Meet Ski Paradise Guest Coach Mike Kusiak
Skiing can be an addiction, and for some people, one that completely takes over. Their careers, friendships and almost every minute of their lives are dedicated to the sport. Water ski coach Mike Kusiak is the quintessential ski addict. Hailing from Michigan, Mike started skiing with his father as a teenager on a recreational level, but it wasn’t until he was introduced to the slalom course by his friend Kevin Bishop, that he really fell in love with the sport. Mike started competing shortly after as a member of the Michigan State Water Ski Team. It was during that time that he discovered he had a knack for coaching as well. Ever since then Mike has traveled the world sharing his passion and helping skiers progress their skills. Aside from working at ski schools like Bennett’s and Trophy Lakes, Mike is now the resident coach at Ski Paradise, and he loves his job more than anything.
How would you describe your coaching style and what do you think sets you apart as a water ski coach?
I have had the opportunity to ski with many coaches and have learned from all of them. I am a positive coach and I’m good at communicating with the student and finding what they need in a skill or technique that will help them ski their best. I speak with the students and find out their goals and help them understand how to achieve it. I am able to coach skiers at all levels and provide each one with the greatest opportunity for success. I strive to give positive energy, creating an environment easy to train in and enjoy their skiing experience on the water.
What was the biggest hurdle in your progression and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest struggles in skiing was at 3 at 38 off at 36mph. This was a score I plateaued at for some time. When I had the opportunity to coach snow ski racing at Sugarbowl in Lake Tahoe, I learned the value in skill training and drills. I began drills myself at home, starting with lean drills and learned a progression that I could take into the slalom course. The first year I invested in these drills, I was able to change my stance on my ski, allowing me to ski with more leverage from the boat, and I ran 38 for the first time and many more.
What do you find your average Ski Paradise guest struggling with in regard to their slalom skiing and how do you help them?
It’s common to find guests that have had little coaching in their water skiing experiences. For those skiers, I have found it is important to help them develop the fundamental body position through drills or skill training. To help skiers looking to change their body position, we start with a lean drill on one side of the boat, and then the other until they can achieve perfect body alignment in an athletic stance over the ski. We then progress to other drills that reinforce a balanced stance on the ski. I’m also a firm believer in free skiing!
Besides coaching at the world's most incredible water skiing experience in Acapulco, what is your most memorable coaching journey across the globe?
Coaching at Mofam Ski School in Cape Town, South Africa. After two years of coaching in South Africa, the kids that I coached had a going away party for me. My dad was able to visit for this, and it was his first time out of the USA. All of the kids and parents and other students were so thankful for their experience with me, as I was able to help them on the water and in their lives. My dad was able to see my passion for water skiing and my love for coaching and helping others. He then understood why I left a good accounting job out of college after finishing with my Master's degree.
What would you tell a fellow skier who is considering a vacation to Ski Paradise?
It’s a bucket list item for any water skier! This is truly a 5-star water ski vacation. Ski Paradise has it all, from the villa to the palapa, Gordon and Gabriella look at every detail of the experience and make it the best possible. The food is outstanding and the staff and service are top-notch. You can’t beat the consistency of weather and conditions for skiing anywhere in the world, November to May. Each week provides an opportunity to learn from a world-class coach for skiers at any level. If you haven’t had enough after skiing, many other activities are offered including zip lining, bungee jumping, surfing, swimming with dolphins and many others.
Do you have any student success stories that you'd care to share?
We had a guest here at Ski Paradise that was here to learn the slalom course. The best she had done prior was two buoys. We started each day with lean drills to work on body position and with the help of our intermediate course, we were able to teach her the rhythm of the slalom course. By the fourth day, she was getting close to all six buoys in the regular course. We then worked on her approach to the first buoy and by day six she ran a complete pass.
What is your favorite meal at Ski Paradise?
The chile rellenos and chicken enchiladas; great authentic Mexican food!
~ Mike Kusiak