The Florida Southern water ski team racked up glittering gold hardware for themselves even before their collegite season started. During the week of August 8-13, water skiers from around the nation gathered to compete in the 74th GOODE U.S. Water Ski National Championships at Broadside Harbor Lakes in Caldwell, Id.
Among the throng of athletes, incoming freshman Allie Nicholson from Nashville, Tn., junior Cole McCormick from Winter Haven, Fl., and rising senior Ellie Horton from Moorpark, CA., all competed in their respective divisions – Nicholson and Horton in the professional open women group and McCormick in the men’s 18-25 years of age division.
All three skiers captured winning titles. Horton and Nicholson claimed their first open women gold medals in tricks and slalom, respectively, and McCormick also secured his first title in slalom.
Being the first time she competed in the open division at nationals, Horton tried to stay within herself as she prepared on the dock for her turn.
“Keeping my thoughts and body calm help with the nerves,” Horton said. “I try to do yoga and stay within myself to focus on how I need to perform on the water before it is my turn. Pretending that I am about to ski just another tournament helps keep my anxiety low.”
Horton finished the tournament with a gold medal in open women tricks, scoring 4,650 points as well as a silver finish in the jump and overall division.
“I didn’t ski as well as I had hoped, but when I discovered that I won the gold medal I was ecstatic,” Horton says. “Winning my first open national championship was such a great feeling and a huge confidence booster.”
Nicholson also participated for the first time in the open women division at nationals. Ranked in the second seed she knew she had her work cut out for her if she wanted to bring home the trophy.
“Going into the event I knew that being second seed I would have to put up a big enough score and that I would really have to make Makayla Haw (the top seed) work to beat me,” Nicholson says. “I knew that whatever score I did had to be good enough to win or she would beat me.”
Her win was a big accomplishment, especially since she had just moved out of the amateur division.
“It felt awesome because I had just moved out of the junior event, so I got my name out and known in the professional world,”Nicholson says.
Nicholson seized the open women’s slalom title with a score of 3.5 buoys at 38 feet off.
McCormick came into his event ranked top seed and skied up to par, claiming the win with 1.5 buoys at 39.5 feet off.