HOMEFEATURES The Olympic Skiier, Body Angles, and Stand Up Paddle Surfing
The Olympic Skiier, Body Angles, and Stand Up Paddle Surfing
By: Mark Colino
Saturday, 23 May 2009
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was able to pull off living 6 months of the year at the beach and 6 months in the Rocky Mountains. And surprisingly, I learned an important lesson about stand up paddle wave riding while I was in the mountains.
I was fortunate enough to meet Olympic bronze medal slalom skier Jimmy Heuga. He politely answered questions from my friend Tom and I on a range of topics from training to competing and representing our country in the Olympics. Then he did something that surprised both of us. He invited us to meet up and ski with him. You see, Jimmy was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) shortly after the 1964 Olympic Games, and now needs to use two canes to get around.
The big day arrived and Tom and I did not know what to expect. Jimmy led the way down on that first run and after 100 yards or so my perception of what it takes to perform at a world class level changed forever. The man was smooth as silk. Like water flowing downstream naturally. All this from someone who had lost use of most of his muscles!
Were all those hours in the gym, on the bike and paddling, building muscle for naught? We pressed him for words of wisdom. Jimmy explained that without muscle mass it becomes critical to rely on your skeletal structure and body position to form angles to achieve leverage.
So how does this apply to SUP surfing? Even small SUP’s are 9’3” and very thick and wide. Forming correct body angles and using the paddle are critical for those of us who are not built like Laird. Watch videos of Rob Machado or Gerry Lopez riding a SUP. I would be surprised if either one was over 150 pounds dripping wet. Yet they position their body, board and paddle in ways that result in great turns!
Of course being a CPT (certified paddle board trainer) I encourage people to build up their muscular endurance, but I stress that it does not replace proper technique! Have a friend videotape your next session and make note of the angles and position of knees, back, arms, paddle etc. when you nail a good turn and then compare it to a session that’s not so good.
Now put down those dumbbells and go out and lay into some carves!
Mark Colino owns No Flat Earth surf shop in Brick, New Jersey and runs “Stand Strong” stand up paddle board lessons and fitness programs throughout Ocean and Monmouth counties. He can be contacted at