Chris "the Tower" Parrish

Chris Parrish Describes His “Mixed Emotions” on the Masters Qualification Process


Chris Parrish describes his “Mixed Emotions” on the Masters qualification process

Chris "the Tower" Parrish

The Tower, Chris Parrish — a life of gratitude and water skiing (image: @hoskis)

By Jack Burden

Chris “the Tower” Parrish, one of the greatest slalom skiers of all time, recently joined The Water Skier magazine’s Hit It! Podcast for a wide-ranging conversation on his illustrious career and current ambitions. At 45 years old, Parrish is still going strong, posting multiple scores into 10.25m (41’ off) throughout the 2023 season. He still harbors ambitions to compete among the best at professional and elite events; however, one event we will not see Parrish at is the US Masters.

“Well, the bummer part is the last couple of years I’ve missed just to do the LCQs. I think I’ve missed it by a quarter of a buoy, so I can’t even go to those dang things to try to qualify,” shared Parrish when asked if one of his goals was still to punch his ticket into the Masters.

Parrish has held the course record on Robin Lake since 2005 when he set the seemingly insurmountable score of 4 @ 10.25m (41’ off). Since then, generations of supremely talented skiers have taken to the famed waters at Callaway Gardens, but none have yet to best his mark.

“To be honest with you, I kind of have mixed emotions about this type of qualifying,” said Parrish, reflecting on the majority of spots, sometimes seven out of eight, being determined by a series of amateur qualifying events held in Central Florida in the lead-up to the tournament.

The current criteria were introduced at the height of the pandemic when the lack of both professional and world ranking events in 2020 necessitated a new approach for the 2021 Masters. The puzzle is that three years later, with a thriving worldwide professional circuit, the qualification criteria have remained unchanged.

“I feel like when you travel the world and you got either your elite ranking, say you finished in the top eight, you got your world ranking, or you were the previous Masters winner or previous Moomba Masters winner, I feel like you really earned your way into the Masters,” shared Parrish.

Rather than rewarding season-long consistency and performance at professional events, the current criteria put a huge amount of pressure on two tournaments with perfect conditions, a far cry from the notoriously challenging Robin Lake.

“I just don’t know. I just kind of have mixed emotions about these different qualifying events, and I’ve talked to a lot of the athletes that have to go qualify for it, and I know it’s very, very stressful.”

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