Park-City-trained Jack Kariotis hopes to make smooth transition to World Cup bumps
Moguls skier, UCLA student, and World Cup newcomer Jake Kariotis spends a lot of time in the cold.
Nothing was as cold as his Thanksgiving break, when the 20-year-old, at the behest of his father, Mak, went water skiing in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Not surprisingly, they were the only people on the water, and they got to cruise the inlets in solitude.
“I love water skiing whenever I get the chance,” he said. “But it was the coldest experience of my life.”
Over the years, Kariotis said his dad has come up with more than his fair share of wild ideas. Perhaps the wildest was enrolling Jack and his three siblings in moguls skiing clubs at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California while living just outside of San Francisco. But Kariotis’ parents were so dedicated to the sport, they kept Jack and his older sister Ali enrolled in his home club regardless of how inconvenient it sometimes was.
“It was definitely a challenge for a while, because I lived three to four hours away from a ski hill for a lot of my childhood,” said Kariotis, who grew up in a town on the northern side of the San Francisco Bay. “But my parents were very dedicated to it; they drove us out there on weekends, vacations, everything.”
Obviously, Kariotis still enjoys the sport, even after the long commutes and the nearly all-encompassing nature of being a professional moguls skier.
“On a daily basis, I just enjoy going out and pushing myself,” he said. “There aren’t many areas in life where you get to go out and push yourself physically and mentally and confront fear. And I also love competing. … As soon as you push through the start gate, everything goes away.”
It doesn’t hurt that he’s good at it, and last year in particular represented a big jump for the California-born skier.
From the time he moved to Park City as a freshmen in high school to pursue moguls skiing, he has been on track to compete at the World Cup level. After finishing first in the Jr. World competition in Valmalenco, Italy, last March and second in U.S. Moguls Team selections in December, he earned a place on the U.S. team, and a spot at this week’s FIS Visa Freestyle International Ski World Cup at Deer Valley Resort.
He and his coach, Chris Marchetti – lead moguls coach at Park City Ski and Snowboard – said improved skiing technique helped push him to the next level.
“He’s always been a pretty good jumper, but his skiing has gotten a lot better,” Marchetti said.
Because 60 percent of moguls athletes’ scores are based on their turns, and the other 40 percent is based off their jumps and time, his scores have improved across the board.
“It’s a lot easier to hit your takeoffs and do your jumps if you’re going into them with better body position,” Marchetti said. “You don’t have to work as hard for the takeoff.”
According to Marchetti, most improvements in technique happen over the summer and fall, when athletes are jumping off the water ramp and training constantly.
“You spend a lot of time trying to create a platform where they can push themselves and get to where they need to get to,” he said. “Most of our work is in the summer. They get about 1,500 jumps on the water ramp. By the time you get to (January) you’re on auto pilot; you’re bringing what you’re bringing.”
That was evident at the most recent camp, where Marchetti estimated the two exchanged 20 words over the day, with so little left to fine-tune.
“We’re not going out and grinding out runs and doing a ton of video today,” Marchetti said. “So just looking at one or two things how to get better … that only takes a very little amount of communication.
Wednesday and Thursday, Kariotis will put those final points into action as he takes the course for the first World Cup of his life.
He said he’s definitely feeling how big a moment it is, but it feels right – an appropriate and proportional nervousness.
“A little bit of nerves means you care and you’re thinking about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to think about getting my work done.”
All he has to do is stay cool.
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