BOB HARDEMAN: My first recollection of LaPoint was in the mid-60s. I used to go watch him at one of the largest cash prize
tournaments of the time at the Cal Cup at Berkley. LaPoint would always win, as I remember. I looked up to him like he was a ski god. I think he’s the best slalom skier ever, considering the times and all. He set that record when he was 13, and to get into 36 off back then was just unheard of.
I think LaPoint was way stronger than any other skier. As I remember from driving him back in the day when we used to hand throttle, he was always the hardest skier to pull. We used the tach to drive and I’d have to add in at least 100 rpms more for him than any other skier. Maybe his strength was what made that ski work for him. To me, it felt really, really stiff and very unforgiving out of the turn. It was fast. I don’t know how he got that thing to slow down. We didn’t jump on the front of the ski like they do today. Maybe he could get rapid acceleration and then spend three-quarters of the time slowing down.
It was really fun riding his Maha. I felt like I was a teenager again that day — trying out a new ski and just having fun. The next day, however, I felt like I was 80 years old. I can’t believe how sore and tired I was from trying to get that ski to turn.
DEREK KIRBY: This ski is so gnarly. From the looks of it, it should be hanging up on a wall, not being skied on. The bindings felt like a rubber band going around my feet and attaching on each side, and it’s crazy because you can feel your foot flat on the wood.
The ski felt like nothing I’ve ever felt before on the water. It took everything I had physically just to try to turn that ski and make it do what I wanted it to. It has a mind of its own. I had to rodeo the turns and bring my hands up high to make it carve. It really wanted to dive in and get angle. When I first got on it, I was like, “OK, I’m just riding an old, crappy wooden ski.” But the more I learned about the history of it and the great things LaPoint accomplished while riding it, my respect level went up big time. The fact that he ran 36 off on this thing is mind-blowing. He had to be Superman to do that.
It just goes to show how much the skis and styles have evolved over the years. We have it so easy these days. The skis do all of the work for us. Even though I only managed five buoys at 28 off and 34 mph, I was pretty proud to put my feet in those bindings and go swerve around. Though I’ve never actually met LaPoint, now that I’ve ridden that ski and experienced it, I would definitely like to meet him and have a chat.