ALPENA, Mich. — Fourteen year old Reid Meinhardt recently returned from Florida, competing amongst the top water-skiers in the world at the U-17 World Championships. But Reid’s journey on the water started over 10 years ago in Alpena, Michigan.
“I’ve been seeing since I was three,” Reid said. “I just gradually kept getting into it, and then I wanted to try tricks and got more and more competitive with it. Now, here I am.”
Reid’s father, David, was a big skier when he was younger, as well. When David moved to Alpena, he found Long Lake as a great spot to ski- and that’s where Reid began his journey. Later, a family friend created a private lake in an old quarry, and that’s where the Meinhardt’s get most of their local skiing practice.
“This is my favorite place to ski,” Reid said. “It’s pretty quiet back here, a lot of nature. I like nature.”
As time went on, Reid got more competitive on the water. But he didn’t realize how special his talent was until he was recognized as one of the best young skiers in the country.
“When I went to my first nationals, I placed on the podium top five in trick and slalom,” Reid said. “I was like, ‘I’m not half bad.'”
Reid competes in two categories, trick and slalom. In slalom, the goal is to make it inside as many buoys as possible. The rope connecting the skier to the boat gradually shortens, making each run tougher than the last. Reid enjoys the speed in slalom competition, but likes when he can think outside the box in tricks.
“Everything in tricks is very creative, which makes it more fun because you get to do different things every time,” Meinhardt said. “That’s my favorite thing about trick skiing. Slalom skiing is more about speed, trick skiing is more about creativity.”
There are two kinds of trick runs- the toe pass, and the hand pass, in which Reid excels in both. The toe pass involved the skier tying the rope to his foot and performing spins and tricks on the water. The hand pass is when the skier holds onto the rope and performs flips over his wake. Each trick run is 20 seconds long, and ends when a skier falls.
Reid placed eighth in tricks in this years world championship, and ninth in slalom after qualifying as an independent. To qualify, Reid was ranked top 15 in the world in both categories. He’s currently the Midwest record holder in both tricks and slalom, and he’s ranked number one in the world in slalom for his age group. As the competition gets better, Reid says it’s easier for him to just focus on himself.
“It’s a little nerve wracking,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s so hard to win that you just want to ski your best.”
As good as he is, Meinhardt’s future in skiing isn’t set in stone. Like his father, he’s focused on school.
“It’s hard to say,” Reid said. “I’m good at academics and college might eventually get in the way. For now I just go day to day trying to be my best, and whatever happens happens. If I make a living out of skiing, that’s great, if not, well that’s okay too.”