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EP17: Ski Talk with Adam and Cory Pickos

EP17: Ski Talk with Adam and Cory Pickos

Interviewer: Matteo Luzzeri
Published on The Water Ski Podcast
Released on February 4, 2020
Transcribed by Andrew Hopkins, Matteo Ianni, Matteo Luzzeri, and Helene Sørensed


Cory Pickos 0:00
What I liked best I think, is when you're skiing really good for before a tournament, and you're ripping it and it's super fast and you do, like, your whole toe pass and it feels, like, perfect timing with the rope where it's just tight the whole way. It's fast and you don't, you know, sometimes you can run 12,000 points, and it feels easier than 9000 points. And for me, that was the most fun because sometimes you get on a roll where it just felt like unbelievable skiing. Super easy.
Adam Pickos 0:34
So much timing in 20 seconds from the very start of you know, the transitions keeping your hips up keeping your arms in and, and body overs, you're jumping over the rope starting and stopping flips, you know, you're obviously landing sometimes half twists and you're coming front and going back into the next flip. So much can happen this transitions but when you're dialed in and it's all hitting and working perfect. It can almost feel effortless.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:20
All right, welcome back to The Water Ski Podcast, Episode 17. And a little backstory about this episode. I've always wanted to interview these two people since the beginning of The Water Ski Podcast. And these are Cory and Adam Pickos. Legends already Yeah, even Adam in the sport of trick skiing. However, they're both world champions and one dear friend of mine who I won’t make names. He basically told me early on that I couldn't interview world champions right off the get go because he said, Well, you have to learn your skills. As an interviewer, and his analogy was you don't start a Formula One podcast and interview Lewis Hamilton right away, which, you know, he had a good point. So after 16 episodes, I decided to interview not only one, but two World Champions, and multiple times world champs. So this interview is my first interview like with two guests at the same time, Adam and Cory Pickos. We recorded this a couple of weeks ago, no, a week ago, sorry, in Santa Rosa Beach, outside of Cory's house sipping on coffee in good old fashioned Cory and Adams style and I'm a coffee junkie myself. So that was great. And we just went back into Cory’s past as a skier and his present as a coach and Adams current achievements as a skier and he's early days as a skier, being coached by dad, which is, it was interesting to hear how, for the most part, effortless that was. And Cory and Adam always struck me as having a very good coach-athlete son-father relationship. And so what a better way to, you know, sit down with them and interview them. A couple of interesting things, I was able to buy a third microphone for the podcast thanks to the donations that the listeners have been sending through. Thanks again, for those. Those have been very encouraging. However, it's a bit of a different microphone than normal. And I didn't realize that there was a front and a back to this thing. So I figured that out after I interviewed them. So basically, you'll hear my voice a little bit in the distance because I was speaking on the back of the microphone. So when I told you that I'm a newbie at this and then I'm trying to learn as I go. This is one of those cases where I really didn't know what I was doing until I tested the microphone after interviewing. So, bit of an amateur but I'm learning. In any case, enjoyed this interview, I think, you know, Cory and Adam open up about the relationship, their skiing, their ski school, I think it's a very telling episode. Before we jump on to that, I just wanted to let you know that as you're listening to this, I have released a special episode of The Water Ski Podcast, which is not on the podcast. It's actually on a new water ski platform called swerve. And you can find details on how to register and become a member and go and find my episode there. On the Episode Notes, I thought I would help the creator of this getting a bit of momentum. So if you want to listen to this special episode, look at the notes and you'll see how to register and become a member of these new platform for water skiers and you'll be able to listen to the episode there. Until then, enjoy the interview and see you in a couple of weeks.


Matteo Luzzeri 5:08
Well, should we start? Let's do it. Let's do it. Okay. Well, guys, welcome to The Water Ski Podcast.
Cory Pickos 5:20
Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Adam Pickos 5:21
Yes. Honored to be here.
Matteo Luzzeri 5:22
I'm here in Santa Rosa Beach with Adam and Cory Pickos, in their a beautiful ski school. Actually, we can see the lake while we're having some coffee. Well, guys, I honestly, since I started this podcast, I was envisioning doing a conversation with the two of you, so I'm stoked that I get to do it. And, very happy to be here. Honestly. How are you guys doing?
Adam Pickos 5:49
I'm doing great. It's great to have you here. It's the middle of January. We're sitting outside having a cup of coffee, life’s pretty good. Florida, Florida. Exactly. Exactly.
Cory Pickos 5:59
Yeah. Doing super good. We're getting ready to get going again at ski school in February, doing some renovations to the ski school house, just the kind of normal stuff but you know, everything's going great.
Matteo Luzzeri 6:11
Yeah, the off season of a ski school owner. And I know you guys have a big event coming up this year, so we'll definitely get to that at some point. But I really want to start with a question I start with everyone and I would like to do it with you, Cory. How did you get into this thing, water skiing?
Cory Pickos 6:34
You know, it really went all the way back to my father. We’re three generations of skiers now and my father when he was in his I would say middle to late 20s, he bought a boat, bought skis and him and his buddies went out skiing. I don't know they just loved it. Next thing they were putting in milk jugs for slalom buoys. Building wooden ramps. No helmets, crashing skis, hitting them in the head bleeding. And my father particularly liked tricks. And they went to a national tournament and saw Ricky McCormick trick, when he was young, for the first time. And my father thought, this is an awesome sport. That's so cool. I love it. I'm going to teach my kids. So we started young and and he's kind of, pretty old school hardcore. If we're going to do it. We're going to be in it 110%. Yep. And voila.
Matteo Luzzeri 7:34
There you go. Where was this?
Cory Pickos 7:38
This was in Kenosha, Wisconsin, right between Milwaukee and Chicago. And we did most of our skiing in a little burrow pit for the highway overpass, and it was big enough for about a four buoy slalom course, we didn't have a jump. We were very young and little at the time. So we did a lot a lot of tricks to start with.
Matteo Luzzeri 8:03
There you go. There you go. So a bit of short Lake, a bit of young age, you know, way safer…
Cory Pickos 8:08
We were really little, so little in stature and size and weight and yeah, and four buoy slalom courses didn't work so well. And that was back behind, I don't know, hydrodyne I/O boats and all that, you know what I mean? It's just yeah, it was a different era.
Matteo Luzzeri 8:27
Yeah. And obviously, then and now, tricks tends to be more friendly to you know, shorter lakes, maybe a little tougher conditions, maybe different boats. So it seems like naturally, and your dad was so shocked by that, you got into trick skiing.
Cory Pickos 8:45
Yeah, no, I think it was in that natural progression to start there. Yeah, just went from there.
Matteo Luzzeri 8:54
Okay. And so, one of the things I'm curious about with you is that you got really good really early. I mean, I just watched the video a few days ago, I was in the Dominican Republic with Robert (Pigozzi), we were watching some of those videos in the 1980s, you know, I'm sure you Adam have seen them plenty of times, but like, you know, there were some trickers skiing 2000, 3000, 4000, points. Then you show up, you're not even an adult…. 9000points! Well, that's, that's a humongous difference and super young. How did that come about?
Cory Pickos 9:27
Yeah, really, really strange. I think I just had a little bit of a freaky natural talent for it. Back then, there wasn't a lot of coaching. My father would coach and do this, you know, whatever. But really, the coaching was at a level that didn't really work. And so I would get coached by him and other people. And even from a very young age, I would do it once and I let go, this doesn’t work, so I wouldn't listen. I 110% did it my way. And I don't know why or how, but it was very natural and came very easy. And I just had a passion for it and liked it. And if my father wanted me to do ten Toe Wake Os, I'd do 20 in half the time, so I don't know.
Matteo Luzzeri 10:17
Well, yeah, so like, you know, I don't want to say to prove people wrong, but almost like… doing double the work and really passionate about it and some thirst for being good, I'm assuming as well.
Cory Pickos 10:29
Yeah, exactly. And at the time, it really came easy now, it's like, I don't know, “This isn't that hard? Why are these old guys so bad?” You know what I mean? So it started really early, like, “What's going on here?”
Matteo Luzzeri 10:41
Okay. And so clearly, you got to a point very quickly where you were good. Who then started chasing you?
Cory Pickos 10:53
Really it was, I skied with Sammy Duvall, Dennis Hammontree, my brother all that and that was up until about 13 years. But from 14 on it was always Patrice Martin. He was super, super fantastic. And he was a huge rival and we pushed each other. And as good as I was, he would be better then I would be better. So the whole way. It was really good for both of us, but it really pushed us along.
Matteo Luzzeri 11:21
Yeah, because I can also see that that moment where, you know, I don't wanna say you stay in your own bubble because obviously US was, you know, probably still is the biggest country in the world for skiing, but then maybe you venture out to a Worlds or to some other event where international people come in and you see that one guy that, you know, is battling now, how did you feel about that? Were you excited? Were you like, “Hey, who is this guy”?
Cory Pickos 11:46
Yeah, I went to my first World Tournament at 13. And it actually was in Milan, Italy, in 1977. And I met Patrice there for the first time, and I was skiing in the event and he wasn't but we met each other and they said “this guy is super, super good.” And it kind of went from there.
Matteo Luzzeri 12:06
So they said that about you or you heard?
