Locals take to lake for slalomPublished 3:06pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Fifteen skiers took to Lake Martin for the third-annual Lake Martin Slalom Championships clinic and water ski tournament.
The event was held at Kowaliga Marina, and according to Doug Hamrick, who served as one of the event organizers alongside Russell Marina and USA Water Ski, said it was a huge success.
“It went really well,” he said. “We had several people rafted up at Porter’s Branch to watch the competition. Overall, it was a really good event.”
Nine kids and six adults competed during the event in the junior and senior divisions, respectively.
Kelly said the leap in skill level was easy to see from the youth participants as their skis sliced through the waters of Lake Martin.
“We’ve seen a lot of improvements from year to year,” Kelly said. “This, to me, is about getting the kids interested in water skiing and rewarding them. The event has been a success from that standpoint.”
Conrad Caputo claimed first place among the junior division skiers.
Alex Ceton was second, Joseph Schouten earned third place, Braford Flake finished fourth and Wells Marks was fifth.
Lindsey Elrod, who won last year’s slalom tournament, set a personal best on the day.
“She skied well,” Hamrick said. “She’s one of the up and coming stars in the girls division. She more than holds her own out here.”
In the senior division, James Dixon, Sr. took home top honors. Wells’ father, Caldwell finished second.
The Marks and Elrods were just two of the numerous father/son duos that competed during the event.
“Not only is this a fun individual activity, but it’s a great family thing, too,” Hamrick said.
He added that the experiences the young skiers gain on the lake has translated into competing on the next level.
“With this being our third year of doing this, we’ve seen an increased interest among the kids that compete here,” Hamrick said. “The kids that compete here go on to compete in Alabama Water Ski Federation tournaments.”
When asked whether the event was boosting enthusiasm amongst hopeful water skiers, Hamrick concurred with Kelly’s sentiments.
“I’d say that the answer is yes,” he said. “And we hope to continue to do more.”
Many of the participants in this year’s tournament were returning competitors, a fact that Hamrick said helps the event gain more traction as it tries to return to prominence as a customary leisure activity.
“There are no strangers in the group,” he said. “Any one is welcome to come out and participate or watch, at any tournament. We try to make this fun for everyone, and we encourage skiers to step into the tournament. Next year, we’re going to make it even more competitive.”
Hamrick thanked Russell Marine, Kelly and his wife, Roxanne, Scott and Debbie Miller, clinic coaches Jay Estes, Payton Phillips and Bob Schouten, the AWSF and USA Water Ski for their help in making the event possible.
“It takes a lot to put this on,” he said.
The next scheduled Slalom clinic will be on July 10, as Russell Marine hosts a clinic at River North Marina.