Facing the strongest teams from the nation, the Mad-City Ski Team capped off their phenomenal summer in the finest fashion imaginable.
Competing in the 31st annual Division 1 Show Ski National Championship, Aug 11-13, the Mad-City ski team claimed the national crown for the second time in three years.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be number 1 in the nation again,” Co-show director Dan Wang said. “Winning two National Championships in the past three years is a huge accomplishment for this team. The hours of show meetings and practices really paid off this year.”
Fellow show director Matt Heilman, who has now directed two national championship teams, concurred.
“It’s still hard for me to believe that we won both State and Nationals again,” he said. “It takes a lot of skill, a great show, and a lot of luck to win both of those tournaments in the same year, and we’ve done it twice in the past 3 years. It’s amazing.”
Skiing at Janesville’s Traxler Park against 14 of the finest show ski teams from the country, Mad-City scored 2,154 points to again knock off their friends from the south, the Janesville Rock Aqua Jays, who tallied 2,093. Wonder Lake, from Wonder Lake, IL, also put together an impressive show that had many nervous as they scored a strong 1,979 to round out the top three.
“Wonder Lake and Janesville skied very good shows last weekend too,” Wang said. “We each had a few acts that didn’t go so well. Wonder Lakes pre-fab act was amazing along with some great jumping. Janesville’s four barefoot pyramids were also very impressive.”
After winning the State and National title in 2004, Mad-City slipped to sixth last year, but came roaring back this summer with a show filled with some of the most impressive show-skiing ever in the club’s history.
“We really have something special going here,” Heilman said. “This team is really complete….talented skiers, helpful support people, experienced drivers, the best announcer, and great camaraderie within the team.”
This was reflected in the box-scores and in individual awards following the tournament.
The Mad-City jump team claimed top honors in Friday’s individual competition. Fighting and dragging to avoid falls on a couple of occasions, but highlighted by Paul O’Conners 720 degree helicopter to end the performance.
Scoring 403 points the Mad-City boys edged out a clean and tight performance from the Little Crow jump team, from Little Crow, MN. Highlighted by a five man helicopter, the boys from the north scored 379 points for second. The Bad Water Ski-Ters, from Spread Eagle, WI, dazzled the crowd again with an array of jumps to score 364 points good for third.
Rounding out the jump competition was host Janesville (320) in fourth, the Waterhawks (267), from Waterloo, IA, placed fifth, the Ski Broncs (264) placed sixth and the Plum Ski-Ters rounded out the competition in seventh with 201.
In the swivel ski competition, Mad-City’s own Wisconsin State Champion Ann Wittenberg, had her best finish ever at the national competition finishing fourth with a score of 16.44.
Last year’s runner up, Lindsey Basse of St. Paul, MN took top honors with a score of 17.34. Breanne Pollard of St. Louis, Mo finished second with 16.82 points and Kelley Nemec of St. Paul, MN placed third with 16.70 points.
In individual box scores, the Mad-City crew continued to make their presence felt.
The pick-up boat crew of Mike Grassy / Mellissa Grassy and Jim McKenna / Tanner Klein took top honors for pick-up boat driving.
As well as nabbing top honors for showmanship, Mad-City also took the top honors for best jump act.
The aptly titled “Jaw Dropper” featured one man, one boat, one driver and three tricks. Paul O’Connor performed a two-ski gainer, a two-ski front flip and completed what is believed to be the first 720 degree helicopter in show-ski competition ever to take home, single-handedly, the best jump act of the tournament.
For the second time in her show ski career, Mad-City’s Kristen Heilman claimed the Willa Cook award. This is given to the top female skier in the tournament. As one of only two two-time winners, Kristen’s show was highlighted by three 720’s on her swivel ski in one pass early in the show and completing a 1080 during the “Star” swivel act.
For show director Dan Wang, this championship was especially sweet. In 2004 his ski season was cut short early on when a jump crash ended up breaking a bone in his foot. Shifting his services from the water to a pick-up boat, Dan still was able to collect an award for pick-up boat driving, but, to be able to help the team on the water is where a show-skiers heart is.
“This one feels even sweeter since I was able to ski.”
After almost a year of hard work to prepare, produce, train and practice for a one hour show, the pay-off is as sweet as the disappointment is for the teams that came up just short.
“Beating great teams like Janesville and Wonder Lake makes the victory that much sweeter. They are great teams with a lot of talent,” Heilman said. “Sometimes I worry about our ability to stack up to them, but this season we had the show to beat. We fortunately had enough fire power to overcome their great shows and come out on top.”
While the sights are set already for next year’s competition, this is one to savor and remember.
“I am sure many would agree that this is one of the most entertaining shows Mad-City has put together,” Wang said. “I want to say thanks to every member of this team for all the hard work and dedication this year. Congratulations to all of you on a job well done.”
-Reported by: Bugsy Hansen
Mad-City’s 2006 Show Directors—Matt Heilman and Dan Wang
Ann Wittenberg, Laura Bernstein, Kristen Heilman and Joey O’Connor—Mad-City’s
Star Swivel—received the award for the highest scoring swivel act at the 2006 Show Ski Nationals