Took some video of my last few sets but not worth posting. Tried the trakker for the first time and we need to get that dialed in a little better. There are a few things that I took away however. First I noticed that for the turn in for my gates (when I reached) my arms were way too high. So I focused on keeping my hands lower and I felt a better pull connection but in doing this I lost the focus of looking at the pylon out of the turn. My skiing is feeling better these days and my hips are up more than they were but this is still not perfected. Getting back on the tail of the ski out of the turn is becomming less frequent. Trying to make these things automatic rather then conscious focus. 32 feels right at home 34 still really squirrelly and probably will until I put these things together a little better. 14
In light ob BD's common reflection of trying something new, I decided to re-visit where I was looking in the course. A little back ground first. Last summer when we had Lucky up for a clinic there were a few things that stuck with me. One of his main focusses was gates, and also where to look: Don't look down the 2,4,6 buoy line look at the angle of the rope with the engine box to determine how wide you are on the pull out. You can see this on the video of Joel's lesson.
Since most of my skiing was outside the course prior to last summer I asked Lucky about ways to practice while free skiing. How do I know how wide to go out if I have no buoy line to reference? His answer was the same. Look at the angle of the rope with the engine box. During one set of free skiing he was sitting in the boat and he said in no uncertain terms (as only Lucky can do) that I should ski and do 6-10 turns without EVER taking my eyes off the pylon. At the time this was meant to gauge the width for where I should turn and to get me to forget about the wakes. It worked very well for me
I have continued to do this whenever I free ski but I did not do it in the course. In the course I would look across-course about 15 feet upcourse of the bouy I was headed to. Although to my klowledge this is an old school technique, my thought was look where you want to go. When I tried looking upcouse (pylon) last year I fouled it up because I felt like I was looking everywhere and it didn't work. I had no rhythm with it. So, I had felt REALLY good outside the course (but then again who doesn't) and in the course it was hit or miss.
There has been a whole bunch of discussion about vision and where to look as keeping one's head up helps maintain body position, etc, etc. in recent months. I decided I'd give it a shot again in the course. Although it was only one set, it felt way more comfortable then when I tried it before and the results were pretty apparent. I kept my eyes on the pylon until I felt the bump of the wakes. After I felt this I would transition my view towards the buoy to make the turn. Once I knew I would make the buoy, I focused back to the pylon. Two things were immediately noticable: Looking at the pylon allowed me to keep my head straight and allowed me to lean at the right angle to maintain good tension, body position etc. Second, looking at the pylon until after I felt the bump of the wakes allowed me to pull long enough to maintain good outbound angle and speed to the buoy. The result was that I was early and wide. I ran 30mph twice. It felt so easy it was laughable. Bumped up to 32mph and again felt wide and early, feeling very comfy. I messed up one pass because I hit 3 ball due to being too early so I guess that isn't all that bad. And I managed to fall around 6 ball on another..."So early and wide, you've got this in the bag! Stand up cool guy, you nailed this one!" "Looks like you stood up too fast dummy." I did take a shot at 34 but I was tired at that point. Made it to 3 ball twice I think but the good thing is that it didn't feel fast or out of control.
Got in 2 sets this past weekend despite the poor weather. 1st trick set was merely feeling out the trick skis again. Working on the SS and surface Os that I figured out last year. Weather wasn't proper for taking too many falls. Will have to wait for warmer water/weather to work on more stuff (lots of spills). I like it as an alternate to slalom, but as a 39 year old I'm a bit late to the tricking discipline.
Got in the course as well. Conditions were OK but not great. Wind wasn't bad but course was full of weeds. Started at 30mph and was able to run it with no problem. Bumped up to 32 mph and it was clear that my timing was off. Out of 6 passes I hit 1 ball 3 times. Gonna need a few more sets to get the timing back.
Got out for my first set yesterday. On Saturday, the last "iceberg" on the lake floated out of our channel. After putting in two 10 hour days putting in new flooring I was tired. However, the sun was out and the lake was calm. A little push from Capt. Original was all I needed...."You want a set?" I don't own a dry suit but did well with what I had...full wetsuit with my neoprene socks and hood. I used the hood last year with good results but this was the first time I used the socks. They worked pretty well. They are .5mm so they are thin enough to get my feet into the ski and they worked really well....no numb toes. Since it was so cold I wasn't going to screw around too much so I made about 5 passes concentrating solely on the lean drill. Felt good to be back on the water.
I just pulled up the website to write my season wrap up and saw this....
...Man, time flies when you are having fun. And that we did! This was my best season yet. At the beginning of the year my goal was to go from a 28-30mph skier to a 32-34mph skier. Mission accomplished. I logged 60 sets this year which isn't many compared to the full time heavy hitters, but this is pretty good for me with 3 kids and the fact that I don't live on the water full time. This year started early with sets in March thanks to a mild winter. I was able to take lessons with Jodi Fisher down in Orlando in June and followed that up with our Lucky Lowe clinic at our lake a few weeks later.
At the clinic I met a brand new ski buddy who lives on the lake right next to ours. John's lake is small and is a great ski lake with a permanent slalom course as well. Skiing with John allowed me to ski the majority of my sets in the course from July to the end to the year. This is what really helped me progress. Typically I would get about 6-8 sets in the course per year....good fun but not enough to get better. John really helped coach me along. I learned that what I thought was the right approach was really not the correct position and I also really learned to crave speed as my skiing progressed.
New ski buddies, first tournament under my belt, skiing improved, great year.
