Twenty-three-year-old Freddie Winter is loving life at the moment. For one, the 2013 season has been his best ever. The 6-foot-two-inch right-footed forward slalom skier from London took the silver medal at the European Championships in early September and skied a new tournament personal best of 5 at 41 off at his sponsor’s (Goode) tournament in Ogden, Utah. From there, he was off to compete in the Diablo Shores Pro Am in Sacramento, California, where he placed sixth and ran 39½ off every round. The second factor that really explains his happiness is that it’s November and he’s not wearing a 5 mm wetsuit. Winter arrived in Orlando, Florida, in early November to prepare to compete in his first World Water Ski Championships, which will be held in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 26 to Dec. 1. Before he left his home training site of Thorpe Park (45 minutes west of London), the water was a frigid 49 degrees. “It’s a different world over here,” he says. “I can’t believe how nice the weather is.”
We caught up with Winter this week while he was training at Jodi’s Ski Skool in Winter Garden, Florida. Here’s what pro skiing’s newest Brit has to say about his Worlds preparation.
Story & Photos by Todd Ristorcelli
How did you get involved in skiing?
I grew up skiing at Thorpe Park with my mom and dad. They’ve been longtime members there. We typically ski the whole winter with dry suits, and the only time we stop is when the water freezes. And that can be just one day a year or three to four weeks. I wouldn’t say it’s completely enjoyable, but it’s something that we all do, plus it’s nice to tell people back home that you skied when they start complaining about the cold weather.
How important was it for you to qualify for the Worlds?
This is definitely my biggest event. I’ve been preparing for the Worlds for two years. First, I needed to get the scores to qualify. I ended up 13th on the list of 20 independent competitors.
What was it like competing against all of the top guys at the Diablo Shores Pro Am on your first pro event in the States? It was a great experience. I’ve skied against a few of the top skiers a couple of years ago at Princess [Pro Am tournament in London], but there was definitely a deeper field in California. It was a cool moment for me to be the fourth seed in the second round and to be standing on the dock with some of the world’s best skiers.
Describe your pre-Worlds training in London vs. Orlando?
That cold water takes a lot out of you. Skiing in Orlando before the Worlds is so much better. It’s been really motivating to train here and ski with a bunch of different skiers. It’s great to ski here in November with shorts and not feel cold.
So what do you want to accomplish at the Worlds?
I’d like to run a few buoys at 41 off. I think I’m skiing well enough to do that. Placementwise, I’m unsure. There’s obviously going to be the best guys in the world represented. Will Asher’s been my hero since I was really young, so it’s going to be great to compete against him. Nate [Smith is] skiing incredibly well, [Chris] Parrish, all the guys.
How do you view your strengths in the course right now? My onside turn has always been really strong. Two years ago, I changed my skiing a bit, and I’m much more even on both sides of the course than I’ve ever been. I try to be consistent. I can scrap a pass when I need too, but I like to be as smooth and controlled as possible.
How intense is your training right now a few weeks prior to the big event?
I definitely like mixing it up. Sometimes I go straight down the line, and other times, I’ll do two passes at each line length. I don’t want to tire myself out too much at 41 off because that always increases your chances of getting hurt. Although, it’s hard to hold back when conditions are so nice here in Orlando.