Eminence opens state-wide water ski competitions

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By Tommie Kendall

Sports editor

Under near-perfect weather, Eminence’s Stillwater Lake hosted Kentucky’s first water ski competition of the season Saturday with a smaller turnout than normal.

Just 18 skiers competed in the slalom-only event, which was down more than 20 percent from previous years. But there were still plenty of solid performances for the first competition of the season.

In the Boys 2 event, for those aged 10-13 on Jan. 1 of this year, the top three marks were all personal-best scores. Sam Kever, age 14 of Versailles, won with a score of 75.5, while Ryan Harris, 11 of Nicholasville, was second with a score of 74 and Hunter McKune, 12 of Georgetown, was third with a score of 56.

Leon Leonard, the owner of Stillwater Lake and lone Henry Countian competing, won his age group as the only skier competing in Men’s 6, for those 60-65. It was his debut in his new category.

Leonard, who bought Eminence Lake in 1995 and changed the name to Stillwater for water skiing purposes, credits the small turnout over the weekend to the price at the pump. Even the water skiers are feeling the effects as the gas price continues to soar to record-setting numbers.

“I don’t know if it was gasoline or what, but we were definitely down this year,” Leonard said. “Gas price has got to the point where it will cost $50, $70 or more just to get here and back. I’m skipping a tournament in Paducah this upcoming weekend because of it, so I know it has an effect.”

Stillwater Lake will also host the Kentucky State Water Ski Championships July 12-13. The last two times Stillwater played host to the state championship, sanctioned by the American Water Ski Association, was in 2005 and 2002.

“I would like to think we will have the same turnout at the state championship that we’ve had in previous years,” Leonard said. “But based on this tournament over the weekend, I have a back-of-mind fear that we will be down, too. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd though.”

At the competition Saturday, slalom was the only event on schedule. In slalom, individuals perform on one ski, attempting to negotiate around the outside of six buoys in a zigzag course without falling or missing a buoy in consecutive passes. The athletes receive one point for every buoy that he or she successfully rounds.

Competitors start out at a certain speed, and if they clear all buoys then the speed increases on each pass until the maximum speed is reached. Then, the rope shortens each pass until the athlete fails to clear all buoys.

At the state championships in three weeks, all three skiing events will be on the schedule — slalom, trick and jump events — in numerous age divisions.

The tricks event is the most technical of the three. An athlete attempts to perform as many tricks as possible during two 20-second passes. Each trick has an assigned point value and an athlete may perform each trick only once.

Meanwhile, the jumps event has no style points.

Athletes have three attempts to jump as far as possible off a ramp. The ramp is set at a certain height, depending on the age category and gender of the jumper.

For more information about Stillwater Lake, questions about the upcoming Kentucky State Water Ski Championships in July or to find out how to get involved in competitive water skiing, contact Leonard at (502)845-2850.

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