By Todd Ristorcelli
The most competitive round of men’s slalom is officially in the record books. For the first time in the history of the sport, three men have rounded all six buoys at 41 off in a single tournament round. Swiss Nation 2, one of the last events of 2012, was held at Swiss Ski School in Clermont, Florida, on Nov. 11, and Will Asher became the second man in the world to run 2 at 43 off, setting a pending jointly held world slalom record. “I had a great start at 43, my best ever,” Asher says. “I finally got the ski on edge long enough to have some time to finish 1; then I laid the hammer to get to 2.”
That stellar performance was the second time this season that Asher has tied Chris Parrish’s world record, although his first experience of rounding two buoys at 43 off, which he did at a record event at Jack Travers’ Ski School in Groveland, Florida, couldn’t be approved, because there were technical issues with the boat camera.
The fist round of Swiss Nation 2 was typical of what you’d witness at most record events, with several scores in the mid-41 range. Jon Travers’ 4 at 41 off tied his personal best, and Nate Smith and Asher were close behind him with 3 1/2 and 2 1/2, respectively. But in the second round, the skiing greatly intensified. Travers set the mark first, by scoring 1/2 at 43 off, becoming only the seventh person on the planet to eclipse the 41-off pass.
“I was really happy for Jon,” Smith says. “He deserved to run that pass.” For Smith, who skied right after Travers, the pass marked the ninth time this season that he’s run 41 off (more than anyone this year). The 41-off line length is almost 4 feet shorter than the distance from the boat’s pylon to the turn buoy. Smith says that his start at 43 was better than normal, and he skied within a foot inside 2 ball.
The conditions at Lake Carolyn were ideal. The narrow lake, which runs parallel to the Swiss Fairways’ third fairway, has hosted several pro events over the years and is the home site of many personal bests. With senior driver John Shealy at the wheel and competitors having the option to choose their tow boat, the stage was set for optimal skiing. Both Travers and Smith skied behind Travers’ Nautique 200 (6.0L engine), which pulled the Masters earlier this year, and Asher opted for his Malibu Response TXi (6.0L engine).
The month of November, which is usually scarce for tournaments, let alone world records, proved great for shortline skiing. With water temperatures in the mid-70s, some skiers say that the cooler temperatures allow better glide and require less effort compared to warmer summertime water temps that can hinder cross-course width. Asher also credits his equipment. “The A3 has given me more time in the course and several different turning options. I can now turn from high and early or low and late,” he says. “And of course skiing behind a Malibu TXi always gives me an advantage.”
With the IWWF Water Ski & Wakeboard World Cup event right around the corner (Thanksgiving weekend, in Palembang, Indonesia), it will be interesting to see which skier will finish the season on top. One thing’s for sure: With Parrish, Asher, Smith and now Travers getting late-season 41s in the bank, it will be a hard-fought event, and getting a win could be anyone’s game.