Happy New Year.
Its been a nice break over the holidays and to catch up with family time. Work with Caterham F1 and ESPN Star Sports has been a bit full on in 2011, but after a nice break, i thought it was time to update this site on whats been happening.
In between emails and travelling, it’s been a priority to give more time to the boy (Alister). This divorce stuff has been difficult on him and the Father (me) needed to devote more energy in supplying quality time.
One of the activities we have started, has been to take diving lessons and go waterskiing together. The boy loves the water and even though diving has been restricted to the swimming pool, he can’t get enough of it.
As for waterskiing, its actually been very cool for me personally. Last time I skied was in 1997 and in the excitement of getting wet again, my Sister persuaded me to commit to compeitive waterskiing in the South East Asian (SEA) Games. (The last time the sport of waterskiing was in the games was 1997 and also the last time I actually put on a pair of skis).
I was 80kg at this point and it was becoming hard to breathe when I tied my shoelaces. So getting back into a routine of training appealed to me. I hate working out just for the sake of vanity, but training for competition got my juices flowing. A lot.
Trick ski taking bite out of right shin
So that was in June/July and man oh man was I dumb. I had forgotten how time consuming training was. Waterskiing like all sports involves a lot of practice, or in this case time on the water. And time is not a luxury I have
The other thing i forgot is how tough the sport is on the body. It seemed every time I got on the water, it would end with a new injury. I blame it on the fact that I did not have enough muscle tone and not age as some people unkindly suggested.
Due to the “lack of muscle tone” (and not age), I also developed an allergy to the water in the Putrajaya lake where we skied. This is the first time I have ever been allergic to anything and it involves turning my nose into Niagara Falls. It’s freaking ironic and no exaggeration by the way. After a days skiing, I would have to spend the night with a towel over my pillow due to the constant flow of fluid leaking out of my nose.
It was good that a friend introduced me to one heck of a strong anti histamine that reduced the crap coming out of my nose.
Not completely, but enough that I could actually breath and therefor sleep. But bad because it’s on the banned list of drugs in the International Olympic Council. Oh well, who needs sleep anyway?
Did I mention my Sisters?
Lets start with little big Sister (Pipa) or LBS for short. After giving birth to two daughters, she went back to skiing 3 years ago and it her fault I started this madness. Then there is little small Sister (Aaliyah) or LSS as I prefer to call her. LSS is 8 and is a bit of a phenomenon. Despite her young age and the fact that she only comes up to my knee, she is very talented and fearless.
You know, one of those very annoying skiers that learn a trick on their first go.
Anyway, back to introducing Tournament Waterskiing. It basically involves three disciplines.
The first one is trick sking. Due to her age, LSS only does tricks as it is not so hard on the body compared to the other two disiplines. Tricks involve rotations and flips within two 20 second periods. This is the discipline closest to Wake Boarding, the main difference being you can do toe tricks, which involves doing rotations with one foot strapped to the handle.
Aaliyah (LLS) doing trick sking
Then there is slalom, which involves the boat going through a course of buoys. The skiers have to slalom behind the boat on a single ski while going around all the buoys. The skier that can manage the most buoys at the fastest speed and shortest rope wins. LBS has become quite good at this lately as she just won the Asian Waterskiing Championship in this discipline.
Pippa (LBS) doing slalom
Jumps involve a skier cutting out on two skis and hitting a large ramp at speed. The competitor that goes the furthest wins. This ones fun as you often end up hitting the ramp at 110kph. It’s hard on the ole body, but the sensation of flying is pretty cool. Jumps demands total respect of the ramp though, as you can imagine the repercussions for getting this one slightly wrong
Skiing really seemed to collapse at the end of the nineties in South East Asia but recently has started to revive, with more and more people doing it, especially in Indonesia, hence the inclusion into the SEA games. I used to do it competitively as a kid before I started driving and the fact that there were hardly and three event skiers in Malaysia anymore, resulted in me getting picked to go.
