For a high stakes competition, there were less serious faces of concentration and more smiling, high-fives and jubilation at the provincial water-skiing championships at Saskatoon’s man-made lake, The Rathole.
The athletes were just happy to be back on the water competing in the sport that they love.
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“It’s really refreshing to have a goal in mind, and to see the tournament schedules popping back up,” adaptive water-skier Nolan Barnes said. “(I’m) getting excited to be back on the water again.”
“The weather is perfect, we usually don’t get nice weather, so, it’s going to be so much fun,” U17 water-skier Callie Steen said. “It’s nice to have an event, like big again, and to see all of these people around, and I’m really excited.”
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The sport has seen substantial local growth over the past 20 months, with more people electing for staycations at the lake amid the pandemic.
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“We’ve got a ton of kids turning out, we haven’t seen this many kids in a decade,” Saskatoon Waterski Club President Jim Clunie said. “The other thing that’s good, it’s from all over the province.”
“You see a couple of these young guys doing three, four, five sets a day, just gunning for, they want to be champions,” Barnes said. “But, that’s what you have to do, you have to practice when no one else is practicing.”
Beyond the friendly atmosphere and general glee to be back competing, there were also words of encouragement and lessons being passed on by the more experienced skiers, doing their part to help improve the next generation of Saskatchewan talent.
“It’s so exciting, I love standing on the dock and hearing all of these kids come up and say I got a new personal best today, and they’re so excited,” Steen said. “I love being a part of that journey, it’s awesome.”
“It’s very exciting to have an event, to have people around, to see these kids showing these skills that they’ve been working so hard on over the year,” Barnes explained. “The best part about water-skiing is, you just challenge yourself. As long as you beat your personal best, it really doesn’t matter where you end up in the ranking list, it’s about improving that score.”
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