2009 National Champions

The Mad-City Ski Team competed at the 2009 National Water Sk Show Tournament at Shorewood Park in Loves Park, llinois the weekend of August 7-9 with the goal of winning a fourth straight National Championship.

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Welcome to the Future

The plan began nearly a year earlier when Matt Heilman decided to run for show director again. He had a vision of reinventing show skiing. The team had been running the same basic act order for several years and it had worked well, but he wanted to try something different, very different.  Everyone knew it was risky, but everyone bought into the plan.  The show planning started in the fall with brainstorming sessions to come up with new act ideas and a new show running order.  Everything was considered from the things that could actually work to the completely and totally off the wall.  After several meetings, a new running order was come up with and a list of new act ideas to try out in the summer. As the winter progressed, the team worked hard at the indoor practices, with many new girls learning how to climb while others practiced more.  The goal was to build a five high and that meant everyone needed to work on the climbing… everything needed to be smooth and everyone needed to be sure footed, know exactly when to climb and where to go.

Meanwhile, the search began for futuristic music, something that in and of itself is hard to define. A lof of people associate techno with futuristic music, while some futuristic movies use complete orchestral scores and others have a mix of harder metal as futuristic sounding music.  Finding the right mixture of music for the show was something that began in the spring and continued up through Nationals.  Sixty minutes of techno music was not an option.. a variety of styles and types were needed that all fell into that futuristic style.

The Climb

As the Mercury Open rapidly approached with July and State right behind it, the team really took to working on the new act running order.  It hadn’t been changed in years and the new order meant people needed to go different places at different times and boat drivers had completely new patterns.  The new order meant a lot of change for everyone.

The team was finally able to test out the new order at the Mercury Open at Traxler Park in Janesville, WI, where we skied a very good show.  We found a few things we wanted to tweak in the running order and came up with more new ideas.  Although we did not win the tournament, we found out a lot about our show and the team.

With the Mercury Open completed, the team set it’s sight on the State Tournament.  A few more changes were done to the running order and a few new acts were introduced… doubles around the boat and a doubles couple towing a swiveler.  Work continued with the goal of a five high with a double top being completed successfully a few times, but when it came time to ski state, clean was better than something that wasn’t consistent yet.  The hard work payed off though as the team was very succesful at State, winning our fourth consecutive state championship and fifth in the past six years (more details here).

All of this was just a precursor to setting our site on a fourth consecutive National Championship.  The team knew that winning Nationals was never done easily and many teams had really set their sites on beating Mad-City this year.  Teams would come armed with five high pyramids, two doubles tops behind the same boat, and other truely incredible acts.  Mad-City would need to ski an incredible show to defend it’s title.

More work was done on trying some more new acts for the show.  The team experimented with a lot of ideas before finally settingly on a new act for the show.  New comedy skits were dialed in and the last tweaks to the music were completed and a new ending intro unlike anything ever done before became a reality.  Nationals arrived and Mad-City was ready.

I Gotta Feeling

Friday morning of Nationals arrived and it was cold and raining, but the skiing started for the Indvidual Competitions regardless of the weather.

Ann Tieman took to the water first for Mad-City as she competed in the Swivel Competion. She practices nearly every morning before work, swivel skiing as the sun comes up with her husband Russ driving the boat.  And her hard work and determination paid off as she skied a phenomenal swivel set and became the National Swivel Champion.

Ann Tieman’s Swivel Routine at Show Ski Nationals Individual Competion

The next people on the water for Mad-City were Carly Cates and Paul O’Connor who were competing in the Doubles Competion.  They skied a very good routine and ended up in the 7th place overall.

Carly & Paul in the Doubles Competition

Next on the water for Mad-City was our Jump Team. They skied an incredible jump act, but ended up taking 2nd to the Bad Water Ski-Ters who had also beaten them at State.

Team Jump

The last competition of the day was the Individual Freestyle Jump Competition.  Both Paul O’Connor and Dan Benz were competing for Mad-City in this competition.  Paul ending up winning the competition by landing a two ski mobius and one ski mobius jump and Dan Benz placed 7th.  Videos of all of their jumps are below.

Freestyle Jump – Dan Benz

Freestyle Jump – Paul O’Connor

Friday night the team met back at hotel for our team meeting. After eating dinner, the team was treated to Adam Schaler and Matt Baumler’s new comedy fill.  The skit, corregraphed by Taryn Garland, also featured Justin Mushel as the fourth member of the dancing quartet. Once the team recovered from witnessing the debut performance of the Ballet Ski, the team went through all of the details of the show one last time, practicing all of intros one final time and one last inspriration speech from our Show Director, Matt Heilman.

The Future is So Bright

Saturday morning, 5am, alarm clocks all across the hotel start going off as Mad-City wakes up.  The skies are still dark, but that is OK because the sun has not yet come up yet. However, the air was filled with rain, lots of rain. At 6am, the team gathered under a tent at the ski site preparing for our show.  Not knowing what the weather would do, we had to plan as if the show would happen on time.  The first team started their show ontime, but about 10 minutes in, lightning was detected and everything stopped. Mad-City continued to prepare for their show though.  After about an hour delay, things resumed and Mad-City began our setup as the sun started to come out and heat and humidity began to climb.

