no less than 5....I'm excited and aggrivated all at the same time.
For the first time in years that pass feels really doable. 35s are starting to feel like my 32s and I feel like I'm making some 38 progress and I wasn't even trying them a week ago. Luckily someone in the boat convinced me to start trying them last Saturday. I think I would have to say that if I had not been skiing tournaments I would not be on this upswing. I went into our last tournament thinking "I'm not happy with my skiing right now...maybe I shouldn't ski this one". I realized that if I didn't ski our tournament I wouldn't be skiing that weekend and I really needed the practice! I was not expecting much which allowed me to go "outside" of my normal effort/intensity rate, which affords me a better chance to be "quiet & still" and control the rope into the apex. When I'm able to maintain line tension throughout the pass (no matter what the line length)....well, that's what I ski for...that magical feeling.
It has not been the year I was trying to make it so far, but I've got a few tournaments left to do some damage. Heading up to Terry's neck of the woods for one next weekend. That will be the first time I've skied a tournament away from the home site since 2004 and the water will be colder. Highs in the low 70s with wind this weekend and I'll be missing my regular driver on Sunday.
One thing I thought I'd mention on my gates. I had been turning in slowly when the left hand gate ball and 1 ball line up. Since I was missing to many gates, I decided to go past that a little before I turn in and it's working better...not perfect yet, but better.
Yesterday was a pretty good day on the water. I've made a few changes in the last couple of weeks that seem to be paying off. I'm not sure which one change has made the biggest difference, it's probably all of them. One change has been to move my front boot to the left about 3/16" (I'm right foot forward). As you may recall (or maybe not) I tend to have a "wetter" turn on my onside than my offside. The boot change seemed to make me inconsistent (as far as movement vs still...ie I moved around more on the ski) but my scores were better. Change 2 was fixing my rope (it was out of tolerance short), this added about 4" to my rope. Now in the days when I was a 15off and 22off skier, I thought worrying about 4" was goofy...but at 38off and 39off, 4" could be the difference in the whole pass. Change 3 was doing my best to get the best available driver every chance I get. Getting the best driver is similar to getting your rope length correct, only more important. If you ever have the opportunity to ski behind some of the best slalom drivers in the world, it is a very noticeable difference. I now try to ski with the same guy as many sets as I can.
Probably the one I like the most is a little complicated to explain because it involves a few steps connected together. I guess I would call it "pace, intensity, line control". It has been developed in my skiing from tournament nerves and tournament anxiety. Sometimes I bounce back and forth between some technique ideas and when I get to a tournament, I always wish I had a handful more sets to work on whatever I've been working on or I'm just totally out to lunch on what to do for a tournament round. I also have been zeroed on my gate in tournaments about 5 or 6 times this year. Both of these performance anxieties have led me in a different direction in tournaments this year which I am starting to take into practice. Because I needed to take a thought out on the water in the tournaments and I wasn't always confident in what I was working on in practice, I decided I wanted to be quiet and still...which to me means I want to move slowly and I always want the rope to be pulling on me (meaning I want some light line tension all the way to the apex and line tension to finish my turn). Now the problem with that is that I'm an aggressive skier by nature or habit. As a habit, I load to hard and to soon, which stretches the rope to much and to soon....one result becomes an edge change that tends to happen before the centerline sending me at the ball instead of out wide, the other result is my hands/handle get separated from my body to soon which pulls the upper body in to soon (no longer balanced, no longer have the ability to stay quiet and still).
In order to stay quiet and still I need to move gently, slowly and lightly and it has to start at the very first move. My pullout needs to be gentle slow and light and I have to ski my core into the handle. When I transition to a coast I want to keep gentle pressure away so that I can keep rope tension. When I want to turn in, I want to do it slowly and lightly (to keep light rope tension). When I'm behind the boat, I want to be light and connected (in other words, I don't want to lean with all I have...I'm thinking stay away but not WAY away) so that I can keep manageable rope tension after the second wake. When I exit the wakes, I'm trying to ease the handle away from my core by SLOWLY reaching 2 handed along the ski direction. I'm trying to pace my reach (while maintaining line tension) so that my outside hand leaves the handle at the same time the ski tip reaches the buoy line.I'm trying to return the outside hand at the same rate it left the handle (trying to avoid any sudden speed changes at any point). Quick speed changes mean the body is going to be moving around and unbalanced. When I can execute like this I feel like I'm moving 20 mph.
Yesterdays set was 22, good start - good pass, 28 great start-great pass, 32 this was closer to the 28s I've been running the last few weeks, which felt really good. 35 good start - decent pass (we're finally starting to get quieter here, but still have a lot of available improvement), 38, I'm now trying to figure out how to be light and connected at the start and controlling the line. The prior 2 sets I've gotten around 3, (2.5) straight out, but was only able to do it once each set. Yesterdays set I was able to get 3 twice with a few other 1/2s and 1s and 2s. The biggest thing I liked about this set was the control through 35 off (there was a little looseness at the apex). Hopefully I'm heading in the right direction now.
I've been at this slalom stuff for a long time (depending on if you count my first exposure to it or my actual participation) so I often play a lot of what ifs. What if my parents or neighbors or friends from a young age had been involved in it. What if I had lived on a public lake where tournament skiing was a part of the community. What if I was a natural skiing talent where everything came easy to me. What if my first exposure to skiing was by a high ranked national competitor who happened to expose me to skiing and taught me correctly from my first rides. What if none of that ever happened and I got lots of good coaching along the way. What if I only accepted the right/correct things about slalom and never believed any of the wrong stuff.
What if I explained where I was going with this.
I was just wondering if I had gotten to a point of being top 10 or top 5 of my age division and had been there for 10 years or so, would I still be doing this? Would I still be involved in skiing? I've been trying to take the long, slow climb up the charts (I just noticed that I actually fell a few places since this time last year). I wonder if the challenge is what keeps me doing this. I was talking to a guy who's 10 years older than me at our last tournament. We were talking about how we love doing this, except there's very few people you can talk about it with, other than other skiers. Have you ever tried to explain this sport to someone?
I don't know if I think about this sport more when it's going well or more when I'm struggleing.
For years I've had fairly strong tournament anxiety. Now I still get tournament nerves, but I've scored as little as you can score in a tournament round (zero) and it will probably happen again some time....and I'm okay with it.
I'm still learning and trying things. I'm still finding out about this sport, my equipment and myself (good & bad). Sometimes people I ski with take me in directions I don't necessarily want to go in, but later I'm glad I did.....and sometimes I wish I hadn't.
It was a slow day so far on the boards so I thought I'd put some thoughts into words.
I'm making progress at getting back to a good spot. Checking some things, fixing some things, realizing some things, accepting some things. Checked my rope I've been using all year and found out it was short (not majorly short, but out of tolerance short). So I fixed that and picked up about 5 inches. When I was skiing my best I could run 35 behind almost any driver, I'm not good enough right now to do that, so I try to ski with my regular partner as much as I can lately, because I can run it behind him. I also moved my front boot towards the left side of my ski at the suggestion of another guy I ski with some ....I've actually moved it a small amount twice (probably a total of 1/8") in an effort to tame my onside turn some more. I'm still working on my gate control and flow and where I'm loading, The biggest benefit I've found this year is quiet control in my movements and trying to reach slowly with 2 hands before moving to 1 hand. In order to make this happen, I've had to take a bunch of aggression out of my gate movement and lighten it up to about 1/2 of my intensity.
The first thing I had to overcome was getting connected without the intensity and lean (that's been harder than I thought). Once I could do a reasonable job at that, I was able to start working on moving slowly into a 2 hand reach, which kept me connected longer and allows me to have a better chance of skiing to the end of the rope. The last 2 days I've done some tournament sets and got to 3 in pretty good shape at 38 and then got stupid and ruined it. I've taken about 7 or 8 starts at 38, trying to figure out the gate/one thing. I've run 5 of my last 7 35s, even though the passes leading up to 35 were not as good as I would like. But it feels like a little progress.
Some of it even feels like a pendulum.
Well it looks like the pendulum physics discussion has started again and the only reason I care is because I get amused by the passion/anger involved on both sides. I also get amused by 2 or 3 guys that seem to want to put each other in their "place" for whatever reason. For what it's worth I don't get wrapped up in pendulum physics even though when I'm skiing well (rare) it feels like I'm riding a pendulum or swing. I do try to swing in line with the rope and I realize physics dictates the more efiicient ways to do this, but I don't believe knowing formulas will help me improve. I still believe being in the right spot, with the right speed, at the right time is what I want to do. When I get in a tournament, I try to not overdo my loads (kind of play safe, as I think about it) so that I can reach in front of me with 2 hands as slow as I can (trying to keep tension on the line) and as long as I can. I feel like my movements are so slow that I can hardly stand it and usually when I can't stand it anymore my movements speed up and then the scrambling starts followed by big mistakes.
There once was a discussion about keepin 2 hands on the handle to the buoy line. I know the guy who said it and he's a pretty doggone good skier. This is what he tries to do and suggested it as a way for others to help themselves. Several others disputed it strongly and found fault with the suggestion and provided video of great skiers that they felt were releasing 10 - 15 feet before the buoy line. I do try to keep 2 hands on the handle to the buoy line (even though I'm probably not actually doing it). I do feel that the longer I take to reach with 2 hands, the better I ski. 10' -15' goes by in the blink of an eye at 35 off, but the slower I move reaching and skiing back to the handle, the slower I feel. When I reach slowly with 2 hands out in front of me, I get closer to the feel of riding a pendulum. I also keep finding that the less "lean" I put on the rope the better I can reach slowly with 2 hands....if I can keep working with my tournament mind as opposed to my practice mind, I might become a better skier.
Went into the tournament having no idea what to do. Thursday's short rope set didn't do anything for my confidence. So I get to the tournament, talk to lots of people I only see at tournnments, watched some skiing.
