The late August temperatures may be falling, but as the Buckeye Buoy Tour nears its completion the competition is rising. On Saturday, August 25th, the Ohio Water Ski Association featured its 5th Buckeye Buoy Tour of the 2012 summer and the 1st sanctioned tournament of the 2013 ski season. The skies were clear, the sun was hot and the water was calm all day at the Skiers Cove in Columbiana, Ohio where a new format was featured for the first time called the Skier's Tug-of-War.
In this format, 4 to 6 skiers were grouped together into brackets and advanced using Buckeye Buoy Tour handicap scoring rules (attaining the highest score relative to their own average). Round 1 of the tournament was a major dividing line as skiers who won their group advanced to the "A" list head-to-head bracket and remained there for each successive round until losing. Any skier who did not win their "A" list bracket was put into a separate "B" head-to-head bracket until they lost a second time. All skiers were guaranteed 3 rounds, and all 3 rounds counted towards a skiers AWSA score. Skiers who advanced all the way to the final ended up skiing 6 rounds!
The Nelson family continues to have great success in this year's BBT, but this time it was big brother Connor Nelson taking the victory over his rapidly improving sister Mary, who is currently in the lead in points for slalom in the BBT standings. Connor won the tournament by using his first 34mph 15off pass in a tournament (a pass he frequently runs in practice) using it to advance into the finals.
Also featured in this tournament was the Waltrip family - brothers Grant, Luke and Justin and mom Nicole who all won their Round 1 brackets. Grant and Justin would face each other in head-to-head competition in Round 2 with Grant running his first ever 19mph pass. In Round 3, Grant couldn't bear the thought of beating his mother, so he fell on his opener, only to run his 19mph again, then run 21mph in Round 4! Nicole would make it all the way to the semi-final "B" bracket, even after losing in the semi-final "A" bracket to eventual the eventual winner, by skiing consistently each round.
There were several notable performances on the day. The world famous Greg and Marcia Davis - of Big Dawg - lore, showed up and Greg skied into his 35off pass. Caryl Kolb showed that's she's going to be a contender in next years BBT, but runner her 24mph, 26mph and getting a solid score a 1.5@28mph. Of the higher seeded skiers, it was Andrew Goldberg who won his group with a score of 3@38off. The highest score of the day went to David Miller and Andrew Goldberg with 2 @ 39.5 off.
With each passing round of skiing, the skiers were required to start no more than 3 passes, then 2 passes, then 1 pass below their average pass. This meant that Andrew Goldberg, whose average is 2.25 at 39.5off had to start at 38off off the dock! Andrew actually put the pressure on Connor Nelson in the final. Connor was first off the dock at 34mph and only ran 3.5. Andrew followed with a full pass at 38off. Andrew wins, right? No. Because of the double-elimination format Andrew and Connor would actually have go at it again, but Andrew was spent from running so many 38's during the day (5 in total I believe) and conceded first place to Connor!