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Season in review


Razorskier1
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Every year about this time I start to think about the season. What did I learn? How did I perform? Did I gain ground on my harder passes? You know, all the stuff y'all are thinking about. So here's my stab at it for the year.

 

Tournaments: a bit disappointing. I didn't ski very many, and for the first time in 4 years I didn't run a tournament 38.

 

Consistency: great through 35, as usual. Feel like I could run them all day. Frequently run 6-10 35s in a set without missing and with very low effort. Probably a bit better than usual as some late season ski adjustments made them softer and even lower effort.

 

Learning: HUGE! Unfortunately it took me until the end of the season. My extreme thanks to @skiing2heaven for helping me to run a more efficient gate, resulting in a more efficient pass. For a guy like me who is pretty much 100% at -35 and who has been running -38 for 6-7 years (usually 15-20 per year), this was a true epiphany! My brother put it best on October 1 when we were skiing our last set at SkiWatch. I ran the gate the way I'm supposed to, and ran what felt like the slowest, easiest, lightest, most consistent -38 of my life. He said "I've seen you run a lot of -38, but all the other times it really looked like you needed six good turns to make it out of the pass. On that pass you ran it so easy that you could have made 2-3 bad turns and still run the pass." If only I had stumbled into this sooner! I'd also like to throw out thanks bro Dave, Jeff Harber at SkiWatch and @SCoke, who also helped me dial in this concept while I was there. Importantly, I think this is something I can replicate early in the year next season because it is so simple to execute if I just focus on doing it.

 

So -- I'm disappointed with my tournament results, which were just barely enough to get me over 100 for a composite score. However, I am skiing now at a level and in a way that I have never achieved before. I have already set my first goals for next season -- 50% at 38 off by July, and at least two 39s for the year (practice or tournament). Thing is, I'm pretty sure it can happen. One more big shout out to skiing2heaven! You do not know how big this is!

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@Brent -- I ski a portable/permanent course on a public lake 90% of the time. This morning it was 42 degrees outside, 10mph west wind straight down the course, and raining. I skied sixteen 32 off passes and called it a morning. During the summer I also ski at a private site where I am a member on the weekends. That has helped me a lot because, as you point out, I get to run sets without being in a hurry on a great site with a surveyed course and real ZO boats. When the course is blown out, I just ski open water on a calm shore.

 

While I do ski an unusually high number of passes and sets/yr, my big improvements have all come from coaches/fellow skiers fixing something technical. Skiing a lot gives me endurance to work on what I learn, but the learning is what gets me further down the line over time, and typically in big steps. Said differently, it seems like you get to a new rope length and then you are sort of stuck there for a while. Then suddenly the next one happens almost out of the blue, and you are then at that level for a while -- at least that's how its been for me. In short, I don't think there is any substitute for good advice!

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@thompjs -- This is what I was told to try. It was weird at first because I'm turning in so much earlier and with less angle, but I am wider, earlier and slower at the one ball by using this technique:

 

I think if you initiate the turn in for your gate when the 1ball is lined up with the LEFT GATE BUOY, (and not the right gate buoy),...then by the time you have your ski fully turned in the 1 ball will be past the left gate buoy.

 

You may want to initiate your turn in a little sooner to see how it feels, (1 ball is just slightly before crossing over the left gate buoy). I think that this is the ballpark that you want to stay in. Regina, Chad, Rossi, Todd , Dave Miller,...all are close to this. You want to find the gate shot and perfect path for you and then repeat it over and over so it becomes a habit and you have confidence in it. Turning in when the nose of the boat is at the 55's is Waaaaaaaay to late!!!! OUch!

 

By carrying more speed through your turn in, and by turning in for you gates earlier,...you won't have quite as much load/pull from the boat and this will allow you to LOCK INTO a strong leveraged position BEFORE you pick up the load/pull of the boat. This is huge!!!

 

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@jimbrake and @scuppers -- sorry, copied that verbatim from a message I received. What is meant is when the boat is in the gate. Understand that historically I turned in when the nose of the boat touched the gate. This is what he was referring to from one of my notes to him. I pull out when the boat is about a boat length away from the 55s with a very, very gradual, light, pull out. I am turning in when the left and the one are aligned and, I hate to say it, pretty much not pulling or leaning at all, just riding the angle through the gates and out to one.
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@OB -- really helped to talk with SCoke on the dock too. On my last tournament set I actually blew a 38 at the two ball because I did the one so right. At the dock SCoke was like, "that was the best gate and one I've ever seen -- don't worry about missing the pass, remember how you did that!".

