Rippin’ the Chip

UWEC Waterski and Wakeboard team hopes to continue practicing in the Chippewa River into late fall


School is back in session, leaving the Chippewa River without tubers floating leisurely downstream.

But as the temperature begins to cool, one group of students are just jumping into the water.

The waterski and wakeboard club team is just underway with their 2013-2014 season, and are headed out into the water as much as possible.

Club president, senior Jaunna Jones said getting out on the water is the perfect escape from a busy day of classes and homework.

“It’s really awesome to get a break from schoolwork during the fall,” Jones said. “When you are busy with stuff it’s really nice to go out on the water for an hour, forget about all the stuff you have to do and ski.”

Freshman Zac Armstrong is new to the team this year. He has already participated in a competitive tournament with the team because he got involved right away. Meeting upperclassmen and leaving for the weekends, Armstrong said he has had a bit of a different start to his freshman year than most.

“I feel like a lot of people are jealous when I say I’m going out on a boat,” Armstrong said. “That’s the biggest difference.”

He pursued the club and didn’t get recruited at Blugold Organization Bash like most new members. Jones said having BOB indoors last year dramatically affected the number of people who joined the team.

“This year having it outside in the central mall, we had 40 people show up to our first meeting,” Jones said. “This year is a very promising year for us, and I’m really excited to see where it goes.”

Catching wake

The club has varying experience on the team, Jones said. Jones has been skiing since she was a kid with her family and joined the team when she first started at UW-Eau Claire for the competition option.

The team typically heads out on the water whenever a boat driver can. They work in hour increments to allow enough people time out on the water.barefootonline

New to the team this year is a fly-high attachment to allow for more air when doing tricks. Armstrong said it’s hard on a wakeboarders’ knees to land flat when using a fly-high so he tends to just use the tow pylon, the lower attachment.

Some members have joined without any experience, Jones said. Members have been taught how to ski after joining whereas others have mastered tricks, like barefooting.

Jones said she has barefooted before but is nowhere as talented as some team members.

Ice ice baby

Vice President Emily Janzig said the team will try to keep the boat in the water until at least mid-October and put the boat back in the river as soon as the ice melts.

Most skiers and boarders wear wetsuits and drysuits as the weather cools off. A drysuit is designed to keep a person completely dry inside the suit. It uses seals around the ankles, wrists and neck to keep water out and air inside so a lifejacket isn’t even necessary.

Jones said only a few members of the team are brave enough to face the cool water without some protection, and Janzig is one of them.
“I actually never really use a drysuit or a wetsuit even in the spring,” Janzig said. “Because you aren’t in the water for that long.”

Jones said it gets so cold that people get brain freeze from being in the water so late in the fall, and at competitions in past years they have even skied while it snowed.

But currently the team is still able to get out on the water in just swimsuits and life jackets.

Not so serious

The skiers and boarders have three tournaments in the fall semester and three in the spring.

They have already competed in their first tournament in Iowa on Sept. 7 and 8.

In competitions, there are three different components of a tournament: slalom skiing, trick skiing and long distance jumping.

Armstrong said at the first competition, he was able to get four wakeboard tricks completed in the
20 seconds he had during the trick skiing competition.

“Going to competitions, it’s more or less to meet new people and have a good time, just for the whole experience.

— Emily Janzig

To be a part of the team, members do not have to compete in tournaments, but Jones said they are some of her favorite memories of her time Eau Claire because the team can hang out and have fun with skiers from other schools.

Jones said she knows students from universities all around the Midwest she never would have been able to meet if it hadn’t been for the team.

“Going to competitions, it’s more or less to meet new people and have a good time, just for the whole experience,” Janzig said.

Jones, Janzig and Armstrong all said they love the team because they are able to be around fellow students with the same passion for skiing and wakeboarding.

“Skiing is very different than any other competitive sport. We are always encouraging the people we are competing against to do well,” Jones said. “It’s a very cool atmosphere.”