Really good field in a lot of divisions. MM had Jeff Rodgers and Seth in it as well as Mike and Don (typical podium finishers at Sothern Regionals & Nationals in Mens 4). I was the lowest seeded skier in my division (mens 4). Conditions were as good as you could hope for, light winds (if at all), slightly overcast, nice temps (mid to upper 80s). Jeff Rodgers set a pending MM record with 4 at 41 off.
I was in a place in my mind that I'm not usually in, not knowing how to play things, not knowing what my focus was going to be, worried I would miss my gate on my opening pass (or some other pass). I knew I needed to have something to think about if I was going to have any chance of success. There were 2 things I was worried about, gate and line control. So my plan was go a little later and slower on my gates (aiming for the middle at every line) and try to keep the load low enough to be able to move slow, feeding with 2 hands all the way to the apex and finish the turn slowly (i tend to try to over power at the finish). In other words "move slow, be quiet and still".
First round was going according to plan, getting my best gates and starts and then I decided to move to quick at 4 and ended up with a 3.5 at 32 off.
Second round, the 22 and 28 were nice, but I turned in to hard at the gate on 32, and then didn't control the line as well at 4 and got a bit of a hard turn, but finished it. Then 35 was a good gate but rushed things a little to much and kicked the tail out at 3 (2.5 at 35 off).
Third round, I was feeling a little nervous this round for some reason. 22 and 28 were pretty nice again. I started thinking about my start at 32 and didn't want to amp it up so I tried to err on the easy side. Got a very gentle gate and gentle start, but I was narrower than I really wanted to be. Now in the past I would start trying to create more space so I could be where I wanted to be. Often times this is where I will mess up a good rhythm, by trying to crush a turn and load. This time I just chilled and kept the pace and line control and got to the end without any drama. At 35 I wanted a similar start (maybe 1 more click on the intensity meter, 6 on the 10 scale). Got a gate close enough to what I wanted and I was off to the races, move a little to quick and hard at 4 and felt the rope slip a little in my fingers when I got behind the boat going to 5 but I had done well enough to that point I could take my time a little at 5, get set and go on for a crack at 38. Now I haven't tried 38 since the last tournament and know the window of opportunity for success is narrower. My gates had been good enough this set that I figured I should just try to do the same thing, which is what I tried to do. I like everythiong about it except the intensity behind the boat went up about 2 more clicks. It was a good gate but I went to wide at 1. I was looking to get about a foot wide of 1 and ended up about 3 feet wide of 1 and then to much slack on the back side of the buoy. Ended up with 1 at 38.
Going into this tournament, I would have been happy with a shot at 35 all 3 rounds. I really didn't expect to run it, much less run it pretty decently. I was very pleased with every 28 off and I liked the 32 and 35 of the last round. I changed my gates during the tournament and probably only really dorked up 1 or 2 out of 12 trys. I need to keep my thoughts from the tournament and practice with them.
I often have anxiety going into a tournament because I feel like I need 2 or 3 more sets practicing whatever bizare thing I've got bouncing around in my head. But when it comes to tournaments, often times I will exceed what I'm doing in practice. The first time I ran 35 and 38 was in a tournament. When I am in the water about to head for the course in a tournament, I believe I am going to run it most of the time.
Funny, odd day yesterday. My ski partner (very accomplished skier) has been using my rope for a few weeks He gets his own rope anb I use it for my set yesterday. Go ski, trying to change some fundamentals in my skiing and I'm having a hard time adjusting when my new found coach isn't riding. What I've been doing some here lately is to stop skiing the pass and start over when I'm hacking to much. Well at 32 I was having more slopiness than usual and felt like it was a frustrating set, especially with a tournament coming up. Then he skis and misses 35 (he routinely runs 38), Then he runs a 35, but says something isn't right, he feels like the rope is short. After we get done, we check the rope and it's 1.7' short (.5 meter). It's a switch rope without the switch section added. This made me feel a little better about my set....but it's things like this that make me have my own rope.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around some changes I need to make and some other stuff I haven't even tried yet.
Maybe I've found a coach. Saturday he wasn't around, but spin-off from Hurricane Irene was, 20+ mph winds that was changing direction at the drop of a hat. I was trying to figure out what I did right on Thursday that made it feel so easy. I couldn't find much of it and struggled mightily. This was a set that I couldn't find much good in. I've done this enough to know that when you change things in your skiing, sometimes it can feel really, really bad when you miss the mark. You don't have a good grasp of the new and you don't want to execute the other way.
I had a different driver that made me uncomfortable, he was not my first choice but he was my only choice. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate someone willing to drive for me, but that doesn't mean I won't attempt to constructively criticize the driving (I hate to be that guy, but unfortunately that is me in this case). I don't want to imply that the driving was the reason for the crappy skiing, that was due to me being in a confused state about what I'm trying to do and what I'm really doing.
After Saturday, I needed to feel something positive. Ran 22, missed 28...then the conversation begins. I know I associate connection and lean, I'm working on separating the 2. We discuss not leaning, especially right off the buoy, keeping the upper body vertical, moving into connection all that stuff. Next pass at 28 is one of those magical passes that feels pretty light , has perfect rhythm, line never breaks tension.....it's what I ski for. The next 32 starts out loaded and I struggle to do the things we're trying to do. Next 32 has a lot more good stuff to it and while I gave it a 6 on a 10 scale, he thought I was being to hard on myself. The rest of the set goes like this. While the set didn't progress like thursdays set and keep getting better, it did have some promising elements. Part of what I'm going to have to overcome is undoing some of the last years work and get my connection/lean thing worked out. I'll probably only get 1 ski day this week (which won't be enough time to figure this out) and then I have a tournament this weekend (which could be amusing).
Thursday - Starting to get some wind from Hurricane Irene but nothing drastic. A guy gets in the boat that has strong opinions about skiing and is very detailed in his explanations while out on the water....usually a bad combination for my skiing. 22,28,32,32 and then we start breaking stuff down. he asks me what I thought and what I'm trying to do. I'm still trying to get a consistent gate that I like and he's asking me what I'm trying to do and what I'm feeling, what I want in my gate, etc. Swing has been a big word at our lake lately and I want to feel more of it. We agree on where the peak load should be and also that mine comes to early and is not dynamic enough. We also agree that my associating connection and lean is a problem with my skiing and a limiting factor. Anyhow explanations are long and I'm starting to drift when something catches my attention "try to keep your upper body vertical as you turn in". Sounds like music to my ears....like the thought, but I still have to execute it.
Next gate, best one of the set. The pass had some better feeling stuff as well, vertical upper body turns in spots (or level shoulders if you prefer). I don't know about you guys, but when I can execute a vertical upper body turn, I feel like Superman. I try another one with similar results, passes get better. We add something to the pullout (a little stronger connection at the release before turnin) Now I have 2 things to think about and don't due as well that pass. The next 3 get better each time. The upper body is staying fairly vertical the whole time (or at least it feels that way) and the ski is swinging back and forth and the upperbody is staying vertical, the load feels like 50% of what I've been skiing with and my movements into and out of the apex are slowing down which makes the load even lighter. On the last one I cut to 35, get a fast start and the rythym is whacky so I don't try to get around 5 and end the set.
What I thought was going to be an aggrivating set turned out to be valuable set. I don't know if I can emphasize this enough, but vertical upper body turns with ski flow at the turn finish are really exciting for me. Width, controlled speed, tight line, low load with very little upper body lean in mildly windy conditions puts me in a happy place. It will probably be twice as windy tomorrow. I think we're supposed to have 20-40 mph winds with rain tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully this is a breakthrough, but the next few sets will be telling.
For the last 5 or 6 sets I've been working at improving my gates. I'm trying to be progressive without excessive loading. In my mind excessive loading has been causing me to lose line control into the buoy and it's difficult to control the line if you don't start that way. I've been skiing around 10 passes (sometimes more) in a set. My sucess rate on how I'm trying to get my gate to feel has been as low as 0-10% and as high as 70-80%. During this set I couldn't get the feel I wanted (at least not until the very, very end). So I start with the 22 as usual. 22 has fallen into that area where I can't get it to feel all that easy and fluid lately. 28 and the 5 following 32s felt mostly decent in the course but without the gate I wanted. I'm trying to focus on flowing off the rope once I'm in the course, keeping rope tension while feeding the rope 2 handed and then moving to 1 hand....as long as I haven't really overloaded, this was feeling pretty good.
Lately, if I can't get the gate feel I want, I just stay at 32 until I do. This set felt decent in the course so I decided to keep trying to get the gate right at 35. The first gate wasn't very good, but I did manage to ride the rope pretty well after I dorked up 1 and ended up running a fairly decent 35 (especially considering the pitiful gate). The next 3 tries at 35 were pretty lame as the gate got worse. On the last one, I'm pondering ways to think about my gate when I remembered something I have wanted to try. I decided to think about my turn in as being a big long turn all the way to the wake. This was the best turn in of the day....even though I didn't get past 2 on the pass. I will try this thought some more on the next set to see if it is a keeper.
On a weather related note, it looks like Hurricane Irene will hopefully miss us this weekend, although we will probably get some wind and rain out of it. You people along the coast north of us, I wish you good luck. It looks like the Outer Banks and the Northeast might get some heavy Irene doses. Riding out a major Hurricane is an experience you will always remember!
I've been jumping around with some stuff here for the last month, trying to figure out what gives me the most benefit. I've probably always erred on the side of loading to much, being to aggressive. The down side to that is that it makes it difficult to control the rope into the ball and the ski decelerates to quickly causing the ski to finish to hard.
The last 4 or 5 sets, I've been working on skiing lighter and more progressive. I'm trying to be dynamic with my loading so that that peak connection happens at the centerline. I've found that if I connect right at the ball, by the time I get to the second wake the load is to high to control the rope, so what I've been trying to be more aware of is building my connection from the ball to the centerline. Now for me it becomes important to understand that load and connection are 2 different things. If I'm going to build my connection, I can't be loaded up. Extreme load makes movement difficult. Where does that leave me?
