Nate Smith, at Centerline at 41' Off

Nate Smith, Gate Pullout, 41 Off

2 Pictures of Nate at 41 off. 

the first is him cutting 2 to 3. He is basically at centerline, but you see how much his COM is still leading his feet. Also, notice how little lean he has for what you’d expect you’d need to run 41 off.

2nd pic is him pulling out for the gates. Again, notice how much COM shift he has, in the direction of desired travel.

This is the fundamental reason Nate is the best. He moves is COM better than anyone else. @gregy is right though, dry land is one of the only ways to really “feel” the movement….due to the lack of good on water drills in water skiing. However, the statement “I can put 90% of my weight in the front foot however if my hips are back I’m still plowing water.” is not valid. Not to get too deep, but the physics dictates that your ski doesn’t care what you’re body position is…..all it knows is where your COM is in relation to it. If you have 90% of weight on front foot….it doesn’t matter if your ass is back and your chest over the tip, or if your hips are up and stacked….the ski will react exactly the same. HOWEVER, what body position does change, is the skiers ability to handle the compressive force from the ski and the tension force from the boat.

Sorry for the rant.

Here’s the simple truth, maybe I can find time to go deeper later:

The best time to accelerate is from the Apex of the turn (widest point), until centerline. Waste time poppin’ wheelies or overturning and getting pulled out….and you’ve wasted acceleration credits (and therefore speed….which means no angle). That’s part of the reason we can run our easier passes earlier….because the longer the line or the slower the boat speed, the easier it is to execute a nice carve around the buoy….which means we get more time to accelerate.

The best way to accelerate is to move your COM forward….balancing the amount of COM shift ahead, with the appropriate amount of lean away from the boat.

*Too much lean away from the boat => Reduces the ability to lead with the COM, because the added ski roll results in higher rope load, which increases the drag on the ski, which makes you feel uneasy about shifting anything forward except for your ski. Result is less cross course direction than desired.

The best way to move COM forward, is to Stack your body properly. Now everyone is going to be different, based on body type, mobility of joints…etc. Some people WILL NOT be able to simply get into a perfect stack….maybe their hips are too tight, or their ankles or boots are too stiff. Or maybe their feet are too far about. Million reasons…but those skiers out there who cannot properly stack, yet still get it done, have learned how to move their COM forward without the perfect stack….and without stacking through the wakes. (Dave Miller is a great example)

@wish and @gregy if the ski moves in front of you, you are slow. If you want to hit the breaks into the wakes, move your ski in front of you. *Thats also a great way to let your feet move outbound too soon, and get separated from the handle before getting through the second wake. Again, look at Nate above…..that’s 41 off where the Centripetal Force from the Rope at Centerline is much much higher than at 32,35,38 off….and he’s still able to lead with COM.

Thats the secret. But really its not a secret….we started this Conversation 16 years ago…just sometime bad info has clouded the message or derailed the train from time to time. 

Glad to see the evolution in slalom theory since then….most people out there are understanding it.

Now….how the eff do you actually Stack?!!! @Horton maybe you need to make a trip up here to the Ridge soon. We could get a lot more done in person.

P.S. Anyone/Everyone is invited. 


August 20, 2014 | 5 Comments

Well, its been far far too long since the last time I touched on this topic….or posted anything at all, for that matter.

This is a response to the recent developments that happened surrounding the Big Dawg Finals at the US Water Ski Nationals, as well as a follow up to “Living the dream, Chapter 1″ , which you need to read first, if you haven’t already.

If you need to get caught up on what happened at the Big Dawg finals…use This Link to get your foot in the door….if you need more….you can find that Here.


A lot of discussion has come up regarding one of the best skiers in history, Jeff Rodgers, asking for a re-ride in the Big Dawg Finals.  Ultimately, he was granted a re-ride (basically a do-over), and after more than an hour of delay, and 75% of spectators leaving the shoreline….Jeff moved on to the final…bumping out Dave Miller.  Jeff lost to Andy Mapple shortly after that, and ended up with a second place finish…but no one really cared about any of that.  The focus was on the huge delay, and the judgement call that spurred it all to begin with.

This highlights a fundamental problem with Water Skiing at the moment:  the ability to lean on the judges to make the call.

Let me take you back to US Nationals a couple of years ago, in Illinois.  A skier in Men 3 goes inside buoy #4, but continues skiing and ultimately gets a score that puts him in first place.  Everyone watching knew he went inside the buoy (as a slalom skier, you have to go OUTSIDE buoys to get credit for having gone around them…kinda makes a lot of sense), but the judges working the event had already scored him.  There’s nothing that could be done.  He goes on to win, unjustly.

