ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) – Coming into the 2020 season, Freddie Winter was the No. 1 slalom skier in the world, calling Florida home for now as he continues to train.
“A point of reference is there’s less than a handful of people in the world that have ever been able to do what he’s done,” said Travis Moye, the owner of The Boarding School, an elite water ski and wakeboard camp outside Orlando.
Winter’s style jumps off the screen in videos, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
“I pull pretty hard and I do have big turns once and a while, but the aim is to be as smooth as possible,” Winter said about his slalom technique.
Freddie Winter grew-up in Great Britain in a skiing family. He came to the states in 2014 to attend the University of Louisiana Monroe, and compete on their top-tier ski team. From there, his career took off, climbing the rankings and winning the most prestigious tournaments. Fast forward to now, where he capped-off a career year in 2019 with double-digit podium finishes and everything coming together for him.
“It’s a flow of a lot of different things,” Winter said. “I would say that between improved technique, better equipment, a better off-season—a few different things. I was working on a lot of different stuff to kind of get that all lined-up.”
Now let’s try and put this all in perspective — Winter is flying down a set of buoys at 36 miles per hour with six turns to make, shortening the rope on each run. It is incredibly precise.
“If you shorten the rope to what he’s doing, it just seems insane,” Moye said. “It looks impossible– and it truly is. The last line-length they’re at, the rope is five and a half feet shorter than the distance to the buoy. Think about that. He’s 6’ 3” and stretched-out whatever, but to be at the right place at the right time to make all that happen is pretty amazing.”
After battling back from a broken ankle, Winter went on to win two of the top three tournaments in the sport, including a World Championship in 2017 and the Masters just last season. He was set to defend his Masters’ title this weekend, but like all of his other competitions this spring, it was postponed because of the coronavirus. And now, the normally hectic months, have become a lot quieter.
“It’s a bit frustrating to be like well I was excited to have this really busy year and I was going to go to all these different places,” Winter said. “But yeah, it’s just hurry-up and wait.”
And during the wait, Winter is just treating this break as a second off-season. With the world coming to a halt, he’s been able to use this time to hone his craft at The Boarding School, in hopes of achieving even more success down the line.
“I want to win another World Championship—maybe I want to win two or three more,” Winter said. “There’s not many that have won two. There’s a bunch of people that have won one. I was really close last year to getting that second one, which I would have just been so happy about but unfortunately, it didn’t go my way. Another few Masters would be great. I want to win Moomba. And yeah, let’s go for a world record.”
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