Cory Pickos 12:08
I was skiing in the tournament and they said that about Patrice. I didn't know I just knew there was this Frenchman that was supposed to be very good.
Matteo Luzzeri 12:18
Okay. And give me just a little bit of stats, because you know your career is insane. But like, gimme, how many Worlds How many? You know?
Cory Pickos 12:29
I won two World Championships. I took two seconds, two thirds, I believe if memory serves me right. It was a little bit more of a difficult tournament for me just because I think it was international, every two years, tried too hard. Just one of those things I could have easily won four where it just the little last trick was just… stuff like that. I really, really should have won four pretty easily. It ended up two. So I had the two seconds, but I won 10 US Masters, 10 US opens and broke 24 World Records. And then one Moomba and I won all of the events, but those are the majors.
Matteo Luzzeri 13:20
That's pretty good numbers, man. Oh my God. And then, you know, eventually you influenced Adam. And we have Adam here who is also a two-time World Champion and, you know, one of the sensations of the sport. I'm curious to hear, you know, how did you get into skiing question will be “Well, through dad”, right? But how was that you know, growing up knowing that your dad is 10 times Masters champion and two-time World Champion, you know, like, what do you remember about your early days of skiing?
Adam Pickos 13:48
He’ll probably have to chime in a little bit, but I remember it was a little bit tough when I was young, starting, we hear a lot of stories. I was the kid screaming up and down the lake wanting nothing to do with it. I wanted to go be with friends, do my own thing. But really, I think my first tournament was seven. First Nationals was nine. And growing up with my dad as a coach and a father, just 100% normal. I think I had in the back of my head that he's been successful. He's right, whether I wanted to give him that at the time or not. It's just, that's the way it is. And we've always had a really good relationship that way where we can talk, we can get into arguments, we can give both of our thoughts and sometimes it's three days or a week and we'll both come back and go okay. I think we're both on the same page. We just told each other the wrong way. And we kind of work through it that way. So really, it's been the best thing that's ever happened because anytime I've ever had to leave home going to Monroe or trying to you know, thinking oh, maybe I should go get some other coaching thing. That was never the case. It was always home, on lakes with the coaching and atmosphere environment was the best thing for me
Matteo Luzzeri 15:00
Nice, nice. See, like I've asked this to other two other guests but like, especially given the upbringing, obviously you grew up here so like not only your dad but you were surrounded by great skiers all the time. When did something click for you that you're like, Okay, I'm getting good at this?
Adam Pickos 15:19
I think at least for my memory I remember pretty clearly it was I didn't do Nationals before nine right my last nationals? So like I skied It was kind of; I wasn't quite at the level where we wanted to go if we wanted to go, we wanted to win or we wanted to be in that podium conversation. So it was my very last nationals in Bakersfield, California. And got the thumbs up from dad. We flew out, I ended up taking first and tricks and I broke the National record. So it was awesome. Then I think that's you know, a lot of friends and tournaments that were traveling and remember, you know, swinging through McDonald's and Visiting grandparents house down in Winter Haven stopping for tournaments, and it just became a little bit of an identity for me and of course the winning becomes… you kind of enjoy you go see see different friends and you compete and just became a lifestyle
Matteo Luzzeri 16:16
Yeah, obviously the US Nationals is a very peculiar tournament so you have nearly 1000 skiers there. You might have, I'm assuming, that random kid that you might have not heard before who shows up and is good and, you know, we all know in a year how better you can become. So you're going with the thumbs up from dad, but also like with the uncertainty and then you bring it home! I can see how that and a US National can really leave a mark.
Adam Pickos 16:49
You know, being my at the time, the biggest I've skied in Southern Regionals, but that was my biggest tournament as a kid and now coaching a lot, seeing through my dad's eyes a little bit… you have no idea what's in a young person's brain, how they're gonna treat that first bigger tournament, how they're gonna react to the pressure. So yeah, flying all the way out to California and diving in, it was kind of a lot of experience. And luckily, it went as good as possible, and the rest is history.
Matteo Luzzeri 17:19
Stood up the run, everything in time... And, you know, like, this is something I want to ask you guys because, you know, one of the things we know that is probably the hardest, most productive thing in an athlete's life is their relationship with their coach, right? And then obviously, you know, you have a coach-athlete relationship and a father-son relationship. And more often than not, let's face it, it doesn't work. And you guys have managed to make it work very successfully. And I'm curious from any of you and both of you actually. Like, how have you made it work? You know, like, both as a coach and as an athlete?
Cory Pickos 18:02
I think I knew it was an adventure. So it's not a short term thing. So I knew if it was going to work in the long run, I'd thought it's better to be steady, and patient, and not make it miserable or torture or anything. Adam knew expectations, I had expectations. And so I think, and I'm pretty calm on that. And anyways, I'm not a temper tantrum or an angry guy or freak out guy. So it's just little by little keep on , stay on. Of course you expect a lot. You push a lot and you want 110%.
Matteo Luzzeri 18:47
The 20 TOs, right?
Cory Pickos 18:48
Yeah, for sure. And then we kind of set it up where we ended up going 10 months a year, December, January off. Six days a week, take Sunday off, of course it would vary. But over time, if you work at it the right way, you've got a great chance of success. The only other thing you don't know is what quality of athlete do you have? Do you have a top 10 in the world? Do you have a top 20? Do you have a top 25? So I had no idea but I would talk with Adam and go “Well, maybe if we win one World Championship at any level, Junior, I don't know. But maybe that's a goal.” And the other long term goal was “Maybe we can be top 10 in the world. So if we can reach that, you know, maybe you can be a three guy or a five guy we don't know what you are.” Everybody's different. So that was kind of the approach from the beginning.
Matteo Luzzeri 19:51
Sort of like, let's take it step by step. Let's put effort but let's see where it goes. Now, not to sound like, you know… but those are pretty high standards you know? Top 10 in the world we see… and obviously coming for you were you had won a few and you've been at the top of the game… Was that ever pressure for you growing up?
Adam Pickos 20:12
There definitely was a pressure, a little bit of a monkey on your back. It was never, he's always been one of the most patient people in my life that I've ever known. And there were you know, we talked a lot about the highlights but there were tournaments where I had half of my tricks taken and you know, I go I forgot my run, I did 6, 8, 10 toe back-to-backs and he just kept coming out “This is a marathon, it's a long term sport, relax.” Jumping against guys like Zach Warden boys two, whatever, get beaten by 50 or 60 feet. “Just be patient. We're gonna get there.” Then when I got a little better and started to ski in a few of the pro tournaments, there were guys younger than me winning titles and I remember looking and going “Am I doing something wrong? What's going on here?” And obviously dad was super successful, kind of have that mind and just aggressive way of skiing and it just clicked. And then in 2015 I won my first world title, jumping a little forward here, but I just remember that was just incredible. I felt like a monkey was off my back and that almost a monkey that I didn't even realize was there. I kind of knew it was there but it was just skiing. But for me, for the team, for all the time we spent, for all the money and traveling and passion. I mean, I grew up in between two lakes and so that was that was a sweet adventure.
Matteo Luzzeri 21:42
And you grew up in between you know, I guess where we Lake one and lake two. Lake two generally slalom Lake one some slalom but maybe tricking, jump primarily. And you were drawn into the tricks. Now granted, the genetics were pretty solid, you know, but was it like a given or did you find the passion there more or what happened there?
Cory Pickos 22:06
I would say it's more a genetic makeup body build. Adam was actually number one in the world standings list in overall his last year juniors so is leveling in all three were really good but definitely trending way up and tricks and slalom we would always be around, but be around could be top five or six or seven and then jumping. We jump for overall not necessarily to compete to win in jumping. And yeah, so I think it just trended towards tricks and his body type that was what made most sense.
Adam Pickos 22:51
And you tend to follow what you're good at and I've always had just a little better feeling. People always asked about like nerves and tournaments you get those butterflies but I'm pretty set on the dock and calm and sense of knowing what to do where slalom I get those, those more of those anxious butterflies of this, this isn't my my natural tendency or I have a little less control slalom over tricks. I can visualize. I can see I know, you know, halfway through my toe run, if something's going on, I know how to get in and out versus slalom. I'm still learning every set.
Matteo Luzzeri 23:31
Yeah, makes sense. And I can resonate with that. I mean, I used to do overall till after college and I had the opposite experience like in slalom. I would see the competition but I knew sort of like where I stood and what I could leverage on. In tricks it was like, you know, like I was nervous because I had much less control. And that's that's fair point. And then obviously that continues to loop. So you have a tournament in tricks you’re not nervous you most likely are going to do better. And then the next tournament is going to continue that way, but in slalom maybe you have one incident...
Adam Pickos 24:03
And growing up slalom is just generally harder on my body. I would trick two three times this one slalom. I would slalom five days a week and my back would hurt my shoulders. And I'm going, “I don't know, I'm only like, you know, 15 14, 15 years old.” And this seems crazy. I'd have to take off time of tricks, because, you know, I was slaloming a little more and my back was hurting so bad and I’m going “I think tricks is good. I don't go as fast, the falls are a little easier. I have a better feeling for what's going on.”
Matteo Luzzeri 24:32
What I love is that you still enjoy slalom. I mean, I remember when I was here when you ran your first 39 behind Keith.. I mean, the smile was exactly what you're showing now.
