A wave of excitement

Water skiing championship holds final events.
Monday, July 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:31 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

An avid water-skier, Stacey Guilford didn’t compete Sunday at the Missouri Water Ski Championships. He didn’t seem to mind.

An Army reservist who lives on Lake Paragon, where the championships were held this weekend, returned from a year in Iraq on Wednesday. Guilford, a sergeant in the 106 Blackhawk Squadron out of Jefferson City, said one of the first things he did when he got back was to go skiing with his children, Jacob, 11, and Samantha, 14.

“Because I’ve been away, and they haven’t been able to get any water time at all,” Guilford said.

Guilford said he was too out of practice to compete in the men’s slalom competition, but he and his children will compete next weekend in the Kansas International Novice Tour at Lake Paragon.

The men’s slalom, trick and jump competitions were the championship’s final events on Sunday at Lake Paragon, a 24-acre man-made lake south of Columbia off Highway 63.

Tony Knight, of Lake St. Louis, won the trick and jump competitions in the men’s 3 division. His 147-foot jump was the longest of the tournament.

Knight, who also competes in motocross and hockey, said he likes those activities because of the adrenaline rush. Knight said a girlfriend told him if he didn’t do something once a week to get it out of his system, he gets in a bad mood.

“I mostly hurt myself,” Knight said.

The jumping was the crowd-pleasing event of the day.

“It’s definitely the most fun to watch,” tournament director Kathy Mertzlufft said.

The competitors said it’s a frightening event.

“When you’re coming up to (a jump) it looks like a five foot wall and you can’t see over it,” Columbia’s Eric Hatch said.

Hatch jumped 102 feet, a personal best, to win in the men’s 2 division.

“It’s an adrenaline rush; it’s addictive,” Hatch said. “It’s like tennis. If your form’s good, you’re golden. If not, all aboard the pain train.”

Skiers are permitted three passes on the ramp, a jump counts when the skier lands and skis away. The jumps range in height from five to six feet.

“Knees trees and freeze,” said Jeff Lindsay of Springfield, describing the process. “Bend your knees. Look at the trees. And freeze your position.”

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