I love getting reader letters. Sometimes they’re heartwarming; other times they’re critical, and still other times they’re weird. But whatever tone they take, it’s just good to know people are reading and invested enough in WATERSKI to reach out and connect.
A reader named Freddie Snell wrote me to describe the specialness of his first trip to Nationals with his young son, Trey. “Trey blew his opening slalom pass and while he was very disappointed with his score, he showed me what he was made of when he climbed out of the water. I asked him, ‘Son, what happened?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, Dad. I guess my knees were straight.’ As the day wore on, he met Kristi Overton-[Johnson], April Coble-[Eller], Marcus Brown and Nate Smith. They all had encouragement for him, and both Marcus and Nate told him that they both blew their first pass at their first Nationals. Nate had been in the boat, and he sought us out at the Juniors award banquet to talk to Trey and tell him this. What an amazing thing for a skier of that caliber to do! I am very impressed with Nate,” he wrote.
We all like to put our heroes up on pedestals. It makes us feel good to aspire to their level of achievement and to know that for some people, a unique mix of talent, hard work and good fortune combine to create magic, and someday that could be us. On Nate’s recent trip to South Korea, fans cheered for him like he was Michael Jordan, and why shouldn’t they?
As much as we like to elevate our heroes, we also need to know they’re fully human. Just like Trey needs to look up to skiing’s greatest greats, it means every bit as much for Nate and Marcus to talk to Trey like regular guys and reveal their flaws. Because when our heroes hide their flaws, we go looking for dirt. Hence the existence of perezhilton.com and Star magazine. That’s why I’m on a mission to expose every top water-ski athlete for who they are behind their masks of perfection. Heads-up, guys and gals: Our next issue will reveal Chris Parrish’s darkest moment, the insane thing Natallia Berdnikava did last summer to a perfect stranger and Will Asher’s plastic-surgery secrets.
To keep it fair, I’ll also tell you about my gambling debts and run ins with the law. It’s time I stopped pretending to be a god: The air is too thin up here on my throne, and I’m dizzy. So I’m coming down, way down, to your level. For I am Todd. Or Swerve Master-T if you prefer?