Life Comes Full Circle

Life Comes Full Circle

I skied a fun waterski tournament today at Barking Shores Ski Club in Haskins Ohio. My mind raced given that this was the first tournament I skied this year. I upped my tournament personal best to 2 @ 32′ off 34 MPH (and skied this score all three rounds). I really appreciated my parents and Brent coming out to support me.

Waterskiers are a great tribe. We wander the world looking for places to ski and strangers roll out the red carpet. I have skied at multiple private waterski lakes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana by reaching out to fellow skiers for a pull. The community is tight and fun loving always ready to share their sport with friends and strangers. I met a neighbor of Barking Shores Ski Club, Chuck Dunn after the tournament. He was one of the three founding members of the FNS (pronounced Fins) Navy Waterski Club on the Ottawa River in the late 1970’s. That club was later moved to the Maumee River and was renamed the Glass City Waterski Club. That was the club that gave me the opportunity and inspiration to try to ski the waterski course for the first time in the early 2000’s. My great friends at the Glass City Waterski Club taught me how to wakeboard, wakeskate, air chair, build a pyramid and trick ski.

Dave Hill was one of the few FNS Navy Waterski Club members that made the transition from the Ottawa River to the Maumee River. When Jason and I were frustrated with skiing the waterski course on the Maumee, Dave Hill gave Jason and I a heads up about a private lake that was rented in the past. With that tip, we found the owner, rented the lake and named it Lake Swerve. The waterski anchors were already in the lake just waiting for skiers to return hook up some buoys and turn them. Fast forward four years, I was skiing at Lago Santa Fe in Texas and I met one of the original skiers at Lake Swerve.

I skied with Dave Grude for the first time this year. He told me about when he contacted the owners about renting the lake (we now call Lake Swerve). The owner’s son, Dave prayed the night before that he would have the opportunity to learn how to waterski during his prayers before bed. Dave Grude showed up the next day to rent the lake for waterskiing. He skied many years on that lake before building his own private lake.

Waterskiing is a great sport, but the people and community are awesome too! Booyah!

Lake Placid 2011 (Checkout my 43 MPH Skeleton Ride Video)

We drove half way and stopped at Niagara Falls. For dinner we checked out the Anchor Bar (the undisputed home of the buffalo chicken wing). Unfortunately, their food didn’t live up to the hype. Doug summed it up well, “they created the buffalo chicken wing but certainly didn’t perfect it.”


We drove from Niagara Falls to Lake Placid. We ate dinner at Eres Pizza. Their new york style pizza was very tasty and went down nicely with a pitcher of Yingling. Later we went to the Lake Placid Brewing Company. Their winter lager is excellent.


Doug and I started our ski trip at Whiteface by taking a lesson with Steve. We improved significantly in our hour and it warmed us up well. The key points Steve helped us with were:

  • Stance should be like you are getting ready to sit in a chair
  • Roll your skis to initiate turn and work on both skis making the same motion
  • Keep upper body quiet and lock on a point down hill
  • Weight should be even across ski
  • Pressure should be on the tongue of the boot
  • Carve and avoid flat skiing for any significant distance


It was a great day of skiing at Whiteface today. The sun was out and the views were amazing. It usually is hazy or snowing heavily so I never saw the scenic views on the prior trip. Whiteface even had the downhill slalom open to the public. There is a rubber wand you hit when you start off the platform. When you finish you break another sensor and your time lights up on the big board. My first time was 31.07 and my last time was 25.72. Doug and I spent several passes working on improving our times and distracting our bodies from the soreness of the prior day of skiing.

Heather rode the bob sled in the afternoon. Doug and I did the skeleton in the evening. It was very exciting to have your face a fist height off the ice. I hit 43 MPH on my pass and Heather videoed the closed circuit video loop. The video shows off the intensity and speed of this sport.

I went first:

Doug went second:

The dinner we had at the Crowne Plaza was disappointing and the service was nonexistent. (The hotel is great overall and their breakfast buffet is awesome. Jimmy makes a mean omelet!)

It was another great day of skiing. It was extremely cold with a high at the bottom of the hill of zero degrees. Very few people were out allowing for skiing onto the lifts and gondola. Doug and I especially enjoyed the Lookout Mountain addition. The Wilmington (blue) run offers a diversity of terrain (over 2.5 miles) while treating you to inspiring scenic views.

I stopped at the Great Adirondack Brewing Company for a sampler after shopping for Mandy’s gift. My favorite is the Abbey Ale. I joined Doug and Heather at the Lake Placid Brewing Company for dinner. Their shepherd’s pie is very hearty on such a cold night.


