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The 22nd Disabled Water Ski National Championships were held at Shortline Lake in Elk Grove, California last Friday and Saturday. They also had a mini Pan-Am Games with athletes from Canada and Brazil. We were able to get a lot of media attention. Here is one of the clips from Fox 40.
I got involved with disabled water skiing at a young age (about 5 years old). An annual clinic and the Disabled Western Region Championships were held at Shortline Lake (where I grew up) every year. When I was young I would help dock start and run pink sheets and as I got older I was a swimmer, judge and I would help skiers balance during their deep water starts. As a kid, Mark Turner was one of the top skiers and he always stood out off the water because he had colored hair. One year was blue another red then green etc. We always looked forward to seeing what color Mark’s hair would be. The last four or five years I have been driving the boat and coaching during the clinics. Volunteering at their clinics and regionals is always one of the top highlights of my summer! Over the years I have been fortunate to build great relationships with the skiers who come back every year.
Matt Oberholtz and Steve Hornsey, two men who have been skiing for years, were co-event directors for Nationals. They were the two that made the event happen. For those of you who are not familiar with disabled water skiing, there are 3 main divisions: sitting (quad and paraplegic), standing (arm or leg amputee) and standing without vision (blind). All 3 divisions compete in slalom, trick and jump. Yes, even the blind skiers jump! In their Regionals, there are divisions within those 3 divisions that are based on their disability.
There are BALLERS everywhere!!!!!
For nationals, placement is determined by the closest percentage to the world record in your disability division. For instance, Chad Guzman is the current world record holder for Men’s MP3 slalom and he ran 5@30mph, 15 off on the outer course. Chad skis on the outer course (same as able body) and he was competing against MP1 skier Bill Furbish who set a pending world record – 2.5 @ 38 off (36mph) on the mini course. Since Bill set a pending world record, he was closest to the world record for his division, meaning….he was the 2012 Disable Nationals Men’s Sit Ski Champion!!
Jeff Hancock, a single leg amputee, ran 5 buoys at 32mph and set a pending National Record. Another skier who impressed me was Craig Timm, an arm amputee. He wears a harness that has a pin that slides into the side of the handle so it is secure when he leans against the boat but if he falls, it releases. He ran 4@22off 36mpg at 41 years old. Disabled skiing doesn’t have age divisions where the boat slows down. Timm’s maximum speed will forever be 36mph. He told me he is too old to go 36, he wishes he could go 34mph. Trimm does all 3 events and everyone on shore is always impressed with his rodeo 360 in the trick event. Tammy, a west coast skier also does a rodeo 360. She also ran her opener on Saturday, which she was thrilled about since she hasn’t been able to run it consistently in a tournament. As for men’s seated tricks, watch out for young 15 year old up and comer Connor Aguilar. He placed 3rd this year and has only been skiing for a year or two. He is from the Sacramento Region and plans to come out to Shortline next summer to train with me. Connor was the youngest athlete selected to the 2013 U.S. Disabled World Team.
Mark Turner had an impressive showing placing 3rd overall and never disappointing us, he was styling with his purple hair!! For the trick event, the skiers are able to do double wake and single wake jumps and tricks. So a normal WO (wake O) is the same points as able body tricking but disabled skiers can do a WWO (double wake O) for more points. Megan McCauley was another awesome 3 eventer in the women’s seated division. She went home with the overall title!
All of the skiing was impressive but one that stood out the most was was Ryan (I can’t remember his last name), a blind skier from Canada. On Friday, he landed 2 out of 3 jumps on a 3 ft ramp and on Saturday, he landed 1 out of 3 jumps on a 5ft ramp. It was incredible to see. Ryan has a guide skiing next to him who tells him how far away he is. The guide counts down, 500ft, 400ft, 300ft, 200ft, 100ft then jump as Ryan hits big red and the guide goes in between the ramp and the boat.
Everyone was excited about having Nationals at Shortline. They couldn’t have asked for better conditions and everything ran smooth. Disabled Nationals usually take 3 days to complete. It was done in 2 days and they had 7 more skiers this year compared to last. Which is a big number considering they usually have about 23 skiers. I would like to thank Matt and Steve for all of their hard work they put in to make it a great event!! And thank all the other judges and volunteer because without them, this event couldn’t happen. Disabled Nationals may be back at Shortline for 2013.
The 2013 United States Disabled Water Ski Team was selected after the event and announced at the banquet. Athletes selected to the team were: Connor Aguilar-Poggetto (Carmichael, Calif.) – Men MP3; Bill Furbish (Atlanta, Ga.) – Men MP1; Chad Guzman (Gilbert, Ariz.) – Men MP3; Elijah Hager (Alexis, N.C.) – Men MP3; Jeff Hancock (Redmond, Ore.) – Men L; Jeremy Maddox (Pendergrass, Ga.) – Men MP2; Katie Mawby (Grand Haven, Mich.) – Women V1; Megan McCauley (Charlotte, N.C.) – Women MP2; Robbie Parks (Lexington, N.C.) – Men MP2; Jessica Radmilovic (Pine Grove, Calif.) – Women MP2; Joe Ray (Wilsonville, Ala.) – Men MP2; Craig Timm (Center City, Minn.) – Men A; and Mark Turner (Buda, Texas) – Men MP3. Selected as alternates were: Peter Anziano (Atlanta, Ga.) – Men MP3; Dave Carter (Dallas, Ga.) – Men MP2; and Dan Reed (Indianapolis, Ind.) – Men MP3. Rhonda Van Dyk (Belding, Mich.) will serve as team manager, Matt Oberholtz (Oroville, Calif.) will serve as coach, and Dr. Keith Barbour (Monroe, Mich.) will be the team physician.