I had a few different ideas for titles of this post, but I think this word was used more often than all other adjectives the other day in Milwaukee. A close second for the title would have been "It's wicked hot" which was Wade's phrase of the day as we endured the mid-40's air and water temps of the great midwest in October.
Wade Williams and his buddy Joe have been scoping out the Juneau Park Pond as tournament ski site for years. This pond had never been skied on before, and for all we know never had a powerboat on it (much less a 300+ hp ski boat) before. We changed all that a couple days ago. Wade needed some help in the way of a ski boat and a portable slalom course, and tidy examples of both happen to reside in my garage. So, I volunteered my time and equipment in order to help make some history in Milwaukee with these guys.
Unknowns ruled my thoughts on the lake as the launch day grew near. Would it be deep enough? Would there be stumps? Shallow areas? Boulders? Shopping carts? Bodies? Would the boat ramp work, would we get stuck in the mud? Would somebody call the cops? I mean, really, there were a lot of variables at play. However, the boat "ramp" (read: cleared area of shoreline) worked perfectly, the lake was deep, straight, and perfect for 2000+ linear feet, sheltered from wind, and amazing. Willows and other large trees lined the shores of the pond, offering near-glassy conditions in high-teens crosswinds. It would be tough to even engineer a better ski lake. There was a dock, a bathroom, hot showers, and everything. What a setup. And the setting? Stunning. Beautiful, tidy park with a skyline on one side and a harbor on the other. It doesn't get better than this, people. Add fall colors to the mix and you get an epic day. I've always thought Milwaukee was a great town (plus, they have the Safe House bar), but this park made me want to move there! Great spot.
So, we launched*, surveyed, dropped in the course (perfect shot the first time, btw), and skied it. We even put mags on the course. I was the only guy in a drysuit and I skied the worst- go figure on that one. Wade hopped into the 47 degree water with a must've-been-.5mil suit on and boldly started off at 32@34, then 36mph. After a few passes, all skiers were cooked. It was just way too cold to do any extensive or serious skiing. To put it in perspective, by the time I got up behind the boat the first time, I had already lost all feeling in my feet. I had no idea how far my foot was in the kicker before my pullout. Crazy cold.
People were pulling over on the highway to see this spectacle. A ski boat thundering down a slalom course on a paddle boat pond in the heart of a large city. People were stopping walking their dogs, jogging, or driving by the parking lot. We drew a LOT of attention and it felt great. It just goes to show how much PR a location like this would bring to the sport. Tons of exposure.
So, all indications point to a pro event here August 6th 2010. If you're anywhere NEAR the midwest, you will not want to miss this event. I can tell you for sure that the location is AMAZING and this is going to be an epic event. It will go down in history (the history of water skiing at least). I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to ski this site. I was the 3rd person to ski on this lake, ever, and I think the first person to fall at 1 ball on this lake, ever. So there. Thanks for having us there Wade, glad to contribute in any way to this event. It's going to be amazing! Here's a photo gallery from the test day. Enjoy, and let me know what your thoughts are about this event!
*I shouldn't have to say this, but look- do NOT launch your ski boat into Juneau Park pond, ever. Extensive research, PR relations and special permissions were required for this test event. As they say, "don't try this at home".
CedarLakeSkier, 10/16/2009: I've been to this park and often thought that pond would be great for skiing. I wish I knew about this beforehand. I would have taken a trip with you. Maybe I would have been the first to fall a 1 ball :-)
If I recall that pond, it is surrounded by trees. It will be interesting to see where they put spectators and judges.
Oh, and the safe house is OK (if you know the password and have reservations) but as a brewer I would think the micro-breweries are what you would be interested in when you are in milwaukee (sprecher, rock bottom, lakefront, another on the south end of the river.. riverfront??). Also, many of the restaurants along the river have docks to pull up and eat. It does seem like a nice town as long as you stay near and east of the river
jhughes, 10/16/2009: Cedar, definitely have to stop by Lakefront. My buddies have all been on the tour and say it was the best brewery tour they've ever been on. Very entertaining, funny, and awesome.
Lakewaterjunky, 11/24/2009: What a great experience for you guys! Did I miss more tree clearing? From viewing the slideshow, that lake seems to be lacking in unobstructed places for spectator friendly shoreline.