Still going up here in Illinois...at least as of last weekend. Hadn't skied in 3 weeks prior to that. Took out boat, pier, and lift out then took some open water sets. Weather was rainy but we were able to get the stuff out between the rain. Air temp was in the upper 60's and I have no idea what the water temp was but I'd guess upper 50's lower 60's. It is wetsuit and hood season again. Despite not skiing in 3 weeks I felt strong and took a lengthy open water set bumping up to 36 for the heck of it. I like the feel of the speed...very easy when there are no balls in front of you. Then I put on the combo's for a joy cruise around the lake because I don't do that enough. It felt great to be back on the water until the next day. 2 long sets in the cold after lifting the pier and lift out left me pretty sore.
It has been a while since I last posted. (Its not you, its me.) I have been skiing like total crap. It was a total i-suck-so-bad-at-this-dammit slump. I skied my fist tourney with Joel a few weeks ago and my results were the exact opposite of his. He kicked ass, I sucked. Didn't even make a full pass. (I got credit for one though. Judges must have missed missed my 6 ball miss.) I skied novice and needed the mulligan passes badly. Not only was I skiing bad but the ZO turned passes that I might have slopped together into "not even close". It sucks when you start at 30mph for your warm up pass and then realize you should have started 28. Oh well.
September has now moved in and with it darn near perfect ski weather. Both days this weekend were in the mid to upper 70's, perfectly sunny all day, virtually zero wind and water temps still at 70. With the wally traffic gone post-Labor day, our lake was a sheet of glass all day Saturday. Perfect time for PBs.
I skied pretty well this weekend and ran 34mph twice. Never did that before. To be honest it didn't feel that fast today so I must have been doing it right. Whereas I had been struggling with 32mph consistency for the past few weeks, something clicked this weekend. Not even going to try to analyse it at this point...been doing too much of that and maybe that has added to my frustration. I think there is something to be said for "stop thinking about it and make this damn pass!" (Same thing happened to me when I first make my first pass with gates and all. I had a full day of coaching with Lucky with lots to think about and a day later I cleared my head, said F-it and ran the pass.) Maybe not the best philosophy but sometimes it works.
One of my ski partners John skied 1 ball short of his PB. He's been stuck on -32 and -35 for a while but skied into 38. I also heard Capt. Original made a PB this weekend, but I'll let him tell you about it.
OK......I love this sport again......
With the impending start of school about to seriously interfere with my ski schedule I spent all of last week up at the lake. I took in as many sets as I could and the end of the week was capped off with 9 sets in 4 days. Not sure about you folks, but that is a lot for me. By the end of the week I was definitely physically tired.
Slalom is making progress. I put the wing back on the ski and it seems to help the attitude of the ski stay flatter and the turns seem easier. I'm still working on consistency. 32mph is still a bit of a mixed bag. I have run some that are super smooth where the speed feels very slow and easy, yet others are still a bit scrappy. Also, I was able to run 33mph thrice out of maybe 6 tries.
Made some progress with the trick skis as well. Side slides on both sides are very consistent now and the surface O's are becomming easier. Even though these are easy tricks, it feels good to make tangible progress nearly every time I ride the trick skis. Until last September I had never in my life even put on a pair of trick skis. Its nice to have a positive reinforcement diversion to slalom and to be able to say "What's my next trick Capt. Original?"
Here is video from my last sets. Right now I'm feeling like 30mph is a bit slow and spongy. I like the way 32 feels. I'm still chipping away at this speed because I'm not running it consistanly and I'm finding ways to mess it up. After watching the video here is what I think: My connection is getting better but still could improve some. I think I am releasing a bit early and I'm not pulling through the 2nd wake. One weird thing that I have noticed is that my offside pull feels better than my onside. Not really sure why. Maybe I'm trying to turn too sharply on the onside turn. Input is welcome....
I have been doing a lot of skiing lately with a guy I met at our Lucky Lowe clinic. John lives on the next lake over and has a permenant course set up. I have skied with him 4 times over the past 2 weeks or so and that has allowed me to log 7 sets. Including the sets with Lucky this is the most sustained practice that I've had in the course...ever. Open water is great, but there is nothing like getting practice in the course. John is a great guy who has been around skiing for a long time. He has done a lot of show skiing, is a great long line footer, and jumps and skies into -35. John is a great coach too. Some simple pointers, watching some video, and building on what Lucky told me has me making some good progress.
I'm done with 29 mph. I can run that in my sleep now. My turns are more smooth with less tip rise. I'm feeling the leverage position more. It is becoming more frequent that I botch a pass because I'm too early and I don't know what to do with it. Taking Lucky's advise, I'm turning in for the gates like I'm turning a ball.
I've been alternating 30mph up the course spinning and running 31 mph back the other way. The 31 mph pass is well within my capabilities. I've run it twice now. The good news is that when I don't run it it's not because I can't, it's because I just found a simple stupid thing to mess me up. More time should make this more consistant.
On a side note, my 5 year old and my 7 year old are past the point where they need the tow rope tethered to the trainer skis. (The rope is still attached but I've adjusted it so that the pull is coming 100% from their handle and the rope that attaches to the bar between the 2 skis just dangles there.) The next step will be to remove that visual crutch all together and move them to a slightly larger pair of Jr. skies that only has the rope between the skis rather than the bar. The good news is that on Saturday John had them going through the gate and then rounding the boat guides on the appropriate side (the mini, mini course). Even with that bar attached to the skis they figured out how to turn the skis to cut back and forth. My 7 year old daughter made about 6 full and complete passes. She loved it and my son wanted some of that too! I think 2 new buoy heads were born this weekend.
I've skied with Lucky a bunch of times and what I really appreciate is his ability to simplify things. I'm sure there are intricate things he can teach someone who is -35 but for a guy like me who is still figuring out -15 he really focuses on the basics. All spring I was working on a body position that felt really good in the open water but absolutely did not translate to the course. I was thinking about which way by hips were pointed etc, etc. However, Lucky focused on two simple things: reach and pull. I think the things he showed me reinforced what Jodi taught me but in a different light.
