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  • The untold story of Freddie Winter



    Hailing from the land of the Queen, Freddie Winter has broken into the barrier of the elite, becoming one of the most recognized skiers, not only in Great Britain, but also in the United States and the entire world.

    His story does not start with fame, however. Like others, it begins with a humble family scene. Freddie grew up in London, just outside of the main city, with his parents Martin and Hilary and younger sister, Amelia. He attended Charterhouse Boarding School as a child and eventually studied at Royal Holloway University

    In Chertsey, London, 45 minutes from the family's house, the Winters devoted their free time to a placed called Thorpe Park, a man-made gravel pit lake specifically sculpted for World Championship tournaments. Having been born to parents who had skied for circa 30 years, it was impossible for Freddie to dodge a life at the end of a tow rope.

    According to a family friend and fellow lake lover, Dimitris Kourounis, Hilary Winter skied even when she was pregnant with Freddie.

    " freddie was going up and down in our slalom course before he born dimitris exclaims.>

    By four years old, Freddie decided it was his turn to be in the wakes. He was hooked.
    Every weekend and every day during the summer, Freddie could be seen throwing up spray at Thorpe Park. Sometimes he would even take the train from school to the lake.

    While his parents initially taught him to ski, there were other influences that pushed Freddie's career along. Steve Glanfield, a coach and skier from England, John Battleday, a former second and third place medalist at the worlds, and Dimitris Kourounis, a skier from Greece, were some of Freddie's coaches in his early years.

    "He was natural with the sport," Dimitris says. "I started realizing that he had something really special."



    Freddie first graced the world of competitive waterskiing when he was 10 years old. He ran 3@32 mph in his first tournament. By 11 years old, he won his first slalom U21 British Nationals. In fact, not only did he win his first nationals at 11, but he also won it on a women's slalom ski, a bright pink Obrien Camille hammy down from his mother, something many people will not let him live down.

    The Brit quickly escalated the ranks as a junior slalom skier. While Freddie did dabble in tricking and jump for a while, he ultimately decided his heart and talent lay in slalom.

    "I'm the least natural tricker and jumper, it was both ugly," Freddie says.

    At his first European Championships, Freddie skied in the U14 division. Although nerves got the best of him and he fell early on his first pass, he did not allow failure to triumph, and he later went on to claim the U21 European title in 2009.

    "That was a huge deal for me. That was my first really big victory and was the best feeling I had in skiing up to that point."

    By 19, Freddie began winning money in professional tournaments and his skiing-continued to advance. He was invited to a prestigious tournament, called the Prince's Pro-Am, after his win at the U21 Europeans, where he skied against the world's most renowned slalomers.

    "We all had practice together and I showed up and they were looking at me like, 'who is this random English kid,' because they had never heard of me."

    Though a rookie, Freddie was a force with which to reckon. Of the four rounds, he ran 3@39 placing fifth and edging out Will Asher and Thomas Degasperi. It was in these moments that Freddie knew he belonged among the elite.

    "Besides Freddie's extremely strong training background and physique, he has a strong mental ability that enables him to not let outside influences faze or distract him," Jodi Fisher, a fellow friend, offers as an explanation to Freddie's ranking among the best.

    Nonetheless, Freddie was plagued with a mental block during the 2012 year. Though he attempted to qualify for the 2013 World Championship, which required scores into 41 off, he fell short. Moreover, at that year's Europeans, Freddie only needed a couple at 39 off for a medal. But unfortunately, his velcro pre-released on a deep water start.

    "At that point I was like, 'I'm going to give up skiing. I can't do this anymore, I'm having too much heartbreak with it.'"

    He took a step back and made a commitment to himself that if he didn't qualify for the 2013 worlds, he would really reconsider if this sport was worth his time and effort physically and emotionally.

    Yet, his fire hadn't completely gone out. He refocused, pushed aside distractions, moved onward, and rekindled the flame. He soon captured the attention of many, qualifying for the worlds and running 39 off 14 plus times in 2013. This was just the beginning of his inferno.

    The same year, he placed fourth at the World Games, finished second at the Europeans, ran 3.5@ 41 off at the Diablo Shores tournament in California, placed third at the World Championships, and collected a new personal best of 5@41 off.

    "I didn't want to be someone who got a medal and then disappears."

    He certainly did not fade. The 2014 season brought even more accomplishments which included winning the Europeans ahead of Will Asher and Thomas Degasperi, and finishing second behind Nate Smith for the gold at Diablo after running 3@41 four out of five rounds. The dynamite closed out that year with a bang, equaling Andy Mapple's European record of 1@43 in October and landing himself at number three in the world.

    Now, as one of the world's most prestigious slalomers, Freddie's goals for the 2015 season consist of making the finals in the Masters, which he is already qualified for, repeat his win at the Europeans, and place on the podium at other various pro events.

    "I want to push Nate. If I can even do that slightly I'll be pleased with that."

    This year, Freddie is living in Louisiana, where he moved to in January of 2014. He is attending the University of Louisiana Monroe where he is working towards his MBA and is the top slalomer on the water ski team. Though getting a Master's degree is time consuming, being a full time student hasn't slowed Freddie down.

    "He skis at least one set a day, if not more, it doesn't matter the weather" Taylor Horton a ULM teammate states, "Freddie likes to tell the story of him walking back from the Bayou one day after a set and having ice in his hair by the time he made it home."

    Speaking of his hair, what is up with the Brit's mass of curls?

    Long hair isn't always easy...believe it or not. Freddie first began tying it up after it had blinded him at a tournament as he cut across the wakes, sending him straight into a buoy, taking him down and causing his bindings to obliterate. He makes sure to always keep a rubber band handy now.

    "It's to my eternal shame. I absolutely hate wearing it up," Freddie comments. "It is really embarrassing being the guy wearing the pony tail. But, there was a time last year where I was wearing a pair of bright pink shorts and I had my hair tied back. I saw this picture of myself and was disgusted. I cannot be seen like that."

    The annoyance of his hair hasn't stopped him from chopping it off.

    "It is fun not being the most boring person around."

    Boring is certainly not Freddie's forte. On top of his signature hair, Freddie's slalom style is one for the record books.

    "Strong, powerful, and determined," Taylor says of Freddie's slalom style. "It is scary what he hangs onto sometimes. I remember one time he practically hit the swim step after running 41, and another time he snapped the rope back into the boat and the handle knocked off a panel on the driver seat. Powerful dude."

    Freddie is deadly in more ways than one. For him, there is no stopping.



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