Power, performance and perfection: Ski and wakeboard camp thrills locals

Laura Hall
Christopher Prem shows power and perfection on the board.

Cory Pickos’ Ski and Wakeboard School and Camp is one of the finest and most complete ski facilities in the world. It is located just east of Destin in Santa Rosa Beach. From Highway 98, turn south on Sugar Drive, right on Slalom Way and bear left to Jump Street.

These lakes are privately owned by the Pickos family and were designed specifically for skiing. The lakes are long and narrow to protect against adverse wind conditions. The banks were designed to avoid backwash and you will see pristine clear water with a sandy bottom. It provides the most perfect ski conditions man can devise.

The afternoon I drive along the length of this quiet lake the surface reflection looks like glass. At the end of Jump Street I find the camp house facilities that seem comfortable and accommodating. 

I am here to see Christopher Prem work out on the slalom run. Chris is a Destin resident who lives on Holiday Isle and has been based at Hurlburt as a pilot for the C130 for the past three years.

The driver of the boat and coach is Daniel Odvarko from the Czech Republic. Daniel is a professional slalom skier ranked No. 6 in the world and he allows Laurie Kane, photographer, and me to ride along in the Ski Nautique boat that will run out from under you with 450 horse power that is raring to go. 

Chris dons his vest and slalom and quietly slips off the dock into the water. Daniel slowly pulls the slack out of the ski rope and when Chris gives the nod all hell breaks loose and the boat takes off like a stampede of wild horses. As Chris explodes from the water and starts to pull outward you can feel the strain between man and boat.  Chris pulls across the wake and his next turn back across creates the most awesome water spray that looks like a tsunami trailing behind him.            

This boat is ripping down the lake at thirty some miles per hour which allows the skier to double that speed. As we go around the island on the end, I’m holding on for dear life, feet propped in a death grip with the hopes that I don’t go sailing into the trees along the bank. Let me tell you, this speed is exciting and the performance exhilarating to watch. Chris expertly takes the power of man and boat  and uses it to propels his body into a pull out with his shoulder moving so close along the water’s surface I think he is going to be a goner at any minute.  The performance was beautiful to watch.

With my heart pumping overtime, we return to the dock just in time to see Cory Pickos’ son, Adam, take a few runs to perfect his trick skiing. He won the World Collegiate Championship while attending the University of Louisiana-Monroe and last year he won the Nationals professional trick division. Adam started to ski at age three and today he holds more awards than my article can list. He has taken Pan American Champion and placed fourth in the World Championship the last three years in a row. His board of choice for trick skiing is the D3 board. Daring, heart stopping flips while roaring across the water is like easy breathing for Adam. Turning, twisting and flying along the water he holds the ski rope with one foot.  Easy as falling off a log. This guy is awesome.               

Several skiers are gearing up for a trip to Bogotá, Columbia in two weeks for the Pan American Championships. Good luck and good skiing to all of you.

Laura Hall is a long time Destin resident.  She explores local topics sometimes with her cavalier spaniel Annie in tow.  If you have a good topic, contact Laura at llhall4386@gmail.com.