I immediately sparked a conversation on the shoreline with one of the officials and leaders of our sport….we talked and realized there is absolutely NO RULE that allows a skier to correct their own score when they know they have been given something they didn’t get:  whether its missing the gates, or going inside a buoy.

Now think about that for a second.  In a sport where the skier cannot correct their own score, what sort of culture does that nurture?  I will tell you it develops the unwritten rule that exists today in competitive skiing all over the world:  If the judge gives it to you, keep skiing.

In 2005, at a MasterCraft Pro Water Ski Tour Stop in Flushing Meadows, NY, I was skiing in the semifinals.  It was a very challenging site, and many of the best skiers in the world had fallen or continued to fall early at the 39.5 off pass.  I struggled through my first 3 passes….and as I came into 39.5 off, I drifted at the start.  As a result, I went too early for the gates and center punched the right hand gate buoy.  Pissed, I kept skiing….was early to buoy 5, safety turned it, and coulda tried to squeak around the last buoy, but had no intention of risking it as I knew I was gonna get the pass taken away.  The Judges gave me 5.  I had to speak to 3 different judges, including the chief, and they all said it was a judgement call and that they scored me 5 and that they couldn’t change it.  I ended up tying for 3rd place.

Their has to be a new rule, that allows skiers to correct their own score.  We need something that will help to change the paradigm in this sport, away from “if the judges give it to you, keep skiing”, to “if you know you missed it, do the right thing.”

As a true professional, I know that my job is not only to ski the best I can ski and represent my companies to the best of my ability….but also to inspire the youth.  Not just inspiring them to ski, but inspiring them to be better people.  Taking a buoy I didn’t get is the exact opposite of teaching future generations to be better human beings.

That leads me back to Big Dawgs.  Dave Miller might have got the short end of the stick (no dawg pun intended) the other night….and good on him for speaking up and wearing his opinions on his fur sleeve, many folks gain respect for him for that…but I have to highlight 2 things:

  1. Dave said the following regarding Jeff Rodgers and the controversy “…the reason all the Big Dawgs went wild is because none of them would consider asking for a re-ride due to lights. Its just not something that would cross our minds. It is not that Jeff is a bad guy he just hasn’t been a part of the Big Dawg group long enough to know. He did what he would do in a Pro event.”     I hate to read that from such a well respected Big Dawg.  Insinuating that Big Dawg skiers hold themselves to a higher standard than Pro Skiers, is a hard pill for me to swallow.  Because I can’t buy it.  Its not true.  Of all the night finals I’ve skied or witnessed….I can’t remember 1 where a skier asked for a re-ride due to lights.   Dave is heated and emotional…I don’t fault him for getting wrapped up in the moment….but Big Dawg skiing does not contain any higher amount of moral fabric than Pro Skiing….if it did, there wouldn’t be a need for an internal call to action for Drug Testing due to the suspiciousness of Big Dawgs being able to ski 5 practice rides the day before they ski 4 tournament rides.
  2. Just the day before, in the 1st round of qualifying, I caught some of the skiing.  I witnessed Dave Miller run 2.25 at 41 off.  But What I saw, along with at least 3 other Big Dawg skiers and countless others, was Dave going inside buoy 3.   Not a big deal. As I have stated before, there is no precedent (unwritten rule) for a skier to correct their own score if they know they’ve been given extra buoys….  I don’t fault Dave at all, because the system is set up to allow the skier to lean on the judges call at all times.  But looking back, in light of what happened during the night final and Dave’s resulting opinions on the controversy…..I can’t help but see a huge conflict.   Yeah, Jeff Rodgers felt he was entitled to ask for a re-ride…so he asked.  He asked, in my opinion, because there is no penalty for simply asking.  Remember, our system is setup to allow the skiers to lean on the judges at all times.  So, Jeff innocently asked for a re-ride.  Dave was bummed….Big Dawgs don’t do that.  The judgement call of allowing Jeff to get a second chance was not “acceptable” according the the Dawgs at the dock….and thus you have a 1+ hour delay.  But the day before, Dave accepts the judgement call of 2.25 at 41 off.  It was a call that was in his favor.   He went further and posted it on Facebook.  I don’t know if he knew he didn’t get around 3 or not….but he certainly must have realized it was too close.  A lot of people watching that day saw it and knew he didn’t get around 3.  But Dave leans on that judgement call to the point of sharing it with the world.

