Nick, after winning the Australian Masters this year and breaking the Australian Slalom record late 2012, you must be pretty pleased with yourself.
Yeah and I did that in October and then, just before the end of the year, the new world rankings came out and I had sling-shotted myself from high teens to number seven in the world and I’m still currently ranked that. So yeah, pretty stoked!
Actually I was just talking about how many people ever have actually gone around four balls like I did for the record, and it can’t be more than ten skiers ever. I’m still trying to grow up from that fan-boy skier to actually being respected among them.
Now you’ll have the fan boys.
(Laughs) Yeah…but I don’t want look at it like that. I just want people to know that I can ski too y’know?
How does skiing on the Yarra at Moomba compare to your average tournament?
Well Moomba’s a funny thing, it’s different to any other tournament because (the water is) brackish; it’s half salt, so the ski rides a little different in the water like that. Plus you've got different things, you've got a current that changes; there’s high tide and low tide, the first skier might have really high, but hardly any current, and then with the last guy, it might be really low and the current’s flying out, trying to pull the ski from under you. It’s just a luck of the draw thing, sometimes you’ll go to Moomba and you’ll ski fine. And then other times and it’s just trying to throw you off the whole time.
You can’t really train for those conditions either.
Well that’s the thing too, there’s no practise, people train all over the world to try and get some sort of similar feeling to Moomba and there’s nothing like it. And yeah, last year Moomba didn’t go so well for me. Maybe it’s because it’s home too; it’s the only tournament I get to sleep in my own bed for. I really want to do well in front of a home crowd and that seems to eat me up sometimes. But I have a good feeling about this year; I think it’s going to be all right.
Will you have time to check out the rest of Moomba whilst you’re there?
Ahh, well if I’m around I like to see the Birdman just cos it’s a bit of fun. I think everyone enjoys that side of it. But it’s funny, a lot of people I know that aren’t skiers, will mention the Birdman, but they always talk about the Slalom and the Jump. They’ll always have some story about a skier they saw, y’know? It’s funny, people see it as a festival but they don’t necessarily understand how prestigious the event is on the tournament scale. It’s not like a demo or anything, some people see it and think it’s awesome but they don’t necessarily realise that there’s a lot on the line.
Having said that, I do feel that in the last couple of years in Australia, that tournament side of water-skiing is growing. I mean just looking at numbers; Nationals is the biggest event in Australia competitors-wise and the last four years it’s been the biggest ever... and this year at Easter it’s going to be the biggest yet again.
How does Moomba rank up next to some of the water-skiing festivals in the USA?
Moomba really is a one of a kind event; people come from all over the world and not just because of the skiing – it’s the atmosphere. You have the Melbourne backdrop and you have the people as well; like on the Moomba Monday, you don’t see crowds like that anywhere else. Moomba has always been this highly respected tournament on the world schedule. Originally, and I think again this year, it is the highest paying event of the year. So it may not be the easiest to master but it really is held high among skiers.
In the last couple of years it’s funny how many of the top skiers have started coming out, because a few years back there wasn’t so many. But these last few years everyone’s just like ‘screw it, I’m gonna go, I gotta check out what all the talk is about!’ Because like I said, I’m ranked seventh in the world right now and all the top six above me are coming. Which is good news and bad news!