When you think of water skiing, do you think of a lazy afternoon at the lake — a boat pulling a skier behind it? Well, think again! Meet Danyelle Bennet, a 15-year old water skiing sensation from Zachary, Louisiana. Taught by her father at age two, Danyelle competed in her first competition at age five. "I slalomed in my first competition — everyone else was on one ski and I had to use two skis, I felt a little silly, but it was a good experience."
Danyelle has come a long way since her days of two-ski slaloming. She most recently won the Rolex Jr. Masters in Pine Mountain, Georgia. She was among the top five juniors in the World to be invited, and, oh, did we mention she was the youngest? She also traveled to Australia for three weeks to compete.
Danyelle is a three event-er. This means she competes in all three categories of water skiing slalom, tricking, and jumping. During a slalom run, Danyelle explains that a skier uses one ski to weave in and out of buoys, increasing their speed and shortening their rope on each pass but, once you miss a buoy, you're out. Danyelle's favorite part of the competition is tricking this is where skiers use wider, shorter skies. They usually have 20 seconds to go down the lake and 20 seconds back to show their stuff like surface and wake turns, jumping over their rope, and flipping. Danyelle says her hardest trick to land is the toe-wake line back. "I turn 180 degrees in one direction so now I am backwards on my skis. Then I have to spin 360 degrees back around so I am facing the right way and I have to jump over the rope!" The final part of a three event-er is jumping. This is where judges measure the distance from the ramp to where the skier lands.
Being a three event-er in water skiing takes a lot of practice! Danyelle is dedicated to the sport and staying fit she works out on the water about four days a week and trains in the off-season too. "You can't really ski all year round well, you can, but it's really cold! I do aerobics and lots of exercises that strengthen my back too."
Danyelle says she and other skiers take safety very seriously, especially when they jump. "It is mandatory that you wear a helmet when you jump, and a jumpsuit that is padded to protect your body in case you hit the water really hard, and it helps you float too."
It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an experienced water skier like Danyelle, make sure you play it safe
always wear a life jacket and make sure you know your state's safety rules and the rules of the waterways you are on!
Ride the Wake
Wanna' know how to get started? Danyelle suggests checking out USA Water Ski
and contacting your local parks and lakes to gather more information on beginners' classes and park schedules. Once you've done your homework, it's time to strap on some skis and break some wakes. Danyelle says for beginners, using two skis is the way to go. It teaches you to feel comfortable on the water and you can start out slowly add buoys when you feel like you need a challenge. And don't get frustrated! Even though she's got 13 years of experience under her belt, Danyelle says she still has bad days on the water. "I'll be skiing well one day doing each event consistently and then all of a sudden, I can't do something that I could do the day before. I start falling and get really frustrated. But, you just have to back the boat up, take it slow, and do it over and over again...eventually you'll get it!');return false"
more info on water skiing!
Mark "Animal" Turner is an Xpert too. Wanna know he rocked the water skiing world