In the past I would reach, but I realised that I reached after I knew I would make the buoy. There were times that Lucky would be yelling for me to reach and I would be thining "Are you serious? Too early." However I was able to gain confidence that the reach would cause me to make the ball rather than the reach being a product of making the ball. In retrospect I don't know why I was doing that. It sounds crazy but that is what I was doing. By the way, when I say reach I don't mean to imply only a 1 handed reach. Two handed reach also qualifies. I get it that we should be able to run the course at -15 (and beyond) with 2 hands on the handle.
I have had success with being able to ski with my hips up. My problem is that I straightened my legs so much to achieve this. I wasn't getting a very dynamic position. I need to bend the knees (ankles!) a bit more. I have had had a bit of success taking a more agressive looking stance (think batter rather than golfer).
Another interesting conversation that I had with Lucky was about ski angle. He was talking about the fact that the skiers position and path are directly related to the speed and line length through the course. There is a correct path to take. A fifteen off'er shouldn't be leaning like a thirty five off'er. During this conversation I asked him about being at slow speeds at long line length. Less lean angle would cause the ski to hit the wakes flat and that is bad. He said "What do you mean by flat?" I came up with the analogy of cutting butter. You don't cut butter with the side of the knife, you cut it with the pointed edge. He understood the analogy but sort of redirected my thinking. He said your ski is not flat and neither is water. It is fluid and it moves. He said "To me, skiing flat means skiing out of (body) position" and getting pulled downcourse by the boat.
Where does that leave me? Reach and pull! Doing it correctly. Here is what I'm currently working on after digesting all of this: My arms were too stiff. Get the handle to my hips (not my crotch) and with a slight bend in the elbow. Drive my knees in the direction of the ski (knees and elbows slightly bent). I need to pull al the way through the wakes. Trust the reach.
I have included parts of my sets with Lucky and some sets thereafter. I still have lots of work to do here. Lastly I found a video of Lucky. There seems to be a purpose for the video angles that is was shot at but I don't specifically know what it was. Anyway, he is so smooth and his body position is so straight. I'm not seeing a lot of bend in the knees either but the direction of his lean and pull are perfect. It seems effortless.
Sorry it took so long to post more about our Lucky Lowe clinic. I was without TV, phone, and internet for a whole week. Instead of cancelling an order, they cancelled my whole account....idiots! Anyway, here is some more....
One of the things that Lucky addressed with four different skiers was their gates. This is where everything starts and if you have a bad gate the rest is likely to go bad. When you ski on a portable course without 55’s you start minus one reference point that is there to help you gauge a good start for the gates. The first thing that Lucky stressed (and you can see this in Joel’s video) is that when you are just starting to learn the gate you need to use the boat as the reference point. More specifically, the pylon is the best reference point because it is always the same distance to you regardless of which boat is pulling you.
The second thing that Lucky said is that you have to totally commit to your turn in and it has to be the same every time. The mistake that everyone makes trying to make the gate is going through it, but doing so differently every time. There shouldn’t be any thoughts of “oops I’m going to miss the gate, I’d better adjust so I go through it”…. at least not in practice. If you pick a reference point to turn in for the gate and every time you miss the gate by 2 feet, that consistency means that your mechanics are the same every time and therefore all you have to do is slightly adjust when you turn in. If you are going at the same time and sometimes you make the gate and sometimes you don’t…go back to the drawing board.
Your turn in for the gates should be exactly like turning a buoy (zero ball so to speak). You can’t swing out and glide for too long. The boat will pull you back in towards the wakes. On the other hand you can’t neglect to go out far enough and you also can’t swing in too soon. Think of a swing: there is a perfect point/time to turn in. If you are having trouble with your gates Lucky recommends doing a two ball start so that you get the feel of what the gate should feel like every time. He started me with a two ball start then we did a one ball start then we worked on the gate (intentionally missing it early).
In order to make the gate consistant and like a zero ball Lucky recommended reaching with your arms. Instead of merely keeping your arms in front of you and turning in, reach and pull regardless if you are doing a one or two handed gate. This will allow the ski to turn in easier (and probably with more angle as well). If you watch the video that SA posted of Lucky skiing you can see him doing this every time he turns in to the gate.
Our second annual Lucky Lowe clinic was a great success. The more I ski with him the more I want to ski with him. Great guy, funny as heck, and a walking encyclopedia of waterskiing. I am constantly amazed with how much Lucky knows about the sport: current topics, history, boat design, ski design, different sites, etc. He is also a true champion of the sport and wants to promote and grow waterskiing as much as possible. He is a guru.
When you ski with Lucky you will quickly realize that he doesn't hold anything sacred. In other words, even though he comes from the old school traditional 3 event background, he realizes that there are many ways to get the job done. Different techniques, different tools, different ways to describe things, different verbage. Lucky does not try to sell you on "his" method. He tries to make you better. For example, he admits he doesn't really use calipers to adjust a fin (only to measure where it was so he can put it back if needed). "I always thought the best way to adjust the fin was to put it shallow enough so that the ski slid and then pull it back out a bit." "I don't know why people don't mess with their fins more. That's what they are there for." However, if your skiing is messed up he is not going to let you blame it on the ski...it's you.
I have lots of thoughts. I was lucky enough (pun intended) to spend a lot of time with the man over parts of 3 days so this is going to come in a few segments. For this first part, I'll piggy back off of Joel's lesson and add a few other things. Joel had the lesson that I've always dreamed of. First off the dock, perfect conditions, skied very well, and tweaked a few things very successfully. I was in the boat and filmed his set (which hopefully you'll see soon). He had the "Wow, great skiing. Let's fix this one thing. Nice job." set.
