Skiers leaving their mark

Sunday, July 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:12 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The smooth surface of Lake Paragon meant excellent conditions for the first day of the 2004 Missouri State Water Ski Championships on Saturday morning.

Skiers from around Missouri came to compete at the man-made lake a few miles south of Columbia and sat on the dock anxiously waiting their turn.

The boys, girls and women’s slalom competitions as well as trick skiing and jumping took place Saturday. The men’s competition will be held today.

Within the first hour of competition, Drew Lindsay, 12, set a new state record in boys’ slalom and qualified for next month’s nationals in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“It’s amazing,” said Lindsay, who coasted off the course pumping his fist.

The sport of tournament skiing attracts many young competitors.

“It’s different than other sports,” said Tyler Breshears, 13, who won the boys third division slalom. “It’s more like an individual sport.”

Katie O’Connor, 10, won her trick division because she was the only competitor. O’Connor, who has been sking since she was 5, said she likes it better when it’s competitive because she feels she has earned it when she wins.

Tournament director Kathy Mertzlufft, said the tournament switches every two years between Lake Paragon and a lake in Hartville, the only two lakes in Missouri equipped for the competition.

One of the skiers, Laura Hollabaugh, 20, a junior accounting major at MU, has started a waterskiing club at the university.

“It’s official right now, so it’s just a matter of finding a place to practice, and members,” Hollabaugh said.

She said there is enough funding “to send us to a few tournaments.” They are looking into leasing a boat and are debating between Lake Paragon and another lake for practices.

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