I've been trying to be lighter. What I've found is that it's difficult to be light unless you start light. One of those things that I thought would be easy is to turn in lightly, build slowly and ride it across. Well my brain wouldn't let it be that easy. 4 or 5 sets ago, I think I turned in light on 1 out of 10 or 12 passes. Next set I think I had 2 light gradual turn ins. Next set 3. Coming out for the 4th set, I expected to continue the progress, but I think I only did 1 gate I liked. Yesterdays set was probably 7 or 8 good gates. It took me a lot to trust it, but it's one of those things where when you get 1 right, you know this is how you want it to feel.
When I do this like I'm trying, it feels like there's no way it will work. It feels to light and to slow but what I notice is that just when you don't think the ski will move out enough to be ahead of the course, it swings out with a comfortable speed and line tension and you're ahead of the pass. This is where it takes patience to start that process all over again. This is good stuff, but I've got to really get it consistent and do it no matter what my brain tells me. It really is about half the work that my head tells me it is.
Another day of 32s and I'm seeing some progress, although it's hard to get my reaction brain to agree with my "this is what works for me" brain. Right now it has to start at my first move. The gate has to have a gentle start with progressive "core press" but never load 100%. This allows me to slowly release myself from the handle but keep tension on the line. This gives me some carry and control and good line tension into the apex with a light turn finish and a fairly vertical body position at the apex. I've been running as many as 10-12 32s in a set. Out of that number of passes, I probably get 1 that I really, really like. I'll usually have another couple that will have about 1 or 2 buoys that I dork up some where, but the rest of the pass is pretty good. Then there's the rest of the set where I'll be earlier and wider but without the line control that I want. Those usually take 2 to 3 times the energy to run as the "gooder" ones. Usually the gate is what sets my pace.
I'm now noticing that if I do get to aggressive on the gate, the thought becomes ease up on the pace and pass energy, although this is very difficult to do once I'm in the pass. The one pass that I really liked was stuff that I haven't felt a lot of in the last few years. I could really feel the swing of the rope/handle and the rhythm was like riding on a pendulum. (don't tell the non-pendulum crowd). I felt really still and slow and was getting to the right spot, at the right time, with the right speed.
Where I get myself in trouble is feeling like I have to run the pass, I have to trick myself into putting less energy into skiing than I think I need. I really do tell myself I don't want to run this pass. The other thing that will mess me up is getting well into the pass and thinking "this is what I want my skiing to feel like!". Hopefully after a few more sets and a higher percentage of "feel", I'll stop saying that....at least at that line length.
I just don't know what to make of this year. I know some things have to change to get better. I have an Mechanical Engineer at the lake who is convinced this sport is 75% equipment (just my take, I doubt he really thinks that) he throws ideas my way all the time and they're almost all ski related. Me...I'm convinced this sport is 75% skier/biomechanical, so must of my stuff involves movement and feel. I judge a lot of stuff by how it feels and how my body feels the next day or that evening. I've been jumping around some with technique lately, keeping my ears open about what other people are thinking. Yesterday the plan was to go out and feel the rope and work on vision. As with a lot of my sets, the longer it goes the harder I start loading. On a lot of sets lately I've been trying to be very progressive on the gate trying to max connect right behind the boat (but trying to keep the intensity light....say maybe 60%ish). I've been trying to pay more attention to this every pass. The more I pay attention to this the better/easier my starts have been. I think I'm beginning to find and accept that I can only hold max connect for a moment...and where this happens has a big affect on my path and line control. If I max connect to wide, I'll be losing the direction to early or if I am able to hold it to the second wake, It will be difficult to control the rope out to the buoy. So I'm trying to be easier off the ball and building connection into the centerline. I'm trying to be as "quiet" as I can and progressive as I can. I haven't been counting my passes lately, but I'm still skiing 22,28, and then a bunch of 32s until I can get real consistent with them. Right now I would have to ski 5 or 6 nearly perfect to think about trying 35. I think I skied around 10 32s yesterday...until I felt myself fall apart. When I get it feeling pretty good, it feels like I'm going 25 mph, I still need some consistentcy. It takes me a handfull of passes to find the feel I'm looking for....when I can find it at all.
After 3 sets of centerline release, I've had to take a detour. Every set got harder even though I could feel good things happening. I still believe in it and will come back to it.I shared it with one of the guys I ski with (he's generally a mid 38 off skier at 36 mph, men 1 skier). He liked what it did for his skiing, he said it kept his line tight.
My problem, that I don't recognize as soon as I'd like, is finishing the turn to hard and loading to hard and early. It usually gets worse right after I change something. After skiing Saturday and running a bunch of 32s, (not many I was happy with), I felt like a very old man Saturday night and Sunday morning. Sunday skiing started off a lot like Saturday ended, feeling harder than I wanted to. Often times when I ski like this, I don't recognize what's going on, so I ski harder and make it worse. After a 22, 28 and about 3 or 4 32s, I started just trying to ski easier and easier, especially at the finish off the turn (where my biggest faults are) and it started feeling mucho better. One other thing I was trying to do (okay actually 2 more), was a controlled 2 hand reach and spotting the next turn ball sooner.
The connection thing has become fairly good muscle memory, so fortunately I don't have to think about that as much theses days. The only problem is when I finish to hard I get some separation off the ball that I have to fix coming into the wakes. That's where the pain comes in...when I have fix separation under heavy load. That's what wears me out.
Left the water this past weekend grumpy, confused, and leaning towards depressed. Feeling like this sport was toying with me. I thought I had a good plan on what to try next, but in reality I was replaying and questioning everything I was doing. I was stagnant in my skiing running 32 all the time, but 35 success was rare and good 35s were practically nonexistent. I often think back to when skiing was much easier for me and what I was doing at that time. The nearly impossible thing to do is do all of it at the same time. So I have tried bits and pieces without great success for any extended period. Some of it I did without knowing the reason for it.
Because I was stagnant, I needed to shake up my skiing. Now I have to admit, I'm scared to get away from the right stuff for fear that it will take me to long to come back to it. But I'm not satisfied with where I'm at so I needed to change some things. There is always a good possibility that my skiing will go the wrong direction. If it does go the wrong way, there's a good chance that whatever I changed/tried was the wrong thing or executed improperly or done at the wrong place.
On Monday I got a call from a world class ski driver about working a Tournament in a few weeks. While talking to him, I quizzed him on what he thinks about or is trying to accomplish as he leaves the second wake. (this is a skier who has run multiple buoys at 41 in a record tournament at 34). It just so happend he had just come from a famous ski school and had a world famous coach, a current top 5 mens skier and a water ski legend of legends helping him with his skiing (he was invited down to drive for the skier prepping for some tournaments coming up).
We talked about a few things of hows and whys of what to do leaving the second wake. He said they had him picking up his chest as high as he could at the second wake (actually starting it at the centerline). I asked him why they thought it was important and he said you want to create lift at the second wake. (my light bulb to the past turned on). For the past year, I've been trying to ski "through" the edge change in what has amounted to staying on the cutting edge to long. Because I was well connected, I could get away with it to a certain point and then I was hitting a wall. When I was skiing my best, the edge change was happening behind the boat (this summer it's been happening past the 2nd wake spray line.
When I was skiing my best it was due to Lucky Lowe having me stand up at the second wake. I'm wasn't sure why, but it was highly effective. Over my time of going through the motions for a few years, I got away from this (even though I've done it at times). Eventually my thinking changed (thanks WC slalom) and I got away from it completely.
When I got off the phone with this guy, I jotted down a few notes about our conversation and knew what I was going to work on next set. Well yesterday was next set. It was near 100 air and water temp was 96 with a little bit of wind. The plan was to go straight up as I crossed the centerline. Straighten the legs, be tall in the upper body, stay connected (reach slowly) and let the ski ride the arc that's been created to the centerline. I was apprehensive when I got off the platform but committed to what I was going to do. 22 was okay, I was reaching to quick for the first couple of buoys, but then slowed it down some and it got better. 28 was really nice, right width, right speed, right time, really easy feeling. At 32 I was not trusting it as much and was late with my lift a few times, but still it was a good pass. 35 (which I haven't gone straight into, or even tried much lately) I ran the first time despite being late on my lift on pretty much every crossing. I found that everytime I shortened I had less trust with what I was trying to do. I tried 35 a handfull of times, only running the first one. I have some trust issues to work out at 35...it's hard for me to accept only loading to the centerline will get me wide enough, but it will. I have some new found optimism in my skiing. Now I need to spend the next set on a bunch of 32s and get the timing better. Can't wait to try it again.
Maybe I've found a missing link....or maybe I haven't. The next set may be the next step....or maybe I'm still searching. Most of my sets these days are 32 off, 34 mph. I would say 80% of my passes are this line length. The reason I stay here is because it's short enough to give me a lot of feedback and it's long enough that I run it 85-95% of the time. I don't go to 35 unless it's feeling really easy several times in a row. Now I can get the easy feeling sometimes, but I've had a hard time identifying why it becomes easy. Now if the goal was to run this 98% of the time, I think I can do that....but that's noy my goal. My goal is to own the next 2 after -32. So I have to keep changing little things here and there.
Yesterday after about 8 passes at 32, I try something that I used to do when I skied well. It's skiing out all the way to the apex. It's not that I haven't tried this before, but without a good connection, it's kind of difficult to do. I guess the way to think of it is continuing to ski away from the centerline until you hit the end of the line (of the swing you've created). I find it kind of hard to put into words right now and I'm not even sure I can repeat it yet. I do know that when I was trying this at the end of the set the rope was tight and light and I continued to go out until I was all the way extented and the pass had a feel that I liked. I'll try to repeat it for more of the set on Saturday. In the last month I've been able to get some good feeling stuff at times and it has a relation to controlling the handle with 2 hands. Hopefully this skiing out with 2 hands is the next breakthrough.
