Marcus's Articles

Marcus's Articles

5 years later…



It’s Oct 24th, and the year is 2016. And it’s still fascinating to me that we’ve mastered flight….that you can be floating on a plane 7+ miles above the Earth. Trips that would have taken weeks or months, and cost people’s lives, can now be done in 2 hours.

And yet I was somehow pissed earlier, simply because the flight was delayed 4 hours. I take it back. I’m thankful.

And I’m stoked! About 2 months ago, I was in Idaho at the US Water Ski Nationals. Filming for a FlowPoint Episode (Tribe of the Future), and some friends cornered me. They said “what’s the deal?…seriously! When you gonna get back to competing?” And after some back and forth, I had no choice but to let them help me.

// 5 years ago, on labor day weekend, my life changed.  1 month prior, I had just missed the podium at the World Championships in Dubna, Russia.  I returned home and continued to ski some of the best sets I’d had in years.  I was riding a high.  Of course, when things are going good, sometimes human nature allows us to slip a bit…and get complacent.  I wasn’t keeping up with body maintenance….I wasn’t warming up and preparing for my ski rides as diligently.  But I didn’t really notice, because I felt great.  Saturday, Sept 3rd, I woke up, packed my ski and some snacks and drove 2 hours south to Shortline Lake, just outside Sacramento CA.  When I arrived at the lake, I realized I was really late….because I was supposed to be the next skier on the water.  Somehow I misjudged the timing, really badly.  In addition, I had been brainstorming some ideas on how to make our sport more appealing to spectators.  One idea, or factor, was the time it takes to run 1 skier.  As a pro, starting at 32 off (43 feet) means you most likely end up skiing 5 passes in a competition round.  That takes anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes.  TOO MUCH TIME!!  So, one idea I had was cutting out the earlier passes:  make skiers start at a tough pass (no warm ups) so that they have 2 or 3 (max) passes on the water, essentially cutting their time on the water in half.  Now, I know what you’re thinking:  “what an idiot…he was just asking for it”.  But in reality, this isn’t far fetched.  We’d had events in the past where we start at 38 off, or sometimes even 39.5 off, like the Cold 39 event for WaterSki Mag.  I knew it was possible.  I needed a guinea pig…and that pig ended up being me.  Unfortunately, driving 2 hours, jumping out of a moving van immediately into your ski, and starting at a tough pass (38 off) is a recipe for disaster.  When I told the boat crew my starting line length, the boat driver (Will Bush) looked at me kinda funny and asked me to repeat it, thinking he misheard what I said.  But I was serious (boy how I wish I could take that 1 ski ride back….) and I was determined.  My first pass was ok…but without a warm up on the water and without my normal preparations off the water, my timing sucked.  I skied it way too hard.  My second pass, 39.5 off, was no better…digging holes at the buoy and burying my shoulder through the wakes.  My 3rd pass was 41 off:  I came through the gates (had a decent gate) approached buoy 1, made my move to finish the turn and “SNAP”!!!!  My ski stopped and I broke forward instantly….folded like a lawn chair.  I knew that was it….I had done something pretty bad.  It was so out of nowhere and unexpected that I kinda felt like I was in a dream for a minute….surreal.  Once I drug myself out of the lake and onto the shore, I knew it was serious.  But NEVER did I think that 5 years later, I’d be still suffering from that 1 single incident….that I’d still be sidelined from the sport that captured my passion and changed my life in so many good ways….and that I’d still be uncertain about my future as an elite athlete. //  

To be honest, my back has been getting better these past 3 or 4 months. I can do more now than I’ve been able to do in the last 2 or 3 years. Mtn Bike, hike, snow ski, workout (a little)….and water ski. But the water skiing I do now is not the same water skiing I used to do. And it’s the act of water skiing, once I start to push, that reminds me of how something still is not quite right. Not fully healed. 5 years and I’m still unable to push and improve…unable to break through the ceiling.

So now, 2 months after my friends insisted on helping me,…. I’m on a plane to Denver. Tomorrow I head to Regenexx  and I am hopeful for the outcome…and the future.

More to come on this….

