Peace, Love & Waterskiing

The Long Pre-Season

Swervers of Planet Earth,

Depending upon where you live, ski season has either just kicked off or is right around the corner.  Everyday on facebook, I see a new friend has posted a picture of themselves at the lake with a caption saying something like, “first set of the season!!!!!”  As someone who cares deeply about this sport, it warms my spirit to see all of the passion and exuberance for that first shaky set.  I’m taking a vicarious hit from all of these posts, as I know it is going to be a long time until I have that same euphoric feeling.

Many of you already know my story, but others might be asking, “What do you mean? You mean you don’t get that feeling because you don’t take enough time off of the water?” I will admit that I have been guilty of taking my skiing for granted at times in the past; something I plan to address going forward.  The hiatus I am currently on, however, is an involuntary one, due to injury.  Last Thursday I had full reconstructive surgery on my meniscus and ACL, which means I will be missing my first summer of skiing since I was three years old.

In past years this course of events may have devastated me. Fortunately, the mindset I was riding, leading up to my knee blowing out is one that has carried me through that event, the surgery and the first week of rehab without regret or melancholy.  Instead of choking on the notion that I’ll be on the shelf through the summer season, I swallowed it, albeit with a glass or two of wine.  I realized I was at a cross-roads between opportunity and defeat.  There was never a moment of doubt about which path I needed to take.

All through the off-season, I had been telling myself that 2013 is going to be “my year.”  The second place finish at the Australian Open and solid showing at Moomba affirmed this conviction, deeply.  After being back in the USA for four days, I found myself facing the prospect of being off of the water until October.  This reality, however, did not change the narrative in my mind that “this is my year!”  I immediately made the assumption that this injury, and the learning and growth that are going to accompany it must be part of the breakthrough that I have felt coming.  I don’t know all of the new challenges, opportunities and experiences that will present themselves this season, but I am already receiving affirmation that this injury can be a step forward, rather than back in my journey.

With this sudden shift in perspective, I am already seeing many things in a new light and am thankful for the insight.  This experience is definitely not what I had planned but, who is to say that my plans were very smart anyway.  I believe that a summer of coaching without doing any skiing myself, will make me a better planner though!

Nine days after surgery, my pain is subsiding, my range of motion is improving and my leg is growing stronger by the hour.  The Doc says that if I can maintain this steady, solid progress that I can begin skiing on my birthday, October 2. That is sounding like one heck of a nice birthday gift, but meanwhile, I’m going to keep taking vicarious hits off of all of you!  Keep your excitement up, share it with your friends and come ski with me some!

Cherish every set this summer.  It’s funny how happy we can be for that first set in chilly water, buoys approaching at 100mph and balance and timing leaving a lot to be desired.  Yet, in the middle of summer when the water is warm and our buoy count is bobbing just below PB level, it is amazing how angry and grumpy we can be about our skiing.  When you find yourself feeling like chopping a tree down with your $1000 ski, I want you to remember this: Anytime you take a ski ride, you are affirming a multitude of positive things about your life.

1) You have a strong and capable body. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t make it out of the water.

2) You are getting exercise and actually making your body stronger and healthier.

3) You know where your next meal is coming from.  Over 1 billion people won’t find food today. You are enjoying the luxury-recreation of  water skiing. I have had some pretty low bank balances in my day and have had to choose food over skiing.  I was very thankful when I ate those meals and even more thankful when I got my next ski ride (usually when somebody let me bum one).

4) You are with friends and/or family.  Many of the coolest people I know are skiers and some of the best friendships I have witnessed are those among ski buddies.  This may be an individual sport but you can’t do it alone and it wouldn’t really be any fun without your ski buddies anyway.

5) You are not at work.


I hope everyone has an exciting and safe kickoff to their season.  I look forward to sharing in the joy of our sport with you over the coming months, even if I have to wait a little longer for my turn.  I have already gotten so much support from my great extended ski family. It just affirms my gratitude to be involved with this wonderful community.




P.S. I will be holding a Summer Kick-Off Clinic on the weekend of May 4-5.  Lessons and skiing will be available to anybody with an active USAWS membership and an active POSITIVE ATTITUDE!  That includes kids, grandmas, strange uncles, best friends, first-timers, short-liners and pros!  Feel free to email me to reserve yourself a spot!


2 responses

  1. Kathleen Saladino

    HI Corey,

    Bummer to hear you’re out of commission!! I have a little torn meniscus (MRI showed that)myself, but it’s not giving me any grief since it went all by itself as I was slowly walking in a pool! I wear a brace when I water ski as a protection. My hip has been giving me problems over the winter and the diagnosis for that is a tight muscle and a little arthritis! Anyway, none of this bothered me when I skied last year and I hope that continues! I still can’t ski the course (age 66 and self-taught), but would love to keep trying with you. I did not join the Lake of the Woods ski club this year as it’s a show ski club more dedicated to youngsters. While I love that mission and support it, it doesn’t help me slalom ski any better at 6 pm on a very rough lake with lots of boat traffic. Sounds like you plan to do a little coaching this year and I’d be delighted to be there.

    Put me down for a set or two the first weekend in May. I need directions from Locust Grove to get to your place as I’ve never been there before. Will look in my dockstarting notes from the early 90’s and see if I see your name there! Maybe you’d autograph your picture in the Gordon Rathbum calendar for me!

    Wish you a speedy recovery! Kathy Saladino

    April 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm

  2. Kyle Hessler

    Hey man, it’s your once a summer skiing bro from way up in Michigan. Very sorry to hear about your injury, but I’m glad to see you’re being as positive as possible about it. Being injured on the sidelines (or dock, in this case) sucks big time. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. Also, how exactly did your injury come about? Skiing or something else? I was just down at our ski club yesterday replacing the leaking heater core in our boat, and mentioned you to the guys, and we were wondering. I’m getting too old to get into 40 some degree water and enjoy skiing, so I’ll wait a couple more weeks for the water to warm up here. I was all over getting the heat working so I can be warm while I’m driving the crazy dudes in dry suits though.

    Anyhow, a couple of us made a trip to Cobles last week to do some work around the place helping them get ready to open. That’s where I got my first few sets in for the year. Felt great to ski again. Almost forget how much I love it after being off all winter. It was cold there, but nothing like MI.

    Just wanted to send some encouraging words your way. Heal up fast and maybe I’ll see you again some time this summer. One of these days, I’m gonna run 38 =)

    Kyle Hessler

    April 16, 2013 at 6:13 pm

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