Here we go again. Reading and watching skiers better than me and sometimes not as accomplished as me makes me try different stuff. I want to get to the right place, at the right time, with the right speed. I have a pretty good idea what I want it to feel like, so you could say I'm chasing a feeling. For a year or more, I've been following the storng connected power through the wake (I think of Mike Morgan, Lucky Lowe, etc.) and in doing so I've become very consistent through 32 and I've run a lot of 35s, but I've been struggling at 35 since our water hit 95 degrees. While the feeling has not been what I'm really wanting, the buoy count has been okay. But I'm looking for 35 to be a lot easier than it's been. I want to be as consistent at 35 and 38 as I've been at 32.
Reading Chris Rossi's and The Wilson Brothers latest articles makes me think I need to be 2 hands on the handle longer. Looking back I played with this during and after our last tournament. So here I am, in a record tournament, playing with changing my thoughts, changing my techniques, so what was the result? Through 32, I was as pleased with any skiing I've done in the last 5 years. Now I did miss my gates twice at 35, but one of my 35s that I missed the gate on, was one of my better 35s in years. Scorewise, the tourney was nothing special, even though I felt some special things.
Next set out I played with it some more and it felt even better, lighter, tighter....closer to the feeling I was looking for. Ran a mostly nice 35, ran some some more good partial 35s and stuff. The thing that bothered me was that I was not as connected as I have been, but the skiing felt really good. Skied again the next day, decided I was going to get better connected and see how it felt. This set was a disaster! I couldn't control the rope like I was the day before and I was highly confused.
I ended up going back to the way I was skiing, running good 32s, but not getting through many 35s. Long story short (too late!) I read Chris's article, along with his comments on another forum, to someone else and decide to retry some of the things I was doing a few weeks ago. Essentially, I'm trying to control the rope with 2 hands all the way to the buoy line (or as long as I can) then finish controlling with one hand to the apex. Now this is where it goes against some of the stuff I've been doing. If I try to connect to the handle TO STRONGLY, I have a hard time riding out to the apex with 2 hands and controlling the rope. I believe I'm overloading the line a little. So during yesterday's set, I try to turn down the volume some on my connection and when I do, I get that magic feeling through the turn, with a tight line (but not to tight). Now what I feel, when I get it right, is kind of what it looks like when Jamie B. skis a smooth pass where he reaches with 2 hands, then moves to 1 hand with a tight line. (of course I'm sure it doesn't look like Jamie skiing!) I'm still having a hard time getting it right at 1 on the shorter stuff, and I haven't run a bunch of 35s with it yet, but it feels pretty nice so far. The rope feels better, I'm more balanced at the apex and the speed feels more consistent. But the real proof will be where it takes me.
Now I don't want to give anyone the impression that the connection is not important, because I still strongly believe that you want to lead with your core, but overloading the line can make things harder than they need to be. In my head I'm still trying to make it as simple as I can. I'm trying whatever I can to try to run the next line as consistently as possible. In yesterdays set, I took the handle wider than the buoy at 22 and at 28. I ran maybe 6 32s. Tried a few 35s but haven't been able to get in and out of 1 as well as I'd like (mainly because I bail early with the handle) The 32's were tighter, lighter and earlier than I've been. I actually scraped the backside of the buoy a few times.....it's been a long time since I've done that.... I really do mean scraped the back of the buoy (not just a figure of speech). 32s can be a whole lot better than I've been running them all year. I should have a pretty good idea after 8 to 10 more sets of this.
Water is very hot these days 95+, Heat index has been 110+ (we have a little bit of humidity here). It makes me think that a good boat option for the south would be a COLD water shower. Basic priority has still been connection, however, how I ski into that connection and how I leave that connection have a lot to do with how cleanly and smoothly I ski. I got to the point where I was so aggressive getting into that position (meaning I got there to rapidly) that my edge change would come to soon or to quickly.
Trying to clean some of that up has led to trying a lot of different things. Including moving my boots back (so far I've moved them almost 1/2"). One of the things that is conflicting is knowing the difference from a "propelling direction connection" and a "excessive leaning" connection. They both look very, very similar from the boat. The difference is the first one: feels light, lower half of the body has a definate swing, the rope stays tighter out near the buoy and you feel like you have exerted half the amount of energy to ski much better. The second one: feels heavy, the lower half of the body has very little swing, the ski heads for the buoy instead of wide, the rope is looser, and you put almost all of your energy into getting where you're trying to get to.
One of the old new things I'm trying to do is to make my leaving the connection to the apex a more fluid move. If you're like me I read every skiing related "how-to" I can find. Some my favorite authors are Chris Rossi and Chet Raley. Chris Rossi just released an excellent article in "The Water Skier" about connection and The Wilson Brothers have released 2 articles in the last 2 months about skiing out or leaving the wakes to the apex. Both of these address keeping 2 hands on the handle longer than it "feels" like we should. So the last several sets, I've been playing with it and I have to say it feels pretty good. I had to work on my feel for how to do it and in doing so, I'm reminded of something Lucky Lowe told me years ago. He wanted me to learn how to run 22, 28 and 32 with 2 hands on the handle at all times. Now being the goober that I am, I never did put time into that, but now I'm rethinking it. The feeling I'm working on is to reach 2 handed (slowly) until the outside arm is almost maxed and then finishing the reach with 1 hand (slowly). I have to say I'm liking what I'm feeling when I do what I'm trying to do. I probably have about a 30% accomplishment rate at the moment. I do better when I visualize it right before my set or if I get really focused on it at the ends of the lake. Jamie B is one of the best examples of what I'm trying to accomplish.
A typical set these days consist of 22, 28, 32, 32, 32, 35, 35, 35. My 35s have been difficult for about 6 weeks or more, but the last couple of sets have made me more optimistic. I've been getting some good, easy starts for a change and usually mess it up by either getting to aggresive or trying to be to light. The goal this year is to run 39. I'm a long way from that right now and I've only been trying 38s in the tournaments. My plan is to get where I can run 3 to 5 35s in a row, fairly cleanly before attacking 38.
I had a pretty lenghty writeup this morning that I thought I put up....but I apparently didn't since I don't see it. But the quick version is I skied 5 out of 6 rounds. I ran probably one of the best 35s I,ve ever had in a tournament or practice...only to have the gate called. The thing that made it so easy was being very patient getting back to the handle. I liked all of my 22s through 32s with the exception of rushing one of my 4 ball turns at 32. My best round was 1.5 at 38. Ran 35 twice...but one of them didn't score that way. I'm 4 buoys ahead of last year this time, which was my first tournament since 2006 maybe. I expected to be further along than this but "it is what it is".
I've been struggling lately. I've been staying at 32 chasing a feeling that I can get at times but feeling it consistently has been elusive. For the last 2 or 3 weeks I'll run 6 or 8 or 10 32s in a set. I'm throwing everything I can technique wise and felt like it was much harder than it should be. The problem has been stalling the ski at the turn finish. As much as I hate to move fin, I even did that by taking all of the aggressiveness out of the fin. That helped and allowed me to run some 35s in our tournament, but it was a lot of work to do that.
The feeling amounted to the load coming on to soon and the edge change happening to early and then me running out of speed before it apexed where I wanted to. If I delayed the load my path got better but that didn't feel right either...it felt unnatural. I thought about this for hours, and finally decided to move my boots back 1/4". Ran a 22 that felt okay, then a pretty nice 28 that was really consistent, then a couple of 32s that were really wide, but not the right rhythm. But with the extra width, I figured I'd try 35 a few times, I was still getting plenty of width, but not a good rhythm. I ran a couple of 4.5s that had a ton of mistakes, but even with big goof ups I was still getting to the next buoy okay. I decided to to really ease up on the last one and the pass felt pretty gentle until I overloaded into 5 and had to suck up some a bunch of slack to finish it. Hopefully we can try it again today to see if I can get comfortable with it or if it's a mirage.
Great pictures from the big dawg that show what connection behind the boat should look like on BOS.
Temperature is 101 and we're not at the heat of the day yet! This afternoon's ski ride should be refreshing. (heat index will be 115 range)
The water is well into the 90s and feeling very, very soft. It feels like we can have a 20 mph wind and I don't feel the difference between a head wind or tailwind. I haven't been running many 35 off passes lately, maybe 2 out of the last 20. In this hot water if you move to quick or to hard, you can get in trouble in a hurry.
Leading up to the tourney, I was skiing through 32 fairly decently, but messing up a bunch of 35s. I didn't expect much but really wanted to run 35 every round....I just wasn't sure how I was going to do that. 1st round, on my opening pass, I thought something was going wrong with the boat, something felt strange. I looked into the boat several times with the "what's going on?" look. They said everything was fine at the end so I figured it was me. From then on I just decided to get my connection strong and try not to overdo the turns, worked great through 4 at 35 where I overturned, got pulled up, rushed 5 to much and came up just short at 6. I could have made 6 but but played safe (looking back I should have taken my time at 5 and dogged it to 6). Scored 5 the first round.
Second round, wind is up, people are complaining about the wind. I actually skied my best round, until 38 where I tried to be to easy on the gate and clipped 1 and was done. Score 1/2 at 38.
Third round I was tired, I haven't even been skiing 2 in a day since our water got hot, much less 3. I was almost done at 2 at 28 from over turning, but I saved it and then gutted out a 35. This time I wasn't going to under load the 38 gate....so I overloaded it and got to wide & to fast for 38. Score 1 at 38.
So I go look at my scores this morning. 1st round, they had 5.25 at 35 (I ran 5, they gave me a quarter buoy): 2nd round they had 4 at 35 (I ran 1/2 at 38, the score took 2.5 buoys from me) 3rd round they got right, 1 at 38. So if there's a score you want or need, you might want to check your score at the end of the tourney. Since I'm looking for much more it wasn't that big of a deal.