So anyway, i had one warm up competition, which was the Asian Waterski Championships a month before the SEA games. Suffice to say it was shit. I skied like crap, Tricked under 1000 points, did not clear my first pass at slalom, etc. I was freaking frustrated and despite putting in the time and effort, the progress was not there. In the heat of the moment, i even told LBS to forget it and that i was not going to the SEA games. Once i had cooled down however, i realised i was being unreasonable in my expectations. So we continued to train as much as we could, with me joining both Sisters at 8am every morning.
The games took place mid November in the city of Palembang in Indonesia. I ended up missing the first familiarisation day as I was flying out of Singapore after commentating on Formula 1 the night before, but luckily there was one more day of familiarisation before the competition, so it did not penalize me too much.
The SEA games in Indonesia have been plagued by reports of bad organisation, but in all honesty, I did not see that in the Games Village. It was clean and the organisators tried to make it fun for the competitors. There was even a music concert every night that went on from 7 to 10. The athletes of all the 11 countries that make up South East Asia mixed very well and there was a pleasant atmosphere.
On the first day of competition, all three events would go through the preliminaries with the finals on day two. I was grateful for the first day as it was still hard to get my “game” head on and the prelims allowed me to work on that. Sking is very tough mentally as there is no room for error. If you make a small mistake it is often impossible to recover. I skied reasonably well and made it through to the finals. Not as well as i hoped but better than the Asians a month before. LBS and LLS skied well and made it look easy. Although LBS did look a bit nervous in Slalom as she was easily favourite to win.
Elvis entertaining the Athletes in the village every night
Day 2 started with a lot of drama. LBS let the favourite tag unsettle her and she fell on her second pass in slalom. Not good as she was expected to go a lot further. Fortunately for her, the other strong skiers did not do too well either and her score tied her for first with Sascha from Singapore. Because there was a tie, both of them had to ski again. LBS was fortunate to get this chance to atone for her earlier mistake and did much better. She skied to a new SEA games record of 1 buoy at 13m, and another gold to add to the one she won back in 1997 in the same discipline.
This seemed to inspire me and i skied beyond my expectations. 4 buoys at 14m was a result i had achieved in practice (infrequently), but with so little competition training my form was very inconsistent and the result was beyond my expectations. I got the Silver and i wore a huge smile for the rest of the day.
On to tricks and LLS skied to her full potential which netted her the gold! Aaliyah Yoong became the youngest ever winner of a gold medal in SEA games history and we were very proud. She was unfazed despite the big occasion and i am still incredulous about her performance when i think about it now. LBS also skied well in what was her weakest event to snatch the bronze.
In 1997, i had managed to get Silver in this event and i thought i had a good chance for a medal again. It was so hard to predict though, because with very little rotation tricks in my run, i had to land both flips to have a chance. I got one but not the other and my toe run was very sloppy. I finished 4th with around 2000 points i think. Much better than the Asians a month ago but not really good enough. It was exciting in a way because i had no idea how i would ski every time i got into the water.
We then had the jump final, and there was plenty of drama there too. Two skiers ended up leaving the water on stretchers and it really illustrated how dangerous Jumping could be. LBS was sking with a bad knee that she has had for years and jumped conservative, but still managed the Silver. I had a great time too and really enjoyed the Jumps and managed another silver. Unexpected as i had not been jumping well, and it was fortunate that i was hitting form just at the right time. 40m was a good 5m further than the Asians a month earlier.
Tricking on the final day
The final day of the competition was for the overall medals, where skiers would have to do all three events again to see who was overall the best. LBS skied well and snatched the Gold easily. I again had a very good day and skied beyond my expectations. Especially in Tricks, where i landed both flips to finish with a score of 3000 points. This was the platform that allowed me to just win the gold by a narrow score.
Great fun, good training, unexpected results and best of all, i lost 7kg
Pips (LBS) and i cheesy posing with our golds