The east end of Chimney Lake was the place to be on the weekend as Williams Lake’s very own water skiing family hosted the 2022 B.C. Water Ski Provincials Aug. 20 and 21.
The atmosphere on the shore was supportive and friendly as 60 athletes from across the province took part in the event which included three disciplines: slalom, tricks and jump. Slalom ran first, trick second and jumping was the finale.
Overall, Parnell said the event exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“We just wanted to extend the biggest thank you to so many local businesses who supported this event,” Parnell said Wednesday. “Literally no small town in Canada sees this kind of support. The athletes were so impressed.”
Once again the Pinette family dominated the competition, with Parnell, Conley, Lucas, Linden and Lauren all capturing first overall in their categories and punching their tickets to the 2023 Westerns and Nationals at a yet-to-be-determined place and time. Parnell placed first in trick, second in slalom, first in jump and first overall. Conley placed first in trick, first in jump, third in slalom and first overall. Lucas swept all his events. Linden placed first in trick, first in slalom, second in jump and first overall. Lauren placed first in slalom, first in jump, second in trick and first overall. Cam also placed first in adaptive jump and slalom, garnering cheers and high fives from his family, friends and spectators.
For the events, slalom skiers ski between six fixed buoys past the judges. Trick skiing involves a 175 m course which competitors get two passes through and can perform as many tricks as possible within a specific time, again in front of the judges who were in a boat and on a platform on the water. Then there is ski jumping – the premiere event which is described by Water Ski & Wakeboard British Columbia as “the most extreme discipline in classic, three-event skiing.”
Conley, who is planning to go pro now that he is finished university, won the Junior Worlds in jump in 2017, setting a record of 190 feet and is expected to attend the Pan Am Games in Chile in November along with his brother Lucas and possibly Linden. On the weekend, Conley jumped 210 feet and was set to win the event with that jump but chose to take one more and had a bad crash.
“He was the last skier on the last jump,” said his dad, noting Conley spent the night in the hospital with a collapsed lung and concussion. “When you are pushing the limits in an extreme sport, unfortunately, it’s not if you are ever going to crash but when. And this was a tough one but he is at home now recovering.”
Despite the risks, Parnell said water skiing is a great family sport overall.
“We all train together and hang out together and they love it,” he said.
When asked what his greatest achievement is in the sport, Parnell said “getting beat by my kids, honestly. That’s the best.”
Gary Whittaker of Kelowna was the event’s oldest competitor at 67.
“I like it, it’s fun,” he said of the sport. “It’s a challenge, every day is something different and you keep learning even as you get older and ski a little worse you still learn, it’s interesting that way.”
Leigh Pinette, mom to Conley, Cam, Lucas, Linden and Lauren, described the provincials as a grassroots event which provides an opportunity for beginner skiers to see what competitive skiing is all about.
She usually competes with her family as well, but took a supportive role this year after suffering an injury last year.
The week leading up to the provincials, she said Conley and Lucas also coached a ski camp as well at Chimney Lake, giving back to the sport they all love.
She also thanked everyone for making it possible for them to host the provincials in the Cariboo.
“It’s a group effort for sure. We couldn’t do the event without all the amazing help from club members across B.C.”
Other local results include local competitor Alexee Gustafson who placed first in slalom and second in jump to capture first overall in her category.
Meanwhile Liv Rankin, also of Williams Lake, captured first in slalom and first in jump.
Addyson Cullum placed fifth in slalom and Ashtynn Cullum placed second in slalom and first in jump.
A concession on site run by neighbours and volunteers helped raise money for the local volunteer fire department.
– with a file from Ruth Lloyd