Been a little stagnate with my progression here for a month or more. The water has gotten pretty warm. There were a couple of well intentioned guys suggesting to me to look at the fin game a couple of weeks ago and I did that sort of, I took some wing angle off (9 down to 8). That was noticeable but the blue line still didn't improve. I started paying attention to when, where & how I was getting to the apex and noticed that I was overshooting 1 and 2....meaning I was trying to turn, but the momentum still wanted to go wider. So I decide to try to not get to 1 and end up getting there just right but still attack to much 1 to 2 and screw up the rhythm.
Monday's ski set was nothing special other than I jacked up my shoulder over skiing 35. After I skied, I rode with a former highly ranked pro skier who has just moved to 34 this year. He started at 32 and ran the earliest 32 I've seen in a long time (but had some loose line at the finish of the turns) then the same thing at 35...at 38 he could run it early, but it was not pretty. He took a pounding at the end of the turns and ran 1 out of about 4 or 5. I'm sure he could have run more but he was trying to be smooth and couldn't get there. This got me thinking.
Tuesday I watched some of Nate Smith skiing on you tube from the Maiden, NC tournmant this past weekend. If you don't know who Nate Smith is, he's potentially the best skier on the planet right now. The only reason I say potentially is because he hasn't won big tournaments yet. Anyhow, if you watch him run 38, 39, 41 it almost looks effortless. Now, I don't usually watch peoples really short passes to try to pick up technique but I noticed on Nate's skiing that the reason he looks so effortless is because he has no extreme leans....even at 41. This got me thinking.
All this thinking got me back to the idea that in order to make it feel really easy I need to get to the right spot, at the right time, with the right amount of speed. In order to do that I need to pick the right path, with the right load. In other words back to my handfull of basics with a little bit of a change of thinking. I need the connection with out the extreme lean. So with this idea I ski yesterday and of course I miss my 22 opener for the first time in a long time. Then run it and a 28 fairly decently. Then I run 5 or 6 32s, trying different things to get the feel I'm looking for. I would get it in spots and then over do or under do something. The last 2 felt really close to what I wanted. Light load, tight line, not to wide, not to narrow, really slow and still feeling. Then after all those I wanted to try it at 35 and I run up to 4 as perfectly as I've done in quite a while, feeling almost like a carbon copy of the last 32. I screw it up by letting the handle out to quick at 4. But I'm really happy with that (even though I didn't run it). The next 35 I start to hard and get to the same spot but nearly as easily. It's takes some focus for me to be that gentle at shorter lines. But this is the most optimistic I've been about my skiing in the last month. For me, a lot of it depends on how I start the pass, low angle, low load, tight connection, slow/still goes a long way. It doesn't seem like I'll get there and then I end up right where I want to be. Trust is the hardest part.
Before this set, I wasn't even sure I'd be able to ski. My shoulder was painfull, tight and stiff and I have some plague that's been going around the office. (headache, congestion, sore throat). Seemed like the perfect time to try not to try....even though I don't like to stay at a line I can run over and over. Trying different things helped me find where I want to be.
6 days in a row came to an end yesterday. It was 98 degrees when I left the office yesterday, the water is well into the 90s now. One of the good things about where I ski is I get to ski behind the latest MC boats available. One of the bad things about where I ski is I get to ski behind the latest MC boats available (with all the unforeseen problems that go with the latest/greatest boats). Yesterday our boat was down, so we were skiing behind the roughest looking 2005 boat out there, which also only happened to have Perfect Pass only. I haven't skied behind PP since ZO came out and didn't know what to expect. It actually didn't feel that different to me. This was the second set of focusing only on connection. The only place I think I noticed a difference was at 35, when I had some loose line in the turns, would take a little hit at the end of the turn and then get some seperation, with PP it felt like I might be able to recover a little bit easier. I would say if you ski really clean, with a tight line most of the time thay feel pretty close. The big difference is ZO will get the overall speed back for the pass, where PP probably won't.
It's the end of May and we have summer water temps in the 90s. The wind has been rare and light. I skied the last 5 days and tried a some things that in my mind would work, but did not work on the water. The passes felt like I was starting to loose ground, the line lengths I was running were about the same, but it was starting to feel harder, the line was feeling looser and the turns were moving downcourse. I started to realize that the handle was moving away from the core. Before the last day, I decided to go back to square one, getting as good of a connection as I can get. I want the handle touching the top of my trailing thigh, with my trailing hip between my arms...I want contact on my connection. One thought, get it right and get it right every time. The first pass was a little stiff/mechanical, but I got the handle where I wanted to. I wasn't worried about my turns or anything, because if I couldn't get to my spots, it didn't matter. I ran 22, 28, 32 (5 times) and then tried a 35, which had a good start, with good width, but I rushed 3, or ran out of gas or something, but I was happy with the start. It probably wasn't the best turns I've ever done, but width and line control were much better. I really don't care what the turn is like, as long as I can get that contact/connection spray line to spray line everything's fine.
Whenever I struggle going back to square one fixes a lot of things.
Yesterday - The heat is almost here. We've had some hot days recently, but the water still feels good, mid to upper 80s. 22, medium some good some not so good, 28 about as close to dead on as I can get right now, 32 was pretty good except that I was on the tail a little out of 3, 35 I only got 2 fingers on out of 2, tried to ski it on out, but my hand came off behind the boat, 35 again got to 5 in good shape and dropped my head staring at the buoy, ran the next one, even though I had to hold an overload out of 4 (a big lean lock), this pass (and the others at 35), I'm getting pretty doggone early at, but coming off the handle to soon, loosing some speed before the apex, staring at the buoy. 35 again, same old stuff at 3. The physicality of 35 is getting easier, I just don't have the finesse through the turn to let it be easy, most of that will clean up once I'm able to get my eyes up early, so I can keep my head level through the turn, then I can fine tune the rope work.
Which brings me to this. A guy was watching who has a lot of knowledge and a lot of input into people who ski out here. He said my ski tip is getting to deep (that I completely agree on). Where we differ is the cause, he thinks I need a fin adjustment to get the tip higher through the turn (or possibly boot move). I'm convinced it has to do with head tilt, rope control, etc. (finesse around the buoy). I don't want to be disrespectful to people who are trying to be helpful to my skiing, but I also don't want the mental disruption from someone who thinks you should be doing what they suggest and then questioning why you don't take their suggestion. Now if I was doing exactly what I want to do and I still had the problem, then I would be more inclined to try the advice. But this is exactly why I want to take ownership of my skiing. Partly due to how I interpret someones instruction (I interpret to literally). And I am not a fin tweaker (unless I'm out of things to try). If I were trying to get another buoy or 2 at 39 or 41, then I would try something something setup wise. I feel my 35s are so close, that I'm just trying to find the path/pace that keeps the line taught. I'm a "it's the skier not the ski" guy....to a certain degree.
Skiing as much as I can these days, I'm back up to 6 or 7 sets a week. I wish I could ski every day but I can't, life gets in the way. So I try to fit in 2 sets on Saturday and 2 sets on Sunday and a couple during the week. Most times I have a pretty specific plan on what my top priority is when I take the water. 95% of the time it's trying to perfect how I connect to the rope from one side to the other. Now that sounds simple, but how I think about it makes a pretty significant difference on how it feels (easy or hard), how tight the line is, how wide and early I am. Some times it feels really easy, some times it feels like I've lassoed a freight train and that could be at any pass I attempt, whether it's my opener or my hardest. Every once in a while I'll just let the set take me where it wants to, last week I did one of those and it felt different, some parts I liked and some parts I didn't like, I loved the way it felt in the turns. Every turn felt like a standup turn even through 35, but the connection didn't feel right. So the next day, I try to duplicate it and I'm struggling from the first pass, the buoys I ran were about the same, but the degree of difficulty was way, way different. It wore me out and if I skied that way everyday, I wouldn't make it through the season.
So this weekend, I get back to connection focus, arms aginst the body (or should I say body against the arms), pushing the core with flexible legs, arching the back a little, rope in line with trailing hip. I'm trying to be easy on the lean and progressive on and progressive off, moving slowly. If I make contact with my trailing thigh and handle at the second wake, I'm so good on the line I'm trying to ski, I don't know what to do.
I feel if I can own one pass, I can run the next one. For example if I can run 28 in any condition, (high winds don't matter etc) keep the line tight (just the right tight), move fluidly, make it feel reasonably easy....I should be able to run the next one. Even though I haven't run 35 much the last couple of weeks I've been getting to 4 in pretty dog gone good shape and then loosing focus for a second and staring at 4 which makes my turn to hard, some of them I'll finish off scrappy and some of them I just go ahead and work on my deep water start again. But I am starting to let it be easy at times and as long as I don't get violent or fast with my movements and avoid the tug-of-war thought, I'm closing in on ownership of 35. The biggest problem seems to be where I look and when, but when I focus on where I look to much, the connection is off and the degree of difficulty spikes.
There are still some days where I leave a set and say "I'm not sure I can get to where I want to get to" but that will usually last less than 12 hours now. It used to last until I would have a decent set again (which sometimes took a long time)
On a seperate note, what exactly is "West Coast Slalom" these days? I understand it as it's explained in the video (I think). I tried it for a year and had to abandon it, I don't buy in enough to commit. The reason I ask is because I was having a discussion with a guy who's been seeing one of the greatest coaches known and really likes the direction of his skiing. He says the coach is opposed to WCS and some of it's teachings. Another guy who teaches skiing overhears this and jumps in with "it's the same thing you're trying to do, said a different way"....I don't believe thats the case. I think WCS can work, if done properly. I just know the way I'm trying to do it now has much less to think about and fits more with what this guy and I were talking about. I didn't know if any of you were trying WCS or not, and what your thoughs were.