What I heard a lot of in Joel's set, my set, and another skiers set was this. Most people will tell you to look down the line at 2,4,6 when you pull out for your gate. The problem with this is that you need to be looking more at the boat and the gate. The analogy that Lucky made was that was that when you look at 2,4,6 it is like staring into oncomming traffic when you drive. Look where you are headed! When you catch a football you don't look at the sidelines, you look at the quarterback. (BD I know you can picture him saying this.) You don't need to look at the buoy line. You can tell your width by the angle of the tow rope and where it is in relation to the boat or engine box.
Once you pass through the gates look at the balls. Lots of people will tell you DON'T look at the balls. Lucky would say you need to look where you are going, just don't aim for the buoy. You need to LEAD the buoy. (BD, more analogies for you.) If you are fishing and you see a frog swimming and a fish swimming towards the frog to eat it, do you cast your line towards where the fish is or where the frog is?!?
However, Lucky suggested a different approach for open water practice? He sid you should look at the boat and never take your eye off of it. In the open water the boat is the only reference point you have. Use the angle of the rope with the engine box to know when to reach and use the geometry of the speed and line length to know when to pull.
Just got back from our trip to see the mouse. While we were there I was able to sneak away for a couple of lessons with Jodi Fisher. This was the first time I skied with Jodi and would definitely go again. His place is about 10 minutes from disney and it is a beautiful site.
Thus far this season I have not been in the course but have been working on things in the open water. My previous sets felt really, really good. I had been working on getting more comfortable crossing the wakes at faster speeds and was having success with what I was doing. Nothing better to make that feeling dissappear than to get me some lessons and put the balls in front of me.
I don't know about anyone else but I have never felt like I have skied well at a lesson and I have never felt good after a lesson. This is not to imply that I don't like Jodi or the coaching he gave me. I do and I certainly learned a lot. I came away with lots to think about and a lot to work on. I always hope to come a way with an "A-ha!" nugget that will give me immediate success to the next speed or line length. I have some things to think about, but they are going to take some time and practice.
I tend to ski with my legs very straight. Jodi stressed that this in turn does two things: It causes my hips to be angled with the ski and it causes me to put more weight on the back of the ski rather than riding it balanced. This becomes problematic for two reasons: It becomes harder to carve a nice smooth turn (with the front of the ski) which then leads to bigger hits when reconnecting after the turn and it promotes using lean to generate speed instead of using ski direction to achieve the same result.
We worked on skiing with my hips square to the ski (everything pointed in the direction that the ski is going). This felt very different for me because it was comfortable with straight legs and that made it easier to keep my hips up. In order to keep my hips square with the ski I had to bend my knees a lot more than I was used to. I felt like this was causing me to take steps backward and ski with my hips trailing. However, Jodi showed me that this was not the case. On the onside pull, if your hips are square with the boat there can be a small gap between your hips and the handle. If you keep the handle in the same position and turn your hips square with the ski (closed) then your hip will automatically be closer to the handle.
I worked on this but felt like I was taking steps backward because I was struggling to make it through the course at 28. However, I did see some progress with this and I felt what it is like to get speed from proper directin as opposed to lean. (I get it..this is 15 off and slow..I shouldn't have to lean like I'm into 35 off.)
I was still a bit confilcted though. I thought I was doing what I thought everyone was teaching and although Jodi was telling me to do the opposite things I could see the benefits of what he is teaching. When I saw posts on BOS that were advocating the things that Jodi was telling me not to do I posted for some clarification. That is where the Marcus quote came from that Deke posted. To be clear, I'm not trying to offend anyone or doubt anyone...I'm just trying to figure this out. I think it would be silly to repeat what has already been said so here is a link to the discussion http://ballofspray.com/forum#/discussion/5441/different-ways-of-thinking-about-the-same-old-stuff/p1.
I will say that I'm going to give this closed stance a chance to see if I can get anywhere with it.
Got a set or two over the holiday weekend. The water was fairly good...until I skied. Not more than 2 minutes before my set two or three jet skis and a wally in an I/O tear onto the lake and erased the good water that we had. Even my 5 year old and my 7 year old got multiple sets on the good stuff. Anyway, I skied but that is about all I have to report from those sets.
Fast forward to yesterday (Sunday) evening. We skied some open water sets pretty late after the wind and rollers settled down. I started at -15@30 and felt pretty good. After a pass or two we quickly bumped up to 32. (From the past few sets, this is where I would start to feel a little bit out of control.) I was focusing on keeping my hips all the way up and watching the pylon as I crossed the wakes. I have to admit...this is really helping my skiing. I think it forces me to turn just enough on my offside pull to open my shoulders to the boat and that in turn forces me to keep my hips up. Last night was one of those sets that I was kicking myself for forgetting the video camera. I was tearing it up. Everything was clicking...Capt. Original can vouch for me.
I took about 7 or 8 passes. One of those I was able to maintain eye contact with the pylon the entire pass even for for all six turns. No rollers to watch for, no bouys, why not? Man those passes felt awesome! For my last two passes, we bumped it up to 34 and then brought the speed back down and shortened to -22. The last two passes felt a little out of control but I was also getting tired. Not really sure how to approach the -22 rooster tail in the wake. I'm guessing I just have to be consistent with my form, know that the bump will be there, and trust that it isn't going to launch me if I'm doing what I'm suppoed to be doing.
We also went out early this morning to get some sets in before Capt. Original headed to work. I put in some good effort but the magic wasn't quite there. The wind was up a little but honestly I think it was more me. My mind and my body just weren't there at 6am....but hey, that's what has to happen to get it done.
