Posts Tagged ‘dave miller’

Boat Driving 101 with Dave Miller

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Much like being a great barefoot skier, being a great barefoot driver requires many hours of training, practice and most of all desire to do it well.  Do you have what it takes?

I’m sure you’ve all been out skiing when everything just felt perfect. The pull on the start was great, the speed was “spot on”, the boat path was straight when it needed to be and all you had to do was concentrate on your tumble turn, one foot, toe-hold  or turn….nothing else was on your mind except for the trick you were working on. On the other hand if you are always wondering if the driver is going to drown you on the start, not get your speed right or give you a bad line (not straight) maybe your driver is in need of some education so that you can stay focused on the trick you are working on, therefore advancing your barefoot skills quicker.

Ever wonder why you often ski so well at ski school? Most instructors at the best ski schools have years of experience driving all levels of skier and have become very good drivers.

How can you improve your driving so you can help your skier advance quicker? There’s no simple answer but in the same way a skier can improve their skills and understanding of a trick, technique or body position by watching other skiers (one of the biggest benefits of a ski school in my opinion) a driver can do the same thing by riding along in a ski school boat or participating as an official at a barefoot tourney and watching the drivers. It’s not easy to become an ABC Senior Driver or a WBC Level 1 driver but to get to that level we’ve all taken suggestions and constructive criticism from our peers, skiers and other officials and have the desire to do our best for every skier whether it be a training run or the finals at the World Championships.

All of the respected drivers I know are more than happy to share tips, tricks and ideas on how to provide a great pull on the start (watch the skier and give them the speed they need at the right time), how to hold speed (try using the tachometer in conjunction with the speedometer), drive a straight line (pick a spot at the far end of your run and use gentle course corrections) and being honest when you didn’t actually give a good pull.

Having an open minded and “willing to learn” attitude to become a better driver will help your skier advance quicker and safer. It doesn’t matter if they are learning a front deep for the first time, trying to get up backwards, perfect a multiple turn or beat KSO in wakes or SmallZ in jump–a good driver is key and a GREAT driver makes it even easier!

Dave Miller (who has pulled 10+ ABC or World Record runs)

DM Driving.jpg

Dave Miller: How I Started Barefooting

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Dave Miller, 1997

From as far back as I can remember I’ve been on a boat. I grew up in southeast Pennsylvania and my parents had a boat that we used to take out on the Schuylkill River just outside Philadelphia. We’d use it just for joy rides and swimming, but once I was old enough to drive and tow the boat to the river, my friends and I started waterskiing…on two skis. Our boat was a 17.5 ft Glastron with a 115 HP Evinrude motor…pretty peppy for back in the early 1980’s! My buddy, Drew, also had a boat that we’d take out on the river…it was a 13 ft Boston Whaler with a 40 HP motor. Between those two boats, we taught ourselves to get up on one ski.

As time went on, we got better and added a kneeboard to our toys. One day one of us came up with the grand idea of sitting on the kneeboard and trying to stand up off of it while wearing our Converse sneakers and it worked!! We were around 18 years old and had never even heard of barefoot waterskiing, but we knew it was cool! We (Dave, Drew and Danny) each did it a couple times and thought we were the coolest guys on the river!

Fast forward 15 years– one of my friends goes to a boat show in DC and buys an Eagle barefoot suit. He brings it home in May 1996 and says “lets learn to barefoot waterski.” I had no idea what barefooting really was so I went on the Internet to learn a little bit about it and it looked like fun! We spent three months trying to learn how to get up on our feet, and one day in September 1996, we got it!!! It was all longline with a  slalom rope, behind a Mastercraft ProStar 190– and it was brutally painful…..but I was hooked!

I went back to the Internet, searching–and met a guy named Geoff Olinde (he and Richard Grey could be twins) and we agreed that in the spring, he and I will go to barefoot waterski training in Florida at Ron Scarpa’s ski school. Because I have the best job in the world (a corporate pilot for GEICO), I spent a lot of time in central FL and I learned a lot in a very short time. I also met some really great people and developed some lifelong friendships. I also became influenced by World Champion barefooters and some soon to be World Champion barefooters. Whether they knew it or not, David Small and Keith St. Onge were two of the influential people I met in Florida–and they were both teenagers at the time!

Around June 1997, I heard there was a barefoot tourney in PA right on the river where I had grown up skiing– and being the competitive person I am I had to try it. I scored a 5.2 and a 760 in my first tourney and I knew I found my sport! I continued to compete until 2003, but when “life” and injuries kept me from competing at the level I desired I took some time off from the competitive side–but continued to ski for fun. In 2011, I decided to get back into the sport, more as a driver than a skier, and I couldn’t be happier!