The back is feeling better every day since I switched my shorts. My skiing was getting worse a little at a time for the several weeks I was in pain. I thought it was just a spasm that would only last a few days at most. Anyhow now on to rehabilitate my skiing. My opener has been ugly for a week now and it takes me until about my third pass before I'm skiing anything like I want to ski, then I'm able to ski 3 or 4 passes doing a lot of what I want to do. Then it fades a little at the end. a typical set lately has been 22, one or two 28s (depending on how it feels), three to five 32s, and a 35 or two. Before the back situation, I had been able to run my first two passes pretty much like I wanted to, then the 32s would be a little more choppy, and the 35s would be really choppy. Then I got to where I couldn't run 35. Now that the back has gotten better, my early passes are raggy, I'm able to run some much, much cleaner 32s, and I've even gotten 35 started like I want, (however as soon as I get the pass going like I want...my head goes "this is the way I want to ski this one!" and I screw it up.
Once I started missing 35 a lot, I knew I had a problem. I realized that my back did not want to get in the position I wanted it to be in. It scrambled the muscle memory I had developed. Now that it's feeling a little better I'm able to start trying to get 35 consistent. I finally ran one again yesterday in a pretty stiff tailwind. Into 4, I was surprisingly wide and early, even though my turns were pretty hard.
I've had this aching lower back pain for at least a couple of weeks and it's been in a spot that has bothered me in other years at various times and it makes it difficult to stand as tall and straight as I would like. I figured it was something to do with the way I've been skiing....well I was wrong sort of. It was the board shorts I was using, combined with my deep water start. The shorts sometimes fill with water and put a lot of drag on my starts. They don't do all the time, so I guess that's why I didn't think it was the shorts. I switched them out on Wednesday and while my back still bothers me some it seems to feel much better than it has the last few weeks. The whole time it's been hurting, I haven't been able to get as "core connected" consistently as I would like. Hopefully now that I have switched shorts we can start improving again. I've probably eroded my muscle memory for connection some, but now I should be able to get that built back up. I should get to test it this afternoon.
Wednesday - a little bit of a frustrating day, great conditions but.....I have a new ski rope that has been stretched behind my truck for a few hours the night before, however it takes a set of skiing to get most of the stretchy ness out of it. 22, missed 28, 32, then I stayed at 32 where my duct tape job on my front boot started scooping water on my onside and threw me down 2 times in a row. Then I was ready for it and ran a couple more. There was nothing good about this day on the water.
Thursday - better day, but I had to do some "technique deficiency" searching. 22 and 28 were okay but could have been better. The first couple of 32s were "funny", getting to the spots early but turns were not what I was looking for and it felt harder than it should. At the end I started playing back what I saw/felt during the pass and determined that I was looking at the buoy I was turning instead of where I was going. Next 32 goes pretty well. going to 35 I felt like if I can just spot where I'm wanting to go and get reasonably connected, I'll be fine. Get a really good start and I'm skiing it fine when I just overturn 4 and don't get in position soon enough to get to 5 in reasonable shape. Next 35 I'm running probably earlier and wider than any this year when I get on the tail at 4 and mess up my angle to 5, then get on the front at 5 and dork it up. That last 35 was feeling pretty easy, so keeping the eyes where I'm going is something I need to get better at. I feel more optimistic now than I have in a handful of sets.
Saturday - ideal conditions, air mid 70s, water 80. Our water skis it's best in the 80 - 85 range, we'll usually get that in May & September. First set 22, 28, 32, 32, 35, 38 - 2 ( close to 3 but taking no chances for a piece of a buoy) 38 1-1/2. 35 was pretty calm and patient and finding my targets, got a little downcourse at 5 & 6, mostly due to turn at 4.
Sat - 2nd set, 22, 28, 32, 32, 35 - 5, 35 -4, 35 4. Second set was better than my usual second set, but I always feel a little stiff second tima around.
Sunday - trying to get better with my rope control (off and back on). Really nice with the handle/rope at 22 & 28, really makes the passes feel nice, soft and easy. 32 twice, 32 needs work with the handle/rope control. 35 I'm getting nice control at 1 finally but the more control I have at 1, it seems like the less control I have at 2. I get stuck in the middle of 35 today. Second set I play with my intensity and path some. If I don't pay attention I start increasing my angle, and always end up to far on the high angle side of things. 22 and 28 are really good for the most part, then I run a few 32s, trying to decrease my angle every pass. By the 3rd one, I ski a very flat past that puts me narrower than I want to be, but it is a very easy, uneventful pass....it was about as flat an angle as I ever want to ski. I decide to see haw flat of an angle I can ski 35 with and end up turning back into 2 (I guess that was to flat).
Thursday - The storm that never came. Thankfully all the devastating weather that has hit the southeast the last several days decided not to pay us a visit. We did have some wild windy conditions that seemed to be blowing from all directions...at the same time, gust up to 35 mph. I'm tweaking my routine some here for a few days. Planning to run more 32s to get a real good feeling for what I'm trying to do and what I want it to feel like. My set consist of 22, 28, 32 (5 times) and a 35. Even though I ran 32 5 times, I didn't like the feel of most of them until the last one. I'm trying to be slower on and off the handle. When I do this the pass feels really smooth, the line stays comfortably tight and I feel like I'm standing almost straight up at the apex. It kind of makes it feel like a magic carpet ride.
It's kind of funny how changing one thing can really change up the way a pass feels. It goes from having to work at a really high exertion rate to what feels like half the work.
So far this is how I've approached things: 1) connection - it's the base for all the other things I do, if I can't get my core behind/connected to the handle, I can't get to the spots I want/need to get to 2) Vision/Path/Turn - I'm trying to site the next turn buoy at or before the apex of the buoy I'm turning, then I want the tip to point where I'm trying to go. The key for me here is to limit the angle I establish out of the buoy. You can't ski perpendicular to the boat path here (I should know because I've always tried to do it, without much success) 3) Slow out/Slow in - I'm trying to gently let the handle out and gently bring it back in. This creates a nice carving turn with a nice exit angle, the speed variations don't dip and rise as much, which keeps Zero Off response to a minimum...hopefully. As far as me personally, I don't think about my edge change or counter rotation as far as anything I'm trying to do. I do think about edge change when I don't like something I feel in my skiing. For example, if my edge change is later than I want or to abrupt, my thinking is that I didn't get my connection soon enough or tight enough (to much separation) which may mean either I didn't focus enough on pushing my core through my arms or number 2 or 3 caused me to take a hit out of the buoy.
Thinking I should be further along with what I've put into this year so far, I have to start looking a little deeper into what I'm doing and where my focus is. I have run some pretty decent passes this year, but I'm looking for my consistency to be higher. Looking back at a few of the latest days of skiing, I think I see an answer. I think in most of my second sets, I need to be slower and more progressive off and then back on the handle. I believe this will help with the earlier/stronger connection (or at least the fluidity of the connection) at the shorter lines. Like a lot of skiers, I tend to move quicker as the line shortens or the speed increases. I'm trying to look at all the little things that rob me of my efficiency.
Focus spots that have gone okay but need to pay attention to, in order: Connection, Vision/Path/Turn (I think these are stongly linked)
Focus spots that need work: feel rope tension off and back to the handle, then push hips into connection.
I need to be spending more time at 32 than I do. I need to pick some days where I see how many 32s I can run in a row and develope a really good feel for the rope.
Something I wonder about sometimes is whether Joel H would think I'm one of those people that takes skiing to seriously. I want my driver to be into what he/she is doing. I want them to know when the boat is centered and when it is not. I want them to strive to get better as a driver and and as a skier. I don't always get that and I can live with that, but I just prefer that my driver is engaged in what's happening on the water. If you have a good consistent regular driver, it takes some of the guess work out of things you feel as a skier.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday Continue to ski decently on the first set and not as well on the second. Saturday 22,28,32, 35 (2.5), (5), (6), 38 (1.5), 2nd set I don't remeber running 35. Sunday as good a first set as any this year, skied like I wanted to for most of the set. Ran the best 35 I've run in a long time. I thought I would get down the pass some at 38 but couldn't get past 2 in 2 tries. I did get to 2 in great shape the second time, but I still need to keep experiencing the starts, keep focused and buck up. As good as the first set was, the second set was that bad. I missed 28 twice, then ran it and a 32, but didn't get 35 going at all. Monday my daughter's school was closed, so we went to the lake. I had not planned on skiing Monday, but since I had the time, I went and took a set. I skied 22 and 28 well, but 32 was not one of my better ones and I never really got 35 going at all. I was kind of tired and my focus left me quickly. I'm going to try to do a better job of evaluating each pass at the ends and get a little better mental picture of what's going to happen.
I tend to drift back towards skiing with more angle when I'm not paying attention. The gate I'm using teaches me the line I need to be taking between the buoys, but my years of skiing wrong keeps wanting me to be an aggressive angle skier. This is where my discipline needs to get stronger.
In other news one of my ski partners is upping his game, 38off cold yesterday twice in a row. I guess I picked the wrong guy to taunt during the off season. This is a 21 year old that is becoming a force right before my eyes. He has picked up 2 passes in the last 2 years.
Very good article by Trent F on a different board about Anchor Point. I mention this article because this is kind of how my thinking has evolved since, really buying in to Bruce Butterfields article on handle control less than a year ago.
I,ve had an interesting spring so far. After skiing on average at least 1 day a week all winter, once daylight savings time hit, I was able to start hitting it fairly hard. Some days have me very optimistic for the season and some days I feel out of sorts. On the days I feel out of sorts, I can almost always trace it back to being a little seperated (as I call it or my anchor point is to high as Trent describes it in his article). I should be recognizing that in my set quicker, but for whatever reason I don't. I usually formulate next sets attack plan within a few hours of my last set. It almost always addresses connection (anchor point) or finish turn angle and rate. There are other little things I pay attention to as well, but if these 2 items have my attention, I'll ski well (for me).
My sets have been fairly short, lately I've been doing a tournament run which consist of running 22, 28, 32, 35, and 2 or 3 shots at 38 on a good day. I'm not running 35 everytime but each day we're getting better at it and I'm starting to get some starts at 38. This is the earliest in the year I've been running this many 35s and to be able to run 38, I've got to start getting more time there so I can identify the line I'm trying to ski and to trust my width. I'm trying to ski it to wide and to early.