Adam Pickos 24:43
Yeah, no, absolutely. That's still. I don't know. Maybe that goes back to the control thing. I can trick 100 times then I can have that one. It seems like a perfect slalom set to me. And the joy is just the same, if not more.
Matteo Luzzeri 24:54
Thats cool. That's cool. Do you miss jump at all?
Adam Pickos 24:57
I don't I don't actually I'd never had the right personality and the drive for it. I was always a very safe jumper and I jumped, I think 45-46 meters (just under 150 feet). And that was a good spot. But every time I turned and cut towards the ramp, it was not a sense of like an adrenaline rush. It was land on your skis. Yeah, just just kind of scared honestly. And I enjoyed cutting and passing. I didn't want to take that chance. I just liked being on the water and safe and sound. And so I jumped until college, I left for college and I got a text from Dad that said “Hey I just sold your jump skis.” (laughs) Actually, that doesn't bug me at all. I'm good.
Cory Pickos 25:47
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was really the end of under 17. So then the ramp goes to six foot. Yeah, and the speed goes to 35. And if you're going to compete overall now you got to jump 200 feet. And for me, every time Adam jumped, it's just such a stress because I think we're both more in control kind of people. And it wasn't worth an injury for the other events, all that kind of stuff. And at the same time Kiwi just had his accident. So I'm like, No, no, I'm not doing this. This is crazy, right? So I didn't want to go six foot 35 so I sold his jump skis and said, I sold you jump skis. You can have the money.
Adam Pickos 26:39
Yeah, that was the bridge.
Cory Pickos 26:40
But I also knew Adam would be, I thought he would be fine with it.
Matteo Luzzeri 26:46
Yeah. See, I had a similar story because my last jump set on my own skis was like collegiate all stars. And that I went in front of the webcast and I said, Hey, I'm done with this thing. I'm selling them and three days later, someone from Wisconsin said hey I’ll take them, and I was so happy like I'm done because I might have jumped a little further, but I had the same feelings that you were having. So like, Okay, I'm later than I know, hopefully I'll land. You know, like, it's never like the right like, go after it.
Adam Pickos 27:13
You get comfortable and confident and that's when you have that one where maybe you don't crash them but it's little eye control and you go, Okay, that was too much
Matteo Luzzeri 27:24
That's when you know you're not a jumper, when your furthest jump is the first one by accident.
Cory Pickos 27:31
And jumping is so extreme that if you don't have the mentality for jumping, I think you're just fighting yourself. So then I think it's super hard to succeed. So if you're mentally not a jumper, tricks, and slalom are different, you know, it's not as dangerous. But if you're mentally not a jumper, personality wise, I think it's very hard.
Matteo Luzzeri 27:52
And I think even more so it becomes even more dangerous for people who take it with that sort of approach rather than, you know, sort of like committing to it, you know?
Cory Pickos 28:01
Yeah, it's much safer to commit 110%.
Matteo Luzzeri 28:06
And it's funny like you obviously remember Bubu Alessi who coached our national team for a while. It was so hard for him to understand why people weren't like that. “You cut, you go as late as you can and you commit you're gonna make it.” And a lot of us are like,” Well, I don't know man, like, I don't know that I can do that.” But then those that can generally tend to be good jumpers.
Adam Pickos 28:30
Yeah, you watch the pro jump jumpers now and it looks like a walk in the park. They don't look stressed. They're holding their skis. The decision to cut pass. Take it, it's just a normal conversation for them. But yeah, I never had that.
Cory Pickos 28:43
Yeah, no. And Adam grew up with Timmy Bradstreet and Zach Warden and these guys would turn later and later and just jump and go. No, it's like no, this is crazy.
Matteo Luzzeri 28:53
Understandable. Understandable. Cory, did you slalom or jump? What was that like for you like overall?
Cory Pickos 29:04
I did a little bit and I did it through kind of what we would call juniors not even under 17 more 13, 14. But at 13, I broke the world record for the first time in tricks at 13. So I was way too good tricks to spend time in slalom and jump and I didn't have the coaching and we're in Wisconsin, which is a super, super short season. So the whole thing just didn't work out. And so my father really went to six trick sets a day. So he would go to work and I would have to do four before he came home and then he would watch two sets. And he would watch the hour meter and the gas to make sure I skied six times a day. So it's kind of a little bit old school.
Adam Pickos 29:57
you can ski or dig ditches
Mattea Luzzeri 30:00
Slightly old school, no?
Cory Pickos 30:01
Slightly old school and I had a choice “if you're skiing that's fine if you're not skiing you're going to work with me.” So I'm like “skiing or work? I think I'll ski!”
Matteo Luzzeri 30:09
Did you ever take the boat out for a spin just to burn some gas and put some hours on?
Cory Pickos 30:14
No no no because I was too young and I wasn't smart enough.
Matteo Luzzeri 30:19
Yeah, makes sense. So yeah, basically from even 14 stuff like that just trick.
Cory Pickos 30:25
I just went straight to tricks and really I was really small. So you know if you're a bigger kid in slalom and juniors and stuff, but I was very thin and zero percent body fat and just, yeah, super light. Tricks came so naturally. Back then everybody was really focused more on overall skiing and stuff.
Adam Pickos 30:51
And you got to see the old school skis with the binding, I don't even know if you can call it a binding. We have a have a couple in the shop down at ski school and it's just the flattest. Was it a saucer?
Cory Pickos 31:05
Yeah, I've tricked seven. The first time I broke the world record was 6990 a tricked like 7050 that year, but I'm telling you the Saucier is, it's eight or nine inches wide. The sides are perfectly flat, no bevel anything and my binding was a heel piece and a toe piece open with no wraps the
Adam Pickos 31:30
HO or whatever combo skis that you slide in and out would have had more support.
Cory Pickos 31:36
IT didn’t move, but there was no wraps or anything. and how I tricked 7000 points on a ski like that. I have no idea.
Matteo Luzzeri 31:41
Yeah, I bet Do you ever take it back like maybe I don't know five years ago for a rip?
Cory Pickos 31:46
no, no, I never have it's 36 inches, like eight inches tiny.
Matteo Luzzeri 31:51
So what is, because obviously you broke the world record several times. What was the highest score you did without a Ski Line.
Cory Pickos 32:01
I don't even know I think I tricked.
I know I tricked 10,000 points, I think without flips, but I think at that point I was doing toe steps but not body overs.
Matteo Luzzeri 32:14
Okay? Because they saw some old ESPN video I can't even remember what the tournament is called and you tricked well over 9000. But it was all like, you know, wake lines hands and you know, like toes was already like TWL5s, massive four feet high but like, you know, hands was like wake lines and a bunch of sevens and fives and you know.
Cory Pickos 32:37
so many line tricks, so many rotation tricks, and at that point, tricking really went through a few big changes, but if it would have stayed the super traditional trick skiing that I learned, it would have been really hard, much harder to beat me than the transition. The toast steps were great, but then the body overs and then flips. And every time they did that, it was fewer tricks more aggressive, less rotation, quick stuff. So every time they added all of that, it seemed like it pulled the competition closer to me. And does that make sense?
Matteo Luzzeri 33:20
Makes perfect sense.
Cory Pickos 33:21
And it's just, you know, I was grew up with the traditional skiing, I didn't learn my first flip until I was like 20 or 21.
Matteo Luzzeri 33:29
Right. They probably weren’t around back then I'm guessing.
Cory Pickos 33:30
Yeah, not nobody was doing them.
Matteo Luzzeri 33:33
You obviously had to go through a transition like now there's flips now there's body overs. Like, did you struggle with that? Or were you able to do it?
Cory Pickos 33:42
Not really, the body overs, I picked all that up really pretty fast. The flips were completely different, and I didn't grow up with it. And I didn't grow up with gymnastics, but at that time, it was progressing slow enough where, for me I could learn a flip a year kind of thing and just stay right with it. But I wasn't the best at flipping, but I was better at rotations and toes and quicken great body overs or whatever. So yeah, but it kind of kept me competitive.
Matteo Luzzeri 34:14
Yeah. So you were in a situation where the gap was so big that even if people were catching up, you were able to implement maybe one flip a year or so and stay ahead?
Matteo Luzzeri 34:26
That's cool. What was… I'm gonna ask this to both of you guys. What was the trick that you struggled the most to learn? Relative to you because obviously
Cory Pickos 34:43
I kind of think probably my first flip and reverse just because there was no coaching, nobody knew anything. And you'd see some people do them pretty easy, you know, a handful of people, but it was just kind of like going in the backyard and at the lake, just throw them and so you figured something out, you could just as easily learn it totally wrong as right.
Matteo Luzzeri 35:06
Right. And what was frustrating, was it...?
Cory Pickos 35:09
Yeah, it's an unknown, right? So you don't know. You know? it's something you have to learn and get in your run pretty quick because you don't want to get behind. But it's also new.
Matteo Luzzeri 35:21
Adam Pickos 35:21
And for me more recently, was front flip. I grew up my whole career really good at visualizing tricks, I almost think I could limit the falls by really putting in my head and thinking about how I want to attack this. And the front flip took over two years for me. Yeah, I flopped and flopped and fell and I was ready to just quit everything. I was ready to learn ski line 5000 if I had to, to not do a front flip.
