Gliding over the water

Dennis won a silver medal in the men’s trick ski class (Age group 55 – 65) “I did not do as well as what I wanted to in the slalom, but managed to win a silver in the men’s tricks,” said Dennis.
What makes this achievement even more impressive is that Dennis only started waterskiing at the relatively late age of 29.
“I always wanted to ski. I can remember as a child sitting on the side of the river while my father was fishing, watching the skiers going up and down. My friends had a ski boat at the coast and they tried to teach me. In the beginning, I just couldn’t get up and eventually had to use a side pole to help me get out the water,” recalls Dennis “I thoroughly enjoyed it from the start and after I met a champion skier, I started to ski competitively in the mid-1990s,” Dennis said.

He was invited to ski for South Africa in 2004 in the senior championship and has competed in several European African and World Championships. “Unfortunately, these championships take place at the start of our season, while the northern hemisphere is at the top of its game. It takes time to acclimatise and to reach top form. This year I spent 11 days in France before the EA Championship to train and then three days in Italy before the event.”
Skiing is a passion Dennis shares with one of his two daughters, Hannah (19), who is already making a name for herself on the water. “The time I spent with the family on the boat and training with Hannah, is priceless. From a lifestyle point of view, skiing is an excellent sport. It is extreme and teaches discipline, it is challenging and thrilling,” said Dennis, a chartered accountant with his own practice. His wife, Janette, and other daughter Sarah (17), although not skiers themselves, support the competing father and daughter and they spend many hours with them on the water.
Competing at this level doesn’t come cheap or easy. There are no sponsors and all expenses for overseas competitions come out of his own pocket. A decent ski boat can set you back up to a million rand, while boat fuel and the equipment, all imported, also come with a hefty price tag. Training and practice to stay in top form require a strict routine. On a typical day, you will find Dennis in the gym for two hours in the morning, and on the water behind the boat for another two hours or so in the afternoon, six days a week. He has had a bad spinal injury and he sometimes wears a neck brace when competing. He cannot do the jumps anymore because of it. “But it is was all worth it when I stood there on the podium. It was an emotional moment and I am grateful for the privilege to be able to ski. I want to thank everyone who supports me, especially my family.”

Also see:

Dankie vir dié wat omgee…

Deon van Huizen

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