Ski season set to make a splash

Published on 06 December 2013

Bridgewater becomes a mecca for water skiers again this summer as national champions rub shoulders with keen students of the sport in a number of high-profile events.

Monday (9 Dec.) marks the start of this year’s Junior Ski Development Camp, organised by the Bridgewater Water Ski Club.

Then, over the Australia Day weekend, competitors from around the country will contest the Australian Masters Water Ski Tournament, again hosted by the Bridgewater club in conjunction with the Loddon Shire and two associated sports bodies.

Later in the season, two more tournaments will showcase the skills of some of the country’s most skilled skiers.

The junior ski school starting on Monday is divided into two one-week blocks, with 14 participants each time.

Principal of the school Craig Stephen said the program would cover the three disciplines of slalom, jump and trick skiing.

“There are quite a few students from Bendigo and Boort this time, though in the past people have come from as far away as Queensland and New South Wales,” Mr Stephen said.

“Our head coach again this year is Karina Nowlan, assisted by New South Wales skier Trent Nelson-Cranfield and myself.”

Newcastle-born Ms Nowlan took up the sport at 11 years of age and has gone on to soar to a ranking of third in the world, winning a long list of titles since she turned professional in 2008.

A former equal world record-holder, she is now based in the US, but has regularly represented Australia in world title events.

Mr Nelson-Cranfield was Under 21 men’s overall champion at this year’s national titles, while Mr Stephen has spent 25 years as a water ski coach.

“The Australian Masters has featured up to 70 competitors in the past, representing all parts of the country,” Mr Stephen said.

“This year, we’re introducing a new medal to honour the Thurlow siblings, Glenn and Kaye, who started their amazing sporting careers on the Loddon at Bridgewater.

“Other highlights will be a lamb spit roast on the Saturday night during a new twilight jumps event from 5.30pm, our Australia Day breakfast and the presentation night.”

Glenn Thurlow, a member of the Australian Sport Hall of Fame, won the Australian Jumps Championship 12 times and was a jumps medallist at six world titles.

He became the first water-skier in the world to break the 200-feet mark for a jump when, in 1983, he soared 202 feet, or 61.5 metres.

Sister Kaye became the first Australian woman to score more than 3000 points at tricks and was a six-time winner of the Australian overall champion crown.

“The Loddon River has been one of the key components of water skiing in Australia over the past 60 years,” Mr Stephen said.

“In fact, 2015 will mark the 60th year of skiers using the river in this organised way.

“It not only provides a base for Australian skiers, but also for international competitors, who make it a home base for practice before the Moomba Masters in March each year.”