Meet Ski Paradise Guest Coach Chris Parrish
Skiing since the age of three under the tutelage of his NASA engineer father, Mike, Chris Parrish has emerged to become one of water skiing’s greatest slalom athletes. As a four-time world record holder, Parrish is known for his uncanny balance and efficiency on a ski. He’s also known for his infectious enthusiasm and ability to connect with people from all walks of life.
We recently caught up with him to talk about his long history of skiing and coaching at Ski Paradise.
How many years have you been coaching at Ski Paradise and what do you love about the setup there?
The first time I was there was in 2001 with WATERSKI magazine for a photo shoot. I was joined by Chris Sullivan and Jason Paredes, and we had a blast. I've coached there on and off ever since, and for the last five years, I've been there in February for two weeks. Lot's of fun. The setup there is first class! You can ski as much as you want and the boat drivers are capable of pulling skiers through 41 off. I also like going down there in February in the warm weather and water to start gearing up for the season ahead and assess my skiing.
Do you enjoy the coaching the process?
I love the coaching process there. It's usually Tevin and Seth when I'm here so if one of us needs a break or wants to go ski we all communicate well. The students that go there are pretty die hard. They're basically coming from no skiing and straight into it 3 to 4 sets a day. It's funny how smoked everyone is by mid-week.
How would you describe your coaching style?
I would say my coaching style is very cutting edge and I understand a lot of key parts that go hand in hand with today's boats, speed control, and ski setup. I have a good understanding of the amount of energy needed to ski efficiently, how to stack your body properly, and align your body correctly to set yourself up for your approach to the course. It’s very similar to a complete setup of hitting a golf ball. From the approach, backswing to the follow through. I think it’s best to keep it simple and enjoy the process.
What do you think sets you apart as a water ski coach?
I’ve had a lot of experience trying to master it myself. I feel like I've got a grip on how to attack the course technically against today's technology. You can't muscle it anymore.
What is your most memorable tournament experience?
I had a runoff for first place at the 1996 Nationals against Jeff Rodgers. It was late in the afternoon, and after both of us running multiple 39s, it became so dark that the officials called it a draw. That's the one that really stands out.
What would you tell a fellow skier who is considering a vacation to Ski Paradise?
I would tell them you've got a variety of things that stand out at Gordon's. You've got the villa with an amazing view overlooking the bay and the ocean from the pool. That alone gets them every time. Oh yeah, and a butler serving you drinks while you stare at that amazing view. Dinner at the villa is over the top! I really like the chefs that Gordon has there and each meal has a nice variety. Another thing that stands out are the massage therapists that come to the lake in the afternoons to work out your sore muscles after a long day of skiing. And then last but not least, the skiing. You can ski as much as you want every day, but choose wisely. You don’t want to overdo it and burn yourself out for the week.
What do find that most intermediate skiers struggle with and how do you help them?
I'd say one of the most consistent things I see in intermediate skiers is they don't know how to stand on their ski in an efficient position, and they don't know where to pull, and how to stack the body properly. Once they get those things going, they’re off to the races.
Do you have any student success stories that you'd care to share?
I have a bunch, but I remember one time there was a student who could barely run two buoys, and after some pointers, the skier started crushing some passes. I couldn't believe it.
~ Chris Parrish