KU Waterski Club finishes ninth at nationals

Powered by the strength of a great freshman class, the Kansas Waterski Club had its best season in years.

Club president Katie Barnes said this year’s great mix of young skiers and veteran skiers was a main factor in the success of the season.

Barnes also said luck was a big factor this season, as a few freshman joined the team and consistently placed in their individual events.

“In waterskiing you have to get lucky and get people that have been doing it their whole life,” said Katie Barnes, a senior from Overland Park. “It’s hard to teach people who are just learning to ski how to go out and get big scores for your team.”

With the development of older team members and the infusion of young talent in this year’s club, the women’s club was ranked third, the boys finished 18th-ranked, and the team as a whole finished were ranked eighth by the National Collegiate Waterskiing Association. The team competed in the regional tournament and finished in the top five out of more than twenty teams, which qualified them for the Division 1 nationals for the first time in club history. The club qualified for Division II nationals in 2009.

This year the club finished ninth at nationals and had many club members set personal bests in their respective events.

The club competes in three events every tournament: slalom, trick and jump.

The slalom event requires the skier has to maneuver around six buoys. The speed at which they go through the course increases by two miles per hour each time they successfully maneuver around a buoy.

In the trick competition skiers perform various tricks that have predetermined scores for performing each trick.

Finally, in the jump competition the skier goes over a ramp and is judged based on the distance traveled.

The tournaments are over a weekend and typically have one event each day. The tournaments are not just a competition; they are also social events in which everyone camps out by the lake, said Barnes.

“There is always just one person on the lake at a time, so the entire team is on the shore cheering on that person,” said Hunter Hamilton, a junior from Bucyrus. “Sometimes we will all do a leg kick or even moon the person on the water as they go by. We are one big happy family on the waterski club.”

The waterski club competed in nationals last weekend, and members said it was one of the best experiences they have ever had. Some members of the team set personal bests. For freshman Connor Doran, it was the first time he ever competed in the jump event. Since some members were not able to make it to the tournament, Connor competed in the jump event to help the team.

“I was jumping against people who were record holders, and I didn’t really know how to do it until I got to the starting dock,” Doran said. “It was definitely an experience to remember, especially because the announcer announced to the crowd that it was my first time.”

Although Doran did not successfully land a jump, he said it was a great experience and is something he will remember for a long time.
Junior Hunter Hamilton said along with setting his personal best in slalom, his favorite part of nationals was how all the teams from the midwest region bonded. “Every time one of our skiers was on the water, we were chanting, ‘Team Midwest,’” Hamilton said.

  • Updated Oct. 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm
  • Edited by Laken Rapier
  • Michael Lundin

    The slalom event requires the skier to maneuver around 6 buoys. The boat speed increases by 2 MPH each time the skier makes a successful pass. After a successful pass is made at 36 MPH, the rope length is shortened in various increments until the skier can no longer complete a pass.