Waterski Tournament / Rock Band Battle

At the final 2009 Ohio INT waterski tournament I skied a personal tournament best of 5 buoys at 15′ off at 36 MPH. Mandy and my parents were able to share in my triumph. Unfortunately, it was too hot for little Barks to come. I was very happy to ski well and finish first in the Slalom Expert division this tournament stop. Larry rounded 4 buoys (with an injured shoulder) so 5 buoys was what I needed for a first place finish.

Larry won first in Ohio since he skied better than me over the course of the tournament circuit. I finished 2nd in Ohio in the Slalom Expert division. At the awards banquet they had a rock band battle for entries into the grand prize drawing to win a Hyperlite wake skate. Matthew, Mandy and I competed in the rock band battle with the song ‘Living on a Prayer’. Mandy sung and played bass guitar. We won the battle and Matthew won the wake skate. It feels good to be a rock star!

My First O

Yesterday I did my first O on a slalom trick ski. An O is a handle pass 360. Amy taught me this trick and I worked on doing the following:

  • perform this trick straight behind the boat
  • take a couple of practice pulls (to get a little slack)
  • look at the shore on both sides (head stays up during trick)
  • pull in, rotate quick, keep head up, pass handle, grab handle
  • trick can completed with one hand riding it out forward (but I prefer both)
  • look into the back of the boat at the completion of this trick
  • fast rotation is very important, don’t stop backwards

Woo hoo! I love learning new tricks.

Rounding Six

Rounding Six

Waterskiing is a lot like life. When waterskiing around the slalom course you are never exactly sure how successful you will be in passing through the entrance gates, around six buoys, and through the exit gates. Mentally I know what I need to do to complete the slalom course, but the trick is in getting my body to do it. It is easy to just go into an automatic mode and let the pass through the slalom course happen. Unfortunately, growth is impossible since the same strategy yields the same results.

I made good progress this year in improving my slalom course strategy by pushing myself outside my comfort zone. It is always difficult for me to attend waterski school since I have this fear of being unable to make my body finesse itself through the slalom course with a different strategy / form. I worked past this fear and received top notch slalom course instruction at April Coble’s Waterski School.

I was able to break through a plateau in my waterskiing with this instruction. I still struggle many times, I know what to do but am unable to get my body to bend to the will of my mind. I have the same problem in real life. I know the good I want to do but leave the kind word unspoken, the good deed unattended and the charity not given.

Fortunately, my waterskiing improved throughout the summer and I won the most improved waterskier award at the Ohio INT Championship banquet last evening. I was very surprised and honored to receive this award. My friend Jason probably deserved this award more than myself but I won’t complain. I won 1st place in the Men’s Slalom Expert division after getting bumped up from the Slalom 1st Class division at the last tournament.

I hope I am successful in applying my slalom course learnings to the rest of my life. The most important life lesson I learned this year was that equilibrium (or balance) in living is dangerous. Forcing myself to change by challenging old habits and trying new approaches was very refreshing while at the same time very scary. Having quality instruction, peers to hold you accountable and time to experiment with new strategies was a very successful equation.

A big thanks goes out to Jason for all his feedback, helping me to hang in there on the rough days and for giving me excellent tidbits to get around that next buoy. Jason is also very generous with his boat and taught me that I need to be more trusting with my toys. I thank God for the good health and opportunity to waterski. I qualified for and hope to ski again this year at the INT national championship.

Waterski Slalom Course

Jason and the Trophy Carp

Jason smoked this carp going around a buoy on the slalom course at 32MPH. When Jason’s ski fin hit the 32″ fish it tripped him causing Jason to flip over and crash. Since the fish was killed by the incident I guess you could say the fish won the battle but Jason won the war. Jason 1, Fish 0.

INT Waterski Tournament

I skied my first INT waterski tournament this past weekend at Kokomo Ski Club. Saturday, I started in Men’s 3 and completed 15′ off at 30 MPH. I was upgraded to Men’s 2 and completed 15′ off at 32 MPH. I was then upgraded to Men’s 1 and completed 3 @ 15′ off at 34 MPH achieving a best personal best. I was awarded first place in Men’s 1 (sharing the title with another skier who tied me). Woo Hoo! ;-)

Sunday, I competed within Men’s 1 and completed a full pass at 15′ off at 30 MPH. Then I completed 4 @ 15′ off at 32 MPH after struggling with my form. I was awarded second place. :-) There was only one Men’s kneeboarder and he (Scott) convinced me to compete against him. I rode his kneeboard behind a brand a new Super Air Nautique and needless to say I finished second. The Super Air Nautique has a huge wake!