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.”

Professional water skier Corey Vaughn

Corey Vaughn: “My Plan is to Retire After Two More Seasons”


Corey Vaughn: “My plan is to retire after two more seasons”

Professional water skier Corey Vaughn

Peace, Love and Waterskiing’s own Corey Vaughn (image: Michael Danchi)

By Jack Burden

Corey Vaughn, the free-spirited slalom specialist from Virginia, has carved an unconventional path in his professional water ski career. Raised on free skiing and occasional outings on a portable course with his grandfather at a public lake in North Carolina, Vaughn displayed talent from an early age, winning his first tournament as a junior. However, it wasn’t until after college that Vaughn fully committed to tournament skiing. Since then, he has maintained a consistent presence on the professional circuit, notably becoming the 10th man to run 10.25m (41’ off) in 2015. In contrast to his peers predominantly based in Florida, Vaughn has remained rooted in his native Virginia, operating a ski school with a grassroots focus and supplementing his income with substitute teaching.

Now 38 years old and a father himself, Vaughn finds himself approaching the twilight of his career. A disappointing 2022 season prompted him to reassess his priorities, feeling stretched thin by the demands of fatherhood, business ownership, and elite athletic competition. Rather than immediately retiring, Vaughn embarked on a three-year plan aimed at turning things around, beginning with the 2023 season.

In his quest for balance and synergy among family, business, and skiing, Vaughn made significant lifestyle changes. Speaking on a recent episode of The Water Skier’s podcast Hit It!, Vaughn shared, “One of the first things that went down on the plan was I realized that I needed to quit drinking alcohol… that went into effect last January.” He continued, “A number of other lifestyle factors followed; tightening up my nutrition, wearing devices, getting curious about my sleep, and seeing a sports psychologist… just bringing in other modalities, things that I haven’t been exercising before.”

The results were tangible. In 2023, Vaughn experienced what he considers his best season yet, finishing 9th on the Waterski Pro Tour after making the finals in every event he entered. Despite this success, Vaughn remains committed to his three-year retirement plan: “My plan is to retire after two more seasons. That’s not to say I won’t ever throw my hat in at a pro tournament or a national’s if I’m skiing well, but to make it a 365-day-a-year obsession, which it currently is, it’s something that I will put down and walk away from.”

Though he’s still chasing his first professional title, Vaughn remains ambitious, stating, “As audacious as it sounds, my plan is to step on the stage with [Nate Smith], all equal conditions, and be able to go out there and take a win, at least once.”

Reflecting on the sport’s evolution since his early days, Vaughn expresses optimism for its future. “When I think back to where things were as I was coming into the scene in 2009/2010… that was almost a low point,” he recalls. “We’re having a moment right now… I want to stay involved and see this momentum that we have built go to the next level because I feel like we are just on this side of a threshold point of breaking through to something bigger.”

Vaughn envisions improvements in the sport’s format and packaging to attract wider audiences and higher-level sponsors. ” I won’t be there for it on the athlete end, but I certainly hope to see it because the sport deserves it,” he said. “If I can be part of it, I hope I can do something.”

Navigating Life’s Turns with World-Class Water Skier Thomas Degasperi

Thomas Degasperi Defies Age, No Plans of Hanging up His Ski


Thomas Degasperi defies age, no plans of hanging up his ski

Navigating Life’s Turns with World-Class Water Skier Thomas Degasperi

Image: @andrea_gilardi_fotografo

By Jack Burden

In the fast-paced world of professional water skiing, where youth often dominates, one athlete continues to defy the odds. Thomas Degasperi, a stalwart in the sport for two decades, recently shared insights into his enduring passion and drive on an episode of the Journey with Jake podcast.

At 43 years old, Degasperi is not just holding his ground; he’s conquering new milestones. His victory at the Malibu Open last season not only secured another accolade but also etched his name in history as the oldest skier to win a professional slalom event. Aged 42 years, 7 months, and 29 days at the time, he surpassed the previous record held by Andy Mapple by almost a full year.

Degasperi, a two-time world slalom champion, has competed in an incredible 12 consecutive World Championships from 2001 to 2023. In this span, he has finished on the podium on five occasions and remarkably missed the finals only twice, solidifying his status among the greatest slalom skiers of all time.

