The official WebCast-TV replay of the U.S. Open of Waterskiing is now available for free online. Watch all of the highlights, interviews, action skiing, as well as the awards ceremony. Relive all of the action and excitement from Downtown Disney…straight from your computer! Click here to watch
On September 16, huge glowing orbs lit the night sky at Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida, and down below, the best skiers in the world swerved between LED-lit buoys, cut toward a glowing ramp and ran spotlighted trick passes in front of thousands of cheering fans lining the lake. The stunning spectacle marked the end of the 2006 US Open of Water Skiing and what many think could be the beginning of a new era of competitive skiing.
The format, which included two qualifying rounds at USA Water Ski headquarters' Lake Grew and the final round on a four-buoy course at Downtown Disney, broke new ground by combining record-capability conditions with Disney-style showmanship. “It kind of created an overall title for each event,” tournament coordinator Chris Sullivan says. “You had to be an outstanding skier to even make it to the finals. But then to be able to win the event, you had to be able to ski in adverse conditions in the rollers with short setups. You had to be the best of both worlds.”
Women's jump and slalom champion Regina Jaquess says the buzz about the nighttime final round began early in the tournament. “It was a big deal,” she says, “because you knew you were going to be skiing at Disney and skiing at night and you knew there was going to be a big crowd and it was just something that a lot of us hadn't done before.”
The anticipation was such that when the big night arrived, athletes who didn't make the cut to compete, as well as industry notables from the nearby Surf Expo, came out in full force, mingling with the vast crowd, showing support for their fellow skiers and marveling at the excitement that filled the air. “Everybody that I spoke with said it was really fun,” Sullivan says. “They immediately were telling me, 'let's come back here, this is what we want to be doing, we want to be skiing in front of these types of crowds.'”
Jaquess agrees, adding that the only thing that could have improved the night would have been if more skiers had been able to experience the thrill of skiing under the stars to the tune of deafening cheers from the shoreline. “It was cool because it was like we were opening up skiing to more of the world,” she says. “Hopefully [MasterCraft] does it again, because it's just a different event. It's really awesome.”