Our gang just got back from a week in Orlando and I wanted to share the experience. We’ve been doing an Orlando spring trip for a few years now and it just keep getting better. We were a group of 8 Canadians (two of whom are actually Americans) that ski at various levels from just perfecting the course to getting into 38 off.
A few months back we contacted Katie at Mapple skis and asked if us Canadians could use the lake. We wanted to come and go as we please and drive ourselves (we have accredited drivers in our group). Katie said no problem; we could have the lake as much as we wanted except for the first weekend as there was a tournament being held there. We made arrangements to ski at Lapoint’s Ski Park for those days, which is a stone’s throw away from the Mapple Lake.
Lapoint’s Ski Park is a great site. We arrived, to see Jennifer Leachman Lapoint, Taylor Woosley, and Kris Lapoint ski. This is also the Research and Development department for Mapple skis so it’s the test track of what’s coming next. Kris’s ski is known as “the Frankenski”. No picture taking allowed. We saw Kris run 39 a couple times on this ski. Rumor has it he hasn’t missed a 39 on it yet. Not bad for a 62 year old!
The lake has an 8-ball course due to a short setup, which was easy to adapt to for even the most novice skiers. Kris has a Ski Centurion. It was the first time I had ever even seen one and it was a great boat to ski behind; I can see why Horton has one. The environment is very relaxed and easy going. While we were there, Krista Rogers and pro jumper/fiancée Bojan Shipner came by and Krista grabbed a set with Taylor. We also had a chance to hang out with pro skier Corey Vaughan and see him ski. Pro-photographer Spencer Shultz skied and took pictures of everybody. The whole experience was first rate and the Lapoint’s joined us for dinner. You can learn a lot hanging out with these folks. I can’t wait to ski with them again.
On day 3 – the “sore as hell day” we showed up at Mapple’s. Nobody was going to score a personal best, but it was a great opportunity to work on fundamentals. The site is quite large, has a full course, a jump, and two back-to-back 2-ball courses. This is a great way to practice your gates and two turns when your sore Northern bodies aren’t going to accomplish much else. The location is central and Performance ski and surf is right down the street, which is an awesome place for buying and demoing gear.
We skied there everyday for the rest of the week (and snuck another set in at Lapoint’s as well). At Mapple’s we were joined by Andy Mapple, Krista Rogers, Bojan Shipner, Rhoni Barton, Nicole Arthur, Jason Mc Clintock, Whitney Mc Clintock, Chris Parrish, Taylor Garcia, Jon Travers, Natalie Berdnikava, Marion Mathieu, Scot Ellis, and Tom Brantley as well as many other great skiers whose names I can’t remember. Renowned ski coach Jeff Wiswall also hopped in the boat for a day.
Part of what was happening here was that one of the boats that will be used in the Masters was on-site and these folks were coming by to test it. At a certain point, Andy asked me if we wouldn’t mind switching boats and using the “Masters” boat to put some use on it. Are you kidding me??? We spent the next two days driving and skiing behind the best boat I’ve ever been in or behind. Maybe it’s psychological but this Nautique 200 drove like butter and I got my best score of the week behind it!
I need to back up for a moment now. Right before I skied that set behind the Masters boat, Andy had Mike Mapple bring me a ski to try, the Mapple T2. My current ski was a Mapple 6.0 and given how sore I still was from being out of shape all winter, I had only managed a few balls at 35 off so far during the week. Right out of the box with stock settings, I managed 1.5 @ 38 on the first set. When I sunk at the end of the lake I struggled with how I was going to explain this to my wife…
The Mapple T2 feels very similar to the 6.0. Where it differs is that it’s lighter under my feet due to the increased width under the bindings. This 67.5 is longer than the 66.75 length of my 6.0 so the ski requires less effort than I am used to. When I was talking to Kris Lapoint earlier, he said you should ski on the biggest ski that you can still effectively turn. This is the true magic of the T2. Aside from being easier to ride, it turns noticeably better than the 6.0. I was able to recover from mistakes on this ski quite easily. I also had the opportunity to ride in the boat when pro skier Tom Brantley skied on his. Tom is a powerhouse skier who won’t let go of anything (kind of like Jeff Rodgers). The turns I saw Tom make on that ski were epic. I can’t wait to ski in the regular season to see if I can do a fraction of what I saw him do.
Back to the experience, I can’t think of another sport where you can go somewhere and meet and participate with the elite of the sport. Hanging out on the dock at Mapple’s was an opportunity to mingle with waterski royalty. Every pro is easy to talk to; they share great stories and freely offer advice to us weekend warriors. Beyond that, I saw Andy giving some advice to Jason McClintock, sharing his incredible experience with a rider from a competing company. We also had the opportunity to watch Chris Parrish rip it up as a storm was coming in, headwind or tailwind nothing seemed to affect this guy. Every day something cool happened there. Every single person in our group learned something.
One of our crew is a long time follower of water skiing and by the end of the week, his ski had been signed by the legends as well as the future elite of the sport. At this point I think he should hang that ski on his wall for the memories it represents.
There’s so much more to this experience but you get the idea. In the end, we came home physically exhausted, needing a vacation from our vacation. We left nothing on the dock.
I also want to put out a special thanks to John Wilkins (lpskier), who is recovering from cancer treatment and isn’t allowed to ski yet. He hung out and drove for us everyday. We’ve adopted him as a fellow Canadian whether he likes it or not.
Best line of the week was from Mike Mapple. He was talking to a pro skier about us and said, “ You can tell they’re Canadians; they arrive in a V formation.”
Time spent on the water is time well spent.