KNYSNA SPORT NEWS - Knysna residents and visitors are in for a treat, with the first competition of the 2020 South African waterski season taing place this weekend, 11 and 12 January at Portland Manor off the Rheenendal road.
South Africa's top waterski athletes will be joined by two top international water skier, former national women's USA champion Leza Harrison from Orlando and former world for trick skiing champion Yves Saintviteaux from Belgium.
Harrison, a former NASA aeronautical engineer who skies in the women's 65+ category, will be challenged by Jan Johnson, who lives in Cape Town but has been training in Knysna, in the same slalom category.
Harrison is ranked third in the world in this category and Johnson second, so competition is sure to be tough between the two friends who will meet again later this year in France at the World Waterski championships.
Other top skiers include Brett Nieuwstadt from Cape Town, who in 2008 was overall world champion for trick skiing, slalom and ramp jumping.
He will be joined by Dennis de Jongh from Pretoria who has made the Europe Africa championship podium several times for trick skiing as well as Ralph Katzwinkel who recently started slalom skiing internationally for the men's 55+ division.
Local skier Andrew Stam, who lives in Belvedere and who has also competed internationally, is in fine form and is the favorite to win his 45+ age category for slalom skiing.
Stam will be setting up all the facilities at the lake, where he also offers ski training for budding skiers.
All the skiers will complete in slalom skiing which is on a dedicated, homologated course comprising of six buoys which the skiers need to successfully go around at faster and faster speeds. The judges then shorted the ropes which makes each pass more difficult. The skiers final score is when they fall or miss a buoy.
Several of the skiers, most notably Saintviteaux, De Jongh and Harrison, will compete in the trick ski event which entails amazing manoevres on the water on a short, flat ski including flips and toe-holds which looks like gymnastics on water.
On Saturday the skiers start with two rounds of slalom skiing at 9am followed by two rounds of trick skiing. On Sunday there will be two rounds of slalom. Admission to the Portland Manor is free and refreshments will be available.
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