Duane Godfrey: Learning the Right Way

So, wondering what to write about, I came across a sentence in Carol Jackson’s blog on injury:

When you suffer a traumatic experience with a sports related accident, the episode is imprinted on a primitive part of the brain concerned with self preservation and survival.

Just change “brain” to face and brain and I can tell you about my first, and last for many years, barefoot waterskiing front to back!

My ski experience way back when, was to slalom ski until my lungs and forearms were bursting. Have a few more beers and challenge any driver to dump me off of a tractor tube towed by a super stretch/whippy Kmart waterski rope. Anyway, when completely bagged with bathing suit in tatters, I might top off a day of boat safety with a step off start at 55mph and then just stand there…maybe cross the wake a few times. Throw the handle and flip in. I needed a new challenge. And then… one day on TV and with great astonishment, I saw people barefoot skiing in special suits (likely to prevent bathing suit loss) doing actual turns! Was that possible? I guess so. Well – that’s for me!

So I told my buddies I was going to turn to the back and my instructions were “give me everything and trim that engine as high as it will go without bouncing – I’ll need more speed for this.” Up we go, and yes the engine is rising, the wake is imperceptible, off comes the ski and all is well. Now you see, I would naturally know that in order to barefoot ski you need at least 55 but faster was even better. How did I know this? I am young(er) and knew more about everything than I think I know now. So, I am wise, cool and relaxed…all I need to do is imagine a trick ski turn on a vertical axis and execute. When I get to the back, deal with it. Ok – quick rehearsal…slight down-weight about 2 inches and lead turn with head and shoulders – the body will follow… spot the horizon, keep a near vertical axis and be prepared to ski backwards. I’m cool, here goes…down-weight 2 inches, lead the turn with head and…..

Have you ever careened around a corner and raced up the stairs only to discover that the stairs go down? You might know whilst frozen in midair, that you have time for a complete or half thought like “Uh oh” or “brace for impact”! When you try a trick ski style barefoot turn at 55, no such thought materializes as the sideway impact occurs faster than your synapses fire – or at least if you are blessed
like me and perpetually a few frames behind actuality. As I floated in a lifejacket, that by miracle was still attached, I looked around for a boat obscured by eyebrow and flying chromium bats that were plentiful and splendid indeed; meanwhile asked myself, whatever happened to my daring endeavor?

I think I was looking maybe a bit sideways and have no recollection of the many sideways head/heels cartwheels executed down the lake with rigid body in perfect trick ski stance….for you see, I was still executing the turn though in a different time dimension–wondering where the horizon went. I’m not sure of what grade of concussion I experienced but I knew the performance wasn’t even close. Oh well, the day was young–so I went tubing etc., and decided to put that project, and skiing on bare feet, away for a while.

Dani Tipping wrote an article on a trick that eluded her: Taking some time away allowed a reset of her brain so she could accomplish the trick later in a different mindset. I needed a brief time-out …about 12 years. So, fast forward to 1998 when I first saw a boom and learned a backward start from my awesome friends, Roy and Christine Chidgy. I let out a loud yelp and next time, thought I would rip off a celebratory back to front. Hence commenced the epic saga of how many times you can paste yourself sideways.
That is a whole other story as I instantly engrained the matter of which I shall repeat, what Carol Jackson
said :

When you suffer a traumatic experience with a sports related accident, the episode is imprinted on a primitive part of the brain concerned with self preservation and survival.

No matter what my good intentions were, I could not execute without my subconscious kicking in and aborting the mission. Well, I finally got it in spite of myself then headed to a bonafide ski school for a week learning the basics and nailed the f-b on the 3rd attempt following a solid lead-in. What a feeling! Later, got the rev f-b 1st try but am still fighting with the rev b-f. Why you ask? Because I learned the basic b-f incorrectly. On the f-b, I learned the trick after a considerable time-out and executed the trick under professional guidance with a clean slate.

I came to understand the following by learning from professionals–strive to learn a maneuver the correct way from the outset, and then, only when you are prepared to accomplish that trick, do so following a solid pre-preparation of engrained basics. Seeing a young man like Chandler Cargile execute his first turn, through doing exactly what he is TAUGHT, is great motivation for me and solidifies the right and wrong ways to learn this wonderful sport. Do this–learn from the pros, and Bob’s your Uncle!

By: Duane Godfrey

Where does “Bob’s Your Uncle” come from?

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