78th GOODE Water Ski National Championships underway in Zachary

78th GOODE Water Ski National Championships underway in Zachary
Jonah Shaffer is a slalom competitor in the 2020 Water Ski National Championships. (Source: Craig Loper/WAFB-TV)

ZACHARY, La. (WAFB) - Before this year, the 1980s were the last times Bennett’s Tri Lakes water ski facility in Zachary hosted the US national championships.

It was held there first in 1984 and then again in 1989, more than 30 years ago. However, due to COVID-19, the 2020 event had to be moved from Florida to an alternate location.

Zachary hosts water ski national championships
Water ski community is unlike any other

Believe it or not, there’s an area favorite this time, even if he’s actually from Canada. Jonah Shaffer, 24, is a slalom competitor who spent the last four years competing for the 2019 defending national champion Ragin Cajuns in Lafayette.

The event brings competitors and enthusiasts from all over the world, many beginning at a young age in a sport that is baptism by fire over and over again.

“I always tell my daughter, ‘If you’re not falling, you’re not trying,’” said Brandon Waters, a 3-jump competitor. “You have to go out there and work at it. And, it always starts somewhere, just like any sport.”

“It’s unreal; can’t even explain it, the adrenaline rush we feel,” added Shaffer, a slalom competitor. “When we’re behind the boat, as you can see, the skiier pass behind me, we’re putting about 1,000 pounds of pressure when you lean against that boat. So, it’s a lot of adrenaline. It’s about 16 seconds down the course. The boat goes 36 mph. We actually go up to 70 mph at times from pulling. It never gets old.”

This year’s competition will wrap up Saturday with trick, slalom, and jump events.

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