 

Agree with the listen and implement thing. This approach is about as different as it could be from my historical idea of how to generate a wide and early path. Nevertheless, I figured I had to try to implement it if I was going to improve. Guess what? With less angle, less energy and less load, I'm wider, earlier and at a better speed throughout the pass!

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There were 3 of us working on this early, progressive turn in and light load gate at skiwatch. We all skied together the morning after the tourney and all 3 smoked 38. In the tourney it got me a killer 39 start, too. Bummed season is done, hoping for big things next year (like every other year)!
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I actually started doing this gate at the end of the 2010 season and had some good results, then somehow through the past two years have gotten away from it, but not on purpose. I've been trying to ease in, but I've been going later than 1 ball lining up with the LHGB. I will go back to this and hammer it home.
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@razorskier and @6balls - when you do this very light load gate, what do you guys feel after one ball in terms of load compared to your gate angle and load? The gate is a different animal than the rest of the course especially when you are doing a traditional, gliding, 2 hander because obviously the speed at the gate turn-in point is different than you will have coming in to #1. I'm just wondering how light you feel after #1 especially at 35 and shorter. Thanks guys. No argument from me with what you are doing - just trying to understand it as best I can.
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For me it's a lighter for longer, which actually maintains some speed at width for me at 1 ball such that I don't dig a hole and keep the hook up light. I can get further upcourse with a harder gate, but I'm over there too early and then am slow at the ball, the ski overturns and then it's "game on" which almost never turns out well for me.

This gate seems to make it easier for me to take the proper angle out of 1 (which is less than I'm used to). In my head I then think "block" and as opposed to pull and try to stay lighter for longer into 2 and so forth.

As a historical over-turner and over-puller, I have found it helpful to look at the boat right after I hook up to keep my inside shoulder up, prevent the over-finish, and establish the right angle--this is just me...I dont' think Razor1 looks at the boat.

I've reduced my pull-out intensity for the gate as well as it seems to set my tone for the pass.

Overall, I believe at 38 and with ZO the boat gives so much swing to the skier, that less for longer is more.

I want to translate this gate to my longer lengths as I was kind of saving up for the purple in teh tourney. I skied like usual, then at purple used this gate...mostly cuz it was new and I didn't want to blow a 35 and not get my 38 shots. Now I want to practice it at all my lines so I'm always praticing what I need at the shortlines. Alas...season in MN is toast for me...bring spring.

Razor1 has more reps so I'm sure will make more sense of it for you.

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@jimbrake -- loads should be the same coming out of each ball. Lighter for longer means that the range between my maximum speed and minimum speed is less. Think of it like this. At 34.2mph you could accelerate to 45, then slow down to 34 at the ball, then speed up again. Instead, I am thinking more about speeding up to 36, slowing to 34 at the ball, the up to 36, and so on. I have no idea what the actual numbers are, but the range is smaller. Lighter for longer is a way for me to stay connected to the handle long enough to generate width with less speed and less load.

 

I would encourage you to try using the left and the one and going earlier than you are used to. It will feel odd. If I actually pulled the way I used to, I would miss the gate (too early). So I literally don't pull at all and I go right over the right hand gate ball for an early gate. More importantly, by setting less angle than I used to, I actually maintain MORE angle off of the second wake (the boat isn't pulling me up out of a heavy load and throwing me at the ball). The result is counterintuitive: by taking less angle it allows me to keep the handle longer (and lighter) and I find myself earlier, wider and in better control than I was when I took more gate angle! Now, I can run through 35 any number of ways, including taking tons of angle at the turn in or none at all. The point is that what I am doing now makes it almost a joke. I am not kidding when I say I don't pull at all. I am simply turning the ski and riding it across the wakes for my gate. I would have NEVER believed this approach would make me wider and earlier than my previous "hammer gate", but it does.

