The stage is set on June 12-14 at the Swiss Ski School in Clermont, Florida, for three industry giants — Correct Craft, Malibu and MasterCraft — to contend against each other in the WaterSki magazine 2007 Slalom Shootout. And with multiple competitions designed to test every athlete's prowess, this year's three-day event is already generating tons of buzz. Here's what the pros are saying.
The week starts out with the My WaterSki Coach Ultimate Fantasy Camp, where the pros will share their expertise with everyday skiers and provide tips at every level.
“It's a great idea to get the general public involved and for them to be able to mingle with us and become emotionally attached to the sport and to the athletes involved. I think that's what we need.” — Marcus Brown, MasterCraft team skier
“I think that helps keep our sport going when we pass it along to others, but I think it's also good to give back to the sport. It's just going to help our sport even more to grow and expand.” — Chris Parrish, Correct Craft team skier
The live webcast kicks off with round one, when close to 40 of the world's best slalom skiers will be digging deep to finish among the top 12 who advance to the 38-off endurance competition and the Cold 39 event.
“I came second in the Worlds at Swiss, so I'm excited. I'll be going to that place with some good feelings! As for the webcast, any opportunity to expose our sport to a greater population of people is never a bad thing. My family won't be able to make it, so they'll be able to watch it in England.” — Will Asher, Malibu team skier
“I like the fact that I'll be skiing behind a Nautique this year in the Shootout. Because of all the events, especially the 38-off Spin It to Win It, and it being early in the season, endurance will be a factor. I'd say the cut to advance out of the first round will be 5 at 39½ or greater.” — Jeff Rodgers, Correct Craft team skier
Who really is the iron man of skiing? We put 12 pros to the test to see how many times they can run 38 off in a row — without stopping — in the 38-Off Spin It to Win It event.
“That's going to be a tough event. I'm looking forward to seeing the looks on some people's faces after their second or third pass! It'll show that we're not just skiers in a box running 32, 39½, and 41. We're trying to evolve the sport, and we're trying to bring changes. I think everyone's pumped on the new format.”
— Will Asher, Malibu team skier
”I think the most 39s I've done spinning is five in a row, but I've never even tried spinning at 38. It'd be really big to run like eight in a row. That'd be huge. They say one tournament set in a competition is equal to three tournament sets in practice.” — Chris Parrish, Correct Craft team skier
As if the 39½ off isn't hard enough, we put the pros right in the heat of battle with no warm-up passes in our Cold 39 competition. Let's see which skiers can scrap their way closest to the world record.
“It's going to be a good test to see what we can actually do straight off the dock. And the crowd gets involved because it's not like you see people run three passes in a row, and you don't know what that means. Some people are missing, some people are making, and it's a lot more engaging because it's short-term, and it keeps people involved.” — Marcus Brown, MasterCraft team skier
“I like the format — it's going to be challenging. I think we'll break our backs doing it, but I could see at least four of the 12 skiers running 39½ off the dock. My guess is that 2½ at 41 will win the event.” — Thomas Degasperi, Malibu team skier
After all is said and done, it comes down to the Team Challenge. Five skiers from each boat team will go head-to-head in a pressure-cooked battle that's sure to be the stuff of legends.
“Head-to-head has never been run with three boats, so it will be interesting. As a new member of the Malibu team, I'm very excited to represent it, and I want to ski my best. After years of competing against Will Asher, it'll be nice to have him on my team. I think it would be fun to match up against Parrish and Glenn Campbell.” — Thomas Degasperi, Malibu team skier
“I love to compete in head-to-head events. I think Team MasterCraft will do great. I know I prefer to compete behind MasterCraft, and I am sure the same can be said for Wade, Marcus and Glenn. Our strength is experience.” — Jodi Fisher, MasterCraft team skier
All those tips from day one will be put to the test in a Pro-Am tournament. The lucky Fantasy Camp participants will join the best athletes in the world in a friendly competition.
“The aspect of having a couple of days to build up to it with the clinic and then having the Pro-Am later on, I think is really good. At other Pro-Am events, you just show up on the first day and you're teamed up with amateurs that you don't really know. You're just kind of thrown into it, and it doesn't yield the results that this will.” — Marcus Brown, MasterCraft team skier
“It's just really cool to be skiing next to the amateurs. I really enjoy those events. They get something out of it, and we get to put something back into the sport. It's a great opportunity for them, but it's also a great opportunity for us to be around the people who are helping our sport grow.” — Will Asher, Malibu team skier
For complete info about the tournament schedule and details about the live webcast, visit waterskimag.com/slalomshootout.