You must have many memories and experiences as a water skier winning different competitions. Share some such experiences which are precious to you and embedded in your heart.
In 2016, I qualified for the U17 World Waterski Championship to be held in San Bernardo, Chile. I was extremely excited to qualify, as it had always been a goal of mine to compete in a Junior World Championships. Along with the excitement came the stress of being unaware if I would be able to attend the tournament due to the significant financial commitment needed to prepare for and attend the event. Since Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, the World Championships were to be held in January of 2017. This meant that I would have to go to Florida to train before the tournament as my lake would be covered in 4 feet of ice. I set up a crowdfunding campaign for $10 000 and began looking for supporters. The reaction to the campaign was amazing.
I was receiving contributions from people I had never met, but who wanted to support my journey and provide me with the same opportunity as the other skiers. The platform was open in the spring for two months and I was able to raise the funds I needed to pay for my traveling and training expenses for Worlds. I spent the summer and fall training at my home in Canada with my family. Once school started, I was skiing in the morning before school when I could, and was playing high school basketball after school. In October, when it was becoming very difficult to ski at home, I went to Florida for what was supposed to be two weeks to try to maintain my skiing as I knew I would soon not be skiing at home. Unfortunately, October is hurricane season in Florida, and I came home after 5 days to avoid Hurricane Matthew. When I got home, I tried to ski as often as I could, just to stay on the water.
It became too cold to ski in our slalom course, so I resorted to free skiing, so I would not have to continually drop in the water. The air was often just above freezing in the morning when I would ski. At the end of October, we had our first big snow fall of the season, but I knew I needed to keep skiing to stay in shape for Worlds. Luckily, after the snowfall we had another round of fall weather and I was able to ski a couple times a week into November, when we could no longer keep the boat in the water. From November 8th until December 10th, when I returned to Florida, I did not get any on the water training at all. I slowly became more and more stressed about whether I would be prepared for Worlds, as I saw photos and videos of all my competitors training while I was attending school and playing basketball. I began to have negative thoughts of “what if I go to Worlds and I ski poorly… then all those people who paid for me to go will have wasted their money”.
I knew that these thoughts were not going to help me. I pushed them back and convinced myself that I would ski fine and the people who funded my way weren’t expecting me to win. They just wanted me to be able to go to Worlds and have the chance to compete. I also tried to convince myself that even if I didn’t ski well, the training that I got to do before Worlds was very beneficial as I developed as an athlete. As much as I tried to push the negative thoughts out of my head, they were still at the back of my mind and began resurfacing when I returned to Florida and got back on the water. I tried to get rid of the thoughts again and I didn’t tell anyone that I was feeling pressure due to the campaign. When we arrived in Chile my ski bag did not show up, but it came the next day so I only missed one day of training.
Training went well in Chile and I was confident skiing at that site. The morning of the preliminary round arrived and I felt relatively calm, but that feeling did not last long. I was on the dock getting ready and I knew the score I needed to get into finals. As I got into the water my nerves hit me like a ton of bricks. All I could think about was how much money people had paid for me to get there. I was no longer skiing for myself; I was also skiing for the people who had donated to my fundraising campaign. I ran my opening pass at 28 off and dropped in the water at the other end of the lake. Typically, when I ski in tournaments my first pass tends to calm my nerves and gets me into a rhythm. Not at this tournament.
As I was sitting in the water while they shortened the rope, my nerves increasingly got worse. I became more and more anxious that I might waste my contributors’ money. The same thing happened after 32 off. I knew I needed 3 buoys at 35 off to secure a spot in the finals. I was panicking, my main goal was to not fall before buoy three instead of being confident and skiing a pass that I ski every day. I was very cautious and tentative at 35 and was running a little late at four but I still should have been able to complete the pass with ease. Due to my nerves, I ended up falling around 5 balls. I was not very happy to say the least. I had made finals, so I knew I needed to mentally move forward. My parents met me at the shore as I swam in and I voiced my concerns to them for the first time. My Dad thought that I may have felt the pressure of the campaign but he didn’t want to bring it up in case I wasn’t thinking about the donors. Both my parents told me that no matter what, the people who had supported me would not feel their donations were wasted if I didn’t win, as over the year, I had very beneficial training time in Florida that I wouldn’t have gotten without the campaign.