Matteo Luzzeri 35:53
Yeah, cuz Yeah, I remember you. You implemented like your front, like the front flip later on in your skiing career
Adam Pickos 35:59
and you... I obviously think at the ski school I would sit in the boat all day long in people that have tricked four or five 6000 points to go out and boom, perfect front flip. And I would go: “There's no way!” I could trick over, you know, 10,000 points and I’d study video and I'd watch myself, but that basic idea of just rolling forward was, I don't know, it was just so foreign and almost too simple. It would either be a backflip or a spin. But yeah, so that was a two, two and a half year project of just that almost three or more every single set just over and over again. Fights and arguments about ideas and “should we learn toeside and heelside” or “can't learn toe side because it doesn't fit in your run, you have to learn heel side.” So we got to learn heelside, you have to have it. But now, every fall makes a difference. I feel like I can do front flip with my eyes closed.
Cory Pickos 36:54
Now he has the best front flip in the world. It just takes time. But Adam is a little bit of a thinker too. So It might take a little longer to learn it. But once he learns it, he'll learn it and he'll do it really well.
Matteo Luzzeri 37:08
But what was it like was it… because it's a very strange rotation, the rule is pretty strict as to how and where the ski needs to be, were you sort of like doing them at first, but they weren't front flips, or just the fact of going forward wasn't really...
Cory Pickos 37:23
A lot of people were doing the inside the line front flip that I always thought from day one inside the arm where they roll and all that… it really wasn’t credit, you know what I mean? “And how credit was it, was it pretty credit, not credit” and I was like, I don't want to go into tournaments when you need it most. They're going to take it and so we're going to learn perfect straight front flip because there's people doing them. I think the thing was the timing, the work, the break free, break free enough to complete the trick without getting pulled out and it's a blind trick. But once he got a feel for it, it just all came together.
Adam Pickos 38:06
Every other flip, you're taking that ski behind you, this was the first flip, you're kind of rocking heel to toe and taking everything towards the boat. And breaking that, that habit I guess was just super hard. We did everything from boat speeds to… I was wearing jumpsuits at one point. Everything! Just try to turn off your mind. Just don't don't think about it.
Matteo Luzzeri 38:26
Yeah. And I think obviously… obviously what do I know? But it seems like it might be even harder, because at the time you were probably doing six backflips in your run, you had another two or three that you could have implemented always with that same initial motion. So this is completely different, right? completely different from like a mobe 5 even…
Cory Pickos 38:48
Yeah, and what got him over the hump was he started breaking free and doing nice front flips, but like you said, it was such a completely different movement than all the other stuff that I think instinctively you …It's really easy to move the wrong way.. So I told him “okay, let's simplify this, the wake is killing you, the timing is killing you, the boat pulling in, you are loading earlier, loading late… it's all that” I said “All I want you to do is pull out alongside the boat in the flats and do a no wake front flip” And he started doing them out in the flats absolutely perfect took it to the wake, never had a problem since.
Adam Pickos 39:27
To me Jason McClintock does a beautiful one, and so it was literally just that same idea, went out and just boom. And all of a sudden I was breaking free, getting all the way around, I’d go back on the wake, it could be all like “crazy” again and go back and I think we even tried it on one wake for a little while and that pull was good. And then yeah... that no wake worked
Matteo Luzzeri 39:45
and good old fashioned 80s because like, back then, you guys were doing flips on one wake.. Back to front backflip and back into the wakes to a W7F… those crazy things. What was the celebration when you landed the first one?
Adam Pickos 40:02
Pure celebration but I think it was more like “I hope that wasn't luck, I gotta do a second one to make sure we're good”
Matteo Luzzeri 40:10
You gotta back it up. Tricker mentality, right? I'm assuming you started doing it on the wakes and then the conversation of “Are we ready for the run? Absolutely not. So now try sequences.”,
Adam Pickos 40:21
Yeah, and it's one of those flips where I never did it at the end, right?
Cory Pickos 40:25
I think you always did it after Ski Line Back, in the middle.
Adam Pickos 40:28
So it was one of those flips too where the transition that worked was kind of that first flip… so it wasn't a question of “Hey, this is a 50/50 or a 70/30”, it needed to be pretty solid. I mean there's still time, it’s still a difficult flip where you're still always learning a little bit and get into situations but yeah… that was that was incredible. After two and a half years after that. I said, “Okay, I can learn anything, I can do it. I may not love it. It may take a lot of time…” and going “yeah, I have to accept this. Dad was right again”.
Matteo Luzzeri 41:03
Ah, dad was right again… So okay, so let's flip the coin. What is your favorite trick? And it doesn't have to be a massive trick, like the trick that you absolutely love to do.
Cory Pickos 41:12
I think I kind of like Toe Wake Line Five (TWL5B). I like Seven front-to-front (W7F), but it was so hard to make consistent, but a great feeling when you get done. I even did a lot of Nine back-to-fronts (W9F), pass the handle the whole way, and yeah, and that was a lot of fun. But I liked all of them. What I liked best, I think, is when you're skiing really good before a tournament, and you're ripping it, and it's super fast. And you do like your whole toe pass and it feels like perfect timing with the rope where it's just tight the whole way, and it's fast and… you know, sometimes you can run 12,000 points, and it feels easier than 9000 points. For me, that was the most fun cuz sometimes you get on a roll where it just felt like unbelievable skiing. Super easy.
Matteo Luzzeri 42:06
Interesting, and I see how Adam was nodding when you said the 12 can feel easier than the 9, which to me is like absolutely impossible to understand. Chime in Adam, what does it mean?
Adam Pickos 42:19
It kind of, it means when everything's in line, everything's clicking, everything's working. You've probably heard a lot of trickers say that especially at the start of your first pass, and toes especially for us is getting in that rhythm from that very first trick from when we push off for me is Toe 7, every side slide, every 90 degrees,180, I'm clicking in. And sometimes it does feel after you hit every spot, you are light on the water and by the end, going “Oh, that was it”. And then sometimes you can do a toe pass where 20 seconds feels like 2 minutes, and you're fighting, and you never have the rope when you need it, and you're getting pulled down the lake and… you feel out of control.
Matteo Luzzeri 43:03
So it’s sort of like, maybe not even that trick specifically, although I'd be curious to hear yours if you have it, but sort of that feeling that the run clicks
Cory Pickos 43:12
Like Adam said, so much rhythm and timing and moving with the boat, working with the boat, advancing enough, but not too much. But yeah, landing and picking up and… just always moving with the boat where it feels like it's almost a tight line the whole way. But you're doing all these magical things throughout the run.
Adam Pickos 43:31
Yeah, so much timing in 20 seconds from the very start, the transitions keeping your hips up, keeping your arms in and, and body overs, you're jumping over the rope, starting and stopping, flips, you know, you're obviously landing sometimes half twists and you're coming front and going back into the next flip. So much can happen in these transitions but when you're dialed in, and it's all hitting and working perfectly. It can almost feel effortless.
Matteo Luzzeri 43:56
Yeah a sort of one trick follows the next naturally.
Adam Pickos 44:00
Yeah, exactly. My trick would be Toe Wake Line 5. Absolutely.
Matteo Luzzeri 44:06
That is a staple Pickos trick
Adam Pickos 44:08
Yeah. So cool, big and when you do it you feel good. You can see, you can spot your landing and when you land solid, yeah, it's just a great one. And that's generally the last trick of a toe pass. You have done something right if you land it. Then it's probably front flips because it took me so long but my heel side front flip, but really my toe side front flip. I think it's one of the coolest, coolest flips and everyone's got their own little unique flair to it, but I just love that feeling. And it is kind of supernatural to me now.
Matteo Luzzeri 44:47
So you learned heelside front flip first. What about toeside? Did that take a long time?
Adam Pickos 44:52
after, after learning the heelside and going through all of that?
Cory Pickos 44:56
He learned it really pretty fast
Adam Pickos 44:58
Really, really quick. Yeah, maybe a couple weeks, I kind of had the idea of where to load, what arms load, what direction to throw, and it felt very natural, just kind of a mirror image of it.
And I've always obviously followed my dad with toes. And so I love toes everything, but reverse half twist, land and a half twist land in the reverse back has always been one of my favorites. That came really natural quick to me and landing that reverse back and looking back and it's kind of a sticky solid landing. I have always enjoyed that.
Matteo Luzzeri 45:27
Yeah. That's cool. Nice. Okay, because continuing with these questions for the both of you guys. The tournament, you remember with the most pleasure, you know, the one that you think back like, wow, that was great?
Cory Pickos 45:46
I think probably in ‘81 in London when I won my first World Championship, because I think when you win a Worlds it's like “Did it, been there, the pinnacle of the sport.” The Worlds’ is the biggest tournament. So I feel like if you can win a World Championship, that's one of those great things you can't take away. And it is at a little bit higher level than even the Masters or the US Open was.
Matteo Luzzeri 46:16
give us the story. What was the format? It's still prelim and final?