On another note we had been skiing a boat with a problem, it was running on about 50%-70% power ( I think it was computer related) for about a month or so. Once we got a new boat, it became easier to ski wider and earlier, which changes your timing. It has taken about a week to adjust to a stronger boat, which feels easier...it's just different.
I've cut down on my updates, because I don't know if I'm the only one skiing on here, or if this benefits anyone.
Tuesday was a little bit windy but nothing that should have made it as difficult as it became. After last Sunday, I thought I had a good feel for my latest direction with my skiing. I thought that precise pointing out of the buoy and light load would be very productive. What I didn't realize (but should have) was that if my connection and hip drive were not strong, I would not ski well. 22 & 28 were not up to par, they felt to direct at the buoy. I found myself later at 32 than I should have been and rushed my 4 turn, over turned and that pass was over. Then I tried to many passes without a solid correction in my skiing. It went like this run 32, miss 32, run 32, miss 32 over and over and over for what must have been 8 or 10 passes. There was one time late in the set where I recognized that my connection was insufficient, but on that one I ran it wide and early but the line was to loose for my liking. This was a depressing set and it bothered me for longer than it should have. I had been making strides with my skiing and 32 has been getting better and better, easier, earlier and more enjoyable. I tend to dwell on what I "think" I need to do to correct things, but can't prove them until the next set.
Thursday - I had jotted down a couple of things to think about for next set. A strong connection was at the top of the list, with target vision and target turns. Conditions were decent with about 10 - 15 mph wind, temps around 70. I was not going to be narrow today. 22, 28 & 32 were strong, tight and on time. 35 was a little bit to wide at one, which caused me to rush the turn some, giving me a bit of a loose line at the finish of one and getting pulled forward into 2, I was not in a good position to turn 2 but was surprisingly patient and finished the turn without rushing it or turning to much. Being patient the rest of the pass and being solid behind the boat allowed me to run the rest of the pass fairly well considering the start. I now wanted to get at least 3 at 38 because that was the score on the board. I did not turn in well and got a little to much behind the boat causing me to overshoot 1, scored 1/2. Tried 38 again and got a better gate, but the speed/line is still not right at 1 turned 1 like I did at 35 and got to 2 okay but didn't display the patience needed to get around a few more.
Technique is getting me wide enough to run 38, but the speed isn't right at the apex. I can go easier, but the margin gets a little tighter here. Time on the water, and making sound corrections will be the key to getting a better handle here.
One of my skiing partners went out the boat at 38 and ran it. Then ran 3 at 39, then ran 39, then ran 4 at 39, then had a really good feeling start through 3 buoys and ran another 39. I commented on the really good feeling start because he's not the smoothest feeling skier generally. He's a hungry young skier that loves skiing, has a great attitude about everything and is working hard to be an elite skier.
There's no way to detail the last 4 days of skiing, I'll forget to much and I couldn't possibly make it interesting enough. Starting with thursday, I skied a straight out, tournament run, for 1-1/2 at 38 that surprised me. Second set in fairly windy conditions, skied just inside 6 at 35 off, then tried 35 a few more times and couldn't get past half of it. That was the best second set so far (I've struggled a lot in second sets so far). Friday, I can't seem to remember how that set went (must not have been speacial). Saturday, skied straight out again and ran 2 at 38 off (could have got something at 3, but didn't want anything stupid to happen), second set I missed 32 at 4 with a miss grip at 4, then tried a few shots at 35 without much success. Sunday morning, somebody rode that wanted to coach me some (I wasn't really thrilled with this but.....) missed my opener. Then ran through 32, but struggled getting 35 going. By this time I had skied 6 sets in 4 days. I had one more set scheduled and was kind of tired, so this time I wanted to just run some of my longer lines and work on a few things that need some focus. Ran 22, 3 - 28s, then skied at 32 for a while.
I have needed to spend some time at 32, but have been running them farily well since I've been trying to limit my turn angle the last 2 weeks. Since I was worn out yesterday afternoon I just tried to work on some precision, timing, feel and stuff like that. Parts of it were feeling good and parts of it were wacky. Well this one pass, I start trying to be real precise about where I point the ski out of the turn and trying not to work to much and it is the best feel I've had on a ski in 8 years, the first 3 turns and loads feel perfect, I'm just the right speed, just the right width, finishing in just the right spot...it feels so good that coming into 4, my mind says "this is EXACTLY what I want it to feel like!". I'll be spending more time at 32 trying to duplicate that.
One of my skiing partners thinks I'm trying to be to precise....but this is my way of making it simple. I'm looking for a consistent feel and to do that, I need to know where I want to point the ski and how hard to work and how hard to turn.
In other skiing related news, my 4 year old daughter skied behind the boat for the first time Saturday....then skied a "second set" later in the day, then skied another "set" on Sunday, she plains on the water at 6 mph. I would just reel her in when she was done......Sometimes when I'm in the boat, these dumb ideas just come to me. I decided to hook her platform trainer on the tow bar and feed my self off the back of the boat. I get almost to where I'm at the end of the rope , with the loose rope in my hand and reach down to get the handle. When I my weight goes forward to grab the handle the tip goes under and I fall in front of the platform trainer. It hits me under the eye, across the nose and in the lip. As I'm in the water waiting for the boat, feeling my face, I'm thinking I'll scar my daughter from ever wanting to ski again. But it ended up being fairly minor scrapes....but don't try this at home.
Well conditions were a little challenging yesterday but not as bad as I thought it might be. The wind wasn't coming straight down the lake, so it wasn't extremely rough, however it did scatter the setting sunlight which made it difficult to see heading west. 22 opener, my 28 was easily the best one I've run this year, then the 32 start was as good as I can do until 3, when I guess I was skiing to easy and came up narrow and fell, then 32 again with not as good of a start and the same thing, to narrow at 3. Both of these were into the sun. By this time a set that started well was ticking me off. I run 3 32s in a row, getting a little better each time. (32 still needs some work, I want to run it like the 28 from this set). Shorten to 35, a couple of 2.5s, struggling on the gate some, not getting the effort level/timing into 1 right and I'm doing stuff to hard and to fast here. On the last one I get the feel I'm looking for into 1 but rush my movements and fall at 2.
I believe at this time last year I'm not sure if I was even rounding buoys, so I'm well ahead of where I was the last couple of years and I think the potential of how I'm trying to ski is very high. I'm trusting my gate stuff more and more, the turns have cleaned up. My 2/4 turn which was dog crap is becoming a fairly sweet turn and my offside turn which was pretty decent is improving as well. I'm coming into the buoys with a more consistent approach and pace. The hardest thing is still trusting what I'm working on, It feels to easy to be right, which is what I've been searching for since 2004. I think the difference between now and 2004 is that I have a much better idea how to achieve it, because of the journey I've been on to figure it out.
The main differences between what I was trying to do previously and what I'm doing now are the gate and the angle I'm trying to create off the buoy. The gate is very similar at all lines now, where before I was changing it for every line length and off the buoy, I'm not trying to ski the extreme cross course angle.
You would not believe how trying to ski with less cross course angle will benefit you. 1)It's way easier on your body 2)It's a lot more consistent 3)The results after the second wake are where the payoff is 4)Your buoy count will climb. 5) The hard falls become less hard and less frequent.
If I can only learn to trust it.
Today is ski day, there's usually only 4 ski days a week. Outside right now there's lightning, hard rain and more wind than ever. So I check the ski report..err I mean weather report and it's calling for west winds 20 - 30, with gust to 40. This afternnoon it's calling for west winds at 25, our lake runs east-west, it's gonna be a bouncy ride with someone spraying water in your face from a garden hose. Maybe the report will be wrong. There was a bright side, when I left for work at 6:00 this morning the temperature was 65.
Saturday, morning set air 60, water 64, medium wind. The weather report called for strong winds right down the lake all day, but medium wind was a pleasant surprise 22, 28, 32, 35 - 2.5, 2.5 not getting 35 started well yet, saved some for the 2nd set. 2nd set, now that's some wind, howling whitecaps (at least as far as waterskiing's concerned), Boat crew talks about how bad it is a little to much for my taste, but I want to learn how to produce in this. 22 head gale is pretty bouncy and lots of spray, 28 tail was pretty good and I skied it well, then for 32 it really gets rough, somebody must have thrown a bucket of water on me from the boat, and I got doubled over at 1, second 32 attempt started pretty well for the conditions, I wasn't just getting spray, I was getting lots of water in the face and started over pulling and over shooting buoys (I didn't think that was possible in this wind) missed at 4. Tried a couple of tail 32s, but by this time the head wasn't right. Did not run a 32 this set. But I wanted the experience and I'll ski better in this stuff next time.
Sunday, conditions are much better today, light winds, temps low 60s. 22,28,32,35 2-1/2, 2-1/2 (not pleased with my 35 starts). I'm over shooting 1 and 2. I slow the boat to 33.9 and plan on getting focused on the latest things I've been working on and being a little easier on the gate. I get a really good start and get to 4 right on time. I get a little to aggressive with my angle out of 4 but run it pretty decently. It was probably better than 90 percent of the 35s I ran last year. Tried another one but ended up with another 2-1/2. This might be the earliest in the year that I have run a 35.
The hardest part about skiing right now is trusting what I doing, trusting that the effort I'm trying to put in is enough and trusting that the angle I'm taking out of the buoy is enough to get me to the right spot. I'm not trying to be real wide and real early. I'm trying to be enough wide and enough early to be right on time. Right on time is a pretty comfortable pace, and effort wise, it's not excessive. One of the things that helped me realize that was to ski slow 15s. If you overturn or overpull slow 15s, you can get in trouble quickly, trying to get early at the buoy and from the buoy to the wake is a sure way to get late. But if you soft turn (no more than 45 degree angle) and progressive load out of the buoy you're success rate and enjoyment rate will climb quickly. It's still important to have a strong position at the second wake, but if you try to quickly nail that position at the buoy, you will not be able to hold it at the second wake, move progressively into a solid postion and don't try to rip the towbar out.