Got a quick set tonight. Took the wing off my ski. I have known that I should do this for some time, but I was resistant to altering the ski from its factory setting. The ski felt great tonight and I'm glad I did it. The ski felt faster yet I didn't feel any notable difference in being able to slow the ski down. I focused on keeping my shoulders open to the boat and looking at the pylon. I like what this did for me! Thanks Prof!
I felt really good for the first three turns and then went OTF. That was a dinger. Joel, when you broke your rib on an OTF I thought it was a freak incident, but after tonight I get it...totally possible. My ribs hurt. I need to keep my arms straight. Anyway, I still like the way it feels when I look up.
I'm feeling great at 30. Very comfortable and I feel like the ski was mire on edge although I don't have video to prove it. I decided to bump up to 32. Things felt a bit out of control at first, but I kept it there and just worked on duplicating what I am able to do comforably at 30. The one thing I do notice is that the wake seems noticably harder at 32. What I felt may have been a product of the ski not being on edge at much, but I don't think it was only me. Anyway, I think that is what I'm going to work on for the next few sets. I booked a few lessons with Jodi Fisher in a few weeks. Looking forward to that. Immediately following our Florida trip, we are going to host another Lucky Lowe clinic at out lake. Will keep you posted.
More free skiing last weekend. Took 7 passes and was concentrating on my off side pull. Felt a little better than my last set but this is something I'm still figuring out. I think I need to turn my shoulders towards the boat more so so that I get the feeling that I'm leaning back instead of leaning to my side. I need to work a bit more on keeping my hips forward on that side. On the first video my pull out of (what would be) 5 ball looks stronger and I zipped across the wake a bit quicker, but I'm not sure what was different.
My onside pull feels good. I'm trying to judge how long to maintain the pull. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the OTF. It's always good to throw those in there for entertainment purposes.
By now you've seen Joel's post about our sets last Sunday. I'm sitting in my kitchen with the front and back doors wide open and it is a very comfy 75 degrees outside. Hard to believe that 72 hours ago we were freezing our butts off trying (and failing) to get our sets in before the rain. Couldn't find my neoprene hood so the bald guy suffered again. Ouch.
Joel skied very well. He free skied -28@34 and looked really, really good. He had his business together despite the cold temps. I skied next and felt just OK. My last sets were 4 weeks ago and I was battling the cold. Not to make excuses, Joel and Captain Original skied the cold same as me and killed it. However, I felt it and although my passes weren't the worst, I've skied better.
Captain Original got the short end of the deal. It started raining at the beginnig of his set. He tricked first followed by slalom and skied well as usual despite the conditions. Once he finished, Joel took a trick set that I couldn't see much of because I was driving the boat in a downpour. I was just trying to see where I was going and keep the boat on a straight path.
I have attached video and would like your input. I think my onside pull looked pretty good but my offside pull wasn't as connected. I could feel it as I skied, and it shows on the video. The water was cold and fast which I've skied better before but I just didn't want to fall. BD, I did feel the back arm pressure you have written about. I am still trying to figure out my off side pull position. The thing I'm trying to figure out is that if my hips are square with the ski, how much should my shoulders be square with the ski vs open to the boat? Still a work in progress.
Skied 2 sets last Sunday to kick off April. It was cold! Skiing the weekend prior was much warmer. It was cloudy and 50 degrees with a breeze. Water temps dropped too with the cold nights back into the 50's. To top it all off (ha ha pun intended) I forgot my neoprene hood for my head. Didn't need it last time...oops big mistake. My long wetsuit was sufficient but my hands, feet, and bald head were hurting.
Ran some open water slalom at 30 and then 32 mph. Those felt really good. I shortened the rope to -22 and slowed back to 30 and that was just OK. I think the cold had drained me at that point. I then put on the tricks for a quick run...basically so I could claim I skied 2 sets for the day.
I intended to take some video, but the only people that were brave enough to spot for us were my 5 year old and my 7 year old. Maybe next time.
I can't believe that on March 19th (still officially winter!) I feel behind because I haven't had a set yet. Incredible weather! Looking to get on the water maybe next weekend. This summer my goal is to go from being 28-30 to 32-34mph. Also going to be doing some more free skiing at 34@-22 now that i know what I'm supposed to be doing behind the boat.
Skied four sets last weekend. Temps in the high 50's and water temps I'm guessing were in the mid to high 50's as well. Sunny but 20-30 mph winds on Saturday. We were pounded as we crossed the lake to find a shore with marginal water. With many of the trees having already lost their leaves, our normal wind barrier is becoming less effective. Luckily at this time of year with all the piers out we were able to tuck in really close to shore. However, we are really getting past the "It's not too bad once you get in" weather.
I tried some free skiing and skied pretty well both days. I am not into adjusting my ski settings for cold water at this point...I like how the ski feels and I'm afraid I'll screw it up. I just made sure I turned a little slower and I just concentrated on body position across the wake. I would have to say that I have made huge strides this year with that. I started the year skiing with rear end out, not comfortable crossing the wake, getting pulled all over the place. Now I'm very comfortable with it and I usually don't even feel the bump across the wake. When I do get out of position I feel it and am very aware of it.
I also got my first 40 points on the trick skis this weekend! I had never in my life even ridden tricks until late, late this summer. I only have about 3 or 4 sets under my belt, but I was able to turn my 1st 360. That felt really good. I like the trick skis a lot, especially after a slalom set or two when I'm too tired but still want to ski.