The support I received from the waterski community that night was amazing. My friends from all over the World, as well as some of the Pro skiers I train with, sent me messages telling me to relax, that the hard part was done now I just had to go out and ski. I sent out an email to my campaign contributors to tell them that I had made finals and I received an overwhelmingly positive response. They were all thrilled that I had made finals and were excited that I had another chance to ski. Not one of them cared that I hadn’t skied my best in prelims. Even though I knew that, it was a huge relief to hear it from them. Their excitement and supportive words washed away all nervousness I had. I had one day between semis and finals where I was able to internalize their unconditional support. I had the opportunity to talk to the Canadian Sport psychologist, Jaret Llewelyn who was the team coach as well as my parents to attempt to overcome my mental barrier.
The voice that had been nagging at the back of my head began to disappear and the feeling that I was skiing for myself returned. The day of finals I was one of the first skiers off the dock, which I think was a blessing. When I was standing on the dock, I felt normal and I had a completely different mindset than a few days before. Since I went off the dock early, I knew I needed to set a big score which allowed me to just go out and ski. I felt confident and I was focused on my skiing, not my fundraising campaign. I ended up running 4 buoys at 11.25 m (38 off). I was very happy with that score and the fact that I was able to overcome such a major mental barrier. My score ended bringing me to the top of the podium. My campaign contributors were extremely happy for me, but it was just icing on the cake for them. They were just proud that they helped me get there. I am very thankful for all their support as they were the reason that I was able to attend worlds. They taught me to believe in myself. I know now that if someone chooses to contribute to your skiing, they are contributing to support you and help you reach your goals and gain access to amazing opportunities.
They want what is best for you and they do not care whether you come first or last as long as they have helped you to have the same chance as others and to be able to grow as a person and athlete.
You have been the Canadian National Champion on six different occasions and are the current U17 and U21 National record holder. What traits do you consider as a water skier led to this meteoritic rise in the sport of waterskiing?
Waterskiing is an exhilarating sport and the manner in which scoring occurs drives you to always want to do better. This mindset caused me to want to excel in the sport. I think my competitive drive has allowed me to excel in the sport, as I know that I can always improve and I am never satisfied with my scores. My competitive nature rises from having an older brother, who I idolised and wanted to be able to keep up with, in everything he was doing. Had my brother not pushed me in everything we did when we were little, I do not think I would be the competitor that I am today. Coachability and willingness to learn are also very important traits.
The desire to learn and improve makes the process of training exciting and enjoyable. I also believe that one of the reasons I have been successful in skiing is because I played as many sports as I could when I was growing up. I think the variety of sports allowed me to develop great body awareness and coordination. I also think that since I played many sports and only was able to ski for half the year, I was able to avoid burnout. The limited training time has forced me to have a higher purpose every time I step on the water, so I have been able to focus on my training and put all my energy into maximizing each session.
You are a U21 Women’s Slalom World Record holder. Elaborate on this exceptional milestone in your career with a score of 1 at 41 off from the Hilltop Pro-Am on 16th August 2020.
On August 16th, 2020, I ran [email protected]’ off at Hilltop Lake in Washington, setting a U21 World Slalom Record. In doing this, I also became the 10th female in the World to ever run 39.5’ off in tournament. I had been trying to run 39.5’ off in a tournament for three years so to finally put everything together and run “39” was incredibly exciting. Once I ran “39” and became the 10th female to run the pass, it took the pressure off of running the pass and therefore, made it less of a mind game when I made it to that pass again. This season I have been able to run “39” multiple times and I am currently leading the Pro Tour Leader Board with 5 event wins and three 2nd place finishes in the 8 events this season. Without getting through “39” at Hilltop last season, I think my season would have looked much different, as I would not have come into the season with the mental barrier of running 39.5’ off being broken. This season, I have been able to push my U21 World Record to 2 at 41’ off.
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