Cory Pickos 46:20
Yeah, it was two rounds added together. It was added together, yeah. So I wanted to get a big lead. It was Patrice against myself. I had a small lead. And I went out last, it was televised. I was standing on the dock to go out in the finals. The television guy had a camera, right, like right on my chest in my face following me around and I was young and I'm like, kind of… move away. Patrice went out and stood it up, came back, father jumping into the boat, Patrice jumping, the whole thing. And I promise you they had 30 or 40 Frenchmen just completely surrounding me on the dock and “Patu, Patu, Patu!”. So I'm standing around with a million Frenchmen screaming on the dock and around. So it was all set up to put pressure on me…
Matteo Luzzeri 47:27
Cory Pickos 47:28
So I was so nervous, I was just freaking out. So I said “Well, the only way I can handle this is to go forward on both passes, and just go… because I didn't think with the nerves. At that time, I remember like “I'm kind of a little too nervous to be safe or whatever.” I just felt like the safest way for me was to really go for it, just go out. And I pretty much went all out. I think I tied the world record and I think it was 9940 at that point. And I remember doing a Seven back-to-back and I threw the handle, and it was I didn't have a hand on either the handle or the rope, and I caught it in the air, landed, and kept going. It's you know one of those moments. “Well,oh, oh, ohhh, okay, keep going”.
Matteo Luzzeri 48:18
What do they call them in wakeboarding, osmosis, right? I think it's part of a spin and Yeah, wow, that wasn't intentional! Who was pinning for you?
Cory Pickos 48:28
I think my father was at that point. I'm sure it was
Matteo Luzzeri 48:32
Even better. Yeah, even better. Yeah. And you won the Worlds. What happened the first hour afterwards? The first week…
Cory Pickos 48:40
I was young, I think it's just happy. It's one of those things. You're driving down the road and you're smiling for three weeks and you don't know why. You know, you're just… And I think stuff like that, too. It kind of builds. There's stress at first and you're really happy and it's kind of crazy, but I think over time you enjoy it more for those first two / three weeks
Adam Pickos 49:03
It grows every single day, every month. Until before the next Worlds. Two years later you start going “Okay I gotta get, I gotta think about this.” But yeah, it's fantastic!
Matteo Luzzeri 49:13
Well, you know something about it because you won two in a row, right? So which one was the best?
Adam Pickos 49:25
The first one. First one was Mexico, 2015. Wow, yeah, that's also one where we knew we were in the mix, but didn't quite have the score and you're kind of… you're super hopeful but you're okay with a podium kind of thing.
prelims I got...
Cory Pickos 49:45
Yeah let me tell it, quick start. So we did prelims and then we went into finals. Adam was second seed, Aliaksei was last out. In Chapala they had their little restaurant area with the television, everybody was pretty near the dock watching it and then the rest of the people were down in the middle of the course. So I was going back and forth watching every skier to try to get a feel of what it was going to take to win.
Matteo Luzzeri 50:13
I know that walk!
Cory Pickos 50:15
So back and forth, and looking and looking, and I got so lucky because the judges got behind and the new rule was catch up before the next athlete, you know how they? And so..
Matteo Luzzeri 50:30
No, What do you mean?
Cory Pickos 50:33
Well, I think it must have been Sedlmajer they had a problem and they were doing a score. I don't know, but anyways, they went…
Adam Pickos 50:40
You need to have the skier’s score before you, before you leave the dock. So I had to know the score to beat before I went.
Cory Pickos 50:47
But anyways, there was a three to five minute wait before Adam went. So then I hopped in the boat when they did the pass up and back - the simulation pass. In the simulation pass I heard everybody's score so I knew Sedlmajer tricked something like 11190 or whatever it was. And Adam had his front flip which was new in the hand pass and he had a harder toe pass, and an easier toe pass, because we were just in between moving up with harder runs but at that point, they were more difficult. So your percentage of killing it and being in time is less, so before I got left to the dock I told Adam “Okay, let's do easy toe pass, let's do front flip, let's do hard hand pass.” And so we came back and I didn't have time to tell Adam scores or anything so he did the easy toe pass and at the end I said: “I know Sedlmajer score. I don't think we try to beat Aliaksei straight up because he's got too many points. Let's move into first place now which could possibly be second. Let's do the easy hand pass and see if we can just go 11220.” So I said: “Are you good with that?” He said” Yeah, just tell me what to do.”
Adam Pickos 52:10
Literally while I was changing my ski sitting on the platform and he's like telling me all this. “Yeah, you good with that?” As if I was gonna say anything. I'm just like “I'm all in”.
Cory Pickos 52:21
“Just tell me what to do.” “Okay, that's what I think we should do. Let's do it.”
Matteo Luzzeri 52:24
So hold on like, you're in the boat. Like you decided to go in the boat for the simulation pass, leaving your athlete on the dock?
Cory Pickos 52:32
Matteo Luzzeri 52:25
Alright, ballsy choice!
Cory Pickos 52:34
Yeah, Javier and Al were there. But I figured it's nice to be… I just wanted to see, get in the boat and...
Adam Pickos 52:43
It’s always good to see the wakes and the table and make sure everything is good, where is the cameraman sitting, and how much gas...
Matteo Luzzeri 52:48
So were you good with that?
Adam Pickos 52:53
Yeah. At the time I was dialed in. Well, I don't think, I don't remember the timing exactly, but speaking of when you were saying how stressed out you were at the 1981 Worlds. Down in Guadalajara though, there's a lot of mineral sediments in the water, it’s super slippery. So a lot of us were wearing gloves or taping our feet. And so I have my foot taped and where I have gloves on I go to kind of… he's doing the simulation pass, I go, just kind of like, walk through and put my binding on... I realized that I taped the wrong foot! (laughs) It was honestly why I think I was able to snap out of it and ski so well because I didn't even realize how nervous I was. And so then it turned into like a partial laugh, really stressed out, and I was just “Scissors, tape!” and so we're cutting, ripping stuff off my foot. I'm taping my other foot and I didn't even didn't even have time to think or anything. So the whole time he's gone doing that I'm retaping the correct foot and getting my life together.
Matteo Luzzeri 53:56
Yeah exactly, you had something to do
Cory Pickos 53:58
We always kind of had a team. I've skied with Javi for 20 years, and then my friend Al from England and stuff... So I always have three, four people kind of block and hang around. And they know, you know, if people are getting in your space or whatever, to kind of, kind of watch the athlete.
Matteo Luzzeri 54:17
See, and I think that's…. well, I'll save this thought. Let's continue. So you what did you end up scoring?
Cory Pickos 54:26
11220 I think?
Adam Pickos 54:28
11220 and we got back to the dock and someone had a walkie talkie and we watched Aliaksei, he went down, and they called my score and I had just moved just ahead of Sedlmajer, I think he was Yeah, I don't know under 100 points, whatever. So I knew I was second. I watched Aliaksei go out, he went down. And you're still waiting for it to be official and true.
Cory Pickos 54:57
Everybody else screamed because we have so many friends and all the Mexican were like “ Whoa!!”, you know, and somebody came to me “Oh, you're so rude and you cheered, and when he went down!”, and I'm like: “I didn't say a word. That was everybody else”. And believe me, I'm not counting any win until we win, until the pink sweets come back. And Aliaksei is so good. I'm not really sure whether you know the last trick or two was enough or not.
Matteo Luzzeri 55:24
Right, right.
Cory Pickos 55:27
But then everybody's like “You won, you won” and you're like “You want to think you won but you don't want to think you won until…”
Matteo Luzzeri 55:32
Yeah, you've been to a few trick tournaments to know…
Adam Pickos 55:39
But it was incredible. The amount of people that came down, congratulations, we did tequila shots. The worst thing after elevation, you go, ski... Tequila shots, my throat burned for 30 minutes after, that was a terrible idea. But we went back, we were staying with friends. Right in Chapala and we had Mariachi band. We had parties...
Cory Pickos 56:01
We got a band. We had a party at the house. Dave Goode was there, a lot of people. Kris LaPoint, just a lot of people from the US team. Just friends. People that weren't skiing in the finals on Sunday. But we had fun.
Adam Pickos 56:19
And back to it getting better, that first night where we had the Mariachi. I was so exhausted from all the nerves and the stress and the talk and everything all day. I left the party at nine o'clock. I was like “Man I am out, I gotta go”. And then that's where I think, yeah, we kind of figured out you know, two weeks later, three weeks later, six months later, we're joking “When's the World Champion skiing today?” “Yeah, me? I got that”
Matteo Luzzeri 56:43
You know, what I find amazing, especially because I’ve asked it before and maybe we'll dive in a little bit more. But you both talked about this tournament as “we”
Cory Pickos 56:54
That’s interesting.
Matteo Luzzeri 56:57
You said “we like we were on the dock.”,“We, we knew the score.”, “We had to do this”, you know? That's pretty cool
Adam Pickos 57:02
Yeah. Psychologist?
Matteo Luzzeri 57:04
Yeah, maybe a little bit
Adam Pickos 57:08
That is good!!
Matteo Luzzeri 57:08
No, but I think you know, going back to the fact that you guys managed to make it work as being parent and son, and coach and athlete. I mean, that's probably why it works. You see it as a joint adventure.
Adam Pickos 57:19
Yeah. No, it's so true and someone told me “It takes, at that level, for things to work out, it takes equilibrium. And that's from the environment, home, your performance”. See, everything plays a factor in your performance at that time and level and I think equilibrium is true. I mean, you're in a really good place, full of trust and coach and skier and you have your game plan and you can attack with confidence. That's what you're there to do. There's no other things in your head. You're not trying to do anything else, and that's when, you're your best.
