Coach Matt Rini breaks down the athlete psyche among the three events.
The connection between athlete and coach is unwavering. Often forming bonds that rival a marriage, coaches serve as friend, confidant, technical advisor and even psychologist. Matt Rini of Matt Rini's Water Ski School in Clermont, Florida, has acquired intimate knowledge of the mental processes involved with each of the three disciplines. “Each of the three events seems to attract a certain personality type. It's almost like I know what a skier is thinking and feeling by the ski they take out of their bag,” Matt laughs. So, with Matt's help, we dive into the deep, dark psyche of the slalomer, the tricker and the jumper, with the mere hope of emerging on the other side.
Slalom: The obsessive-compulsive lives here. These guys and gals are continually hung up on the small details; they live life by the 1/1,000 of an inch. “Of the three events, it is the slalomers that are really on the quest to find the ultimate ski setup,” Matt revealed. All those minute fin and binding adjustments can leave the slalom skier a bit tweaked out themselves, but it is their fine attention to detail that makes them successful.
Trick: The remarkably forbearing, these athletes possess the patience of a saint. And Matt feels their pain. “The trick skiers have it pretty rough. They have to spend more time in the water than on it when attempting to learn a new trick,” he points out. Adept to handling failure on a daily basis, fall after fall, the tricker essentially assumes the sport's role of the martyr. They hold their heads high, confident that through their missed tricks and falls they are on the track to success.
Jump: Self-sacrificing in their quest, the jumper places the potential glory of the end well above the dangers associated with the means. Matt likens jumpers to the stars of the gridiron. “They know they are going to get hurt, but they manage to cast concern for their well-being aside and press on. It is a rare breed of person that can excel in this event.” While obviously valiant, the jumper must also possess certain shortsightedness, remaining aloof to the fact that a season-ending knee injury could be only one small miscalculation away.