 

So my process is this. As the boat approaches the 55s, I point the ski outward at an incredibly slight angle and just follow the ski without loading it. Because I am light, the boat naturally stands me up when I get to the end of the line (staying connected with both hands as I am a two-handed gate guy". At that point, because I took such a gradual angle out, the glide is very short before I see my turn in point (I watch the gates the entire time I am going out so I can see the coordinates as they approach). When the left and the one meet, I turn the ski toward the back of the boat and across the wake in a very gradual process, then simply keep the handle close and ride with it. Believe me, staying connected to the handle is way easier when you don't put 1000 lbs of load on the line (which I can do -- just ask MS). After that the pass is almost mindless as the only thing I think about is not loading the line after I turn. The pre-turn, release, and reconnect almost seem to happen automatically. That's what works for me.

 

@MS -- there are guys like @skidawg who can grip it and rip it and make it work. I've tried that for enough years that I know it won't work for me as the line gets short. This is the first time I've gotten advice that actually seems to work, and work consistently. Said differently, I used to run 38 sometimes. In the past three weeks, I've actually had time to think at 38. Works awesome for me, but may not work for everybody. I like that it has given me a consistent approach to all line lengths and that it is incredibly easy on my body (something we care about more when we are getting older). I'd encourage any skier to give it a try. If nothing else, you will learn something.

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@Razorskier1 - this is feeding my appetite for knowledge going into the off-season. I'm curious about your pre-gate, pull-out width. Are you wider than the 2,4,6 buoy line? You wouldn't happen to have any video of yourself or someone else using this method? Appreciate the post... definitely something I've been tossing back and forth. I'm just getting into -35 so I appreciate the info!
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@webbdawg99 -- wish you could have stayed too! Don't know the answer on 34/36, but they are different animals, I think. @Murrski -- oddly I am not sure about width. I used to always look down the buoy line to see, but with this approach I am looking at the gates and the one as I pull out and I rarely look down the line. In general, I'd say I used to be higher on the boat (wider) than I am now. However, I am keeping my handle wider. What does that mean? My handle is probably at the same width as before, which is what really matters since the handle path determines your width. As for video, I don't have anything since I just started down this path a few weeks ago. If you go to the "I learn from watching" thread I started a while back, you will see a couple of videos. One of them is Robert Marking running 35 off using the approach I am talking about. Unbelievably light and easy. Check it out. If you watch the first video of Harald you will see him do the same all the way through 39.
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This is an interesting thread. I struggled the first half of the yr with gates and ZO. Finally getting to practicing all settings for ZO mid summer I found the correct setting for me and was excited to try it in a tournament. But the first go at a tournament with the new setting happened at an 8 ball course with a zero ball. Basically, the zero ball messed with my gate timing so bad that the first crack at 38, I turned in way to soon for me and had to ride the ski with less angle and way less load to not miss the gate early. Then forced to hold the handle longer as described. Up to this point tournament best was 2@38 and many missed 35s. Was shocked at one ball that I made it at all and ended up just inside of 5 ball not really knowing how the heck i got that far but new the gate was ratically different. Have kept this stratagy for the most part the rest of the tournament season, 35s not missed and have see scores of 3.5, 4, and a just got full 5 @38 this past weekend. First round I did exactly what @Razorskier said, had the best ball one of the season (maybe all time) and was visually in such a strange place (early no effort) for 2 ball, I completely messed it up. I believe this will advance my skiing (aleady has) and purple will go down in a tournament this spring. At least that's the plan along with refining this technique from discriptions above.
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Jerry Jackson demanded that I ski tournaments if I was going to officiate, So this year back on the water with some (for me) average scores. still may have two tournaments left as their are a couple in the planning stage for November. The fall here in North Florida is the best ski time as most all the boaters have put their junk away for the winter and we can still get wet with little less than a rash guard till about mid Dec. I plan on skiing as hard as possible during the winter months and being in incremental better physical shape by spring 2013. Got a few pokes at 35 in practice this year would like to do so in tournament next year. I am not one too really think I can run extreme short line but would like to get to a point of running 35 from time to time. I took a 1/2 meter section out of my rope and started practicing in this manor.

Team Seal brought home the big one with Stephen at the nationals winning open mens jump and overall. Monica will be back in action in the spring as she just had life catch up with her with school and 40 plus hours a week on the job. She will start a new semester in the fall with her Grad studies that will leave her all spring to train for Nationals in all three events. Rumor has it she can run 32 at the drop of a hat and now trick close to 3500 points add that up to her 130' jump she will become a overall threat at the Nationals in 2013 womens 1. Also Our Elite level senior scorer (wife/ Michele) Started skiing again in 2012 and has started her climb up the women's 5 rankings .