Had a chance to do some open water skiing Saturday. Weather was not good. Sun was out bit was in the mid 50's and wind was in the teens. No water temp gauge, but if it was low to mid 60's 2 weeks ago, it had to have been in the upper 50's by now. After skiing 2 weeks ago with Joel and feeling good after those sets, I knew it wasn't going to get better. I pulled out the slalom ski anyway. First turn I wiped out. Water felt really hard. My ski didn't even really catch a good edge to turn. It just kept going outward and slid out. In other words I went to turn and it didn't. I know people adjust the ski for different water temps but I'm not that confident in my ability to do so and I'm not that motivated at this point in the year.
So I said screw this. No trick skis in the boat. %#&! I had to go slumming! My only option was to go wakeboarding. Only the second time in my life I was forced to do that. Honestly, it was fun and I was glad to do it. But I for all the crap I have given my brother for being a wakeboarder, you can imagine the guff I heard when I called for the wakeboard.
Hey bra, that's what you have to do to salvage some of the last sets of the year!
Not really a diary entry, but,,,,,
Can anyone tell me how they award points in slalom events. For example, if you look at tournament results they will typically show boat speed, line length, and # of buoys. In addition there is a point score that accompanies the rank/tournament results. I'm guessing that point score is used in calculating overall results for 3 event competators. What qualifies as a point in slalom?
Finally got to ski with Joel yesterday. We have been trying to hook up literally all summer long. Joel is a great guy and I really appreciate his enthusiasm for this sport. His personality really comes through on this website and through the videos he has posted here. I felt like I've known him for a long time even though we only met yesterday.
It has been VERY cool here the past week. Highs in the 60's and lows in the 40's. With that in mind, I prepared for arctic skiing yesterday morning. To my surprise, the conditions were perfect. No one else one the lake, winds were low, sunshine quickly warmed up into the high 60's or low 70's, and the water was still in the mid 60's. I had not been in the course since the weekend after Luck Lowe came to visit a month ago. Also I haven't even free skied in 2 weeks since Labor Day where trying to stay standing amongst the rollers was all I could do.
I felt really good about my sets yesterday. If I remember correctly I had 3 or 4 full passes at -15@28 and I missed another one or two deep in the course. I am feeling very connected behind the boat, the turns feel good, and thinking about the bumps as I cross the wakes has become a thing of the past. I had tried messing with my boot position and it really messed me up, so I felt right at home after I put it back.
Another thing that stuck out about yesterday was that it was the 1st time I had ever skied with cruise control. It took a bit of getting used to, so my 1st two or three passes I got pulled forward as I was coming out of the turn, but I got used to the new feel fairly quicky. Once as I was coming out of 3 ball (I think) I got pulled way forward. I mean way forward....arms out front and bent over at the waste. However, I was actually able to recover from it an make the next few balls. I have never been able to recover from something like that and make the next ball, much less make the next few (I think that might have been one of my full passes, but I don't know for sure). I think that is a tribute to the fact that I'm "getting" this, my skiing has improved , and that feels great.
Black Dog, Deke, and everyone else, as I've said before your descriptions of how you ski and what it should feel like and what you strive for have helped me tremendously. Kudos. As a side note, I could only see a bit of Joel's skiing yesterday (through the rear view mirror) but he was tearing it up! When I saw his tweet this morning I was not surprised to see his progress after our sets in the morning. Nice job.
I free skied a bit last weekend. One thing that I had wanted to try was moving my front boot back a hole. (It is currently all the way forward.) Had been feeling pretty good and my confidence was pretty high so I thought I could work up more speed on the ski if I moved it back. Holy cow! One notch on the front boot made it feel COMPLETELY different. I didn't even touch the back one. I felt like I lost all stability in the turn. Even my buddy in the boat commented that it looked like I lost all stability on the ski. I was falling all over the place. Needless to say I will be moving it right back to where it was. Experiment failed.
This is an addendum to my previous post about Lucky messing with my grip. Up to this point, I have never given it a second thought. I did what felt natural and probably couldn't even have told you which palm is up and which is down on the handle. I am right handed and I ski RFF. I have always skied with the right palm down and left palm up. Lucky wanted me to switch. I did and it felt slightly awkward, but not too bad.
Lucky kept focusing on the fact that I was doing better with this new grip. Personally, I think it had to do with me pulling all the way through the wakes and having enough passes to feel confident that when I reached my ski would make it around the bouy.
Lucky said some things that made sense and others that didn't. He made the analogy of shooting a rifle. He said there is a certain way you stand and hold a rifle. I took this to mean that if you are shooting with your right shoulder on the stock then LFF, right palm is down, and left palm is up when you hold the gun. OK Makes sense. Then he said which way you hold the handle might have less to do with which foot forward or which is your dominant hand, but with which is your dominent eye... Not sure that I'm buying that.
When I got home I went online and looked at as many pictures of as many pros as I could find (JB, Rossi, TO, Mapple, Chris, Bob and Jennifer Lapoint, CP, MB, Asher, EVERYBODY!). Every single one of them followed the same trend.....except Lucky himself. Since I don't know which skiers are righty or lefty I looked at which foot was forward. All RFF skiers skied with the right palm down. Vice versa for LFF. However, Lucky is LFF and skies with the right palm down.
Is this just a comfortability thing (like which foot you preferred to have forward when you learned on one ski for the first time) or is there something more? Lucky seemed to put a lot of emphasis on it, but I'm not so sure that the switch was the cause for success. Maybe it was his way of getting my focus on something else so I wouldn't overthink my pass. Maybe he tricked me into not sucking.
This may be the longest post in the history of Fifteen off. I’m trying to remember all the details of the day. Will get out as much as I can. At least what is suitable for print.
Our Lucky Lowe clinic was last week and it was certainly an event! It was a bit of a stressful lead-in but we survived. We had some trouble with setting up the course and had to spend some time rigging it to make it work. Then due to a series of mishaps (stories for another day) Lucky didn’t arrive until 3:15am.
