For Williams Lake water-skiier Parnell Pinette, the opportunity to wear the Canadian flag never gets old.
Pinette — who has competed in multiple national and international competitions — recently travelled to Orlando, Fla., from Oct. 8-10 for the World 35-Plus Water Ski Championships, which featured roughly 320 competitors from more than 30 countries spanning from around the globe.
“That’s a pretty special experience to wear your flag,” Pinette said of the opportunity. “They had a big opening and closing ceremonies where everyone walked out with their teams. It was really well done, the whole event.”
As a member of Team Canada Parnell competed in the water-ski jumping portion of the world championships — one of three events represented at the event (the other two are trick and slalom).
And after two days of preliminary competition and one final round of three jumps on the last day of the tournament, Pinette claimed 10th overall in the world.
The top 10 jumpers qualified for the final round after preliminary jumps, where Pinette achieved one of his longest jumps of the tournament — a 143-foot flight. In the preliminary round Pinette scored his longest jump of 146 feet which qualified him for the final.
“I exceeded a bit of what my goal was,” he said. “I finished top 10 so I was pretty happy. Top 12, top 13 was what I was optimistically looking for and I was hoping to make finals, which I ended up doing. This year they cut finals down from top 12 to top 10.”
Tragedy almost struck, however, during Pinette’s second jump of the final round.
“I had the biggest crash of the tournament in the finals,” Pinette said. “I was just going for it. I cut later than I should have and went harder and the result wasn’t pretty.”
Despite the setback causing some bruising and a sore knee, Pinette was able to bounce back for his third and final jump of the tournament. He said it was a bit nerve-racking after such a nasty crash.
“You don’t like to end on a crash,” he said.
Team Canada, meanwhile, finished third overall at the tournament behind Great Britain in second and the U.S. in first.
The opportunity to meet people from around the world was one of the highlights, he added.
“You’re sitting on the starting dock and some of the guys speak your language and some don’t, but most have some English,” he said.
“It’s definitely neat to share your passion with these guys from all over. Lots of times you’ve heard about them, but you’ve never actually been able to put a face to the name.”
He said the tournament was the biggest world championships there has been to date and featured the largest number of skiers along with the highest calibre of skill.
“It was just neat. You get to ski against a lot of your idols [from the past],” he said. “The level they’re skiing at is still very similar to their professional days.”