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Huge national events at ski park

Some of the best barefoot water-skiers in Australia will be competing at the Australian Barefoot Waterski National Championships to be held at the Mulwala Water Ski Club’s Max Kirwan Ski Park this week.

The Mulwala Water Ski Club Max Kirwan Ski Park is set to host some of the best barefooters and waterskiers in the country over the next fortnight for the Australian Barefoot Waterski National Championships followed by the Water Ski National Championships.

Hosted by the Victorian Barefoot Water Ski Club in conjunction with the Mulwala Water Ski Club the Australian Barefoot Waterski National championships will be held this week and will finish with finals on Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27.

The Water Ski National Championships featuring Australia’s best slalom, trick ski and jump skiers, will then follow from March 31 until April 4.

Mulwala Water Ski Club CEO Peter Duncan said holding both national events is a proud moment for the club after investing a lot of time and money to upgrade the ski parks into the world class facility it is the best in Australia.

“It’s good see we are winning the hosting of these events and getting the positive feedback thereafter,” Mr Duncan said.

“It shows the money invested is paying off for our club, members and our community and helping put Mulwala on the map.

“We want to become the Australian capital for water skiing and hosting both these national events consecutively demonstrate we are well on the way to achieving this.”

Local barefooting champion and Mulwala Water Ski Club Ski Co-ordinator Peter O’Neill said there will be a strong number of competitors of all ages taking part in both events.

“For the next two weeks - Yarrawonga/Mulwala will be hosting the best skiers in Australia,” Peter said.

“The Max Kirwan Ski Park is no stranger to the titles, hosting the 2021 Barefoot and tournament nationals but this will be the first time both will be held back-to-back in the history of the competitions.

“This year we will also be celebrating the 60th year anniversary of the first Barefoot Championships held in Australia.”

Peter said the event will bring some of the original footers out of the woodwork, with Australian Barefoot Champion Rudy Stout making his comeback at the age of 78 and he will also be a guest speaker at the 60th reunion dinner hosted at the Ski Club this Friday night.

“Also attending will be Keenan Derry, who spent the summer here coaching and training - Keenan, Or Zach as he is more commonly known, will be out to back up his 2021 win against other great skiers like Ben Franks, Rodger Connors, Luke Vanden Huval and of course Paul Bryce,” Peter said.

“Open womens will be another close call with former champion Elaina McClung going up against local legend Zali Peebles.

“Our region is well supported with favourites in Subbies (sub-juniors) with Zeke Peebles and Rhys Driscoll. Competing in the juniors will be Macy Peebles, Emily Hogan, and in the boys, Harry Hogan, and acclaimed local Tom Roberts.”

A multiple Australian and world champion Peter will also be making a comeback of sorts in the senior men’s competition and of course Brian Sullivan will be skiing in his 32nd national championships in the Grand Masters.

Peter, who is also one of the organisers, said it’s been tricky holding events in sport throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic but the Max Kirwan Ski Park has proven to be a massive investment for the club and locals.

“Being able to walk in and start skiing is just incredible and trying to run and organise these events anywhere else would have been just too difficult,” he said.

Also on the calendar is the unique Skin Ski and Surf Night Jump event on Saturday evening at 8pm.

“This sees the best of the best compete to see just who can go the furthest,” Peter said.

“The atmosphere at night is incredible and a huge crowd will again be in attendance for food, drinks and a spectacular competition that’s not to be missed.”

President of the Victorian Barefoot Club Peter Roberts was hopeful local skiers can do well at the nationals.

“Our club has a lot of great people in it and many of them are from this region, so to be able to have them ski at home in front of friends and family is awesome,” Peter Roberts said.

“The 60th reunion will be special also. Seeing some old friends again is always great.”