This past weekend the 2014 Disabled Western Regional Water Ski Championships took place at Shortline Lake in Elk Grove, California. This was the 25th time this event was held at Shortline Lake; the first was in 1989. Shortline Lake will be the site for the 2015 Disabled Water Ski World Championships. The Centurion Carbon Pro was the official boat used for the clinic and regional championships. The skier’s clinic took place on Friday where many people took to the water for the first time. 2013 USA Disabled Team Coach; Matt Oberholtz, was in the boat all day coaching the first timers as well as returning veterans; some who were members of the USA Team that won the gold at the 2013 Worlds in Italy. Team USA has won gold at worlds the last 3 years in a row and they became the first country to ever 3-peat.
The Regional Tournament was on Saturday and they started off with the Novice Division. Skiers who just learned on Friday and some returning skiers had the opportunity to compete in this Classs F portion of the tournament. They were scored based on how many times they crossed the wakes in an allotted time. It was an intense battle for first and second with only 1 wake crossing separating them. The new comer Clara Valdes edged out Beth Jones for the title in the Novice division. Top 3: Clara Valdes, Beth Jones and Ysa Ison.
It was now time for the Class C portion. Over the last few years, I have been coaching, Connor Aguilar-Poggetto, a 16 year old up and comer is the sport who was the youngest member on the 2013 USA Team. I was looking forward to seeing Connor ski since he has been putting in a lot of time on the water this year not only for 3 event water skiing but in wakeboarding as well. On a side note, Connor took 1st place earlier this year in the Inagural Adaptive Division at the Wake Games in Orlando, Florida. Connor ran a personal best the first round running 1@23mph and in the second round he increased his pb to 3@23mph. Connor was excited to stand up his 2nd round trick run which gave him the overall title.
World Champion and World Record holder Jessica Radmilovic also ran a personal best in the first round of 4@23mph. This would have been a pending world record if it was a record tournament. I wish it was a record because I was her driver and it would have been sweet to have driven a World Record. Both Connor and Jess stepped up in this big event and took the Carbon Pro Personal Best Challenge by running their personal best behind the Centurion Carbon Pro. Scott Leason; a visually impaired skier, ran 4.5 @ 32mph both rounds. Scott has only been skiing for a few years and continues to improve despite being an older gentleman. He is determined to run maximum speed at this year’s Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia.
It is not every day that you get these three men on the same dock or in the same room anymore, so it was an honor to have all of them at the event. Pictured from left to right are: Steve Hornsey, Matt Oberholtz and Royce Andes. Steve and Matt have been the backbone of disabled water skiing on the west coast and were the top skiers in the world in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Royce is a legend in the sport as he brought disabled water skiing to the USA and he invented the cage that the skiers sit in as well as the Kan ski. He is the pioneer for USA Disabled Water Skiing.
This was another great event and I was glad I was able to help drive, judge and coach again this year. There is always a great group of people who participate and help out with these events and I am looking forward to having the World Championships here next year!