Water Skiing

World Record Performances

Finally, I set a World Record on the new Cronos Audio Slalom (CAS) system. This makes seven total world records performances when including the six records skied using the prior system.

On July 27, 2019 in the finals of the 2019 IWWF Disabled World Waterski Championships held in Skarnes in Norway ran 5.5 buoys at 35′ off/12.00m at 36mph. This record was ratified by the International Water Ski & Wakeboard Federation. The score was also recognized as the new minimum standard for the V2/3 (Partially Sighted) World Record. Performances skied by V1 (Totally Blind) athletes better than World Records of V2/3 (Partially Sighted) athletes are recognized as the V2/3 minimum standard for setting a record.

As of December 31, 2015, the following records were retired because a new Audio Slalom Signal Generator (ASSG) system was adopted. Pretty cool to have set the final six V1 (totally blind) World records on the retired “Bat Blaster” technology and to have three scores that established new minimum standards for the V2/3 (Partially Sighted) category.

Mike skiing on his 9900 at the Terramare Ski Lakes on July 25th
Photo courtesy of Kelvin Kelm, www.sportpixusa.net (c) 2009

On June 22, 2013 at the Austin Aquaplex in Buda, Texas ran 4 buoys at 38′ off/11.25m at 36mph. This record was ratified by the International Water Ski Federation and established a new minimum standard for the V2/3 (Partially Sighted) category.

On May 11, 2013 at the Miami Watersports Complex in Miami, Florida I ran 2.5 buoys at 38′ off/11.25m at 36mph. This record was ratified by the International Water Ski Federation and established a new minimum standard for the V2/3 (Partially Sighted) category.

Mike skiing on his 9900 at the July 4th Tournament in Covington, LouisianaOn July 25, 2009 at the Terramare Ski Lakes in Terramare, Texas I ran 2 buoys at 38′ off/11.25m at 36mph. This record was ratified by the International Water Ski Federation and established a new minimum standard for the V2/3 (Partially Sighted) category.

On July 25, 2009 at the Terramare Ski Lakes in Terramare, Texas I ran 1 buoy at 35′ off/12.00m at 36mph. This record was ratified by the International Water Ski Federation.

On July 4, 2009 at the Ski ranch in Covington, Louisiana I ran 3 buoys at 32′ off/13m at 36mph. This record was ratified by the International Waterski Federation.

On May 16, 2009 at the Ski ranch in Covington, Louisiana I ran 4 buoys at 28′ off/14.25m at 36mph. This performance broke the existing world record by half a buoy.

Mike receiving award from Ski Ranch Owners Dave and Claire Di Pol

Royal Boat Crew

In front of any good water skier is an even better boat crew. I am lucky to have The Royal Family Boat Crew pulling my training sessions.

2019 Boat Crew

Boy, some things have really changed and other remain the same in the past 10 years. Taylor has now taken over some driving duties. Eric still knows I will scream when 5-ball is missed. Most importantly, I am still lucky to have the The Royal Family Boat crew in front of me.

As of 2019, I could not bring myself to remove the below 2009 details. Come back in 10 years to see what The Royal Family Boat Crew is doing in 2029.

2009 Boat Crew

Wendy has mastered the art of driving the slalom course, arming the Bat Blaster exactly at the pre-gate buoys, juggling snacks and drinks all while resolving any sibling disagreements that might arise. Wendy loves that I am skiing better, but is still adjusting to the added task of shortening the rope.

Taylor helps to keep me balanced, reminding me that you can swim and jump on the trampoline as well as ski at the lake.

Taylor and Eric on trampoline - cropped

Hearing Eric cheer “Go Daddy Go” during the island turns puts a smile on my face. Post skiing, Eric’s replay commentary makes us all laugh, especially, when he imitates my scream because 5-ball was missed.

Eric and Taylor

Be sure to check out the other links on this site to read more about the Royal Family Boat Crew members.

Taylor has also been water skiing – check out the video. To view the video, either use the embedded YouTube video below, or click here to run the video directly from YouTube.

Learning to Water Ski

In July 2000, having done the marathon thing and given alpine skiing a one winter chance, I decided to focus on water skiing to curb my need to compete. Read on to see what got me interested in, and competing in, water skiing.

