Canadian Water Ski Team Best in the World

Legendary Llewellyn Talks Frank About His Beloved Sport

With skis strapped on, Canadian athletes aren’t only proficient on the snow. If you hadn’t noticed, we are pretty darn good on the water too.

For over a decade, Jaret Llewellyn (Innisfail, Alta.) has been the face of Canadian high performance water skiing. To that end, he has won nine world championships, set more than 10 world records and captured eight gold medals at Pan American Games.

But the 2009 World Championships, held in Calgary last month, adequately illustrated that talent in this sport runs deep in Canada. On home waters, the Canadian team won the overall team gold for the first time since 1993. (Silver to the U.S. and bronze to France.) The margin of Canada’s victory was so wide that it wasn’t even close.

The biggest splash to come out of Predator Bay on the edge of Calgary was 19-year-old Whitney McClintock of Cambridge, Ont. The teenager beat several world record holders in winning the overall world title – thanks to gold medals in the slalom and tricks events. It is her first senior title and the future looks bright for the daughter of Jeff McClintock, former water ski champion.

For Llewellyn, a 10th world title was not in the making, but he did win a silver medal in the jump event. He won the overall bronze medal. Teammate Ryan Dodd (Olds, Alta.) won bronze in jump, his first World Championship medal.

The veteran Llewellyn told that the Canadian team is “scary” when athletes are firing on all cylinders. “Our team and organization is the envy in the water ski world and I am pretty proud to be a part of that,” he said. “It has not been easy, but that is what makes it so special.”

He said the sport is entrenched in Canadian life, referring to Canada as the world’s “cabin capital”. But the nature of water skiing at the cottage means that the high performance sport is not taken as seriously, Llewellyn said. It is also not an Olympic sport, so it does not enjoy that spotlight. Still, Llewellyn said water skiers train as hard as Olympians and Canada is home to “superstars” in the sport.

“Any Canadian who attains the honour to become a world champion or world record holder should be supported, because that is what keeps the wheel turning,” said Llewellyn, who has worn Canadian colours into a bounty of competitions all across the world.

When contacted Llewellyn, he was in France watching his son compete in a water skiing competition. “Water skiing is the best family sport in the world,” he said. “I don’t think you can find a better sport where you spend more time with your kids. I have the privilege like my parents, to be involved in guiding my son in a sport that can give so much.

“I have been blessed to be able to travel the world and do something I love to do. I feel that I have more to learn and more to give back, so I am not going to back off.”