That Front Range skyline
FreeskiingMarcus's Articles

Free Skier Trash


FreeSkier Trash

If you don’t ski, sorry…this piece is mostly skiing. If you do, Listen up:

I spent all winter skiing, but its not what you think. I wasn’t in Tahoe, where I usually am. I wasn’t in Chico, skiing buoys left and right. I was in Tennessee, working on new product at MasterCraft. And most of my time spent on the water wasn’t spent in a course. It got me thinking about the culture of water skiing, specifically competition water skiing. It reminded me of how wrapped up we all get in our own efforts to challenge ourselves and push limits. So that’s what I want to talk about today….a secondary (and maybe someday, accepted) approach to improving and making gains on the water. 

I can’t even count how many times I hear folks tweaking out on a technical aspect of skiing. Sure, to get better at slalom skiing through a course, it takes a focused technical diligence, far beyond what most sports call for. But, there is a balance.

Take a second to think about the last time you did some sort of on the water, functional*, technical drill for slalom skiing……how long ago was that? I am going to guess Never? I’m right, right? Right. 

*Functional is defined as movement performed at or very near the speeds, tempos, rhthyms, angles, forces, etc. experienced during a typical run through the slalom course.

Now imagine a basketball team that never did anything other than play basketball, every day at practice. Or a football team that played 2-3 hours of football, 5 days a week, plus games on weekends. No drills, no skills, no discipline….just balls to the wall. I’m calling lots of injuries, poor technique and sloppy playing. AKA, performance well below full potential.

That’s us. That is what we do as skiers. And that is Trash. (I know, because I’m stuck in the trap too!)

If you golf, you can dial in your short game all day long on the putting green….or go impress the ladies at the driving range like John Daly (without the alcohol, of course) by swinging as hard as you can until your disks start popping out of your lower back like slobbery skittles from infant fingers. These are just a few of the drills, or what I call skill work, feasible within the sport of golf. 

In water skiing, no one drills functional accelerations, transitions or carves. I mean, someone may go out once, and whip out to the side of the boat, let go of the rope and bank a carve until they run out of speed and wicked witch their way into the water (like they’ve seen portrayed in the magazines many times). Chances are that’s the last time they do it…because it only allows for one carve per serving, its not even a functional carve, and it burns through so much time, gas and friends that it really isn’t worth it. Another ridiculous drill is the “pulling drill” folks often use, whereby the skier simply pulls out to one side of the boat, and continues to try and stay out beside the boat for as long as they can. Hanging out beside the boat is a static position. The skier isn’t moving relative to the boat, the ski, or the handle. Again, not a functional drill. 

There is something that works, however. And its almost so simple its stupid: Freeskiing. Its that thing we used to do before we were even good enough to make a slalom course. I hate to be the one to say it but once we mastered the course, it was in that moment that we instantly became its bitch (“we” being 95% of course skiers, myself included). The problem with skiing in a course becomes evident the first time a course skier tries to Freeski. It instantly seems impossible to carve with a tight line when there is no reference point, no buoy to say “turn now”. The accelerations and transitions start to fall apart and the frustration levels mount…usually.

But WHY? (As a side note, I am a firm believer that its not enough to just DO the right things on the water (or anything in life), without understanding. With understanding comes a deeper level of fulfillment, and a higher potential for performance. So, I always try to ask WHY?) “Why is freeskiing so hard?” Because we’ve learned to use the slalom course like a crutch, and forget to FEEL when we ski. The course conditions us to be numb to the input we are receiving from our body, and instead rely on our eyes. Your eyes tend to focus on the course and its checkpoints….”Just get a good gate, stay connected and move outbound, and keep a tight line at 1, then 2, 3…so on” The result is a series of sub-standard muscle memory movements based on punctuated or choppy input…which often results in choppy output. We try to connect dots, instead of find a rhythm, and that ultimately limits us from reaching our full potential…and truly “Flying”(…that moment when your mind clears, your body lights up and shit just happens without even trying). 

To get there, we have to take a step back and remember why most of us started skiing in the first place: it was that rush of shredding on top of the water, banking big turns, throwing mad spray and FEELING accelerations and forces we couldn’t find anywhere else. The course takes a lot of that away from us…slowly so we don’t notice it happening. Its time to fight back…

With a new season comes a new opportunity to chart a different path. Of course your days at the lake will most likely be consumed by thousandths of inch fin movements, the latest technique fads and complaining about rollers, ducks or bad driving. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pry yourself and a few buddies away from the buoys every once in a while to remind yourself how important feeling is. 

