Sun. Water. Ski.

A training season of Belarusian water-skiers is finished. Summer was successful for them — under the sign of victories in numerous international contests in Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, France, Belgium. As well as at the championships of Europe, which were held in Italy, Sweden, Finland in August
A training season of Belarusian water-skiers is finished.
Summer was successful for them — under the sign of victories in numerous international contests in Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, France, Belgium. As well as at the championships of Europe, which were held in Italy, Sweden, Finland in August.
Besides, during the last championship, which took place in London, Belarusian water-skiers successfully ranked first and won other prizes.
Are coaches and representatives of administration of the Republican Center of Olympic water-skiing training satisfied with the results of our sportsmen? Are they satisfied with the situation in the country in one of the most popular kinds of sport in the world? I examined all this talking to Inessa Potes, a famous sportsman, when I visited the “Olympia” base on Ptich storage reservoir near Minsk in Volchkovichi, where water-skiers train. I would like to remind our readers, that Potes was once the first Soviet champion of Europe among water-skiers, and now she is the deputy director of the Center of Olympic training.

Newcomers and classics

It is impossible to forget the faces of water-skiers after successful riding and entrance to the quay: there were so many shades of delight and happiness on them! Of course, these feelings are generated, if the training is successful. There can be tears as well. They are not restrained by newcomers at the age of 7–8. This children are called the younger contingent or kids on the base, though they don’t consider themselves kids: they know how to draw on a wetsuit correctly, if it is cold, or how to pour liquid soap into “ski” in order it was easier to put it on. Speaking with each other, they use vocabulary of water-skiers, unusual for uninitiated, with skill: Arabic flip, rixon, fall, half twist… I was told that a newcomer, leaving the quay, shall learn to greet those who remains there: to wave a farewell. A pedagogical secret is hidden in this ethics — starting from the first trainings the younger sportsmen, tasting attention of supervisors, simultaneously learn to hold a fall with one hand. Later it will be useful for accomplishment of difficult figures. Though it happens sometimes that some of them run to the quay forgetting about fall and soap. As it is known, when you are young, you obtain friends quickly, this is why quicker children, including the children of the coaches, willingly help to those who “puts a stay on”: they will bring a fall and offer their soap. If you are late for the training, those who are older will give you a slap on the wrist. I heard one of the teen-agers, helping to a coach Marina Basinskaya with newcomers in the so-called classics, in movement behind a boat.
Kids, according to Potes, form a special category. If someone fell down, it is necessary to yank him out of the water and to put him on ski. Kids learn how to put on wetsuits and ski not at once. On the whole, the coach is a mother, a nanny, and a teacher.
There are almost 40 younger children on a water-sportive base “Olympia” in summer. It is possible to say definitely about success of a child in a big sport only after 2 summer trainings. They are carried out in a cold season in a sports hall of the Center three times a week, and the fourth training is conducted in a swimming-pool of the Center of Olympic track and field athletics training. It is obligatory to stay on “Olympia” base during two months. Those who hold forth a hope, train during three months.
— Unfortunately, conditions are limited, — Inessa Sergeevna says. — Though “Olympia” contains 60 people during a season (including the national team members), we can’t train kids when adults, for example, are getting ready to the world championship and other contests. And the kids sit on the riverside. This is our reserve. If only there was not one lake in Minsk, and two, as in Novopolotsk and the same 50-meters’ swimming-pool…
It turned out to be, that Novopolotsk skiers have a windlass in “Sadko” swimming-pool, which they invented thirty years ago. There was such a construction in the swimming-pool of a water-sportive works in Minsk, but it was removed during reconstruction. Trifles? According to Potes, this is a reason of not brilliant results of Minsk composition of the national team in comparison with Novopolotsk group in classics.
— The whole Europe today trains on water ski in artificially digged up channels. For example, our colleagues-Italians have three artificial lakes, protected from waves. Americans train on water 10 months a year, and they even can do it all the year round. Here, if the wind blows during a week — we remain idle. The season lasts from May to September. Of course, leading sportsmen are directed, for example, to Arab Emirates. Recently in Kherson, in Ukraine, we found a place for trainings. Oleg Deviatovsky trains in France. It is prestigious for any club to provide the possibility to train to such titled sportsmen, as Deviatovsky. I will repeat that there is a situation of strain with younger contingent. I am worried that we lose ground behind the boat, though Minsk citizens are very strong in rixon (electric winch — author’s note). We also shouldn’t lose classics. After Alesya Pavlova and Ira Turets there are no leaders among
Minsk citizens.
Potes makes an example, that Minsk reserve seriously lags behind Polotsk reserve:
— All personal medals in classics on recent European championships were won by Novopolotsk sportsmen. Natalya Berdnikova became a two-time champion, Alexey Zhernosek and German Beliakov became champions. We came to the European championship in Italy at full strength — a team under 14 and a team under 17. There was only one Minsk sportsman among them and three sportsmen from Novopolotsk. The main composition of the Belarusian team behind a boat is as follows: five Novopolotsk sportsmen and one from Minsk.
— Why are you worried? — I am surprised. — Novopolotsk sportsmen are strong in one thing, Minsk sportsmen are strong in the other thing, in the result, this is one team.
Judging by the smile of my interlocutor, I can say that I fall between two stools.
— Those who train behind the boat, can easily shift to rixon. And it is impossible to return to classics after electric haulage. Specialists are unanimous: if to think about the future of water-skiing, it is necessary to develop classics.