Matteo Luzzeri 57:55
And I like how you say you always have a great group of people, maybe it's a good time to give some shout outs. It's beyond the two of you that “we”, right? So who else has been key?
Cory Pickos 58:09
Yeah. Javi and Al… there's been so many I don't even know. And it seems like every four or five or six or seven years, it changes to, you know, how you have that cycle of people, staff and people that have been around a lot.
Adam Pickos 58:26
And you're really comfortable with and spend a lot of time obviously, thanks to the ski school, a lot of the same skiers in and out, and it becomes a big family.
Matteo Luzzeri 58:35
Yeah. It’s always clear when you see the Pickos guys showing up. I love it. It's a good, tight group of people. You know, you care about the 2000 point skier that came to ski with you a month ago, nearly as much as the 11,000 point tricker, and I think it speaks a lot about what you guys do here.
Adam Pickos 58:52
Matteo Luzzeri 58: 55
Adam, anyone (apart obviously from dad) that you may think had an influence on you, at some point in your career?
Adam Pickos 59:01
I remember growing up and Martin and I, we have skied together forever. Martin Kolman. We push each other. I remember every final of the Masters, Worlds, etc., back and forth, back and forth. I always grew up with kind of an older crowd. I remember skiing against Jason McClintock, Pipe, and guys here that are always, always pushing, you're kind of watching and competing and, you see, you are good friends off the water, you're going “Okay, what are they doing here? How can I…” So it's just an evolution, people are kind of coming and going but you're always picking up, you're always competing, you always have that one person that's pushing you, getting it, forcing you to be a little bit better.
Matteo Luzzeri 59:48
Yeah. So like those people pushing you… anyone that you look up to?
Adam Pickos 59:55
My dad honestly from the most part, yeah..
Cory Pickos 1:00:00
Yeah, but even in the early days, I was still skiing, you were skiing, Javi was skiing, Kolman was skiing, Pipe was skiing, I don't know, a million other people... And it was such a good environment of everybody getting along, but everybody's pushing everybody else, but it's competitive, but everybody wants to win. So we were definitely in a fantastic environment..
Matteo Luzzeri 1:00:23
Yeah. So it almost becomes hard to point one
Cory Pickos 1:00:26
And people come and it might come for three months or whatever but all those people all along, because everybody does something really good or not as good or, you know what I mean? And, all those people always have opinions and they always say something and it doesn't matter who it is. It could be the least likely person you would think would come up with something that's really brilliant or good.
..but it seems like it always happens. Nobody knows it all. And for sure I don't, and that's why I really like to hear and listen a different point of view or something. And Tanguy Benet was here a lot too, so I would watch, Tanguy would hop in the boat... Javi would hop in the boat... Martin would hop in the boat... and so it didn't get stale either.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:01:22
Basically it sounds that for you Adam as a skier or you Cory as a coach, that you were surrounded by colleagues or competitors… you've always had an opportunity to learn. Which is pretty cool.
Adam Pickos 1:01:36
Yeah, absolutely. And it's so true growing up, that kind of sparked skiing. I remember my skiing was always fairly first, but that was always like “Oh, you gotta get out, you got to ski” and then Javi would ski, and it would just kind of go down the line. For me, watching was “ Okay, you gotta do it this way. You got to train, you got to take a little time out for yourself. You got to make sure you get your training in” and I'd go to the Masters or these places and I watched them compete. And they'd make finals and everything and I’d be going “Oh, that's pretty cool gig, I need to follow. I need to follow that.”
Matteo Luzzeri 1:02:08
Because you would always end up finding there those who you were skiing with. I can see that.
Cory Pickos 1:02:13
So it's kind of funny cuz myself and Javi and the group, we'd be skiing in the Masters. And then I retired, and then Javi was skiing, and Adam was getting out of juniors, but we're looking at Adam going “How is he going to qualify for Open?” You know, when you're 18 it seems impossible. And then 19 and then 20. I don't know how many years it took two, three, but for a little while, you're going you know, 10 800, to 10 900, to 11200, 11 400., you know, it almost seems impossible. And then the next year, you're that much closer, then the next year you're in, and the next year you're worried about being in, and the next year you're easily in. But at each stage, you're going to wonder if this is going to happen and seems really hard.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:03:01
Yeah, no, I feel you. And I think it's funny how those steps work and then you almost take them for granted. Like, I remember the first time I made my Pro final, I kicked Aaron Larkin out of the final which, you know, imagine… and the guy shook my hand and basically half-destroyed it and said, “Hey, enjoy today because from now on, you're gonna expect to be in the final, expect to be on the podium…” Then you know, you get that first taste, then you really want it again. Which brings me to you, Adam. So you win Worlds, the first six months after… “ Oh, the World Champion is about to ski” and then gets to the next year. And then the next year is Worlds… How was that?
Adam Pickos 1:03:42
And there definitely is that little bit of a slump talking about expectations. I won the Worlds and 2016 I just remember thinking “ Woa, a whole year ago, I'll never do it again!”, but it seemed really hard. And I think that's exactly what it is. It was my expectation after that was so high, and I was always thinking about being on my perfect tournament form and when I was in peak performance and I never got myself to that spot, and so I don't know was struggling but then 2017 was unreal and it actually takes me back to 2015 I won the Pan Am Games in Toronto as well as the worlds and I think that was the year in Masters where I messed up on Ski Line 5 front, i think, i think if I'm remembering correctly but anyway that leads me to 2017. It's worlds here I'm gonna start out strong it was the world games here as well in Poland and so okay, I have the Masters, I'm going through my my list and pulling the World Games was behind the Bösch, the wooden, yeah, yeah. Yep, so I Giannina Bonnemann and I, we skied a lot with her here and she's from Germany. So “hey, G, can I can I, you know, tag along and ski up with you in Germany and then I'll cruise along over to Poland with you.” “Sure.” So I took probably a week, went and skied, trained... major. I was dialed in, get to Poland the whole thing...
Matteo Luzzeri 1:05:23
Sorry, so you found the Bösch in Germany to train behind?
Adam Pickos 1:05: 24
I did, I did. And my though when I saw it was like” You gotta be kidding!” Yeah, but then we get to Poland and I freaking fell in my first trick of my hand run. So I'd spent a whole week and all that training, all geared up, ready to go... first trick. Swimming in… okay. Either this is gonna make my year of like, it's telling me what my year is gonna be or this is my chance to learn from it and change it
Matteo Luzzeri 1:05:54
Almost a wake up call
Adam Pickos 1:05:55
Absolutely. And from then, ski line five front... And it was that same trick at the Masters I was like “not again.” So I learned it, and then went to Paris and had the turn my life again and won the second championship in a row.
I was stoked. Can't believe it, that was fun.
Cory Pickos 1:06:14
Yeah, that was really fun. No, it was another close one. Adam was training really good in practice. Yeah. And skied really good in tournament. But Josh ran 11440. Adam ran 11 570 and Aliaksei ski line back to back was just a couple of frames out. So I mean, that's how close it was again,
Matteo Luzzeri 1:06:39
and you were top seeding that time?
Cory Pickos 1:06:39
you were second again, weren't you? I think… No, no, you were like seventh? Yeah.
Adam Pickos 1:06:44
yeah, I had a rough prelims and kind of just made it through that played... That was tough conditions, and it was really cold in the finals, which coming from Florida, flying over there and going “whoah, again..”
Matteo Luzzeri 1:06:55
Santa Rosa to Paris? Yeah, you know. So yeah, I'm guessing in completely different approach like you don't know, like you don't know who is coming after you... So what was it like? Balls out or was there a strategy?
Cory Pickos 1:07:10
A percentage game again 11 570 seemed like the highest score with the best percentage the most likely to win. So rather than go 11 870 or something, we're like “tough conditions but I think it's going to take this.” So at Paris, I think from day one “was we're going to run 11 570 in the finals and if that's good or second or whatever it is, we're going to be happy with it, but that's what we can do right now.”
Well that felt like it was the best decision
Matteo Luzzeri 1:07:43
Yeah, it clearly worked!
Adam Pickos 1:07:44
Yep. And that was the game plan. Finals went out and because of the variables whether the factory I definitely had this more aggressive “if I'm going to do this and get through both runs and trick 11 570” which is kind of picture perfect, minus a little the garbage at both ends that's what what my runs were worth that's what the goal was let's go out and attack, and sure enough 11 570 and gosh I remember getting back to the dock just going nuts super excited and then they released the score and there was some timing issues and the... my they said my mobe was out of time right yeah, and so we went from this super super high to this just devastating low we sat there for it seemed like I don't know two days in 30 minutes just sitting there going that doesn't make sense in your in your mind as a skier as a coach you kind of have an internal clock of “Okay, that might have been close but that seemed alright, like, we were in it and that the first score that came out was the correct score”. And, and so we're walking back it was a long it seemed a quarter mile kind of thing around the lake. And all of a sudden people start coming up and “Hey, your score change and you’re back in the lead!” “What, what?” and so we ran around like chickens for forever, and Yeah sure enough the scores kind of evened out there was all the good old protests and everything, but came out on top 11 570. We went, did what we set out to do. Picture perfect. Had family, friends there being in France, Patrice came and gave a big hug… And all of their history. It was incredible.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:09:18
Yeah, yeah what a moment
Cory Pickos 1:09:20
For us to win in France... That's like doing it the right way.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:09:25
Yeah, I guess. Yeah. I guess. And yeah. Nice. And so Mexico podium was: you, Sledge and you remember third?
