THE MIGHTY Murray River won’t be the only battleground for Sunraysia’s skiing stars this week.
Ten Mildura Ski Club members have their eyes on national glory at Darwin’s Berry Springs for the Tournament Water Ski Australia (TWSA) National Championships, beginning on Thursday.
Juniors Miller McRae and Joey Sherry will tackle the Under 14 boys slalom title, while Tom Golsworthy will try his hand in the Under 17 slalom and jump.
Scott McRae (Over 35 men’s slalom) and Mike Gilman (Over 45 men’s slalom) round out the locals in the title hunt, while non-local club members Lee and Tim Martin (Warrnambool), and Bailey and Jack Christie (Melbourne) who both have set numerous State and National records at Cowra will also be in the medal mix.
Perhaps the biggest absentee from the group is Gavin McMillan (Open slalom and jump), who is nursing injured ribs following a nasty crash at the Victorian titles a few weeks ago.
Also out on the injury list is former Over 35 men’s Silver medallist Nigel Sparrow (ankles).
Chris Jake and Dylan Veal as well as Ashlee Matthews all qualified but are unable to attend.
Sparrow has backed Gilman in for a podium finish, while he believes Miller McRae could be a dark horse for a surprise victory.
“He (Miller) has been a little inconsistent with his skiing, but if he puts together two really good rounds he could be a sneaky chance for a podium finish, his form over the last two weeks says that he could just do it,” Sparrow said.
“Mike has previously done pretty well in his event. He is definitely a podium chance, my prediction is bronze.
“Joey has been a bit of a revelation since attending the Clubs ski school in September last year, it’s only his first year of competition.
“To be able to qualify for the Nationals in your first year is a fantastic effort, and it will be a massive experience for him, and will put him into a strong position next season when he is at the upper limit of his age group”
More than 200 competitors make up the huge field to tackle the man-made lakes in the Northern Territory’s capital city.
Sparrow said the club has been pleased with the increased development of the junior competitors.
“We’ve worked hard with our junior program over the last four or five years, especially since we’ve had the Cowra Station site,” he said.
“Tom is our first junior jump competitor since Gavin, who is 35 now, so that gives you an idea of where we’re at.
“The amount of juniors we have had close to Qualifying has been very pleasing as well.”
More information on Tournament skiing can be found on the clubs website www.milduraskiclub.org or at the Australian Water Ski and Wakeboard federation site www.awwf.com.au