So overall Team seal had a pretty good year and we are looking forward to the 2013 spring and summer season.

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Back to the original subject of this thread.

 

I am not sure how it happened but this has been the best ski year of my adult life. Until this year I could roughly tell you how many 38s I had ever run in practice. That number was less than 25. I would have to guess I have run it more than 25 this year alone including two in tournaments and on three different skis in practice.

 

I attribute a lot of it to comment that CP made to me in May about my gate. He basically said that I wanted carry as much speed as possible into my turn in for the gates. It has largely been game on since then.

 

The other thing that may have been a game changer was my attempt to carry more load on my away arm farther off the second wake. So going to 1/3/5 I am working to load my right arm as far out to the ball line as I can.

 

The web site has grown at a rate that is hard to understand. Page views are up about 70% over last year. Last year the site had just over 3MM page views. Just today we past 4.25MM for the year so far. Being the “Other Editor” means a crazy lot of work and a few killer perks. (OK Todd R is really the “Editor”) As the publisher of BallOfSpray I was able to ski seriously on 5 skis this year. I was on site for the Masters, Diablo, Soaked and spent 10 days in Costa Rica. I also was able to visit the Goode and AM Skis Factories. For all that I owe the Ballers.

 

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I had a great season. First I recovered from back surgery and was 25-30 lbs lighter than the last season I skied. My practice PB was only up by a couple of buoys to 4@35 off but my tournament PB was up a full pass to 3.5@35. In practice I was way more consistent at 32 off running it out of the water probably 70% of the time. I am still working on running 35 but I have been in the pass at 4 ball a bunch and feel it is around the corner.

 

My son improved his tournament PB by 10 buoys running 3@22 off and added about 300 points to his trick score. Jumping was stagnant but he was starting to look better at the end of the year.

 

@Brent I ski on the same lake as Than and our course is tucked in a cove that is pretty well protected from boats and wind. Most days we can get good water in the course for a good piece of the day.

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This is by far my best and most consistent year to date largely due to a big change in my equipment. For that a big thanks goes out to Paul Crawford and D3 skis for adding me to their MM team. My M3 and MM ranking is highest it's ever been (finished the year #1 in M3) won MM regionals against some stiff competition, I ran 39 more in practice this year than the previous 3 years combined, my practice best was a big home run (best ever). My son although injured caught the swerve bug full on and is rippin it up! My 4 yr old daughter is also skiin and in love w the lake, I am truly blessed to be a part of this sport.
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This has been my best season ever and my 5th season skiing the course. I improved by a full pass and now run most of my 28's and have run a few 32's with a pb of 2@35.

 

I started this season by posting a video of me at 28' off that received lots of valuable criticism. The biggest difference this year has been a much better understanding of the mechanics of shortline skiing.

 

BOS has been a great help.

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This was the first season in three summers that I didn't suffer a major injury, so in that regard I came out way ahead. I also upped my tournament PB from 2@22' to 2@28', but I ran 28' for the first time last Sunday, so I consider this year a huge success.

 

I employed @Razorskier 's gate turn in (I already had the early and slow pullout) this evening and came into 2@28' so early and wide that I didn't know what to do with myself! That gate is definitely going into my ski journal.

 

Finally I skied in 12 tournaments this year at five different sites and made a ton of new pals. I consider that the greatest achievement of all. Three years ago I wouldn't have dreamed I'd have the nerve to ski in a tournament. How much life I had been missing!

