With scores consistently into mid-41 off, Dane Mechler is one of the world’s best skiers.
However with a fresh new Masters degree to his name, he is facing what a lot of skiers who are just as talented off the water as on it face in their early to mid 20s: how to keep skiing at a high level while embarking on a career.
We recently caught up with Dane to see how his post-college transition is going and how skiing still figures into his life.
GOODE: This year you graduated from grad school at FSU and got a “real-world job.” Where are you living now and what are you up to?
Dane: I am living in Charlotte, North Carolina. I moved here in late July, and I could not be happier so far. I am working downtown for Grant Thornton as a corporate valuation consultant. Basically, I value companies who are going through mergers/acquisitions and also perform a lot of valuations of large family estates, corporate stock options, and components of private equity funds for tax purposes and financial reporting. It’s a big change for me, but I was ready for the change.
GOODE: Where are you skiing now and how often are you able to get out? Who are you skiing with?
Dane: I am skiing at Little Mountain Waterski Club, owned by the Neill family. If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. It is seriously one of the best lakes I have ever been to. I ski with Jeff Gilbert, one of the best drivers in the world, and Chelsea Mills, currently ranked No. 7 on the world ranking list. I’m in good company and so lucky to have these guys as ski partners. I try and get out two to three nights per week and obviously the weekend for a total of four to five days per week.
GOODE: You didn’t ski a lot of tournaments in 2018, but you put up some pretty incredible scores, running 39 off 21 out of 28 rounds. How were you able to keep skiing at such a high level?
Dane: I think it comes down to really refining my technique and approach to practice. I’ll be honest, while living in Louisiana and Florida I was spoiled. I was able to ski as much as I wanted and therefore I didn’t always have the best approach to my skiing. Now every time I am at the lake I have a purpose and a goal. This year more than ever, I really found myself in my technique. I turned two-ball at 41 more than ever in practice and missing 39 was very rare for me. This was largely due to skiing at Lake 38 with Keith Albritton and Matteo Luzzeri for the past year. Their support improved my slalom technique immensely. I also think it comes down to my personality. I thrive when I have structure and I stay busy. Working full time allows me to get into a great routine that I can apply on the water. The times when I have had the least going on outside of skiing have been my worst skiing.
GOODE: How is the new career path going to impact your pro skiing prospects?
Dane: I’m lucky to work for such a great organization that supports my skiing efforts. Skiing is expensive, and it was tough for me to afford travel and entry fees to the main events. Now with a paycheck and a great home site to train, I’m planning on continuing to build on my pro career. Charlotte is a big city with a great airport, so I am lucky to be able to affordably leave for the weekend without missing too much work.
GOODE: Are you going to do any training in Florida or anywhere else this winter?
Dane: While there are certainly a lot colder places than Charlotte, it definitely is not an ideal place to train during the offseason. I plan to get to Florida as much as I can. Charlotte airport is less than ten minutes away from my apartment and there are incredible flights to Orlando. Also, I think there is some good in taking some time away from the water. The nice thing about working full time, is that my evenings are completely free. I plan to use this time to focus on my off the water training.
GOODE: What are your plans for 2019?
Dane: To be determined. Working full time, I will be selective with the tournaments that I enter, but I plan to ski in several. I am hoping to continue to build off of my pro finishes this past season. I made the finals in four out of five pro events that I skied in with a best finish of 5th in France running 3 at 41 in the finals. I am hoping to improve on this in 2019.