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Stillwater hosts state water ski championships

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By Greg Woods

sports@hclocal.com

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The Kentucky State Water Ski Championship took place on Saturday and Sunday at Stillwater Lake (formerly the Eminence city reservoir) just outside of Eminence.

The Water Ski championships consisted of competition in three events: slalom, tricks and jumping.

On Friday a Junior Development Clinic was held to kick off the weekend. Members of the Kentucky Water Ski Federation helped kids as young as nine years old to sharpen their skills in the different disciplines.

On Saturday the competition started with the tricks discipline as men and women from several age divisions vied for the title of state champion. Ryan Harris of Nicholasville wowed the crowd with a couple of flips to highlight the event.

Ryan’s sister Lauren also impressed with several intricate tricks.

In the jumping event that followed, competitors approached a ramp in the middle of the lake at high speed on two skis and launched themselves into the air. Some of the competitors flew over 140 feet through the air.

The slalom event capped off the day. In Kentucky slalom is the most popular event and several competitors covering a wide age range made impressive runs.

The slalom event is performed on one ski by an athlete attempting to negotiate his/her way around the outside of six buoys in a zigzag course without falling or missing a buoy in consecutive passes. The athletes receive a point for each buoy that he/she rounds. The athlete who skis around the most buoys and scores the most points wins the event.

Each competitor begins with a 75-foot rope at the minimum boat speed for his/her division. After each successful pass the speed is increased until they reach their maximum speed. Once maximum speed is reached the rope is shortened in pre-measured lengths until the athlete misses a buoy or falls.

Leon Leonard, 67, of Eminence and the owner of Stillwater Lake, competed in the slalom event and had an impressive run. Leonard holds the state record in the slalom for his age group.

On Sunday the competitors repeated the order of events and their best run in each event from the two days determined where they placed.