Cory Pickos 1:09:37
Josh? I think Josh. I think was Adam, Josh and Aliaksei.
Adam Pickos 1:09:44
Yep, that sounds about right.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:09:47
Okay. big names.
Adam Pickos 1:09:50
I'd have to I'd have to look at that to see. But yeah,
Matteo Luzzeri 1:09:51
yeah, cuz the reason why I'm asking you is that obviously there has been a trend in tricks particularly in the women's side, but we're seeing the men's side as well. Of... I don't want to say a resurgence of what you, Cory experienced, but there's a lot of young, like really young kids that are really good really early in tricks. What's going on? What do you guys think?
Cory Pickos 1:10:10
I think it's a different focus. Like with Adam, the scores were lower and the young kids weren't learning flips as young. I spent a lot more time on traditional movement with Adam as far as rotation and technique and good toes and a lot of toes and a lot of speed and a lot of just traditional skiing. And Adam, when he was eight and nine... I didn't feel like he was ready to learn flips... he was ready the way he rode a ski, but I don't think he wanted to do it. So I waited a little longer till he was like 11. And then he learned flip, flip. We did about 100 of each and then a couple months later, we learned half twist half twist. So... and like little Jake is fantastic. He did the gymnastic thing and Pato with Sergio have been very dialed in. And he's super talented and consistent and fast. So I think it's just an evolution of the sport. And so what Adam did what we did with Adam at the time, I don't think was wrong, but I think today with are doing with young kids, is just different. Yeah. And I think you can end up in the same place 12,000 points, but we weren't necessarily trying to be the highest points, the fastest crate, you know, I mean, they're doing it with a different way.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:11:42
Yeah, I think you said it perfectly like this. You are at the forefront of this sport at your time, but then obviously, things change over time, you know, and your ability to adapt. And you know, obviously you didn't grow up in it. You know, like I'm sure when the flips came about there were young kids that were doing the flips and you Corey had to learn them already at a later age. So that makes a lot of sense, makes a lot of sense. And he started in the women really, you know, like with Anna and Neilly, you know, ya know,
Cory Pickos 1:12:17
Yeah I know for sure. And Erica.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:12:19
Yeah,it's interesting. Now you're seeing it a little bit in the men as well.
Adam Pickos 1:12:23
it's all kind of like snowboarding, surfing and all that... it just seems to be the earlier they are learning flips, they're skipping... They're not skipping, they are using more than basic tricks. They're either not learning or, you know, focusing on a lot less. They're going straight to ski lines, flips toe lines, just the higher value. And, again, I don't know if it's right or wrong, but they are spending even more time on those bigger tricks, and they learn them just as well versus learning maybe the solid foundation of knowing every trick. And spending less than those big tricks.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:12:55
Yeah, makes sense. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And I think, I wonder because that trend, we started seeing in the freestyle sports as you said, like in the 2000s, right? We'd like 16 year old snowboarders 15 year old skateboarders that were just ripping like crazy. And I wonder if it's something like, you realize it's possible. You know what I mean?
Cory Pickos 1:13:15
Yeah. And not not only is it possible, it's proven to be possible if you want to be best. And I mean, that's the path forward to high performances early. And in like Adam said, Adam, when he was I don't know 9-10-11. He was doing wake seven back to back and reverse and all these tricks that really these guys aren't learning instead of spending time doing that they're learning flippin whatever.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:13:40
Yeah. Different approach. Yeah, and yet Tricks is not a freestyle sport. So you know, like, yeah, you can learn, and obviously you can speak to that. Going just to learn the big tricks isn't the way to become a great trick skier. It's like putting them in a run, does the run make sense. That's this connection. I would almost venture to say that you spend more time learning to connect to tricks, rather than learning the trick itself. Right? So, but, but yet we see those young kids that are so young pushing it, it's super interesting to me, you know.
Adam Pickos 1:14:13
Constantly working on transitions, and that's half of it, you could learn the trick hundred percent of the time, but as soon as you have to put a trick before it or in the trick after it, the learning process can start all over again.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:14:24
Right, right. Here's something that I'm interested in and I guess maybe because I've gotten more into it in my own skiing: equipment. So as you know, like slalom, like it's a bit of design, everyone knows everything and nobody knows anything. You know, like, let's try to figure it out. What is the role of skis in tricks? What do you think like, if you haven't got in like a bad ski and you're like, Ah, that's, you know.
Cory Pickos 1:14:51
I think slalom at the higher speeds: It's so important to have the equipment absolutely perfect. I think at the with tracks you have a little bigger you have a much bigger ski, more surface area much slower speeds and similar shapes and flexes and everything so I think the really much better or really much worse, I think they're all better or worse, but in the same general area easier than a good slalom ski or not a good slalom ski.
Adam Pickos 1:15:26
Tricks just by less variance and a lot of it is your your style of skiing 100% makes a difference of how aggressive you are, speeds, rope lengths
Cory Pickos 1:15:38
I think you can go in trick from a d3 hard edge trick to replacing with the next one and if you feel it's the same a little stiffer a little quicker whatever but but it's not like two slalom skis are never the same.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:15:55
Yeah, yeah. And I think and you know, you know it as coaching obviously Adam, you got to a very good slalom level. So you know that like, skis are different. And then it becomes that sort of mental aspect of like, do I trust my ski? You know, that's why you see a lot of skiers going back to that faithful one from three years ago that maybe it's worse and it's a little soft, but you know that you know that you trust the ski. And I was just curious to hear if that's the same tricks, but you know, the fact that it is, or not as much maybe… I guess it helps, it takes a variable away, right?
Adam Pickos 1:16:28
Yep, No, definitely not as much. I think it's definitely more consistent and the ski companies getting so good at giving out really, really consistent skis, maybe a little bit in toes every once in a while something feels a little a little different here and there, but it's nothing that you can’t adjust. Probably bindings, I'm on rubber. Wiley bindings good old school style there. And if anything, the difference comes from binding stretching out skiing when it's 60 degrees versus when it's 90 degrees in Florida and that rubber gets really soft, but the skis are technically really sound and pretty consistent.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:17:05
Interesting. Interesting. Sweet. So hold on, I strangely enough has some notes. So let me see how we're doing on my notes. Dadada, That too, okay, well simple one: PB’s, what is your PB’s?
Adam Pickos 1:17:25
How would you start?
Cory Pickos 1:17:28
My PB is 11 920 and it would have been over 12 with my normal toe pass, but my knee was a little bit sore and I was like, I'm just gonna like…. so my high score is 11 920
Adam Pickos 1:17:43
And mine is 11 870. Way too close for it not to have switched by now, but this is the year, I said that last year, but this is truly the year. (laughs) Yeah it’s happening.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:18:00
So yeah, there's that 50 points... which a side slide is 40... So you can’t even claim like he's a trick above you. You know, it's like,
Adam Pickos 1:18:08
No, exactly. It's enough where I have to have to find some speed, replace a trick. Yeah, but we will be there. And yeah, and slalom. Like you said, I've gotten through 39, once, had my handfuls of fours, fives but wanted 1@41 Yeah, that was a treat.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:18:31
Well, I mean, surprisingly, we hit a lot of the notes. I never take notes like I just talk, but like, no, we're doing good. One of the other things I wanted to talk about is: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. This ski school that we're talking from, you know, you were mentioning how a lot of coaches a lot of athletes, you are them growing up with them. You Cory been surrounded by like, clearly they got attacked by this place, so I'd be curious to hear how this came about, like from you, Wisconsin moving to Florida.
Cory Pickos 1:19:06
Yeah, magical place. I actually ran a ski school in Eagle Lake, out of my parents house and got married and continued. Then I got a lease on two lakes just west Boca in Parkland. And was there for two years. I had lease it was in a park system. The environmental more or less shut us down. Not that we're doing anything really wrong, but it's just park system. And so I knew of this site up here in Santa Rosa Beach. And so I called the owner and said, Hey, I'm looking for a place, I didn't want to go back to public waterways, all that kind of stuff. And he said, Yeah, come on up. And so I moved up here started the ski school, 28 years later, I started off, after probably less than 10 years but I bought a lake and a half and then bought another half a lake. So that's two lakes then I just recently bought lake three and it's pretty cool, because Santa Rosa Beach is on like an island that's 27 miles long. The widest point is like three miles you have the bay on one side you have the most beautiful white sand beaches on the other you have a harbor a little inner coastal, and we're one mile from the beach and when the waves are big, you can sit here at ski school and hear the the waves break. And it's a real cool thing be you know, you are skiing and you fall in the water and then you can hear the the waves breaking and surf… it’s cool.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:20:43
Yeah, yeah. And you have that sort of contrast. I'm guessing you know, too windy to ski today. Let's go surf. You know, like, that's pretty cool.
Cory Pickos 1:20:49
Yeah, no, no, it's really it's fantastic. Beautiful area!
Matteo Luzzeri 1:20:52
When you got here 28 years ago. What was the place looking like did they already have one Lake, two lakes? homes? no homes?