Good news/bad news conditions: Good news light wind, overcast conditions. Bad news highs in the 50s, water is back to low 60s ( man it drops faster than it heats up). I am fighting using a wetsuit, but if we get lower than this, I will be forced to. Used a thin top yesterday and was good for 4-5 passes before getting chilled to the shiver point.
Skiing went well when I was focused on the plan, I was carving turns instead of skidding turns (for you snow skiers). ran 1 22, 1-28, 3 32s, missed the last 2 32s, when I started loosing focus, grabbing to much angle, and other assorted goofy stuff.
Things that are working right now and I'm trying to focus on are: Maintainable angle (especially at the end of the turn), Vision through the turn, progressive load/unload, maintainable load (shooting for 60% - 70% of capability), Moving slow through the turn (especially the end of the turn, where I tend to rush things). This seems like a lot of things to think about (and it is) but I think a lot of them are closely related. I'm running some pretty decent passes for me for this time of year. This is more like my list to evaluate after each pass or each set. The hardest thing to do right now is to trust what I'm doing. When I get most of these things right it actually feels to easy (for lack of a better description) and I tend to get much more aggressive than I need to on a pass where I have a comfortable pace and comfortable timing.
Had a couple of 2 a days this weekend: Friday 1st set I skied decently, we've had a lot of wind lately and it didn't bother me to much, ran 22, 2 28s, ran a 32 and missed a 32 at 5 (most of my best 32s this year I haven't run), tried a 35, just so I have some 35 experience.
2nd set friday, more wind, missed 22, ran 2 28s, then fought 32 a bunch, ran 2 out of 5, none of them were very good. At the end of the set and friday night it felt like somebody beat me with a cane. Even though I've been sticking with limiting the turn angle, I stilled worked way to hard this set. I needed to find a solution before next set. I believed that even though I was skiing with less angle, I was moving to fast though the reach, turn, load process.
Sunday morning 1st set....no wind! Trying to move slower and be more progressive with the load. 22 and 28 were some of my best skiing of the year, the way I want stuff to feel. 32 starts were pretty much as good as I know how to do it right now. I would hack them a little around the 4 and 5 ball turns. Ran 3 of those with really soft, fluid starts. Tried 1 35 but missed at 2.
2nd set, missed 22 twice, than ran a couple of decent 28s, 32 ran 2 out of 4. It seems like the second set, I'm not as strong feeling and overload the work zone a good bit. I think I need to ski 32 with a little less effort and I'll find a good comfortable pace i can work with.
It looks like we're gonna have some cooler weather for a few days.
Mid week skiing again, afternoon sun and wind throws a little bit of a wrench into things because I'm depending on downcourse vision more than I was a week ago. Finding the next turn buoy when the water is somewhat rough and the sun is low is difficult. I suspect after about 10 sets of this my muscle memory will be more trained and it will be easier to point my eyes where I want. Started out at 22 headwind, 28 tail was pretty doggone good, 32 was tough to see 2 when I was at 1, same with 4 and 6,but it was a decent pass seeing as how I have not tried a lot of these lately, the next 32 I tried to grab to much angle and went down at 2, The next one got better and better with every buoy (I could see with the tail sun), the next 32 with headwind and head sun was very good until I rushed 5 and blew the tail (again to aggressive with the turn). Then I wanted to see how this stuff feels at 35 even though I haven't spent much time at 32 this year. I was rushing to much at 35 but turned 3 (1,2 & 3 turned all to hard) on the first one and turned 4 on the next one. At 35 I was far to aggressive, but after I run a bunch of 32s and get my stuff better, 35 will start getting some work.
For the last couple of months of last season and all of this year, I've been playing with lining up the left hand gate ball and number 1 turn buoy for my turn in point. I have to say this is less angle than I've ever tried to hold into 1. When I first went to this I was consistently 5' to 10' to early for the gate when using my normal load through the gate. Then I started "aiming my ski" just inside the right hand gate ball and getting into a solid stacked position as I approached the wakes, instead of out wide. Even though this felt to slow and to light, I kept ending up in a good spot, wide and early at 1 (not super wide and not super early, but comfortable wide and early). Even thought this kept happening everytime I aimed for just inside the right hand gate, it hasn't been easy for me to trust. This has opened up my mind to a completely different way of thinking about skiing.
Not happy with all the deep water start practice the last couple of weeks, I needed to upgrade somewhere. Most of my problems as far as what I felt were to much distortion between the finish of the turn and the "work zone". So last weekend I started trying to clean up my vision, which helped, but it didn't make it feel the way I wanted it to feel. So this weekend I decided to go back to something that helped last year and that was to try to be less aggressive at the finish of the turn. Saturday was the first really, really, really, nice day weather wise. Light winds and temps in the 80s, water was around 68. The first set goes better than any I've had in the last 2 months, ran 1 22, 4 28s and 1 32, no misses. Second set was me forgeting what worked first set, I probably missed as many as I ran and never shortened past 28....right back where I was.
Saturday night we entertained with a big fire in the yard, food drink and friends, then my wife, daughter, man's best friend and I camped out in the yard (we're a little removed from civilization). I had to many of the drink part and had my first serious bad head in over a year. While I'm cleaning up the camp/party site the next morning, the wind starts blowing and I can tell from the direction that ski day is going to have some adverse conditions. But I also know that how I skied set 2 on Saturday was not the way it's suppose to be done. I needed to change things and sometimes I go to extremes when I'm changing things...so the plan was to turn less than I thought I needed to.
I get to the lake and the water looks pretty rough, but I'm pulling into the calm end. When I get to the middle of the lake it's rough as sheet on the west end and it's not consistent. It's blowing hard and then harder and switching directions and whitecapping at times. There's one guy out there skiing and he's catching hell, falling on gate turn ins and not getting out to the buoy, bounced all over the place.
I get warmed up, and go give it a shot. The plan was gonna get a severe test this set. I start out 22 and turn the first couple of buoys and think this isn't to bad get to 3 and the ski starts bouncing, but I'm finding my targets and trying to keep the ski moving and it get's rougher and rougher, but I get through it. The driver is laughing at the rough end. Shorten and back into the wind, I'm getting pounded at times like somebody is throwing buckets of water on me, but I stick to the plan with non aggressive turn finishes, but try to get as powerfully connected as I can between the spray lines and keep turning buoys. There are times when I turn more then I want, but catch myself and lessen the angle before I take the load and I'm able to keep getting across to the next buoy. On one of the passes I end up real narrow at 6, when I drop, the driver apologizes because he said a wind gust blew the boat way over. (that's how windy and unpredictable it was) After about 6 passes I decide to shorten to 32, I'm running it pretty decent but get bounced out of postion at 4 kind of badly and bail on that one. Then I go back to 32 mph and 15 off, run 2 of those. The 3rd 15 off is into the head wind and I'm getting hit with those buckets of water enough to make me ski to the dock. Given the extreme conditions and my fat head, it was an interesting day.
Skied mid week yesterday for the first time this year, air was 68, water was a surprising 70. Last set I started working on my vision again with decent results. During the off days I was comtemplating some more fixes to my skiing that came to mind when I slowed the boat down and let the rope out to 15 off. The focus for this set was to limit my turn angle and turn aggression so that I could load progressively out of the ball. I was trying to limit how far my ski tip came around so that I was pointing where I wanted to go instead of trying to grab some massive angle out of the ball. The first 2 passes were non aggressive turns but also not very strong position in the "work zone. After that I was able to set a strong, core engaged, work zone postion that carried me out to the spots I wanted to get to. Then I picked my eyes up to the next buoy as I approached the apex,
set a gentle head level turn and drove through the core through the handle in the work zone. I kept playing with the intensity of the turn and the load for 4 more passes at 28 off
trying to find the right mix. Then I slowed the boat down for 2 passes at 32 mph at 15 off to work on carrying speed and making a gentle turn. The first 15, I was to aggressive at the end of the 1 ball turn and folded right up, trying to reestablish rythym did not go well and I fell at 4. The second 15 wnet much better with a good rythym until 4 - 5 (I assume I attacked 4 to much. All you 15 offers need to be non-aggressive turners while maintaining speed and balance until hookup, then get in a good core engaged position through the spraylines.
The slower speed, longer line skiing at the end of my set is teaching me things.
Things must be starting to thaw out a little, we have a little more activity on the board this morning. I have been skiing on Saturdays and Sundays for a few weeks, but my skiing has not excited me lately. I skied better in December and January when air and water was in the 40s, than I have in February and March so far. I've been trying some variations of the basics that served me well at the end of last year. I think the root of the problem is that I'm trying to turn to hard, one of my fixes for that last year was trying to train my vision more downcourse.
After 6 28s yesterday, I decided to slow to 32mph and run 15 off, it's been more than a year since I've had it on 15 off, I ran 3 passes at 15 32 mph and 33 mph, it was interesting and I'll probably do that some more to change some things up. It was definately a bigger wake at that speed and line. I may go even slower to try and train my vision some and to build more endurance at the end of the set. This was kind of backwards for me. When I've run 15s before, I did them at the beginning of the set. Usually it's been tough for me to let the rope back out and ski passes.
I got to ski Saturdy and Sunday, Saturday was another set of leaving the connection early and running out of speed at the buoy. About all of my February sets have not been some of my better winter skiing. Sunday I jotted down a specific "to do list" for my on the water performance and was able to ski better, still doing a 22 opener and the rest of the set at 28 off. I took last week off from P90X to let my forearms heal.
The water temp rose 6 degrees last week, we're up to 58 degrees now. We've also had some really nice temperatures in the 70s for most of the week. Yesterday was upper 70s but a howling wind down the lake. I wussed out for the first time weather wise all winter. Had I not skied the last 2 days, I would have taken on the whitecaps, but I decided not to yesterday.