'The feeling of flying is unbelievable'; Water ski champ gives lessons in Saskatoon
Published July 7, 2016 in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:
For world champion water ski jumper Ryan Dodd, flying through the air is the best feeling in the world.
“I come into the jump at 70 miles per hour and I hit a ramp six feet tall — taller than me — and I fly, in the Canadian record which I got last year, 242 feet.
“The amount of G-force, there’s 500 pounds of pressure on the rope, it’s like you’re jumping off a roof. But the feeling of flying is unbelievable. You’re weightless, you feel like you’re not going to come down, but it’s only three seconds in the air. The adrenalin blows my mind to this day.”
Dodd got hooked on water-skiing at the water reserve facility at his dad’s 9,000 head feed lot in Olds, Alta.; his father doubled as both a farmer and water skier.
It’s something he enjoys doing with his family and friends, but he also likes the competitive side.
“In jump, you can go farther everyday. You set a new distance ball and it’s, how far can you fly?”
This week Dodd is visiting Saskatoon Water Ski Club to coach other enthusiasts. Carter Lucas, who has been skiing for all but four of his 13 years, said learning from Dodd is challenging but fun.
Carter has improved his slalom, trick and jump skills, and said Dodd changed the way his thinks about water skiing.
“He really turns it into something you want to do for a long time, not just a recreational sport.”
It’s not about being brave so much as having proper technique, Dodd said. The later a skier waits to slingshot from the far side of the boat to the jump, the faster and further they’ll go. On the other hand, a wipe out gives one in three odds of landing you in hospital with leg injuries.
“I’m not a risk taker, I’m not a daredevil,” Dodd said. “I’m too scared to skydive, I don’t even want to go in a tall building. I’ve calculated this and gone through a process that makes something seemingly dangerous to me safer than driving in a car down the road.
“It’s just helping these kids manage the risks, learn what they need to do, and find a smart way to do something that blows your mind.” - The Saskatoon StarPhoenix