Aqua Jays win nationals for second straight year
JANESVILLE Until Sunday night, they had one goal in mind: Winning this weekend's Indmar Show Ski Nationals.
During the show, Aqua Jays' announcer Brian Cullen avoided mentioning the fact that he and six of his colleagues had been chosen to compete for Team USA.
"Today, we're all just Aqua Jays," Cullen said Saturday morning after the Aqua Jays' performance.
The Aqua Jays this weekend accomplished their goal of winning nationals. It's the second consecutive year the Janesville-based team has been the national champion. It was the team's 17th national title.
Until now, planning and training for next month's International Water Ski and Wakeboard Federation's first-ever World Water Ski Show Tournament had been on the back burner.
"Come Monday, that's all going to shift," Cullen said.
Starting today, Cullen expects things to ramp up quickly for the international tournament, which the Aqua Jays will host Sept. 15 and 16 at Traxler Park in Janesville.
The event tacks on an extra month and extra challenges to the Aqua Jays' already long season. Normally, the season slows down after nationals.
Cullen is no stranger to piling show ski work on top of his day job. He's been announcing the Aqua Jays nearly annually since 1983.
It helps that he works at Fed Ex, a company that never sleeps, Cullen joked.
"Oh, you mean 'life?'" Cullen said when asked how he finds the time to devote to Aqua Jays practices and performances. "Mostly with the help of my beautiful family."
That and prioritizing, Cullen said.
"It's like anything else. You focus on what you have to do first."
Besides adding time to the season, being a member of Team USA requires a special skill, Cullen said.
He and his Aqua Jays teammates have to team up with skiers who are normally competitors. Cullen, for example, has not formally met Team USA's show director.
"I've competed fiercely against him for many years," he said.
Thanks to the extension from the international competition, next year's show season will start before this one ends, said Show Director Dave Rezin. Show directors start each September developing and writing the next season's show, he said.
Another subtle difference about this extended season could be veteran skiers spending more time on the water during August performances at Traxler Park, Rezin said. In most years, once the competition season ends, the Aqua Jays with less experience get extra time on the water.
"Normally, it's more of a developmental time for our younger skiers," Rezin said.
This year, veterans will need to log some performance hours so they can stay fit for the September tournament, he said.
"We need to stay in shape. We need to stay fit," Rezin said. "And most of all, considering the way the weather is changing, we need to stay healthy."
AQUA JAYS WIN 2012 SHOW SKI NATIONALS
Event: 2012 Indmar Marine Engines Division I National Show Ski Championship Tournament.
Dates: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 10-12.
Location: Rock Aqua Jays Stadium, along the Rock River, Traxler Park, Janesville.
Results: Rock Aqua Jays of Janesville, won with 2,221 points. They were followed by Mad-City Ski Team of Madison with 2,049 points; Backwater Gamblers of Rock Island, Ill., 1,891 points; Wonder Lake of Wonder Lake, Ill., 1,837 points; Aquanut Water Shows of Twin Lakes, 1,778 points; Water Bugs of Muskego, 1,647 points; Webfooters of Fremont, 1,626 points; Badgerland of Occonomowoc, 1,611 points; Ski Otters of White Bear Lake, Minn., 1,529 points; Beaverland Must-Skis of Beaver Dam, 1,505 points; Ski Broncs of Loves Park, Ill., 1,423 points; Five Seasons of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1,373 points; Waterhawks Ski Team of Waterloo, Iowa, 1,335 points; Chippewa Show Ski Team of Medina, Ohio, 1,291 points.
The Aqua Jays took first place in the dock and equipment personnel, pick-up boat crews, tow-boat driving, showmanship, sound crew and overall show categories. In individual acts, the Aqua Jays took first in barefoot, pyramid and strap doubles.
Hosts: Rock Aqua Jays.
Change in routine: The Aqua Jays typically perform their team show on the Sunday of the tournament. This year, they decided to compete first thing Saturday morning, said show director and skiier Dave Rezin. They made the change after a tough second-place finish at the state competition in late July. The wind and water were against them that day, Rezin said.