FEATURE ‌ Grace on the Pond 

Waterskiing competition promises a ballet of boat and man

click to enlarge Forget Spoleto, Seth Stisher's Aqua-batic show will be of epic proportions at trophy lakes
  • Forget Spoleto, Seth Stisher's Aqua-batic show will be of epic proportions at trophy lakes

The H2Osmosis Pro Swerve Waterski Championships
June 2-3
Admission free, parking fee donated to charity
Qualifying rounds on Saturday, head-to-head finals on Sunday
Trophy Lakes, Johns Island

If you're looking for entertainment this weekend, you have a few options. How would you feel about the Shen Wei Dance Arts, "a rich, multi-layered fusion of movement and theater... at turns representational and abstract"? Or perhaps you find Shen Wei somewhat esoteric. Well then, what would you say to L'Ile de Merlin (Ou Le Monde Renverse), Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera of "lighthearted Baroque fantasy"?

If you feel, as I do, that L'Ile de Merlin is one of Gluck's lesser works, you may want to consider a third option: the H2Osmosis Pro Swerve Waterski Championships: King and Queen of the Course. Sure to be a breathtaking spectacle, the championships will be staged at Trophy Lakes in pastoral Johns Island. Spectators will have the chance to see the world's greatest waterskiers, both male and female, come face-to-face with the tortuous slalom course. Scheduled to perform is Andy Mapple of Britain, who is by unanimous acclaim considered the greatest waterskier since the Renaissance. Mapple's virtuosic turns are broad arches that call to mind the cathedrals of northern France, and they will inspire awe in all who see them. In fact, the old master is suspending his retirement to participate in these championships. Who knows whether this will be the last time he performs, after which he will retreat into seclusion to focus on his more avant-garde skiing, beyond the reach of a callow public?

Sadly, the event has been dealt a most unfortunate blow by the withdrawal of ingénue Natalie Hamrick. Native to Greenville, Hamrick is presently the top women's waterskier in all the world, but she will be unable to perform for health reasons. Nevertheless, many brilliant female understudies will be on hand to play the part. Seth Stisher, both a producer of the show and a contestant in it, says they are competing for a cumulative purse worth $35,000.

One of the stunning things about the Trophy Lakes venue is that it affords spectators a startlingly close view of the skiers as they pass by. There is little that compares to the sight of a graceful skier winging his or her way across the water at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour, especially when said skier, um, I believe the phrase is, "bites it." Furthermore, the site has played host to world-record runs an astounding 10 times, and the last four holders of the men's world record will all be performing. The tension should reach dramatic heights as men and women alike attempt to shatter world records like so many tiny glass unicorns. Their reward, if they succeed, will be that their names will be forged by fire on the cauldron which rests on the hearth of history, to the extent that history can be said to have a cauldron or a hearth.

Delightfully, Sunday's pleasures will not be limited to the artful waterskiing. Rather, it will be nothing less than a festival of wonders. Four musical ensembles – The Radio Pirates, Milhouse, The Fire Apes, and Dangermüffin – will also perform, while vendors of food and ales will serve patrons throughout. Additionally, members of the audience will have the opportunity to be towed hither and yon by a motorboat while sitting on an inner tube.

In all, the audience is guaranteed a splendid production which will be remembered for many years hence. I'm stoked.

For a video preview of this aesthetic marvel, click here.


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