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Champions on the water



Posted on September 7, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 7 at 11:27 AM



Grace "Kat" Warner is like a fish out of water. She's been water skiing her whole life -- she just won the U.S. Nationals -- and then she broke her wrist, in an accident unrelated to water skiing.

"We went to this other lake, last week, and I could barely even stand it," said Grace. "Everyone else was skiing and I was sitting on the dock."

13-year-old Grace (who goes by Kat when she's on the water ski circuit) and her 10-year-old brother Ryan are both champions. Ryan won his age group easily, while Grace had a nail biter:she had to wait until the scores were compiled before she knew, and that was nearly an hour after the competition ended.


"They posted the scores an hour after I skied, and that whole hour, my mom was trying to get on her calculator and calculate the score," said Grace. "We weren't completely sure until the score was posted."

"I just had to do -- I didn't really have to do my best. I just couldn't fall early, and I'd probably win," said Ryan. "So it was pretty much just not falling."

Ryan is moving up in class, to the 10-13 age group. So next year he'll be competing against older kids, and he'll be jumping at Nationals for the first time. Ryan couldn't have a better coach as he learns the jump. Joy Todd-Strickland is a national champion and former record holder in the event.

"It's basically an all-day thing," said Joy. "We don't just come down to the lake for 30 minutes and ski, I mean, you're there all day long. So we get a lot of time on the water."

Together, Joy and the Warners have put in a lot of work to get where they are. But who are they kidding? It's not all work.