Reflecting on his enduring career, Degasperi shared his thoughts on the podcast, shedding light on the factors that keep him going. “I’ve been asking myself, ‘When is going to be the day that I hang the ski on the wall?’ I’ve been asking [myself] that for 5 or 6 years now, but the passion drives me to be young,” he expressed. The seasoned athlete attributes his continued success not only to the love of the sport but to the profound journey it represents.

Degasperi emphasized the role of family bonds and purpose in fueling his commitment. “It gives me a purpose, without a purpose I wouldn’t be going to the gym every day… It’s not even a passion anymore, it’s a way of life,” he added. Despite the inevitable challenges of aging, the Italian athlete remains competitive, successful, and, most importantly, driven.

Acknowledging the inevitable passage of time, Degasperi spoke about the importance of continuously setting new goals. “As long as my body can do it and I can still compete with the other guys I will do it,” he affirmed. For him, it’s not merely a passion; it’s an intrinsic part of his being.

In his own words, Degasperi revealed the fire that still burns within him. “The day that you stop learning or stop wanting to improve, that’s the day that you’re going to stop.” As he looks toward the future, both in sport and life, Thomas Degasperi stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of an athlete who refuses to let age dictate the terms of his journey.

Hall of Famer Camille Duvall, a.k.a., the Golden Goddess of Water Skiing

Camille Duvall Reflects on Water Skiing’s Golden Age


Camille Duvall reflects on water skiing’s golden age

Hall of Famer Camille Duvall, a.k.a., the Golden Goddess of Water Skiing

Hall of Famer Camille Duvall, a.k.a., the Golden Goddess of Water Skiing (image: eBay)


In a recent episode of WaterSkier Magazine’s Podcast – Hit It!, the legendary Camille Duvall, hailed as one of the greatest water skiers of all time, took listeners on a journey through the golden age of water skiing. Her anecdotes and insights provided a unique perspective on the sport’s evolution, from its pinnacle in the late ’80s to the challenges it has faced in subsequent decades.

Duvall began by reminiscing about the extraordinary period from the early ’80s to the early ’90s, heralded as the golden age of water skiing. She described it as a time when the sport flourished, enjoying popularity across diverse demographics, thanks to sponsors like Coors Light and the emerging platform of ESPN playing pivotal roles. In her own words, “ESPN was in its youth; they didn’t have the big four [football, baseball, basketball, and hockey], so we had the luxury, privilege, and honor to be on national television every Monday night during the summer.”

Duvall expressed her pride in being part of a sport that had such a vast reach, allowing it to thrive and capture the imagination of the public, stating, “It was fabulous; we would go to the tournaments, we would ski, we’d do all the interviews; they’d have the television truck at the ski site. They would cut the one-hour show overnight and then they’d beam it straight up to ESPN.”

However, Duvall acknowledged the challenges the sport faced when it lost television exposure in the ’90s and 2000s, leading to a decline in sponsor support. Despite this setback, she commended the sport’s resilience in adapting to the times, particularly in embracing streaming platforms. In her words, “I’m really glad that we’ve embraced that; they’re doing a fantastic job with all of [the streaming].”

The discussion then delved into Duvall’s pivotal role in the breakaway Professional Association of Water Skiers (PAWS) Tour in 1990. Safety emerged as a paramount concern for Duvall, particularly given the challenges of skiing on large natural lakes. The PAWS organization aimed to address safety issues and collaborate with sponsors for the benefit of skiers. However, resistance from the existing tour, managed by WATERSKI Magazine, led to the establishment of a separate PAWS tour sponsored by Budget Rent a Car.

Reflecting on the reasons behind the PAWS Tour, Duvall emphasized, “The real impetus for it was safety for the skiers. Unlike today where they’re skiing on a lot of man-made lakes, we were skiing on huge natural lakes, so the wind would roll up, and the back of the jump is lifting out of the water, and they’re like ‘let’s go jumping, we have 15,000 people sitting on the shore’… at a certain point, yeah the show must go on, but you can’t risk hurting someone.”

Despite the initial success of the PAWS Tour, internal conflicts and a desire to unite the sport ultimately led to its discontinuation after just one season.

In closing, Duvall reiterated her deep-seated passion for water skiing, stating, “[I water ski because] I love it, I love the physical pleasure of it, I love being outside, I love being in the summertime, there’s nothing better than being in the boat with all of your friends and going out and water skiing. That’s why I water ski.”