By: Dave Miller

Get Involved at a Barefoot Tournament

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
dave miller barefooting
Do you have any idea of the work required behind the scenes to put on a barefoot tourney? Until now you just showed up, hung out with your buddies and fellow competitors, skied your event, went to the banquet (if there is one) and then went home and trained for the next tournament. Sounds fun, right? Well, let’s go over a few of the things you may not know that have to happen in order for you to compete in that tournament and give you some ideas on how you can help! Remember, everyone behind the scenes is a volunteer and does this for the love of the sport!

Just to get going you’ll need a Local Organizing Committee (LOC), a boat and a place to hold the event. The LOC can be one person or a group of people but you’ll find most LOC’s are parents, current skiers, past skiers or ski club representatives that all have one thing in common…a love of barefooting! The LOC will need to come up with a location to hold the tournament and in the last few years that has been no easy task since most of us ski on public lakes and rivers and don’t have the luxury of living on a private ski lake. There are many more boaters, wakeboarders and fishermen on all the public waterways around the world and it may cost a significant amount of money to rent a private lake or obtain a permit to make your public waterway “private” for long enough to hold your tournament. Either way there is often a cost
associated with getting a place to ski.

You’ll need at least one boat but it is recommended that you have at least two for a local tournament. The rules dictate exactly how many boats you must have for Regional, National or World level tournament and it is always more than one. We all have our favorite boats to ski behind but in this era where there are very few new barefoot boats out there you may end up skiing behind a boat you have never seen, skied behind or even heard of. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only one wondering what the wake will be like and you need to be thankful that you even have a boat available for the tournament. There are still a few “promo” boats out there whose owners are required to bring their boats to local tournaments but please keep in mind that these are privately owned boats and need to be treated with respect. As a matter of fact, if you see the boat owner be sure to thank him/her for bringing the boat because there is no doubt it cost them money to have the boat there so you can even ski in the tournament!

OK, now we have a boat, some water and skiers…now we need boat crews!

First thing you’ll need is a driver. You’ll find many of the drivers are also current or former skiers and know exactly what you’re going through on the start dock. At many local tournaments there may only be one or two “rated” drivers and you may even be asked to fill in as a driver from time to time! Often times you’ll end up driving your parents or being driven by your parents so it may feel just like “training”. If you feel you have the skills to be a tournament driver, or want to learn, just ask one how they got involved and they’ll be happy to share it with you and get you the right paperwork. In the US you start as an Assistant Driver with an application, become a Regular Driver with experience and training and then ultimately you become a Senior Driver after years of driving. The Senior Driver is equivalent to a Level 1
driver according to the spec of the World Barefoot Council. Next you’ll need some judges and guess what…in the US if you are an Open division skier you are automatically an Assistant Judge….so why not put that rating to use? At most smaller tournaments we are able to run the event with just a few judges but things run much smoother and easier with multiple judges and every year it gets harder to get enough judges to make a tournament run smoothly. You’ll find that many judges are also current skiers, former skiers or parent of competitors. Think about this, there is no place better to see and size up your competition than from the boat, so why not get started as a judge? The ratings are similar to the driver ratings and you may already be an Assistant Judge and not even know it.

After you ski you’ll wanna know what your score was, right? Well the boat judges can probably give you a rough idea if time and the tournament rules allow a provisional score from the boat but if they don’t you need to have the run scored by an official called the Scorer! If being in the boat as a driver or judge isn’t your thing then maybe Scoring is. The job of the scorer is extremely important at a tournament and just as any other official they are usually very shorthanded. The Assistant, Regular and Senior ratings are just like drivers and judges and scorers are vital to making the tournament a reality.

So you just went out and skied what felt like the best run of your life and you know it may be a record for your division, your country or better yet a potential World Record! Good thing we were able to get someone to film your run right? The videographer in the boat is a very important member of our crew

and without them and the hard work they do there would be little chance of anyone other than the spectators and boat crew seeing your great run. Just like a judge…there is no better way to see and size up your competition …than from the boat!

OK, so we’ve covered the basics of what is required as far as “manpower” or “womanpower” to make a barefoot tournament a reality and we’ve even skipped a few so we have more to write about later but I want you to think about a couple things. First, the next time you are at a tournament…… local, Regional,
Nationals or Worlds… the officials and think of all the hard work all of them are doing for YOU. Be sure to personally thank them for their hard work, desire and dedication to the sport so you may enjoy it. Second, If you are sitting around and wanna get a good look at your competition remember the best place to do it is from the boat! If you are an Open skier you are already a judge. If you aren’t a judge then offer to be one! If you are good with a camera offer to be a videographer. If you like driving then offer to be a driver. We need your help to make the tournament go smoothly and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about your favorite sport if you get involved!

