Get to know Ski Paradise Guest Coach Fred Halt
Swiss water ski champion Fred Halt love’s the “ah-ha” moments on the water when he’s coaching, but what really drives him is helping his students find the path to get there. “We are all so unique in how we control our body, understand and feel things while on the water that the process to customize and communicate tips is what makes the whole coaching process interesting,” he says.
Fred is completely in his element when it comes to teaching people new skills. As a professional business coach in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, he says that in business and sport, it’s the “what you do”, “how you do it”, and “why you do it” that have a direct impact on the quality of your performance.
If you’re lucky enough to get coached by Fred, you should definitely take the opportunity to view him from the boat. As one of the few guys in the world that have run 41 off in a tournament, Fred skis with the perfect blend of power and finesse on the water, and you can learn a lot by just watching him.
Where did you grow up skiing in Switzerland and how did you get introduced to the sport?
I grew up around Lake Leman in Switzerland (a.k.a. Lake Geneva). My mom, who was a competitive water skier for the Swiss Team, had a boat and like many people who got hooked up with this sport, it all started with countless hours of just having fun on open-water, free skiing, tubing, etc.
How many years have you been coaching at Ski Paradise and what do you love about the setup there?
Years ago, thanks to my awesome wife Natalie, when she was a pro-skier, I got introduced to Ski Paradise and started coaching there with her. It’s always been such a blast that in 2015 when the opportunity to coach there again presented itself, I did not hesitate. One week with great people from all walks of life, beginner or advanced skiers, in a beautiful and safe environment where everything is there for you to enjoy: What's not to love? And don’t get me started on how awesome the food is.
How would you describe your coaching style?
Adaptive: There are some fundamentals that need to be present in slalom in order to be safe and to improve performance. That said, I strongly believe that these fundamentals can manifest themselves on the water in different and unique ways, depending on the skiers. I like to coach from that perspective to ensure that each individual learns at their own speed without compromising their style and physical integrity.
What do you think sets you apart as a water ski coach?
That’s a tough one. There are so many phenomenal skiers and coaches out there, and I have learned so much by either skiing with them or watching them. If I have to pick one thing, I think that I have a good sense of seeing and understanding what the skier feels or can feel while on the water. This means that I usually help them from a perspective and a moment in the course where they are in control of their movements, regardless of the technique, approach or tip we are working on.
What is your most memorable tournament experience?
Without a doubt the 2014 +35 World Championship in FL. At the end of the final round, I was one of four skiers tied with 3 at 41 off. In the run-off, I ran 41 off and ended up with 1 at 43 off. The energy around the lake went crazy, and it was the first time in my life, right at the end of the 41 off, that I experienced the thrill of a record performance coupled with an overwhelming level of energy and cheering from people and family members all around the lake. The time stopped for me at that moment; It was magic!
What would you tell a fellow skier who is considering a vacation to Ski Paradise?
The Ski Paradise experience is a one of a kind. There is no other place in the world where you can enjoy water skiing so much (for performance or just for fun) while nurturing your senses in a stunning, safe and friendly environment.
What do find that most intermediate skiers struggle with and how do you help them?
A lot of the secrets in slalom are in the relationships between the skier, the water, and the boat/the rope. Most advanced skiers, consciously or not, have nurtured how these factors are related to one another. They adapt their techniques and their mindset accordingly to fuel different movements or level of intensity.
Most intermediate skiers are often too distracted by the boat speed, the buoys, and the elements, in general, to find out where the heart of their issues might come from. To help them, we do what most advanced skiers do when they try to learn something new: we take a step back to take some of these distractions out of the equation and focus on what they can control. Things become then much easier, and it is amazing how fast someone can learn something new to reach new heights as a result.
Do you have any student success stories that you'd care to share?
Even though I train with other competitive skiers, most of the people I coach on a regular basis are recreational skiers. They don’t necessarily seek to compete, but their love for the sport makes them as passionate as any pro skier out there. My best memories come from Acapulco. Because we spend a whole week together, we have time to know each other very well, and quite often we continue chatting throughout the year. Most of my success stories come in the form of text messages or emails where students, wherever they are around the world, are excited to share a simple slalom picture of themselves or the “performance of the day” to show how the training in Acapulco helped them.
~ Fred Halt