COLUMBIA — Water skiers from all over the state and even a few from Iowa are set to compete in the Lake Sundance Slalom and Trick Tournament on Saturday at Lake Sundance, 5714 S. Short Line Dr. in Columbia.
The competition will feature competitive skiers in divisions that start at under 10-years-old but also includes adults in their 60s and 70s. Scores posted at this event will count towards the skiers’ national standings through USA Water Ski.
“Although anybody can join, those who enter are here to compete,” said Erin Daugherty, secretary and collegiate liaison for the Missouri Water Ski Federation. “Events like these are sanctioned, and sanctioned events contribute to accumulated points that skiers compete for.”
The Missouri Water Ski Federation is under the umbrella of USA Water Ski, the governing body of organized water skiing in the United States.
Skiers will be ranked by the judges on their performance in both their slalom and trick runs,” said Michael O’Connor, a co-host of the tournament and an official driver. “These volunteer judges all have a background in the sport and are certified and trained.”
For the tournament, there are official drivers and official scorers. Some of the judges sit out in the lake in floating platforms to get a better view of the skiers’ intricate slalom runs and tricks.
Daugherty, organizer of the Lake Sundance event, has served on the board of the Missouri Water Ski Federation for six years and attended the University of Central Florida on a water skiing scholarship. In 2008, Daugherty won the Slalom National Championship in the 25-to-35 age bracket.
“Skiing in college really made me start to appreciate different things and realize how great of a way skiing is to spend a weekend,” she said. “I learned that it wasn’t all about the competition. It gave me a team spin on an individual sport that still helps me when I compete today.”
Daugherty will host, judge and compete Saturday. Her family and O’Connor’s family both live on the lake, which makes it easy to share hosting duties.
Eric Hatch, a 40-year-old Columbia resident, has been competitively skiing since he was 18-years-old and will be skiing in the tournament.
“I grew up skiing, just like a lot of people. I heard about a tournament in Columbia one day and was curious. I came out and learned a lot about the sport,” Hatch said.
Hatch, who competes in three or four tournaments a summer, including two appearances at the Midwest Regional Championships, embraces the tight-knit community that water skiing in Missouri fosters and has made friends through skiing over the years.
“Everybody knows everybody,” he said.
Water skiing tournaments like the one at Lake Sundance typically feature three events, but because of the size of the lake, the competition will not be able to include a jump course.
“It’s just too small of a lake to have a full slalom and jump course,” Hatch said.