Dave Miller
WBC Level 1 and ABC Senior Driver

Featured Footer: Dave Miller

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Back in 1996, Dave Miller was a die-hard slalom skier. His journey into barefooting began when a friend showed up with a barefoot wetsuit. Neither of them had ever seen one before. It took Dave a good three months of beating himself up on the water before he was able to successfully glide on his feet behind a slalom boat.

Shortly after that, Dave took a job with GEICO as a corporate pilot and his route took him on regular trips to Florida. “That’s when I was introduced to Ron Scarpa,” said Dave. “I came to his ski school and advanced so quickly in one day–I knew it was my calling.” Dave spent his formative years skiing with Ron on a regular basis. When he was starting out, Dave knew his limitations and was careful to progress with tricks to avoid injuries. “I knew if I injured myself, I couldn’t do my regular job,” he explained. “I tried to stay with tricks where I wouldn’t injure myself.”

But for Dave, advancing to higher level tricks proved to be easy for him. He found that he had a natural talent for surface turns, on one foot and two. In fact, the most challenging experience for him was learning the back deep behind the boat. When he began competing in tournaments, he did a front to back to enable him to do backward tricks and back wakes. As he advanced with skills, he added jumping to the mix. It was not something he was comfortable with but he had to include it to compete at the higher level. “I was scared I would get hurt,” Dave recalled. “And if I get hurt and can’t fly an airplane, then I can’t do my job. I didn’t want that. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t be a pilot.”

Six years after he first put his feet on the water, Dave competed in the Senior Barefoot Worlds in 2003 where he slalomed 14.2 and tricked 2950. This was by far his favorite tournament, and an exciting time for him to ski in the worlds. The following spring, Dave racked up his first major injury. He was in the middle of completing a reverse front-to-front 360 when his leg twisted and hyper-extended. He felt a pop and a sensation similar to a rubberband snapping. He knew right then and there something was wrong. “I detached my hamstring,” said Dave. “The hamstring basically exploded where it attaches to the bone.”

Dave continued to compete in a tournament in June 2004 at the urging of friends, but he found himself holding back on the water. He wasn’t able to ski at the level he was used to. Suddenly, his interest in competition fell flat. He had hit a wall. “I realized I was done,” said Dave. “I wanted to quit at that time. I realized I was not immortal.” Dave took the injury as a sign and put competition on hold. He continued to barefoot for fun and take lessons at Scarpa’s. Every year, he volunteered at tournaments working as a Senior Driver. When 2006 rolled around, life became busy and Dave turned away from the tournament scene completely.

At the Eastern Regionals in 2010, Dave felt the old, familiar itch to compete. He missed his friends from the barefoot community. He missed competing. But he didn’t share it publicly. Only his wife knew of his plans. Very quietly, he continued to work on his skills at Scarpa’s and dreamed of a comeback before facing his 50th birthday. He had plans to ski in the Eastern Regionals and the Nationals, but on Memorial Day 2011, he hurt his shoulder in the middle of a one-foot turn. Just like that, his dreams for a comeback were put on hold while he recovered from shoulder surgery.

In December, 2011, Dave got back on the water, this time at the World Barefoot Center. “I’ve known Keith and David for many years and I knew the way they taught barefooting,” said Dave. “With Ron Scarpa Water Sports going out of business, the World Barefoot Center was the best place in the world to go to improve my skills, to learn what I wanted to learn and to be pushed the way I wanted to be pushed.” Dave wanted to learn how to compete at the same level as the top skiers do.

Dave had to learn to kick his skiing up another notch on the water. There were some days he faced hurdles, and other days he soared. He recently had two frustrating days in a row as he went back to the fundamentals on his basic back to front. “All of my basic foundations have to be very strong but that’s my weakest right now,” Dave explained. “I’m working to do it the way they want it. I understand their system and I’ve seen it work with the team– they’ve all improved by following the program. I have to get this turn correct so I can move forward with my plan.”  He recently completed his first reverse back-to-front on one foot.

Dave is aiming big and wants to qualify to ski in the Worlds yet again.  He’d like to surpass his personal best, 3850 in tricks and 15.6 in slalom.  But there will be no more jumping in his future– he says he’s done with that.  “I love barefooting and being out on the boat. I love the feel my feet gliding on the water,” said Dave.  “I love being able to do something so unique and special that not everybody can do.   And the friendships, the people I’ve met, are the nicest in the world.”

Written by: Karen Putz