Hard water

— On the whole, I am glad with results, — Potes continues. — Our sportsmen excellently showed themselves in Italy (Segrate), in Sweden (Fagersta) and in Finland (Tampere). For example, teens (under 14) in Italy won the first team place. Adults in Sweden won the “team”. Besides, this happened for the first time during recent 10 years. We constantly win second and third places now. I am glad for everybody. For example, for Misha Basinsky. In 2004 he brought to Minsk his first golden medal. In Segrate he won “silver” and the second place in figure-skating under 17.
Misha is a son of a coach Marina Basinskaya. Besides, she became the master of sport of international class when she was 15, and then she became a multifold European champion. She was a leader in water-skiing in the 80-90’s of the last century. Besides, dynasties of water-skiers are common, as well as in the circus.
— Strangers rarely take roots in this kind of sport. There, — Potes points out a place where trainings are conducted, — a family couple of coaches works. This is Elena Mazovka and Viktor Melnik. They start trainings at ten in the morning and finish them at ten in the evening. Their 6-years’ old son Stepa trains. He is a very talented boy. Besides, he knows that the work in sport is hard a priori.
As in other kinds of sport, water-skiers can get hurt. “Water seems to be mild”, — I say. Inessa, smiling, says about her feelings about water.
— Yes, it seems to be mild, but when you touch it by your hand, you feel some changing substance: firstly it is mild, then it becomes hard, especially when there are no waves. It is strange, isn’t it?
I will admit, I was lucky to try water ski when I was at school. This happened on Black sea coast of Caucasus in a sport camp near Sochi. I still remember this feeling caused by water resistance when the sea was calm.
— Waves on water are very bad, this is a hindrance and danger: risk of traumas increases, — Potes explains. — Water resistance is proportional to velocity squared. You gain speed and slide as if you drive on asphalt. Load on ligaments and arthrons of water-skiers are great, this is why diseases of knee joints and a spine are not rare in this kind of sport.
Inessa speaks about her observation in Segrate with humor, where she was invited as a judge of higher international category (let me note, the only in Belarus). While taking her place, where a judging panel sat, she noted: four maestros, having equally crossed their legs, not noticing this, as if demonstrating the traces of former traumas on knee joints…
Inessa, who was the USSR champion 12 times, and who has enough gold, silver and bronze in her home archive, doesn’t refer to the dynasty of water-skiers. At school she was occupied with figure-skating and she says that water ski “swam” to her occasionally. Her son didn’t continue the business of her life — he graduated from BSTU, was enrolled in magistracy. It is true that he didn’t manage to win the title of the master of sport on water ski and a judge of the international category. Of course, it would have been strange if a son of such a famous mother didn’t have water ski as his hobby. From time to time Sergey skis and with delight judges the competitions of international level.