After a short night’s sleep we hit the lake and the weather was perfect. Sunny day, 82 degrees, almost no wind, calm waters. Conditions were as good as you could get for our public lake. Even the fishermen stayed away. The only issues we had were some wave runners. Why are wave runners attracted to buoys like flies to poop? I don’t get it.
I haven’t been in the course for about a month, but I had been doing a lot of work in the open water working on body position across the wake as per my previous posts and BD’s and Deke’s advice. I had been feeling great. Never had any slack, great speed across the wakes, and I wasn’t even feeling the bump across the wakes. The only think that could ruin that great feeling was putting the balls out in front of me and putting Lucky in the boat. Just kidding…sort of.
For those who don’t know Lucky, he is not a coach who is short on words. As you read this I do not mean that in a bad way so I don’t want it to be taken as such. He has a healthy southern accent and his delivery of the things he is saying is sometimes downright hilarious. It is not only what he says but also how he says it. You can’t help but love the guy and laugh your tail off at times. As well, he will give you more advice than you can possibly absorb in one day.
When trying to make a point Lucky will do so from many angles using as many analogies as possible. Sometimes he will say something and the light will go on right away. Other times it takes a long time for the light to go on, maybe even days later. Still other times you get brain overload and nothing sticks and your next pass is “just try not to do what I just did.”
I like the fact that Lucky is a straight shooter. Before your set he’ll ask you where you are at with your skiing and where you want to go. He’ll also preface it by saying “Look, some people want me just to tell them how good they are doing and I can do that. But I don’t think that is very productive.” In other words, in order to make progress he needs to break you down a bit before he can build you up.
First and second set went well. We were working on position. Lucky said my shoulders were open to the boat but my hips were not always parallel to the direction of the ski. He thought my arms were too stiff (straight) even though they were down by my hips. He wanted more of a slight bend in the elbows while keeping the handle by my hips. He also was messing with my grip which messed me up a bit, but that probably warrants its own post. In all of his advice he said “You are doing this one way, I’m telling you a different way. You have to find what is right for you which will probably be somewhere in the middle.”
My third set was not good. There had been a long time between my morning sets and this one but we decided that we’d start working on gates. It ended up going the way of throw-in-something-new-and-foul-up-everything-else. His advice was different that everything else I’ve read. We had no 55’s (greens?) on the course, only the gate as a reference point. Fine with me, I’m not used to them anyway. I had previously thought that you need to look for where a gate buoy and another ball line up. Instead, Lucky suggested to get as wide as the 2-4-6 ball line and cut when the front of the boat hits the gate. “If you miss early, pick another point on the boat and keep adjusting.” Big disaster. My timing was all whacked out and I fouled up the rest of what I was supposed to be doing. I got an earful about it too.
I felt like crud after my last set and the following morning when I watched the video that I took. Only two words came to mind: I suck! The breaking-me-down part was a success. Now on to the building me back up.
My buddy had taken out a bunch of his old Waterski Mags from the early 90’s. (He saved every issue he ever got.) The intent was to find a good pic of Lucky in the magazine and have him sign it. So Lucky is on his phone touching base with his wife during a break back at the house and as he is holding the phone to his ear he sees the old issue. He squints at it and then points to it. He looks up at me as his eyes get wide and the brows go up and then points to himself as he gets this big shit eating smile on his face. Hillarious. The face expression was: “Holy cow that is an old issue, I can’t believe you have this old issue, hey I’m all over that issue, check me out!”
Lucky LOVED looking through the old issues. The stuff in there was priceless. We got a real kick out of the old gear, the neon, the bad hair (Lucky’s mullet for one) and the styles of the day. Not flattering. One cool thing in particular was a “young guns” article that featured (if I remember correctly) Rhoni Barton, Mike McCormick, April Coble, and Karen Truelove and they were all about 16 years old. I have to say that it really used to be a better magazine than it is now (another discussion as well). There were way more features, interviews, and educational content.
As we looked at the pictures, Lucky would continue to coach, showing what was good or bad in each of the photos and reference it to what we had been doing in the lesson. That is one of the things that I love about Lucky. He is always trying to teach. Even at the end of the night in a house full of people, hours after we were off the water after some drinks and a big dinner, he pulled me aside and was recapping (in a kind way) what I learned and what I should focus on. Building me back up!
The next morning I was still in overload with all I had been told. I said #%&@-it. I’m just going to run this and stop thinking about it. My buddies advice was to use the back of the boat for my gate reference instead of the front. I proceeded to run the first two passes (with gates for the very first time). My buddy said “wow, looks good” and bumped me up from about 27mph to 29ish (‘94 Prostar, no cruise control). Then I ran that once and got 5 ½ on the second pass. Successful lesson!
I had a great time this weekend. Went up to Milwaukee Saturday to watch the Malibu Open. Saw the end of OM slalom 2nd round and some women's jump before I had to head back. Was able to catch the finals on the web cast when I got home. I love the head to head format. Much different than the best-score-wins format at Nationals. Couldn't believe CP went out so early.
I hope they keep doing the Malibu open there. Great venue. The air and water show was happening at the same time which made traffic a bit crazier, but I think it added to the festivity of the event. It is very cool to be there and see the pros just walking around and enjoying the event like everyone else. Saw Regina Jaquess, CP, Will Asher, T-Gas, Nate Smith, Marcus Brown....I would love to sit down and B.S. with any of those guys and talk ski-nerd stuff.
Today I went to Wilmington to see M2 tricks at Nationals. Also saw a bit of W2 slalom.
