June 18th, 2024

Water skiers rope in national medals

By Dale Woodard on August 6, 2021.

This was an event where being near the end of your rope was exactly where you wanted to be.

For the husband and wife team of Ryan and Mackenzie Beekman from Coaldale, it earned Western and National gold and bronze medals, respectively, as the duo strapped on their skis at the Canadian Western Waterski Championships July 30-31 and the Canadian National Waterski Championships Aug 1-2 at the Predator Bay Water Ski Club, 10 minutes south of Calgary.

At the event showcasing the top slalom, trick and jump skiers from across the country, Ryan, who skis at Stafford Lake, won the Men’s 3 (35-44) Slalom national title and the Men’s 3 slalom Western Canadian title.

That built on his last appearance at nationals in 2018 in Ontario where he won the men’s 3 slalom title as well.

Competing in her first nationals, Mackenzie earned the Western and National bronze medal in the Womens 3 (35-44) slalom.

The duo was joined by Ryan’s brother, Jason, who narrowly missed the podium with a fourth place finish in the Men’s 3 (35-44) slalom in both the National and Western Championships in his nationals debut.

“It was two events in one weekend,” said Jason of Westerns following Nationals.

The tournament format put the skier through a slalom course with the boat speed increasing and the rope length decreasing with each pass, increasing the degree of difficulty for the skier.

“A standard water ski rope is 75 feet, so it’s however many feet off the rope you go until you just can’t go anymore,” said Jason. “You fall or you miss a buoy.”

In his event, Ryan skied to the 12m line to earn the gold.

“Ryan skied a short line,” said Jason. “To put it in perspective, the pros are running a lot shorter of a line. Obviously, we’re not running professional lengths. The pros are running into 10, seven and five-metre lines.”

Last weekend’s gold medal was a repeat performance for Ryan after his 2018 gold medal in Ontario, but Jason said his brother’s first national event was back in 2004.

“We took a hiatus for a few years as we got older and family life started to happen, but he and I returned to wanting to do tournaments in 2017,” said Jason. “I broke my ankle that year, but he went to nationals. It was a bit of a disaster if you ask him. So the following year he went to Ontario for his redemption run and ended up winning it.”

Having just started competitive skiing two weeks ago, Mackenzie made the most of her debut with the bronze medal, skiing into the 18.25 metre line.

Jason said his sister-in-law has always been skiing, but made the decision to competitively ski shortly before Westerns and Nationals.

“Three-and-a-half weeks ago we saw they announced Nationals in Calgary and we talked about it around the campfire, about how cool that would be to go. I told my brother I wanted to give that a whirl and try to qualify.”

Jason missed a podium finish, but still moved up in his class, going in seeded last in eighth place before taking fourth place with a line of 14.25 metres.

“I came in as the bottom seed in my group. So to finish where I finished, I was happy with that. I hadn’t skied, tournament-wise, in 16 years. So that was a tournament personal best. In practice I’ll run into a 13-metre rope.”

A qualifying tournament was run two weeks prior in Calgary and Edmonton.

“A lot of people didn’t have their qualification standard because there were no tournaments last year,” said Jason. “So they ran an event two weeks ago in Calgary and then a week ago in Edmonton.”

Jason, however, didn’t qualify for Nationals until Westerns.

“I actually qualified the day prior,” he said.

“There was a lot of pressure at Westerns to get my nationals qualifier. Ryan and Mackenzie had already qualified, so we were there regardless. I was there either as a skier or as a fan.”

With their strong finishes, the trio qualify for nationals next year at a time and place to be determined.

“We’re already planning it when we find out where they are next year,” said Jason.

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