Waterskier who trains in Oxfordshire set to compete in US Masters

Freddie Winter, who trains in Oxfordshire, slalom skiing. <i>(Image: Johnny Hayward)</i>
Freddie Winter, who trains in Oxfordshire, slalom skiing. (Image: Johnny Hayward)

Great Britain’s three top waterskiers - including an athlete who regularly trains in Oxfordshire - will compete at the prestigious Masters in Georgia, USA, this coming weekend.

Freddie Winter, 34, is originally from Wandsworth in London and lives in Florida, but the two-time men's slalom world champion trains in Oxfordshire when he is in the UK.

The business management and MBA graduate trains at Oxford Wakeboard & Ski Club, Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, when on this side of the pond.

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Winter will join five-time Masters champion and two-time world champion in men’s slalom, 41-year-old Will Asher from Lincoln, and the current overall world record holder, 25-year-old Joel Poland from Clapham in London.

Winter, Asher and Poland will all compete in slalom while Poland also competes in the tricks and jump events.

Invitations to compete at the Masters are highly sought after - to earn a place, skiers must either have won a major qualifying competition in the past 12 months or come through a tough process of ‘last-chance-qualification’ competitions in the build-up to the event.

The competition will be livestreamed on the Masters website at masterswaterski.com where viewers can also find the full schedule and follow the results.

Winter qualified automatically by virtue of being a current world champion and winning two more qualifiers in 2023 – in Spain and Australia.

Both Asher and Poland came through last-chance qualifiers.

Poland’s achievement in making it through in slalom, tricks and jump is particularly noteworthy.

He is the first man in 24 years to qualify in all three events and is widely recognised as the world’s best overall waterskier currently competing.

He has broken the overall world record four times and, in April this year, broke it again, though this latest one has yet to be officially ratified by the world governing body, the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation.

If it is approved, Poland will earn the distinction of being the only man to have broken the record five times.

The Masters Waterski & Wakeboard Tournament will take place at Robin Lake, Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, USA.

The competition begins with the Junior Masters on Friday, May 24.

The preliminary rounds of the Masters take place on Saturday, May 25, with the finals on Sunday, May 26.

In the slalom category, the boat travels at a constant speed in a straight line down the middle of the course.

The skier, on single ski, has to go through the entrance gates - a pair of buoys in the middle of the course - then virage from side to side across the boat wakes, successfully rounding six turn buoys before going through the exit gates.

Each successful pass results in the rope being shortened, making it increasingly difficult to reach the turn buoys.