Cory Pickos 1:21:00
They were just finishing the third lake that I moved here in January 1st 92. In 91 they had Southern regionals here. I believe 92 and 93 they had nationals and then with and then 96 they had nationals and US Open here. …but when I moved here it was like in the middle of nowhere it felt like the country and there was four houses, now there's probably 30-some houses out here and the whole place is grown up, incredibly - so you leave the lakes and everywhere you go, there's just restaurants, stores...
Adam Pickos 1:21:41
Biggest tourist spots in the nation. You got Panama City on one side Destin on the other. Pensacola huge Air Force bases, shopping, fishing, anything you could possibly imagine. And it sounds like 91/92 when you move to there was you could drive down the road, main highway and see the beach the whole way. Things have changed quite a bit.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:22:03
Wow. So do you... I mean, did you have second thoughts?
Cory Pickos 1:22:10
No, I moved here and then and I was told rose Well, I mean, this is our option right now let's go do it for a year or two. And if if we don't like her for it doesn't work out. We'll head back to Central Florida. One year turns into two and yeah, this will be our 29th season.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:22:24
Wow. So Adam was already born when you moved here,
Cory Pickos 1:22:26
Adam, we moved here January 1st, just because I thought might as well move on to new year it's, you know, clean. So Adam was three months old. We moved here in January 1st 1992.
Adam Pickos 1:22:41
All I remember, waking up every single day and boats running on both sides. My elementary school went a little further, it was like 15 minutes. My middle school, high school is five, seven minutes away. This has been my little community. That's all I know. Yeah.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:23:02
Not a bad place to grow up seems like? You know like beach, waterskiing good weather, you know like not a crowded city where you know you can get lost
Cory Pickos 1:23:12
And it's all a little beach cities and towns all up and down and really nice little restaurants and really quaint place.Yeah, just beautiful area..
Adam Pickos 1:23:22
Yeah.. we still get the seasons, we still get that a little bit of the cold ,a couple you know, it'll touch on freezing and not quite as hot as central Florida, South Florida. So we kind of have that nice little change as well. Absolutely love it.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:23:38
Nice, nice. And you obviously organized here quite a few tournaments over the years. Any highlights? I mean, obviously, everyone that has been here at your your ski school has seen the sign with the world records and you know...
Cory Pickos 1:23:52
yeah, yeah, I forget the number exactly, but we have more world records set on on our site. than any other. We've had a lot a lot of success with World overall champions and World Champions at juniors under 21, Open and we held two Pan American championships that were fantastic. This year we're going to hold our first World Championships which is definitely a bucket list. So we're holding up under 17 junior World Championships third week of August. And I have to give Nautique a big shout out and a huge thanks for their support with the ski school and the World Championships. And they're going to help me do everything they can to make sure we have a great event.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:24:39
Nice. When is that going to be?
Cory Pickos 1:24:41
Third week of august
Matteo Luzzeri 1:24:42
Third week of august nice first Worlds here in Santa Rosa. That's awesome!
Adam Pickos 1:24:48
Thank you. We've done the Panam Championships, but this is the first global event where we're hoping 25 plus countries and all the athletes they can come get our taste of paradise and see why we, you know, talk and rant and rave about just always wanting to be home and live in our little lifestyle? We really enjoy it.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:25:08
Yeah, that's cool. And obviously, I'm glad, you know, as a, as an athlete as a fan of the sport that is happening on a good site, you know, because we, you know, you mentioned it, like, you know, the worlds are not always on a good site, you know, so and, you know, some, some people believe is the biggest tournament in the world. So you work for two years because even the juniors the under 21 ones, they're all every other year. And you get to work two years for this thing and you show up and the lake is nice, it’s a different experience, right?
Cory Pickos 1:25:38
Yeah, yeah, scores should be high. And the good thing is, you don't have the odd fall mistakes, something because the conditions. When the conditions are good. You can go to World Tournament you ski good or not ski good, but you don't have a lot of excuses of why besides, maybe you didn't ski as good as you can, but a lot of times recently we've been to the tougher sites - that's hard man because it's it's a flip of the coin, whether you're gonna have better conditions or worse, and it works your brain in and then it doesn't.
Adam Pickos 1:26:14
There's so many variables and an outdoor sport, obviously, with your own equipment with the boat and then the wind and rain and rollers. And yeah, having it here, we have been able to limit a few of those. Yeah, you know, control a few if you can.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:26:28
I think, I think that's my personal opinion. But like, I think a lot of times organizers of tournaments put us in some sites, under the excuse of you know, it's outdoor sport these conditions... but there's conditions and conditions, right. I mean, when shows up midway through series one, you sort of suck it up and say okay, well that's that's what it is. But if it's, you know, a log or you know, freaking you know, a cruise ship goes by or a dishwasher floats in the middle of the lake, you know What's going on? You know, I'm glad I'm glad for the sport and for these kids that they get to do a worlds on a solid site, you know?
Adam Pickos 1:27:10
it's gonna be awesome. And we're gonna, I mean, we know what it's capable of. And we're looking forward to PB’s and World records and just an amazing competition juniors that we're going to be watching for the next who knows how many years
Matteo Luzzeri 1:27:25
.. that's awesome. And then obviously, I guess the fact that it's, you know, a fairly touristy area so accommodations shouldn't be that big of a deal and you know, like
Cory Pickos 1:27:29
yeah, we're it's really cool. We're doing four miles away a big Hilton on the beach with three huge pools and ice cream shop and the beach is right behind and it's going to be just I think, for the people coming: it'll be a fantastic experience.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:27:46
Yeah, yeah. Cuz I think people sometimes forget you know it, but like, this is a family sport. So you know, for every Junior there's going to come here you're gonna have two extra people that are adults that are obviously involved in bringing in, but you know, one thing you're in Santa Rosa and under thing you are in the middle of a cornfield. And this comes from a guy that has a ski school in a cornfield. I say it's cool that you know there's gonna be a good, good trip for everyone.
Adam Pickos 1:28:10
Yeah, that's cool makes a difference to as an as an athlete and like you said family dude, when you it's, it's always been good for us when we go to a place to have have an escape to be able to run to your hotel room, cool off, to get some food if you need to some AC versus sometimes somebody sites you're stuck out there and you're just kind of not only dealing with everything but then you're hot and tired and you just want to you know, a nice glass of water and…
Matteo Luzzeri 1:28:35
… and those tournaments where you're sitting in the car until your turn. That's that's probably one of the challenges in some are in in our sport, right. Like we're all transitioning to smaller lakes, sometimes in the middle of nowhere and you know, like you sort of you want the conditions, you know, but it's cool that here you have so much around you know, that's awesome. Nervous at all?
Cory Pickos 1:28:57
No, it is stressful. The site, we've held enough tournaments where the lakes are good, the courses are good, the ramp is good everything all that is pretty easy for us. It's it's the opening ceremonies and the banquet and you have to do all the meals, that lunch for officials and athletes. So it's the extra stuff, you have to do that, I think is just more work.
Adam Pickos 1:29:27
It's the event planning that's outside of our comfort zone and you want people to come and have absolute the best experience. So you set the expectations high, but it's it's it's all falling in line. But there's definitely, you have to start and give yourself time and work through all of the kinks.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:29:46
Yeah, I would agree. Like we did Junior works at our site 10 years ago. And I always say I mean, I was young, not Junior, but like I was helping organizing and I remember the challenge was the extra stuff, right? The opening, the closing, where are they gonna go? They were they have to close the street cuz they're walking and you know, all these extra stuff that you don't think about in a regular tournament, you know?
Cory Pickos 1:30:05
Yeah, even just parking!
Matteo Luzzeri 1:30:09
Parking, yeah!
Cory Pickos 1:30:10
And you have no control over the weather. I mean, we could have the most brilliant month of weather absolutely perfect. And you don't know the day at the tournament could be a thunderstorm and rain and wind.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:30:20
Right, right. And it's and people are gonna have to ski, people are gonna have to park. People are gonna have to eat a lot of variables that you have to control. Well, guys, I don't know. Should we call it? What do you think?
Cory Pickos 1:30:36
I think so. Thanks. Thanks so much for your time and the effort and supporting and pushing and helping the sport of waterskiing. I think it's great. I think we all need to do it.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:30:49
Thank you, appreciate it!
Cory Pickos 1:30:50
I think everybody should go out and buy a new ski boat and a new ski and a new vest and let's let's help our boat companies and equipment companies and everything and let's let's bring everybody and push everybody along and...
Adam Pickos 1:30:59
..keep growing this Sport.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:31:00
Yeah, that's, that's why I started this. You know, like, that's one of the funny things I've been saying with others as well. It's funny how, as skiers, we have that connection. Right? Like so. Um, you meet someone in the supermarket you find out they are a skier... immediate trust, right. And I think is that the strength of that passion. So naturally, you want others to have it? You know, you want others to have it. Anything. We didn't touch on something, some shoutouts anything you guys wanted to say. We didn't say?
Adam Pickos 1:31:29
I think I’m set. I think it was fun. Yeah, no, I appreciate it. Sweet. Should we offer some lunch? Let's do let's do it. Let's go to the fresh group on the beach. Awesome.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:31:34
Should we have some lunch? Thank you guys. Appreciate it. This was fun.
Cory Pickos 1:31:40
Thank you.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:31:42
Wow, that was awesome, yeah!?
Adam Pickos 1:31:42
that was awesome.