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Why is Nate Smith so good


Horton
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I was thinking this morning about writing an article about why Nate is so good. I really should but am way to far behind so I am throwing it to you guys.

 

Why is Nate Smith so good?

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1. He can tie his shoes without bending over

2. He lets the ski fully turn under him and then loads from white water to white water

3. He points his knees in the direction he wants the ski to go and then drives his core forward using his knees and ankles

4. He doesn't let a mistake or bobble at a buoy follow him to the next buoy, ala Mapple

5. He doesn't require a tight line off the apex to keep his balance. He just skis into the tight line because of #2 above.

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Efficiency in general describes the extent to which time or effort is well used for the intended task or purpose. It is often used with the specific purpose of relaying the capability of a specific application of effort to produce a specific outcome effectively with a minimum amount or quantity of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort.
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Because he is the best at staying over his ski (I mean fore/aft, not side to side) through his turns therefore he gets the earliest and best acceleration which results in the best angle, which puts him on a great outbound path. The second part of #3 that @ShaneH listed above. Anyone who thinks they should finish a turn with "the ski out in front of them", well, good luck with that.
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As I struggle with this ridiculous sport, it seems to me that the whole idea is to keep the difference between max speed and min speed as low as possible. An efficient turn leading into smooth transition to the pull is what is keeping me from running 35' off. Perfect handle control and a very smooth balanced turn is Nate's advantage. We should all just ski that way. How hard could it possibly be?
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I'm not sure it's the key to it all, but the biggest visual difference I notice between Nate and the other 'greats' is the knees/body at the edge change. It's like his upper body is still in the lean and his lower body is already on the turning edge. As per @ShaneH no. 3 above.

 

From Schnitz' Soaked photos:

http://sphotos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/556480_10151022339946296_189078975_n.jpg

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I've had this conversation with Nate, and even he can't answer it. He isn't as tall as Chris Parrish. His arms aren't as long as Will Asher's. He might be the weakest guy on tour. He doesn't adjust his fin and he uses a two year old stock ski. He never studied or even watched the pros while growing up, and he had no ambition to be a pro until it just happened a couple of years ago. His preparation on the dock at a tournament is pretty much limited to putting his ski on, and his number one tip is make sure you are having fun.

 

Reading between the lines, I'd say his success is the result of a few things. He's been on the water since the age of two. He lived on a lake and skied a LOT, even breaking ice off the course to ski. Where most skiers' heads are overwhelmed with technical details, his is full of confidence in his ability to make it happen no matter what unfolds and whatever it takes. He has a high IQ. He doesn't drink at all. He's fit, light, nimble and young. His technique evolved largely through trial and error, and he told me that most of what he does in the course is motivated by rope control.

 

I think Nate's casual demeanor belies a fierce competitiveness. Neither Nate nor Andy Mapple have been called the prettiest skiers out there, but combine their competitiveness with honed ability and supreme confidence, and technique becomes secondary to getting the job done.

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Consistency: He has an unbelievable ability to do all mentioned above every time he goes out. There are other skiers out there that have the ability - Parish has the World record, Asher just tied it unofficially, but no one has the consistency he does. I really admire that, I can ski great one day and the next time seems like I go out I can't even get through one pass.
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What I notice, along with whats listed above, is how free he is of the boat the second he lets go till his free arm comes back on the handle. I've seen it in several vids of him. It's not slack, but there is not an ounce of tension on the line when he gets to the short lines. Love the reverse "C". No idea how he makes that happen. Is it sucking up the knees?
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I watched him at the recent event in Calgary. His acceleration is noticeably quicker and his cross course speed is noticeably faster than anyone else…at least it sure seemed that way.

 

I think part of his success is he is on a longer ski with less drag from the ski being sunk in the water. There might be a trade off of surface area drag but for sure he doesn’t sink very deep on that 67 inch ski for his weight. He’s not burly big and he is probably on the longest ski in the field with the exception of possibly Chris Parrish. He is certainly on the longest ski per pound of body weight.

 

Are we missing something here that Nate hasn’t? The common wisdom is leaner, lighter = more balls…how about bigger ski that can turn for the weight = more balls as well.

 

Watching him was a revelation on cross course speed. I have watched a lot of snow and water skiers in my life and I sure noticed something different about how Nate got across the course.

 

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I skied a clinic he taught this summer. He was immediately impressive as a level headed guy. I think he approached coaching like he does skiing. He kept it simple, focused on some key things I needed to work on, and now I am consistently running 6 buoys more than before the clinic.
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@mortyski - you hit the nail on the head. no one seems to get this. he stays with his ski through the turn the best so he gets the best acceleration, which gets great angle which gets space and width before the next ball. we've all heard the phrase "carry speed through the turn", right? Well, you do that by staying with or even ahead of your ski through the turn and into the accel phase.

 

@6balls - i would bet if you got video or photos of you from the shoreline you'd see this in your skiing more than you think. Nate does it great, though, for sure.

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@jimbrake...thanks for the comment.

 

I don't know how Nate did it (carry his speed across the wake so much better than anyone else) but watching him "live" from a slightly elevated place it was obvious the extra speed he was carrying. It's too bad the GPS / Load cell / Dartfish video system I was working on isn't functional I would love to hook him up and see the actual speed data.

 

I still think it's a function of his ski length vs. weight, which complements with his great technique. I doubt he would accelerate as fast on a 65 inch ski which would be closer to the ski length he should be on for his weight. So I think because he is on a ski 2 inches longer than he should be he can accelerate and carry a lot of speed. The 67 inch ski isn’t so big for him that it floats away. It would be interesting if all the pros upped their ski size to see the effect.

 

One thing for sure with the 67 inch ski the starts should be easy for him LOL

 

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