The more aware you are of your movements, the better they become. Freeskiing is the closest thing to a functional drill for us water skiers. It allows you to feel forces, line tension, swing, transitions, accelerations, carves, etc….without worrying about buoys, scores, timing or an ego. Do this at least twice a week, and watch how your course skiing suddenly becomes more natural and effortless. 

Sometimes the simplest thing is the right answer. This is one of those times.



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Athlete SpotlightMarcus's Articles

9 Questions For MB

Bidwell Bar Bridge

Taken from, here’s 9 questions current Master Champion Will Asher ( threw at me a while back.

WA: If you weren’t skiing, you’d be…?
MB: Working at some Civil Engineering firm, solving differential equations by hand to figure out the reinforcement required for an inverted concrete T beam.
Or I’d be a snow chasing bum,… living in Van down by the river.

WA: Paleo way of life,…what’s it all about?
MB: Paleo or “Cave Man” diet is simply the way we (humans) are supposed to eat….the way we really ate, before agriculture and farming began. No grains (no more bread or pasta), legumes or refined sugars. Basically real food: Meat, veggies, fruit, nuts. Simple.

Wanna live longer?…feel better?…ski better? You probably should give it a try.

WA: Do you ski different on a Syndicate product vs. everything else?
MB: To keep things short and sweet, heck yes I ski different on Syn product. I ski better. My moves are better, I’m more balanced, and I’m more dynamic….all because the board on my feet is the best designed piece of carbon in existence. The first time I tried a Syndicate (reluctantly, due to all HO products I’d previously tried & failed on) not only did I ski better than I had on my stock ski…but I skied different. Things were happening that I’d never felt before…good things.

I never looked back.

WA: What’s the best part of Team Syndicate?
MB: Team Syndicate is so well rounded: It’s an idea factory, a grassroots movement and a product development team with more collective competition and R&D experience than any other team out there. Syndicate is pushing the limits of what’s possible, moving in new directions and reaching new heights. Just having a chance to be a part of that is an honor. I have ambitions & passions…fueled by successes and failures…that’s why I ski. Team Syndicate embodies the same ideals. It’s a perfect fit.

WA: Are you stronger than your girlfriend??
MB: Haha…funny, I’ve never heard that one before (jk)!! I hope so…! But who knows these days. She’s a BadA$$….you’ll be seeing more of her in the near future. Anyone ever heard of the CrossFit

Jenny at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games

Games? Keep your eyes open for Jenny LaBaw. AND, maybe we’ll organize a “battle of the sexes” brawl and put this nonsense to rest, once and for all.

P.S. – her nickname is “T2″…as in Terminator 2.

WA: MarcusBrown.TV, tell us a little about it, and when will it re-launch?
MB: When fall and winter comes, it gets cold. Cold = water freezing. That means no lake skiing. That doesn’t mean people forget about it. MarcusBrown.TV was an effort to give folks something during the ‘off’ months.

It was fun, having a live webshow…bringing on a new guest each week. Even had Team Syndicate on at one point!

Basically when we re-launch the webshow (hopefully soon after the new year), it should be legit. Guest experts, speakers, news, videos, stories, prize giveaways, etc… There will be something for everyone.

Keep it locked here to for news on the upcoming re-launch and MarcusBrown.TV updates!

WA: You started a new school way of thinking…West Coast Slalom. Where did it all start?
MB: Former world Champion, and friend, Mike Suyderhoud slapped some sense into Terry Winter and I when we were 16 & he said “boys, you could be good, real good…but it’s gonna take some work”. So we went to work. We hypothesized, tested, failed, tested, tweaked, tested, etc… At the end of it, we had a new approach to skiing.

West Coast Slalom was born.

At its roots, it’s an explanation of how to move. Everyone moves, whether they walk, jump, run, skate, board, bike or ski. The basics of movement, no matter what the sport, is almost all the same. We had cracked the code, and come up with a “movement for dummies”.

Try it…it’ll change your life.

WA: Tell us something we don’t know about you:
MB: I eat like a Caveman, The Universe fascinates me, working with wood is a passion, I drive a van…a really really big van & 75.8% of my life has been spent with hair shorter than a Mexican Hairless Chihuahua!

WA: I know people ask you this all the time…but how much do those dreads weigh?
MB: Dry Dreads = 1 lb, Wet Dreads = 6 lbs

Team Syndicate Rider & Ambassador, Marcus Brown