Slalom waterskiing practice has left Jeanne Rohrer’s fingers numb on this freezing winter day in Arizona in 2015. However, the hard work and determination has paid off as Jeanne has reached a monumental goal-getting through the gates and around all six buoys. Moments before, Jeanne tried her best to lean diagonally to the water, carving deeply with her slalom ski. Barely skirting the nearest buoy, Jeanne was sent rocketing back to the other side of the arena. She was able to maneuver her pink and white Radar 67″ competition slalom ski around the deceivingly innocent red buoy with yet another diagonal stretch of her well-toned body. In a split second the next acceleration of the taught line ensues with a slingshot motion returning her past the wake of the speeding competition waterski boat. This breakneck pace was repeated over and over for a total of six times as Jeanne zigged and zagged across the lake before her practice was finished. She then renounced the tow rope while sinking into the frigid lake, wondering if the feeling would soon return to her fingers.
The frozen fingers, stinging biceps, AND quivering quadriceps are a norm at the end of a series of passes. Jeanne is trying to become more consistent training on a full 75 foot line going between 26 and 28 mph. She’s also attempting 15′ off and has gotten around 5 of the 6 buoys. She flexed and stretched the aching muscles, a little more excited each times she reaches yet another goal on the water. Jeanne is contemplating possibly skiing competitively one day. After the last pass it’s time to warm up in the Jacuzzi and think about what steps need to be taken to improve her technique. The warm water helps rejuvenate Jeanne’s muscles and her determination to do better each time. Jeanne sits watching other fellow waterskier’s slalom cut up the beautiful waters at Crystal Point.
Jeanne frequently works out slalom water skiing several times a week although she didn’t always waterski with competition in mind. Certainly, one of Jeanne’s outdoor passions has always been waterskiing. She had, after all, learned to waterski in Mohave County, Arizona on the Colorado River as a teenager. As 2014 drew to a close, Jeanne upgraded her slalom waterskiing workouts to the next stage in development by training on a professional buoy course. It is here where we find her-between passes, shivering, under the watchful eye of her high-caliber coach, Lance Renfrow.
Jeanne Rohrer’s slalom waterskiing coach Lance Renfrow in the past coached Arizona State University Waterskiing and has been a Professional Water Skier since the 1950’s. Mr. Renfrow received the ‘Award of Distinction’ from the Water Ski Hall of Fame and currently serves as a Judge with the United States Waterskiing Association.
Today Coach Lance is coaching Jeanne and a few others on a private slalom course arena in a gated subdivision of 18 homes in Gilbert, Arizona. Mr. Renfrow helped develop other private residential water skiing sites in the United States, this arena is an exceptional, delightful example. The arena is the shape of a dog-bone and was custom built exclusively for competitive waterskiing. Of particular interest is the special siding of the lake, which serves to eliminate the bounce-back of waves from the boat, in the similar way an Olympic swimming pools sides eliminate waves. Even after a pass of the ski boat, there isn’t much in the way of even a ripple on the lake due to the ‘shoreline dampening’ system. Elimination of “rollers” is a luxury cherished by arena and lake water skiers alike, often necessitating early-morning sessions on lakes and evening ‘glass-offs’. Throw in owning a handsome Mediterranean style home in the luxury community, and you’ve got one awesome waterskiing arena even when most lakes have windy, choppy afternoons. Not here.
Shivering temporarily abated, Jeanne climbs out of the soothingly warm jacuzzi, into the slalom boat and is motored off to reset at the far end of the arena. Jeanne dons her slalom ski, vest and gloves and heads to the dock. “Think about what you need to do,” says Coach Renfrow.
“You’ve got this, my money is on you!”
Encouraging words from her coach as she slips on her ski and gets ready to slice. “If you don’t get five buoys, I’m making you walk back!” Lance chides. “That’s what you said last time! And you better not the water is too cold!” “Shoulders back, arms straight, and PULL longer!” hollers Lance.
Jeanne replies. Lance guns the boat, looking in his rear view mirror. Jeanne is up, smiling and ready to take on the buoys once again with a shorter rope and increased speed. Jeanne Rohrer’s determination to become the best she can at this sport is not wavering and her commitment to living life and having fun remains always intact.