A Masters Perspective
If you grew up around water skiing or have followed towed watersports at all the past 57 years, you know about the Masters. Callaway Gardens, Robin Lake, the setting, the rings – it’s all part of the legacy and aura. Simply put, the Masters has been one of the most prestigious events for a long, long time. As a kid growing up slalom skiing, the Masters has always been an event that I’ve wanted to win. I actually tried for four years to qualify for the Jr. Masters and got real close, but never made it. I remember around 2005 we got to do a wakeskate demo at the Masters and that was my first time on Robin Lake. Even that was a highlight for me, just to do some tricks out there and be a part of the longest running watersports event.
When Nautiques announced there would be wakeskating in the Masters in 2010 I was psyched. The chance of being a Masters champion and doing it on my wakeskate was the ultimate combination. Having wakeskating be a part of the Masters, in my opinion, really legitimizes how difficult and competitive wakeskating is behind the boat. I came into that first event ready and with high confidence; and while I gave it my best, the nerves and pressure of being there got to me and I finished third. After that year it became my number one goal every season to win the Masters and get the ring.
In 2013 the conditions were perfect and everything finally clicked. I had one of those runs where when I finished I couldn’t even remember what I did. I whipped into the dock knowing I won and it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had on my wakeskate. Scott Byerly was in the boat and was the first person to congratulate me on the win. Truly epic feeling.
After winning 2013 I invited my parents up to come watch me defend my title in 2014. My semis run on Saturday was probably one of the best of my career and couldn’t wait for the finals. Later that afternoon my mom took a spill on her bike and got a concussion. I spent the whole night in the hospital with the family. She was ok, but I didn’t get much sleep that night. Finals didn’t go well and my mom felt so bad about what happened. I told her not to be upset and that we were coming back the next year and I was going to win.
Sure enough, everything came together and I ended up getting the win again in 2015 and became the first two-time winner with my parents there to witness it. After all of their support for so many years on the water, that was such an amazing feeling to share with them. Now I don’t go to the Masters without them!
This year I had a great second pass and got was able to win for the third time! It was a surreal feeling to go back-to-back and be a three-time champion. The Masters is such an historic event and to be part of that history is a real honor. For wakeskating to be included in Masters legitimizes what myself and other riders are doing, and the prestige of having those rings and being amongst the other Masters champions is a feeling that won’t ever go away.