USA leads first day of World Water Ski Show
JANESVILLE Team USA put on a high-risk, high-reward show on the first day of the World Water Ski Show Tournament. It was rewarded with first place heading into today’s final day of competition.
“You won’t see a better ski show this year, except maybe tomorrow when they take to the water,” said assistant judge Justin Landers, of Charlotte, N.C. They had their share of falls, Landers said, but the number of falls was appropriate based on the difficulty of the routines.
Team USA attempted several tricks that have never been attempted in competition before. Janesville native Gerry Luiting was part of a three-man team that pulled off such a trick: One skier pulled two skiers behind him and led both off a ramp; one performed a flip while the other twirled before both hit a perfect landing.
“Are you serious? That is sick,” said spectator Greg Weyers, of Pingree Grove, Ill., upon seeing the move.
Team USA’s theme was “American Music Icons.” Their set featured music from Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and closed with the team stacked upon a “double top four-high pyramid” as Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” blared through the public address system.
Team USA announcers Adam Schaller and Brian Cullen exchanged banter throughout the performance, much of it self-deprecating.
“What do you call somebody who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
What do you call somebody that only speaks one language? American.”
“China was flawless. They did great,” said Justin Doornbos of SkipperBuds, a Midwestern boat dealership that sponsored the competition.
Doornbos also was complimentary of Canada’s Batman and Robin-themed performance.
Team China also made an impression on judge Polly Nemec.
“The Chinese team doing doubles on top of a pyramid was pretty impressive,” she said. “They’re very unique and very different from the U.S. (team), but so precise.”
Nemec characterized the Chinese ballet line as “totally insane.”
Nemec tried to summarize what judges look for from the competitors. “In a nutshell, we judge the entire show. Each act is scored on flow, execution, difficulty and spectator appeal,” Nemec said.
“We’re looking at the announcing, theme, costumes, music and the overall production value.
“It’s a complex set of scores.”
Ke Tian Ye, a member of Team China said the team’s routine was ambitious, but the members knew it very well.
Cullen, who has been announcing for the Rock Aqua Jays since 1989, said he had never seen the Traxler Park bleachers as packed as they were Saturday.
Christine Rebout, executive director of the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimated that roughly 5,000 to 10,000 spectators came out for the tournament.
World Water Ski Show Tournament
Teams begin competition today at 9 a.m. at Traxler Park. Fifth-place Belgium will perform first. Team USA takes to the water last. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
USA: First place 2002.83 points — 3 p.m.
China: Second place 1487.17 points—2 p.m.
Australia: Third place 1382.67 points—Noon
Canada: Fourth place 1346.37—10:30 a.m.
Belgium: Fifth place 1069.89 points —9 a.m.