Dozens of competitors aim to ski hearts out

By Jared Smith, jared.smith@wanganuichronicle.co.nz


It may be the first but the dozens of competitors taking to their skis on Lake Wiritoa this weekend want to be it the best event.

Wanganui Water Ski Club is hosting its annual Gold and Silver Star meeting on the lake - the first part of the national series where points will be added up leading to the nationals meeting at Easter.

Club president Ron Bakker said they had 38 competitors in the headline slalom ski, as well as the trick and jump events.

"We've got competitors from north of Whangarei to Wellington and all places in between. Most of the competitors are looking for personal bests and to catch the selectors eyes for the upcoming New Zealand teams."

A number of New Zealand representatives, eyeing an upcoming trip to Australia, will be testing themselves on the Wanganui water.

Among the pick of the locals is Lily Meade, 12, recently named in the New Zealand under-14 squad. Her brother Brent, 16, spent much of the New Zealand winter training in the United States.

Nick Bakker, a New Zealand under-21 champion, is moving up to the open men's ski, the elite grade.

"All the kids are looking for a good performance, they've spent all winter training," said Ron Bakker.

"Now they can put it into a fixed tournament to get a result."

The field for the boys events is quite large, among 13 age-based grades overall.

Competition starts with the sub-juniors, a combined level for Under 10s.

The grades then split for boys and girls in the under-14s, under-17s, under-21s and the open level.

Wanganui has a number of standouts in the senior men's grades, starting for 35-year-olds and older.

Iain Bill is the current senior men's 3 (55 years-plus) champion in slalom, while Trevor Fowler is the senior men's 4 (65+) champion in slalom and trick.

Competition will start at 7.30am today with two hours of jumping events, taking advantage of the still lake conditions.

From there, the slalom events will be held, while after lunch are the tricks - using the now-choppy water and wake from the boats to perform seven kinds of flips to impress the judges.

Today's action is likely to last 10-12 hours, while tomorrow's activity will be for eight hours, also starting at 7.30am.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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