Potes calls them pupils, though they are adult, with tender intonation “my girls” and, of course, she is proud of them. I am glad that some of them returned to the work of coaches (“there is not enough personnel”). They still seek her advice.
— I am glad that Liudmila Mikanovich came back. She graduated from the college of the Olympic reserve, and then from the Academy of physical culture. Liudmila is a heaven-born coach. Imagine, she has got two small children — 2 and 4 years old, and each day she comes from Minsk here, to the base. In the afternoon she trains kids behind the boat. Responsibility is colossal.
— What does move such people as she? — I ask Potes. — Enthusiasm, fanaticism or desire of extreme and adrenalin?
At this very moment Liudmila comes to the coaches’ house. My interlocutor offers her to answer the question. Liudmila answers at once, on the spur of the moment.
— Love moves me. Simply love. To sport. And to children, following us.
I hear epithets in the superlative degree from Potes about Marina Basinskaya, who, having finished the training, also appears in the coaches’ house.
— Marina is an ascetic, she works even not with enthusiasm, and with a decent part of fanaticism. The idea of a “baby cup” belongs to her. Recently she has conducted it among children at the age of 6–14, children from Novopolotsk came to take part in it. Water-skiers begin to unite.
I learn from Marina, that she is a multifold European champion, whose record (the program difficulty of water-skiers is estimated in points) since 1984 has outlasted 24 years, until a French sportsman beat it. And this year Natasha Berdnikova set a new record of Belarus, which beat the European record. Marina is sure, that our sportsmen could have improved their records, because they have a possibility to train all the year round. Belarusian water-skiers are respected in the world. Their high rating is built on a strong basis, put in the past, and also on professionalism and mastership of coaches.
— The team of our water-skiers on the last world championship in China lag behind bronze winners by four points only. Agree, this is a very high level, which can even be called success.

A long journey to Olympus

Origin and development of water-ski sport in Belarus is connected with the name of Viktor Novozhilov. He trained Potes and Basinskaya, and other sportsmen, multifold champions of Europe. There is an unanimous stable opinion in the medium of coaches about merits of the chief coach of the national team and the chairman of water-ski sport federation: he is authoritative, he is an enthusiast of his business and he is persistent.
You can get information about the very beginning on the federation web-site. In 1964 Viktor’s brother Evgeny Novozhilov, a fan of water-motor kinds of sport brought water ski from Riga. In the end of September on Komsomolskoe lake in Minsk the first championship of Belarus took place. The first champions became Zhanna Dunaeva, Evgeny and Viktor Novozhilov. In January of 1966 the Federation of water-ski sport of Belarus. In a year in Minsk All-Union competitions took place in honor of the 900th anniversary of the city. In an easy state of mind of Nikolay Genov since 1966 the water-ski sport has been actively developed in Novopolotsk. Genov established a public club, where from originated a modern sport colt school of Olympic reserve, which bears the name of its creator. 20 its pupils are ncluded into the national team of Belarus.
On the whole, many tasks, set by the water-ski enthusiasts, were implemented: the base was created, we enetered the international arena, became winners and champions of Europe. However, we didn’t approach the Olympus. By virtue of different reasons International Olympic Committee (IOC) didn’t accept a decision, which would make happy not only Belarusians, but also all water-skiers of the world. As for now, our sportsmen live and train in today’s realia, being absolutely sure that the journey to Olympus is not only desirable, but also possible. This kind of sport has the richest history, and there is rather a decent base for its development upon condition of its corresponding strengthening. The state renders assistance, supporting the national team. There are also sponsors. Production association “Polimir” helps to Novopolotsk team, “Merlin Tour” helps to Minsk team with air tickets. Is there potential?
— It is great, — Inessa Potes says. — Just use it, thinking about the future of water-ski sport like a master.
I listen to this clever, smart and youthful woman and I believe: our water-skiers will reach the Olympus. Potes also hopes for it. Being a physicist, she knows: energy spent in nowhere doesn’t disappear.

Valentina Zhdanovich
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