Majorwaterskiing tournament begins this Friday

Published on Thu, Jul 8, 2004 by ack Kintner

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Major waterskiing tournament begins this Friday

By Jack Kintner

One of the northwest’s premier waterskiing tournaments begins tomorrow at noon just southeast of Blaine, drawing amateur and professional competitors from as far east as Manitoba and as far south as southern California. The level of competition is so high it’s been classed as a “record capability” tournament, meaning competitive records could be set here that would be recognized world-wide.
Things get under way tomorrow at noon with competition in slalom and in trick skiing. Saturday’s probably the most spectator-friendly as the whole day will be spent in trick competition and jumping. On Sunday the remainder of the slalom and jumping competition will take place.

Following is a brief run-down on what to watch for during a competition:
Trick skiing: competitors are allowed two 20-second passes between two buoys along the shoreline, and each trick is weighted. Five judges evaluate the competitors and figure the score. Expect a lot of jumping flips in this high-energy event done on skis that together are about the size of a snowboard.

Jumping: Unlike snow skiing, where points are awarded for form, in water ski jumping the prize goes to the jumper who goes the farthest without falling. “You have to ski away after landing with the rope taut,” said tournament director John Goodman. It’s in the jumping competition that the tow boat’s computer comes most into play. The system is called Perfect Pass, and senses when the jumper pulls on the line on one side of the boat’s wake before cutting back across quickly and hitting the jump. The computer makes minute adjustments in the throttle to compensate. “I hated to admit it a few years ago when this stuff came in,” said world-class jumping competitor and certified driver Mark Lane, “but it’s better at that than I am.”

Slalom: Unlike snow skiing, the winner is not determined by elapsed time, but by who is able to do the most gates at the fastest speed skiing with the shortest rope. Various competitive levels begin at a certain speed and then when up to 34 or 36 mph, depending upon the division, pre-determined lengths are taken out of the line.

The three-day tournament is free for spectators and is being held on the kind of private skiing lake that’s become popular with competitive skiers, especially since the advent of personal watercraft like jet skis.

To reach the site turn north off Loomis Trail on to White Road just east of I-5. Proceed west past the intersection with Giles Road to where White Road becomes a frontage road on the east side of the freeway and angles northwest. The entrance to the water ski lake, called Borderline Sports Lake, is about a half-mile on your right and marked with a gate made out of large black pipes. Competition begins at noon Friday, and at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“This was one of the early private lakes,” said tournament driver and competitor Ron Goodman, “but now you see them all over, because it’s so much safer and the conditions are always pretty much ideal.” The 2,200-foot long pond was initially dug out as a borrow pit to construct the Loomis Trail overpass.

The Goodmans manufacture competitive water ski equipment in Bellingham under the name Goodman Ski and Sports. Among other innovations they’ve pioneered are the use of high-tech aircraft construction method to make light, strong and long jumping skis over eight feet long. “They basically revolutionized that end of things,” said competitor Craig Batchelor.

Another local jumper, Georgia native Mark Lane, was regularly snapping off jumps well over 200 feet in length using Goodman skis. With them he’s become one of the top 10 ski jump competitors in the world.