            Mike jumping with guide Bill Bowness

Learning to Water Ski — at age 10, I started water skiing. Growing up in rural Nebraska, I had to squeeze as much water skiing in around farming chores as possible. This would mean getting in eight to ten water days a summer. Looking back, my cousins and I probably pushed our entry-level Cypress Garden Pro Combo skis (which we used for slalom) to the limit. A torn boot or busted fin was an every summer occurrence during my high school days.

Deciding to Compete — In July 2000, two things happened that made me decide I should try competing. First, my Dad lost his three-year long battle with cancer and my sisters decided I should take Dad’s boat back to Houston. Secondly, upon returning to Texas after the funeral, I attended a water ski clinic held by Texas Adaptive Aquatics on Lake Houston. At the ski clinic, I met Joe Ray with Adaptive Aquatics and Bill and Denise Bowness with Unlimited Skiing. The three encouraged me to train for and compete at the next year’s national tournament. I decided there would be no greater tribute to my Dad than to go and win the Audio Slalom at the 2001 Nationals.

Learning to Jump — In June 2001, I traveled to London, England for work. There was a water ski tournament for the disabled being held by the British Disabled Water Ski Association at Heron Lake near my London office. So of course, my slalom ski made the trip with me. After work I would drag my co-workers with me to Heron Lake so I could practice my Audio Slalom. I sensed my co-workers getting bored with Audio Slalom practice, so I decided I should give the water ski ramp a try. The Monday before the water ski tournament, I attempted my first jumps. I got to know the ski ramp very intimately on that Monday, after five unsuccessful attempts. My co-workers were impressed that I could slide all the way up the ramp on my left side, right side and back side. I returned on Wednesday with my co-workers, having camera in hand, ready for a show. Long-story-short, I landed each of my four jump attempts. When the tournament arrived on Saturday, I was a 2-event skier.

As a side note, at Heron Lake, I had the opportunity to ski with Chris Mairs, the inventor of the Bat Blaster, the Audio Slalom Signal Guide (ASSG) used by blind skiers, and the V2/3 World Record holder at the time for the audio slalom. I also purchased a Bat Blaster so I could train once back in the United States.

Getting the Gear — I returned from London in early July with about one month left until the 2001 Nationals. I traveled to Brandon, Mississippi to spend a week training with Bill and Denise Bowness at Unlimited Skiing, their ski school. The couple helped me locate jump skis, a 3-event bag and a jump guide. Actually, they did not have to look far for a jump guide since Bill volunteered. I recall that Bill made sure I would not mind being guided by a “short guy” because Bill is a sit skier. Bill’s bio is very impressive and I was quite happy to have Bill as a guide. A side benefit of having a “short guy” as a guide makes my jumps look that more impressive because it increases the distance between the top of Bill’s head and the bottom of my skis. I am very grateful to Bill and Denise for all the help they provided in getting me ready for my first Nationals.

2001 Nationals — I had a great time at my first nationals. A highlight of the event was meeting the other skiers, each with their own challenges that were not slowing them down. I ended up placing second in the Audio Slalom event. In the jump, I missed runner -up by half a meter. Not quite what I had hoped for, but not bad either. I was sure my Dad was proud.

Team Goode

Mike skiing on his 9800.

In May 2009, I became a member of TEAM GOODE. All the fine folks at Goode Ski Technologies are helping me get the latest cutting edge GOODE equipment to compete on at the 2009 Disabled World Championships.

Check back to see how I am doing on my GOODE 9900SL and PowerShell 5 Boots.

Click here to see a feature about my world record in June 4, 2009 GOODE Newsletter.

First GOODE Experience

In the spring of 2007, I started skiing on a GOODE 9800SL and PowerShell 4 Boots. At this time, I had not skied for over 20 months because I was recovering from a knee surgery. I had blown out my left knee as a result of a jump crash. Cadaver Achilles tendons where used to reconstruct my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), while my MCL only needed to be stitched back together. The doctor did not think I would ski again and rehab awarded me with the honor of being one of the worse injuries for the year.

While my injury did not occur during slalom skiing, I feared getting back on my slalom ski with rubber boots. My concern was having only my right foot come out of the binding leaving my left leg to absorb the force of a hard fall. Being right foot forward, I tried a rear toe strap, but did not feel like I had as much control over my old slalom ski.

Getting my first PowerShells with two hard boots on a single plate gave me better control of the ski and alleviated my concern about having my left leg trapped during a hard fall. During a fall, both boots release on a single plate. Yes, I have tested the release process many times.