Great weather all weekend. Saw lots of great skiing and put lots of miles on the car. Can't wait to ski!
Haven't been on the course in the past few weeks, so I have been free skiing, working on one thing only: strong connection through the wakes, hips up, handle to the hips. I have been making good progress. I have felt better and better each time out and my ski buddies have noted my progress too.
First I was making good progress on my onside pull and I was feeling more speed through the wakes with less strain. However, my butt was still riding a bit low on the off side pull. I was still feeling like my hips were pointing in the direction of the ski and even though I was trying to keep hands in/ hips up. When my ski buddy said "onside looks good, but you are still sitting a bit through the offside", I could feel that I was doing it.
I went back and looked at as many pictures that I could find of pros on their offside pull. I noticed every one of them had their hips as open to the boat as possible...especially Mapple! I focused on that last time and it really worked. I think this killed 2 birds with one stone because twisting my torso to stay open to the boat automatically forced me to keep my hips up.
The other thing I'm feeling is that I'm much less afraid of the wake. When I have found that connection, I have never even felt like I might go OTF. Great feeling!
On a side note, my crew and I have booked Lucky Lowe to come to our lake for a day of lessons in August. I have skied with Lucky twice at his site and I loved it. There is no one else like Lucky. He is a guru of slalom and he is educational, inspirational, and at times downright hilarious. I can't wait.
I did some skiing last Thursday and Friday before the lake got crazy for the holiday weekend. Some friends dropped the course on Thursday, but it was really windy by the time I got there so instead I did some free skiing on what calm water we could find. All I focused on was what BD and Deke mentioned last week: handle to the hips, not bending at the waist, hips up, point my hips/stomach in the direction I want to go, and do this through the 2nd spray line as opposed to stopping at the second wake. Didn't even carve a single turn. Got myself set, focused entirely on crossing the wake, stopped on the other side, got myself set again, went the other way, etc. Only focusing on one single thing.
It felt pretty good. Skied the course on Friday and was able to see some results. I got further along on the passes that I did not make than I did last time out and I made two full passes. On one or two occasions I did feel what BD talked about: "feels kind of like my body is bow shaped with my stomach leading the way and my shoulders kind of behind my stomach and the core is carrying the tension and there's very little load on my arms and shoulders." Amazing.
Did a lot of skiing last weekend. Put the course in on Friday night and hit it hard on Sat. morning. Felt pretty good but results weren't there. I was practicing a couple of things: ski back to the rope and have a good stacked position across the wake while keeping the hands in. Right now I'm running 15@27 and trying to gain some consistency. I ran my first try, but that was my best run. The mistake that kept recurring was that I tended to be early enough that I would turn before the ball and miss it. That feels really stupid when it happens. During my first pass I got nice and wide, but for some reason I got it in my head that only need to get wide enough to get my ski around the ball. That would also explain why my ski hit the ball on one or two occasions. Wider is better right?
Anyway, I felt pretty good. However, it was frustrating to feel good and not see results. It was different to feel good across the wake and struggle with the turns. Usually it is the other way around. In all of this I'm really trying to establish a good rhythm.
We free skied on Sun, but I was too fatigued from 3 sets on Sat to make it worthwhile.
Have hit the water a couple of times now over the past few weekends. Free skied both times. I've skied only occasionally over the past few years, but have been fortunate enough to be able to do so behind a tournament boat. Memorial Day weekend I was able to apply some stuff I learned during my spring break lessons. Mainly: arms in, ski back to the rope. That really made a difference for me.
Last weekend I took a set behind an outboard. Wake wasn't even that big, but was big enough for me to go "Holy Moley! What the heck do I do with this!?!" Hence the title of this post. It doesn't take long to get spoiled by the virtually nil wake of the tournament boats. Anyway, I decided to turn off the slalom training mode and just skied around the lake looking at the sights. I have to tell you it was refreshing and fun. I wasn't thinking of all the crap that I usually think about, good set, bad set, what did I do wrong. I just skied and enjoyed the set. I should try to make this a priority more often. I got the new issue of Waterski this past week and there is an article about this same thing. Free ski, trick, foot, tube, whatever. It is all lots of fun.
Last week I took some lessons from Lucky Lowe. What a great experience! I took lessons from him last year and it was my first time skiing the course. I was on a new ski which felt pretty good and the conditions were great. I wanted to work on my position out of the turn and crossing the wake, and I wanted to take a shot at the gates as well.
My skiing was not the greatest, so we spent the whole time working on body position (trying to keep my @%#&%!# arms in!) and never got to the gates. That did not detract from the experience though. I was the only one out there that morning and I ended up spending about 3 and a half hours with Lucky learning, asking questions and just chatting in general. It was really cool to talk about how equipment has evolved from wooden skis, how to teach skiing, and about the physics of skiing (I teach physics). For all his achievements in the sport, he is not at all arrogant, and I feel honored that he spent so much time with me.
I really enjoyed hearing a few stories about the water ski tour back in the 90's. Lucky talks about all the pro's by their first names..."Andy this-or-that, look at Wade's position in this picture, I'll have to remember to ask Marcus about that". He talks of "the magazine" frequently and about how he might explain things differently than what is commonly seen therein. After talking with him for so long, it is clear that he is always thinking about teaching people how to ski, and he is VERY interested in promoting the sport. I think he would like nothing more than to a resurrect a tour as big as it was back in the 90's.
I learned a lot from Lucky, and I think he was just as bummed as I was that I didn't run the course that day. (In a southern drawl.....) "Come on man, run this thing....you can do this!" He was able to confirm that I know what I'm talking about and I know what to do in my head. I just need to practice.
Joel, I was bummed when I read your post from ski camp. Broken rib, man that sucks. What is the prognosis on that?