The Super Bowl, the World Series and Wimbledon bring to mind the pinnacle of achievement in the sports of professional football, baseball and tennis.
Now in 2002, the MasterCraft Pro Water Ski Championship aims to take the same lofty position in the sport of water skiing. The MasterCraft Pro promises to be the event of the year, bringing together the top athletes in the sport of water skiing in multiple formats with lots of incentives.
This year there will be six events on the Pro Tour. Five of the six events will feature wakeboarding only as the Pro Tour switches formats to showcase the emerging sport. The Pro Tour in 2002 will be known as PT02, and for the 19th straight year MasterCraft will be pulling all Pro Tour events.
The shift away from water skiing events on the Pro Tour in 2002 comes as part of a trend that has been consistent for almost all professional sports corresponding to the recent economic downturn worldwide. Corporate sponsorships have slipped, making it difficult to continue with the Pro Tour in its present state.
''We’ve been hit with the same economic hardships felt by professional baseball, tennis and motorsports, and really indicative of professional sports in general,'' said Terry Dorner, Chairman of the Pro Tour. ''We see Major League Baseball contracting the number of teams next season. Professional tennis is cutting the amount of prize money offered to athletes. And, auto racing, very popular of late, is starting to take a hit with whole racing circuits being eliminated.''
The MasterCraft Pro will be held at Trophy Lakes in Charleston, South Carolina, May 3-5. The event will feature the top athletes in men’s ski jumping, men’s and women’s slalom and men’s wakeboarding.
''The move to one water skiing event in 2002 is a bit of a return to the old traditions of the sport,'' said Dorner. ''The template 15-18 years ago, before the Pro Tour, was a few big stand-alone crown jewel events. The key is that the amount of television and media exposure will not diminish that much while moving to one event.''
While all the details of the MasterCraft Pro are still to be disclosed, many exciting developments are on the table.
''We’re taking all of our effort from a whole year of water skiing events and concentrating it on this one event,'' said Dorner. ''We really want to kick the MasterCraft Pro into high gear and challenge the athletes to do their best in every round, not holding back until the finals.''
As far as the format for PT02 and the move to wakeboard-only events, look for something different every week. This year the Tour will be in Orlando; Charleston, South Carolina; Detroit; Indianapolis; Kelowna, British Columbia; and Lake Elsinore, California.
Each week on PT02 will offer a different format from the preceding event, including a Slider event, a Double-Up event, a Sic Trick event, a Free Ride event and a Traditional Pro Tour format.
PT02 will go to more of a festival atmosphere, offering entertainment on and off the water. Freestyle motocross exhibitions and concerts on land will keep fans guessing what will happen next.
PT02 Schedule of Events
April 6-7 Orlando WaterSports Complex Wakeboard Tour Stop Orlando, Florida
May 3-5 MasterCraft Pro WaterSki Championships Charleston, South Carolina
June 15-16 Island Lake State Park Wakeboard Tour Stop Detroit, Michigan
June 29-30 The Precedent Wakeboard Tour Stop Indianapolis, Indiana
July 13-14 Lake Okanagan Wakeboard Tour Stop Kelowna, B.C., Canada
July 27-28 The Channel Wakeboard Tour Stop Lake Elsinore, California
2002 Vans Trip Crown of Wakeboarding
April 12-14 Bayview Park Pensacola, Florida
August 21-25 Marine Creek Ft. Worth, Texas
September 26-29 Orlando WaterSports Complex Orlando, Florida
2002 Malibu Just Ride Series
June 1-2 Festival Park High Point, North Carolina
June 22-23 Island Lake Minneapolis, Minnesota
July 19-21 Bell Aqua Sacramento, California*
*Held in conjunction with 2002 Malibu Open.
2002 Malibu Open
July 19-21 Bell Aqua Sacramento, California