Julia Ford takes on
the ramp on her first
day in the water.
The Skier vs. Skier group at Mammoth.
Marcus Brown gives
the frozen stuff a try
Can alpine ski racers carve as well on liquid? Or do competitive water-skiers
hold up better when they cross over to snow? BY ERIC WILLIAMS
“Hit it!” yelled U.S. Ski Team racer Stacey Cook as she floated in California’s
Lake Cheyenne. With a sudden yank, the Winter Olympian was slaloming once
again. Only this time, Cook was on one ski, not two. Instead of red and blue
gates, there were orange buoys. And it was horsepower, not gravity, pulling her.
Sure, the speed of 36 miles per hour was about half as fast as a typical World
Cup course. But summer cross training had never been so fun or challenging.
In early June, Cook was part of a group of elite ski racers and competitive wa-
ter skiers that gathered for the inaugural Skier vs. Skier event. They first met at
Mammoth Mountain for some alpine training and competition before flipping the
coin and heading to Lake Cheyenne, a private waterskiing lake near Barstow,
The creator and primary benefactor of the three-day event was Stephen Gar-
cia, a Long Beach attorney whose children race at Mammoth Mountain and
water-ski competitively. While hanging out with some water skiing pals, Garcia
(already friends with Cook) began to debate which type of athlete would do bet-
ter on a new surface.
“Like a lot of crazy ideas, this one was born of beer but we woke up the next
morning and just kept going with it,” says Garcia, a former professional rugby
player. “We were talking about the relative disciplines and wondering how much
crossover there really was and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Though several interested sponsors stepped forward with ideas about how the
event should be organized, Garcia opted to turn down every penny, accepting
only the support of Mammoth Mountain and a few local businesses in order to
keep Skier vs. Skier in the hands of the athletes.
“For three days we said, ‘To heck with the sponsors, the money, to heck with
the medals and globes,’” recalls Garcia. “And we put these kids together to
have an opportunity to cross-train and just talk.”
On day one, it was time for the water-skiers, in the middle of their competition
season, to transition to snow. After the water-skiers were outfitted in race skis
(some for the first time ever) it was off to Mammoth. They were immediately
drawn to the jumps of the terrain park.
“What was so much fun was taking these water-skiers, who don’t ski that much,
Julia Ford, Errol Kerr,
Alex Laurentano and
Taylor Garcia and
Yes, those are snow skis
and boots on Errol Kerr
at Lake Cheyenne.