Ever wonder what's playing in the head of slalom's most colorful character?
Jamie Beauchesne's pop-up camper sits 60 feet from the shoreline of No Wake Lake in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. It's a tiny dwelling, but it's all he really needs for shelter and a good night's sleep. The 31-year-old champion slalom skier and New Hampshire native is extremely resourceful, and he's never been one to place much value on material things. A paltry $23 a month covers his propane costs and powers his stove and fridge. He bathes under a solar shower bag, which hangs from a small tree next to his temporary home. And its 2.5 gallons are plenty for him.
The Masters is 25 days away, and Beauchesne's skiing is unreal, despite his usual late start to the competitive season. The snow was exceptionally good to him this year, and it was difficult for him to leave the mountains. But when the month of April arrived, you couldn't find a more committed athlete. He realized that the season ahead might be his toughest yet, but he's confident in both his ability and his new Connelly ski.
But besides his unflinching dedication to pushing himself to new levels of performance in the slalom course, what is truly interesting about this elite-level athlete is his playful sense of humor and his random acts of wackiness. Take, for example, his willingness to live in a van for weeks at a time, driving to Florida unannounced and surprising fellow pro Chris Rossi with a fireworks display in his room at 3 a.m. or climbing the roof of his hotel the night before a pro final. With Beauchesne, you never really know what you're going to get.
Waterski: Done anything crazy lately?
Beauchesne: I punched myself right in the private zone a few days ago. I broke the rope coming out of one ball at 35 off, and my hands had to go somewhere with all of the tension in the line suddenly gone. I realized how strong I am, because my unit was numb for a few hours. Not a good way to start a morning. It was horrible!
It's widely known that you like to make up crazy songs about your life in some of the messages you leave your friends. Have you always been musically inclined?
Ever since I got a drum set a year ago, I hear music in my head. I have dreams of someday, probably when I'm 86, playing in a band with some of my older friends.
What's a possible name for your band?
The Beauchetts. Or maybe Bobby Booshay and the Beauchetts.
Why did you decide to start your season in northern Georgia this year?
It's a place that is a lot like where I'm from in New Hampshire. There's a lot to do besides skiing. The climbing and mountain biking are exceptionally good. Plus, the first two U.S. pro events of the year are in Georgia, so why not? I'll be back home by the middle part of June.
You document your training and tournament sets in a journal. How long have you been doing this, and how does it help your skiing?
I've been doing it as long as I remember. It's something that my dad did with his snow skiing when I was growing up. He could look back and count all of the days that he had on the mountain. For me, it helps me understand where I'm at with my progress from year to year. I document when I start the season, the conditions I ski in, my buoy count, my fin settings and what I'm feeling on the water. It's a good motivator, too. It's like, “S*&#, I've been running this amount of buoys for this long — what the hell is my problem?”
When did you start the season this year?
Uh, maybe April 5 or something. I can't remember … guess I should check my journal.
What question do your fans ask you the most?
That would be: “Are you going to run 41? Are you going to run 41? Are you going to run 41?”
So, are you going to run it?
This year was the most amazing preseason I've had. I ran 41 off on my 13th set of the year. It's the result of believing in what I was doing. My philosophy in the early part of the season is I'm not going to shorten it if I'm not going to run it. Instead of looking at things in a traditional way — like 41 is so short –— I've changed my outlook on the pass. I'm like, “I can go shorter than that.” Thinking outside the box is how you're going to break down those walls.
For as consistent as you are in competition, you must really hate to lose.
I don't hate to lose. I hate not skiing to my average. You know, falling around four ball is sub par for me. It's great to win tournaments, but it's better to win through a battle and not win an easy victory. I want to win when my competitors are skiing their best.
You've skied at lakes throughout the world. Where's your favorite watering hole?
Anywhere in the Northeast. The water is clean and it's not stagnant. I can get a gulp of it at each end with no worries. I especially like skiing with my dad on Rocky Pond in Loudon, New Hampshire.
What's your best advice for the up-and-comer who wants to ski professionally?
Shoot for a goal higher than you ever thought possible. Look outside the box. Have a goal that's really high, but also have some more achievable goals along the way. Also, be real with yourself.
How does today's competition compare to your early days on tour more than a decade ago?
When I think back to skiing years ago, I'm sorry, but the competition wasn't as strong. One full season of competition now is a lot more demanding. There are a few different skiers now who can legitimately run 41 off. To have to run a piece of four at 41 off to win a tournament, that's huge. Skiing against guys like [Chris] Parrish, Will Asher, Thomas Degasperi — and to come out on top — that's where it's at. But you just have to peck away at it, really. It's all about one buoy, one pass, one step at a time. I just try to enjoy the ride.
What is your philosophy on your training at the peak of the tournament season?
When you ski every day of the week, you're getting weak — and that's the way you'll perform. Your body needs to rest. I'm going to ski smarter this year — listen to my body. I don't want to train my muscles to run 3 at 41. I want to go out there fresh and run 41 off and then run 3 at 43. I might not ski as much this season, but I'm going to be a lot stronger when I do. I feel like I've refined my art to a good point, so I don't have to be on the water as much as someone who's 15 years old.
What do you want to accomplish on the water this season?
My goal is to win every tournament I enter and to ski more buoys than anyone has ever skied. My biggest advantage is experience. I've been doing this for a long time.
Has your tournament strategy changed over the course of your career?
For years, I was a slalom robot — just really trying to focus in. But now, I'm having more fun. When I joke around and let some of that energy go, I'm able to ski better. Hopefully it's not at anyone's expense. I'm definitely having more fun now.
Describe your most memorable tournament moment.
Running 41 off in France [Malibu Open, July 2007]. It felt more like a practice set. I was relaxed and just went out there and had fun.
You must be excited about your new signature ski, the Connelly Prophecy. How would you describe the way it rides?
It's a knify, carvy, edgy, groovy ride with a big sweet spot. It feels like I can hang 10 on it. The tip has a really good feel to it when I get on the front of the ski. I'm proud to have
my initials on this ski, and I think it will reflect in my skiing.
Any final thoughts?
I'm stoked to be a water skier and to be where I am from water skiing. We obviously don't make the money that other pro athletes do, but I'm grateful for every cent I've made. Life is good.