Missed by many at the state tournament, Mad-City brought back the preshow dance.  Here are some of the ladies of Mad-City dancing to Liquid Dance by A.R. Rahman of the Slumdog Millionair soundtrack.  This dance, as well as the team’s ballet dances and the ending comedy dance were all choregraphed by Taryn Garland.

Preshow Dance

Finally, the show began… Here’s a highlight video of our show.

Mad-City 2009 National Highlight Clip

By popular request, the finale of the our continious comedy… aka “The Dance”

Continuous Comedy – The Dance

Here are just a couple pictures from our show…



Tandem 3-High Pyramids

Ending Pyramid – 40 People Strong

One thing that doesn’t show up well in the video, is at the end of the show, every single member of the team is on stage for the ending intro. Having every single member on stage for the end of the show is something unique to our show. Here’s a picture that shows that better than anything else.

Everybody on Stage for the Ending Intro…
Together Everyone Achieves More

Needless to say, the team was very happy with that performance.  Both pyramids up, down and clean back to the beach, 23 in ballet back to the beach and 3 awesome jump acts and a competely new montage act, not to mention a comedy act that the crowd loved. One comment heard on the webcast was that “Mad-City had set the bar so high, others would have to take chances.”

After a wild weekend of weather, Badgerland managed to finally finish their show on Sunday night after the final weather interruption of the weekend when some truly scary looking clouds rumbling with thunder moved through the area.  When their show resumed, the sun came out, and for the remainder of their show and the awards, the weather was as everyone hoped it would have been for the entire tournament.  Sunny, not really humid anymore and upper 70s.

With the points finally tabulated, the results were announced.  Mad-City’s year of hard work towards a fourth consecutive National Championship paid off in a big way.

The first award given out was the Skip Gilkerson award for the most outstanding male skier of the tournament.  Paul O’Connor was the receipient of this prestigious honor.  In our ski show, he performed many incredibles feats including a 720-degree helicopter, a two ski mobius, a one ski mobius, a one ski front flip, several tricks on his wake board, several other jumps over the ramp and centered a four tier pyramid.

Paul O’Connor – 2009 Skip Gilkerson Award Winner

The next awards presented for some of the highest scoring acts, with Mad-City winning three of them.  Ballet, Jump ans Swivel.

The Mad-City Girls – 2009 Best Ballet – 446 Points!

Dan Benz, Paul O’Connor, Tony Wang and Gary Pickney – 2009 Best Jump Act for Jump 2
(Jeff Jacobson, not pictured)

Joey O’Connor, Ann Tieman, Brea Imse, Laurie Taschwer, Kristen Block
2009 Best Swivel Act

The box scores were then announced and Mad-City won them all…  Dock & Equipment, Pick-Up Boat, Towboat Driving Showmanship, Overall Show and Sound Crew.  Sweeping all of the box scores is a tremondous feat as it really shows how the whole team performed at an incredible level.

Sarah Jahn, Roc Cates, Meg Cates, Amy Kothes, Adam Jermain, Laurie Logan
Best Dock Equipment

Pat Walters, Pat Jahn, Dave Zink, John Kothe
Best Pickup Boat Crews

Gary Pickney, Don Heilman, Cyndi Pickney, Jerry Wesner, Tony Wang, Bobbi Wang, Sue Heilman
Best Boat Drivers

Jim Jermain, Eric Wedige, Adam Schaller, Matt Baumler
Best Audio Crew

When the final results were announced for the overall placements of the teams, Mad-City took 1st place overall, winning by nearly 280 points over the 2nd place team, Wonder Lake out of Illinois.  It was truely an epic achievment a year in the making.

Matt Heilman – Show Director for the 2009 Mad-City Ski Team
Accepting the the National Championship

The 2009 Mad-City Ski Team

Matt Heilman, our show director, pointed out to us before Nationals that Mad-City had a chance to do something unprecedented in show skiing this weekend. That was win 8 titles in row over the course of 4 years.  That means win State four years in a row and Nationals four years in a row.  8 titles in 4 years.  That level of consistent achievement is something that hadn’t been accomplished by anyone before.

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2009 D1 Show Nationals Team Results
2009 D1 Show Nationals Individual Results
Jim’s Photos – You can find all of these pictures and more at Jim’s Photos
Mindworks Photography Photo Montage Video [expired]

Local News Stories About Nationals:
Mad-City Ski Team Aims for Fourth Straight National  Title
Mad-City Wins Fourth Straight National Title
Champs to Teach Water Skiing to People with Disabilities

Other Press Announcements:
USA Water Ski Announces Nationals Results
USOC Press Release [expired]

Note: This story will be updated in the next few days with additional video clips.


2009 National Champions — 2 Comments

  1. The show was outstanding, You all do set the bar high and we are proud of you for doing it so well, it is a real pleasure to watch your shows year after year! what will next year bring??????