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amazing summer, no pbs, but increased my ranking by like 1.5 points, tons of skiing with awesome people and tournaments, then started to experiment with a 2012 A2 and was getting to mid 35's (my avg good pass) by 3rd set, best "new ski" or "change" I've ever experienced, major fun.
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The gate shot is a constant confusion. Two top coaches coached me to be wide and late for the turn in. Nothing slow about it. Pull out when the back of the boat gets to the greens. Skied with Jeff Rodgers. He said "go down the lake until you start to panic, then go a little further" I waited until I was 100% sure that I could not make the gate. Turned in and went through the gate and had more space in front of one ball than I thought could be possible. Did not even try to turn 1 cause I was still wrapping my brain around what felt like a death defying gate shot. Like "holy &*_" Jeff smiled and said "maybe you should save that one for 41" (I don't run 38.) I have also tried and had grooved a don't pick up the line until you get closer to the first wake much less intense gate for a while. I suppose I better pick one soon and stick with it. I see Jeff's point if you are ultimately trying to create enough energy to run high enough on the boat to be wide of the buoy line at 43. Oh, he ran 41 on our lake that day. For those of you who bailed on the late and intense gate, what do you feel like you gained and/or lost going to earlier and less energy?
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I used to go late and hard with tons of angle. At 28, 32, and 35 it felt really cool because I created tons of space ahead of the ball, swung the ski out really big, and was diving back in on the backside of the balls. It felt cool, and it worked through 35 for me. At -38, that approach worked less well for me. What it did was create a very small performance window, where if I did it just right, it worked, but just right was almost impossible to replicate. In the past Jodi Fisher told me that to get consistent at -38, I needed to get my gate consistent. He also wanted me to get super high on the boat. I have worked at that for probably 4 years and my consistency hasn't improved. Changed to the lighter, earlier gate a few weeks ago. I gained a perfectly consistent gate, a consistent speed and angle into one, and a much bigger performance window within which I can run -38.

 

In the end I believe there are many ways to "get it done" in our sport. Some guys like Jeff or AM can run with huge angle and huge speed and run as short as anybody. I think that requires pretty special skills. Others, like CP, seem to run with more of the "constant speed" approach, where they never seem quite so fast, never seem to carry quite the severe angles, yet they get it done. How you do it is less important than finding what works for you.

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All of my PB's (all 6 @ -32, 34 mph) came with a light, slow gate. Have had others tell me to get more aggressive and high on the boat. Probably good to vary it and see what works best. For me, that light and efficient was best. Will have to try that again when I'm back in the course. :-( (Spring)
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For me, personally, it was a mixed bag this year. The best part, as usual, was just all the time I got to spend with my boys going to the lake and tournaments. Some day that will be over and I will be seriously bummed. The boys continue to improve, setting PBs throughout the year. My B3 skier went from running sporadic 22s and a few at 28 to running 28 and getting midway through 32. Next year 32 will go down for him. My B2 did about the same, but at 34 mph, and improved his jumping from 57 to 69 (didn't ride away a 75). It's so fun to watch them improve.

 

Me - I continue to learn. And forget and relearn. Started the season with simple thoughts and good results and somehow that faded into complex confusion. Hence my post about needing help with my onside. Will pick it back up in the Spring with a strong connection through the edge change and a tight line into the turn.

 

Now it's time to turn my thoughts back to getting on my outside ski early before the fall line and diving my COM down the hill and obliterating some gates. Another technical sport to go mental over. Pray for snow - in the western US mountain ranges anyway.

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Hey @razorskier1, Great topic! I have some gate shot photos that I would like to post but I am having a hard time getting up. My "attach a file" button isn't working! Thanks!!

 

Also,.. I think that the body position that you are achieving in the course is critical to making this gate shot really work well for ya! You may want to talk about that also!

 

Oh by the way,...won't be too long now and you will be spending most of the day cutting a hole in the ice big enough for your boat, let alone for the course!!! You guys are ANIMALS in MN!!! lol

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My body position is pretty consistent. I stand tall, feet flat on the ski (toe looper). My elbows are glued to my vest and the handle is right in front of my belly button before I start my move out. When I move out my elbows stay put, and the handle shifts to my right hip. I keep it right in front of my right hip as I glide, then turn in from there, never lifting or moving the handle away from my body. The one change I've made in stance that seems to help me is to sort of keep the ski out in front of me a little more. I think of it as pushing the ski out in front of me with my front foot. Ski seems to run much lighter and easier that way, and moves out and in smoothly. I posted the pictures of the gates under the "what do you look at when you pull out for the gates?" thread.
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I think I had a successful season. I made it to my first regionals(Midwest). Set a tournament personal best in slalom of 5@32 off which I ran twice, and set a personal best in tricks of 1600 points. 3 tricks away from the 2000 point mark.. Slalom broke down at the after regionals, but did not get to do as much slalom as tricks. Goal for next year is to get to 35off in a tournament, and 2000 points in tricks. I will be sinking the slalom course for the winter at Lake Latonka this Sunday weather permitting, otherwise next weekend. Off season training will be concentrating on getting lean and flexible. I bulked up too much last winter from too much weight training. More cardio, abs and stretching this off season..
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