MAKING #MASTERSMOMENTS

In less than a week the top water skiers & wakeboarders from around the world will be heading to the U.S. Masters in Pine Mountian, Georgia.

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Pine Mountain is home to Callaway Gardens and is located one hour from Atlanta. This little town is known best for its southern charm, hospitality, and lush landscaping. It also happens to be the place to be on Memorial Day weekend for water sports enthusiasts.

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Callaway Gardens is home to the most prestigious water sports event ... the U.S. Masters. Nestled in the beautiful garden of Callaway you will find the famous Robin Lake. The world's top water skiers and wakeboarders take center stage all weekend long! 

The U.S. Masters is unique in the sense that Callaway Gardens has a pavilion in the center of all the action.

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It's like having a backstage pass at a concert.  You are up close and personal to all the athletes. You can feel the energy of the athletes on the water and can see the reactions to the highs and the lows over the weekend. 

Everyone wants the invite, that say's

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It's where the very best get a chance to compete for the Master's Title!  BTW. You get a ring when you win your first Masters Title  

There are so many #MastersMoments that have been created over the 57 years that Nautique Boats has been hosting the Masters.  So, I thought it would be neat to hear what past and current Master's competitors had to say were there favorite #MastersMoments

Nate Smith: "I would have to say my favorite #MastersMoment is the first masters I won in 2012.  My last time skiing on Robin Lake was 2007 in Juniors, and I didn't make my second pass! So to return to the lake that was so hard for me as a junior and win my first year in open was pretty special to me."

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Karen Truelove: "I have so many Masters memories as this will be the 20th year I have been invited. It's hard to pick just one favorite moment: There was the year that Freddy and I won together and also the year he crashed so hard that he couldnโ€™t sit on anything but a pillow while we drove all night to be back at work the next morning. Lots of ups and downs, joys, and disappointments. Yet it's the people that I remember most, not so much the performances.   Treasured moments riding in the boat parade with my boys and hearing โ€œStars on The Waterโ€ Sunday morning brings me back to why I do this sport in the first place. That's what I love most about it, the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself and seeing the sport showcased as it should be."

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Jaret Llewellyn: "I have quite a few great moments from the Masters, but the one that jumps out at me is my very first Masters 1992."

It first started with the trip from Palm Beach to Callaway where we found all our training partners stranded on the side of the road.  Britta was in this group, and she needed to come with us to make the mandatory meeting. This was her first extended experience with my family. But that's another story."

Conditions were perfect for the preliminaries, and everyone was pushing to make the finals.  When I went off the dock, the cut was 197 which was going to be a big ask since this was my personal best. 173  opener, 2nd 199 made the cut. Smiling down the lake, I thought just do it again with a little more speed in the turn.  " Holy moly" I am high?!? Coming into the dock I'm thinking, that must have put me in the 200-foot club. People are running down to the dock, while I was pulling my skis off, I kept trying to look at the scoreboard.  With all the commotion I still couldn't read the scoreboard. John Swanson yelled in my ear, "it was 207 you broke the world record".  My arms went straight up in the air punching John Swanson in the eye!  My father came running down to give me the biggest hug, which is one of the greatest moments of my career! 

Later that night I saw John Swanson with a blackeye. I asked him what happened he said: "you idiot you punch me in the face!"

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Jennifer Leachman Lapoint: "Seeing the pavilion, walking on and watching the skiers from there is the uniqueness of the masters which brings the athletes as close to feeling as though they are acknowledge on the world stage as the great athletes and champions they are.  As a former master's participant even to this day walking out onto the pavilion will bring back all the same excitement that id did for you when you were one of the competitors.  There is nothing else in our sport that resembles this feeling.  Many top sports have venues and stadiums with massive crowds and stately venues, and this is water skiing place."

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Whitney McClintock: "The US Masters is the one event every year that everyone strives to be a part of. It's a blessing and an honor to get that invitation to ski on Robin Lake at the most prestigious tournament in the world of waterskiing. Callaway Gardens is a very special place held sacred for welcoming the best waterski and wake athletes in the world to compete year after year; Callaway Gardens also keeps God at the center of this great event. This is unique to the world of waterskiing- every Master's Sunday, a chapel service takes place prior to the beginning of the parade of champions. I became a Christian when I was skiing as a junior athlete at the Masters. I went to the chapel service that started changing my life for the better. The following year I got baptized in Robin Lake too! When I think about Masters Moments, there are many: embarrassing moments of defeat- like missing my opening pass at my first junior masters; there are also moments of victory- like winning 3 in a row trick titles. In the end, no one will remember which titles were won and lost. People remember how you treat them in the midst of failure and in the bright shining moments of success- I want to be able to smile for my competitors and thank my fans for their support regardless of my own performances. When I think about my most valuable masters moment, I think about how I've learned to love & care more about other people rather than always being so self absorbed; and how much my life has changed for the better in the last 13 years since I became a Christian on that Sunday morning church service in Callaway Gardens."

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Rhoni Barton-Bischoff: "I have so many amazing memories of my years competing on Robin Lake for the Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament. But I think my all-time favorite memory is from the 50th Masters. This was the first time I competed as a mom. My son Linkin was barely 9 months old, and I had to re-qualify for the Masters through the "Last Chance Qualifier" at Jack Travers' Sunset Lakes because of my time off being pregnant. To be honest with you, I don't even remember how I skied. What I do remember was sitting on the world famous pavilion and showing my little guy the sport I love at the best water sports event in the world."

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Natallia Berdnikava: "One of my favorite #MastersMoment was the one in 2011 when I won women's jump on my third jump!  Jacinta was a rising star that year she just came out of juniors and was smashing distances already in Open Women division. I was top seed going into the finals, and she was jumping right before me. So she goes and boots 178, 178 and 179' which were huge distances back then and course records! Fans in the stands are going nuts, amazed and cheering like crazy. I am watching all this and hearing people on the back saying: that's it... she won... no one can beat that...and I am just trying not to worry and stay in my zone still knowing that was some serious jumping! so I go...pass on the first one...167 on the second one and have one jump remaining. Everyone is worried on the shore already, and I remember telling myself just go later on the six, but at the tournament pressure like finals at the masters knowing what to do and doing it it's two different things...anyhow I went later on the six how I wanted and took a jump. Pretty good but in my head wasn't sure if that did it or not...it didn't seem bigger at that point. So I swim to the shore thinking ohh well it is what it is I did what I could..and there is still no distance announced...I am a little worried...then they announce 182' which was a course record and a personal best at that time! It was the happiest moment and victory under pressure till this time!"

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Tarah Benzel-Mikacich: "The #MastersMoment that I think of as most significant was the first time I made finals and got to be in the boat parade."

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Ryan Dodd: "My favorite #MastersMoment was in 2011. It was my first event back after a life-threatening head injury that kept me off of the water for 8 months. I was so thankful to be competing again at the Masters, as I wasn't sure I ever would again. One thing led to another, and I ended up with a Masters Ring on my finger. The specific moment that made it so special was skiing into the dock to see Breanne, and us sharing it together. At that point, I knew I would be okay, and was back!"

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Breanne Dodd (ME):  I guess Ryan and I have the same  #MastersMoment.  I have thought of many other memories, but I keep going back to this one, it is forever imprinted in my mind and heart.  To see someone you love go through such hardship and come out on top is the most unbelievable feeling.  He has forever inspired me to dream big, work your ass off and whatever you set your mind to you can achieve.

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Time to go ski and get ready for this year's Masters! I can't wait to make more #MastersMoments.

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