LAKE PLACID - Crowds gathered at Mid's Park Friday, Aug. 1 to watch waterskiers cruise down Mirror Lake at speeds of up to 30 mph during slalom and trick competitions.
John Howl, 74, of Virginia, participated in the slalom skiing Friday afternoon and described how it's scored.
"With slalom skiing you have a minimum boat speed that you have to start, and for each ball that you make, you receive one point," Howl said. "And then they increase the boat speed to the maximum boat speed (of 30 mph). Then to make it more difficult they, shorten the line."
Dean Rudy, 54, of Rochester gets some air during the waterski trick competition Friday afternoon on Mirror Lake.
(Photo — Matthew Turner)
If a waterskier successfully turns through all six buoys, this is considered a "perfect pass." How many points a waterskier is awarded is based on the boat speed and the length of the line. The course setup for slalom skiing is 75 feet wide.
Howl said waterskiers go at much faster speeds than 30 mph during a turn because they're being whipped around by the boat.
"It's like being shot off an aircraft carrier," he said. "You go around the ball, you set your ski, and then boom! You fire off across the wake."
Dean Rudy, 54, of Rochester, participated in the trick competition and explained the rules.
The trick competition is scored by judges based on the difficulty of each trick; each one is given a point value, he said. The waterskier has 20 seconds to pull off as many tricks as possible.
"You select tricks you think you have a good chance of pulling off without falling," Rudy said.
On each boat there is a driver and another person with a video camera recording the tricks. The video will serve as an instant replay for the judges to review each performance.
Rudy made several tricks on his first pass up Mirror Lake. However, on his second pass, he wiped out during his first trick.
He has been waterskiing since he was 6 years old and competitively since he was 30.
"It's a fantastic venue for the sport of waterskiing to get into the public eye," he said. "It is an absolutely flawless venue. I want to graciously thank Lake Placid for having us, and we are working to do our best for Lake Placid as well."
He hopes the event comes back to the village next year.
"I can't wait," Rudy said.
Peggy Harris, the assistant chief safety official for the Eastern Region Water Ski Championships, said waterskiing is a family affair and that most of the 150 or so waterskiers brought their families along with them to Lake Placid.
"There are lots and lots of kids, and lots and lots of families here today," she said.
Motorboats are not normally allowed on Mirror Lake, and their presence did bother some locals interviewed over the weekend. Harris, however, said she heard "nothing but positive comments" from waterskiers and onlookers alike on Friday.
"Everybody loves this environment; it's so pretty here," Harris said. "I haven't heard a single skier saying they aren't having a good time.
"I've been talking to folks up on the sidewalk that have stopped to watch, and they all seem to be quite interested and engaged," she said. "Most of them have said, 'I'm going to come back and watch the jumps on Saturday.'"
The jumping competition was scored based on whoever can jump farthest. The waterskiers' jumping distances were videotaped and then measured by a computer to determine the winner.