Meet the Ashers, water skiing's model family.
It is said that the family that skis together, stays together. OK, perhaps that isn't exactly how the catchphrase plays out, but regardless, there is no other family that personifies that statement more than the Ashers. Each has a flourishing career in various disciplines and aspects of the sport. Dad Adrian is an international tournament boat driver who is known as one of the best drivers on the female pro circuit today. Mom Gillian recently qualified as an international judge. Eldest son Tom is making a name for himself in the jump discipline of elite skiing, currently ranked sixth in the world, while his younger brother Will is a slalom superstar in his own right, considered to be one of, if not the best slalom skier on the globe. So what made this family's track record so decorated with success and accomplishments? Perhaps the answer is best explained in three parts.
Ask Will who his number-one mentor is and without any hesitation, he'd point to his older brother, Tom. “I consider Tommy first coach,” says Will. “He's the levelheaded one. I have a pretty good habit of tweaking out, but he keeps me calm. He drives me and coaches me. We might not say anything on the water, but we'll come off the lake and talk about things and play ideas off each other.”
Will is not the only one who makes the most of the brotherly dynamic. “If you're training with someone else, you might not want to tell them exactly what you're feeling,” says Tom of the outright openness between himself and his sibling. “But when it's your brother, you can cut straight to the chase and say what's going through your mind.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of what keeps the Asher family rooted in the sport is the support and encouragement they provide for each other. “We're like our own little support system,” says Will. “We need each other.”
And the large expanse of the Atlantic Ocean that separates Adrian and Gillian from their boys, who are stateside, is not enough to hinder them from being at every event possible — even if it takes watching them virtually from their Lincoln, England, home. “When we can't get to see them, we do like to keep in touch through the Internet,” says Adrian. “There are some tournaments that are on Webcast now, and that's quite good, because they are so far away from us.”
With a long bloodline of world-class skiers ('81 World jump champion Mike Hazelwood is Gillian's brother) and a dedicated three-event competition club and lake in the family (Hazelwood Ski World), it's clear this family's heart and soul resides in the water.
The Asher matriarch, Gillian, sums the family's fervor for water skiing up quite nicely. “We all just love it so much,” she says. “My parents are 75, 76 and still involved in the sport. We are water-skiing nuts, really, just totally involved in it. We're just country folks, basically, and we ended up seeing the world doing what we love.”