Alpine event melds water and snow | SierraSun.com
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Alpine event melds water and snow

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

Under cool, cloudy skies, Alpine Meadows celebrated its last weekend of the ski season with the fourth annual Nautique Gates and Wakes Pro challenge.

The tongue in cheek competition paired professional downhill skiers and snowboarders with professional water skiers and wakeboarders.

The two-fold event began on Friday, May 13, at the “buttery” smooth Sierra Springs just outside Carson City.

Nine-time Pro Water Ski Tour Season Champion and four-time World Champion Andy Mapple headlined the competitors chart for pro water skiers. Mapple was joined by colleagues Mike Kjellander, 1999 Italian Masters Jump Champion Britta Llewellyn, and Sweden’s four-time World Slalom Champion Helena Kjellander.

Filling out the other half of the pro water sports roster were wakeboarding pros Duncan Lee, and recent Idaho transplant turned Tahoe local Nate Holland.

Holland also competes as a pro snowboarder, along with Boardercross and Big Air pros John Graham and last year’s Gates and Wakes amateur champ Brian Noe.

Olympic skier Tasha Nelson and former Olympic legend A.J. Kitt competed as downhill ski pros, along with Tahoe local and former Olympic Demonstration Team skier Todd Kelly.

The all star line up passed a sunny warm day at Sierra Springs, meeting one another, and comparing skills on the water with the help of West Coast Correct Craft’s Nautique line of wakeboarding and water ski boats.

“It was really cool getting to meet other professionals in the industry,” said snowboarder John Graham. “I looked up to a lot of these guys as a kid so it was a great learning experience getting to meet them.”

On Saturday, May 14, the competition moved to Alpine Meadows where a slalom course starting just below Roundhouse chair descended to the base of the Resort. There, local competitors had the opportunity to meet and ski with the pros.

The conditions, according to many competitors, were more than difficult.

“It’s real firm and real fast out there today,” commented Brian Noe. “I should have sharpened my edges.”

The competitive edge, however, was less important than the fun.

A lighthearted competition that gives athletes a chance to learn from and compete with the pros, the event drew 75 amateur competitors.

It was a rare showing of camaraderie, but skiers, snowboarders, wakeboarders, and waterskiers alike commiserated the cool temperatures, and calcified conditions. The lake promised to be no more inviting.

“At least the lunch is hot,” commented one spectator at Sunnyside Resort.

The breaded cashew salmon and grilled chicken lunch at Sunnyside Resort kicked off the second round of competition. Competitors made their way down the ramps to Lake Tahoe for the freestyle wakeboard and waterski competition.

The normally turquoise blue of the lake was instead a wind-buffed haze of gray and navy.

“The purpose,” explained Bob Bense, race organizer from Correct Craft, “is bragging rights.” So, if the conditions were even worse on Lake Tahoe, the intrepid locals can boast that they scored just as well or justifiably worse because of the difficult conditions.

The results, however, were less clear. The scoring and handicap system worked differently for each set of pro competitors, snowskier/waterskiers, snowboarder/wakeboarders, and for the various combinations of amateurs.

In the end, Mike Kjellander took first place overall in the men’s ski competition with a total time of 27.56. A.J. Kitt secured second place with a time of 29.00, followed by Todd Kelley at 29.35 and Andy Mapple with 34.12.

For the women’s ski competition, the results followed the preliminary waterski results through to the end. Helena Kjellander finished first overall with a time of 28.76, followed by Britta Llewellyn with 32.93, Janie Fausold at 33.72, and Tasha Nelsom in 4th place with a time of 35.00.

The men’s board competition was jovial and friendly. Not only do these athletes compete against one another in both snowboarding and wakeboarding pro tours, they also stay at one another’s houses when on the road.

It was no surprise to the competitors that Tahoe newcomer Nate Holland secured first place with a time of 28.71, followed by Duncan Lee with 29.10, Brian Noe in third at 30.12, and John Graham at 31.15.

In the amateur competition, Curtis Tischler finished first in the men’s snowski/waterski category with a total time of 24.46, followed by Tom Burton with 25.67, and Rich Paraginin at 26.41.

In the snowski/wakeboard category Scott Langora, Tony Scapini, and Barry Giansiracusa finished in the top slots with times of 25.26, 26.81, and 27.44 respectively.

Aaron Wilson, Dave Ward, and Matt Hamilton held down the podium in the snowboard/wakeboard show with times of 29.10, 30.97, 32.06 respectively.

The women’s snowski/waterski competition ended with Alison Brickner securing the top post with 28.94, followed by Erika Lar Rieo with 29.02, and Heather Langoria at 29.18.

Beata Gawin took first in the women’s snowski/wakeboard racket with 32.57, chased by Anne Bourguignon at 33.19 and Debra Ragland at 34.52.

Lastly, Laura Seegmiller, Julie Tracy, and Michelle Shetler finished with scores 32.89, 33.60, and 33.89.

The day ended with an awards ceremony, raffle, and silent auction, which grossed more than $5,000. The proceeds will be divided between the Geoff Carrington Rehab Foundation and Disabled Sports, USA.

Outdoor Life Network has an agreement with Correct Craft to air the pro competition at Sierra Springs. No times or dates are available as yet, but check your local listing for details.

For more information about competitor standings, West Coast Correct Craft, or Nautique Gates and Wakes for next year call West Coast Correct Crafts at 916-985-4383.


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