Now, I consider Dave Miller a pillar within our sport.  None of this is to bash him.  He’s been integral in hosting pro events throughout the years in Canada…and even skiing and doing well in them.  But its to highlight a broken system.  And how 1 little thing, the inability of the “skier” to take personal responsibility for their score….has bred a paradigm within our sport where a successful, honest, upstanding athlete like Dave Miller can get caught in the system and inadvertently fall right in line….without even knowing it.

We don’t water ski to Win.  If you just said “the hell we don’t!!”, then quit reading (if you haven’t already), because you won’t agree with what I’m gonna say.  We water ski to become better people.  We do it because its challenging.  Doesn’t matter how good we are, we can always try to be better than we were yesterday….we can always keep fighting for another chance to find our FlowPoint….that moment when everything clicks.  Its about the journey….and the people we meet along the way.  And its about learning from others and growing together, as a community.

If we want to leave the world better than we found it, why aren’t we acting like it?  Why aren’t we changing the rules to allow us, as individuals and role models, to be the best example of what we want our kids to be when they grow up?

In a system where we lean on the judges call, I don’t think that a person who accepts the judges call to grant a re-ride can be crucified for doing so.  They are playing by the same rules you are playing by.

If the rule is you have to go around the buoy, then I don’t think you should get credit for not going around a buoy…..even if the judge “gives” it to you.  To me, those situations are chances to lead by example…


Add a rule –> Change the system –> Change the paradigm    ….and we give ourselves a chance to change lives and individuals for the better…forever.  That’s pretty powerful.


Who’s with me?  I’m willing to take this to USA Water Ski & IWWF….just need to feel like I’m not the only one….


These guys are the future:

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 5.45.04 PM

The Future

We only get to guide them for a short time….what lessons do we want to leave them with?

Oh, and maybe next year we spend a bit less on Big Dawg finals lights, and a bit more on giving the best Junior Skiers in the country a bit better banquet than a stuffy room with a bunch of tightly packed chairs facing 1 direction.  You know, something they can look forward to…




August 17, 2014 | 17 Comments

Zane Nicholson, Freeriding

Two more things I wanna mention:  1)  FlowPointTV dropped!  The trailer is out, and if you haven’t seen it and/or shared it with EVERYONE you know…..Click PLAY below, then share and spread the love.  Thx!   2)  Last week when I paid respect in Evolution of a Sport, I completely and accidentally omitted some key people within water skiing that are doing kick ass things with film.  So, I owe them some credit.


1)  FlowPoint TV is now a thing.  It’s my new project, in conjunction with HO Sports and some others.  You can find the trailer here at MarcusBrown.TV or head on over to to get acquainted with the future of things around here.  Its also on Vimeo as well….so head on over to the FlowPointTV Vimeo Channel and subscribe….and share with everyone you know!!

2)  Media you should check out!:

-Adam Sedlmajer (Sledgehammer):  He’s a World Overall Champion, European Overall Champion and Moomba Masters Overall Champion, and as good as he is on the water, he’s doing really cool stuff off the water at the moment.  What you should do is head over to his website now, and in the slight chance you cannot find his video section, here is a link to his YouTUBE Channel.  Take a peek!

Travis Fisher:  This kid is a South African ripper who is looking really good on his bright A3….and does some cool camera work and editing.  Wish I had my $hit together when I was his age!  Here’s his latest edit:  Summer 2014  Worth a look…can’t wait to see what he does next!  Check his YouTUBE channel here!

Russell Wilkinson:  Russell is an avid and passionate skier out of the Pacific NorthWest.  Had a chance to coach Russell a few years back,….great guy, doing cool things with his aerial edits. Please check out his Vimeo Channel for some really clean edits of some of the most beautiful ski lakes the PacNW has to offer.

CreakyRowBoat:  Although this is not one single individual (or maybe it is…. :/ ) and although they aren’t doing strictly films/videos…..and actually, I don’t think any video they’ve ever posted has been an original video by CRB…..they ARE still worth mentioning.  Why?  Lets see…..because they post really awesome stuff, they are the most underrated and funny site out there, and because they have maintained a consistency that is just simply unheard of in the 21st century era of Insta/SnapChat/Twittagra.  They are like Miley Cyrus….usually on schedule, and always predictably unpredictable.  Besides…1 of the dudes (or chics) on their creative team is named Old Dirty Bass Fisherman…  I want a nickname that sounds as cool as ODBF.  I want that…

– Many others out there doing their part to spread the love and get us stoked on summer….hard to mention everyone.

“Hey you,….yeah you….with the GoPro,….you’re doing some cool $hit.  Keep that up.”






June 16, 2014 | 1 Comment