Lots of skiers opine about the answer to the ever-present “How to Save the Sport” dilemma, but few have the drive to move beyond mere hypotheses and put their plans into action as Greg Sund has. Recently, WaterSki got a chance to talk to the long-time professional slalom skier and, as of late, tournament host, to find out what we should expect from the first ever Challenge the Pros Slalom Tournament at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 4 and 5.
What was the inspiration for this tournament?
Basically, nobody's holding any tournaments in the United States right now. You have the Masters and that's all that's really scheduled besides the U.S. Open. I was up at Okeeheelee skiing and was thinking how there're no tournaments to go to and just thought, “Well, let's have one right here.” And there's no Moomba this year, so I thought let me do this the weekend that Moomba would've been.
How did you get the idea off the ground?
I called MasterCraft first, and they actually wanted me to get the two other major companies—Nautique and Malibu—and try to work out a co-sponsorship. So I called them all up and told them what was going on and they all agreed to it. Then O'Neil came along and helped me out by putting it on their Web site. But it basically wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for the three boat companies.
How is the tournament going to be set up?
There are three lakes at Okeeheelee. There's a main lake, which runs north and south, there's the turnpike lake, which runs right along the turnpike, then there's the one that we'll be running, which runs east and west along forest hill. One of the main attractions is we'll be able to keep the other lakes open so club members can come down and do a set and then walk over the hill to watch the pro tour on the east-west lake. So that's going to be really nice.
Why did you decide to make this a “Challenge the Pros” event?
I wanted to have a fair way of challenging the pros, to promote the kids growing up now who have an average of 5@38 but in a good practice day can run 39 off. I have five guys challenging that I've seen get 39 off. But since they don't have an open rating, they wouldn't be able to ski in the pro tour. But with this they'll be the first skiers who go out and get a shot at the money if they do well. They might make the cut and the pros might not. I've also got 15 spots for skiers in other divisions who just want to compete for a rating or a record.
What about the tournament are you most excited for?
Well, I was excited about getting to ski in it. But now I almost just want to take a back seat and make sure it runs smoothly!
For more information visit www.challengethepros.com.