Sophomore Makes Waves as Competitive Water Skier

A sophomore at Westover, Sage Pottbecker has blossomed into not only one of the best in the state, but a nationally ranked competitive water skier.

Traveling at up to 34 miles per hour on the open water, Sage Pottbecker '21 is in her element.

The Morris, CT resident began the sport of waterskiing when she was just 4-years-old. Her dad, Scott, grew up skiing on Candlewood Lake, and got Sage and her three other siblings involved at a young age.

"I was actually the late one," Sage said with a laugh. "My siblings learned when they were 2 or 3. My parents told me I always threw a fit and wouldn't go and ski. And then I got it, and liked it."

Now fast forward, a sophomore at Westover, Sage has blossomed into not only one of the best in the state, but a nationally ranked competitive water skier.

"One of my favorite things about competitive water skiing is all the people you meet and friends you make," she said. "And the same thing goes for attending Westover."

Sage, who is a member of the Westover cross country team this fall, is coming off a busy summer on the water that was highlighted by winning the New England Slalom Series on Sept. 1 in Canajoharie, NY. For her age division (14-17), she is currently ranked 8th in slalom, 35th in trick, 10th in jump, and 10th overall. Sage is also 12th in the world for Slalom. This weekend, she'll compete in a tournament in Avon where she trains.

"I was really happy with winning New England," she said.

Sage started competitive skiing at age 9. There are three events -- trick, jump, and slalom -- and Sage said she has taken to slalom skiing (using one ski) the most. Slalom is set up up on a standard course on the water with six buoys -- three on each side, with the boat driving down the middle.

"The skier crosses back and forth behind the boat, like a pendulum, weaving around each buoy," Sage explained. "If the skier makes it around all six buoys, she/he gets to go again. To make the course increasingly challenging, the boat will increase speed up to a maximum speed for the given age division, and then lengths of line will be taken off the rope, making it shorter."

The maximum speed for her age division is 34 mph; tournament ropes begin at 75 feet in length, but a skier may start with a shorter rope.

The other two events, trick and jump, are still two skills Sage is developing. Sage described trick as a little like wakeboarding but without the fins on the bottom. The skier has two passes to complete as many tricks (spins, turns, jumping the wake, and even flips) as she/he can in 20 seconds, without falling.

In jump, the skier rides two long, wide skies and crosses the wake to ride up and over a wide, 5- foot-tall ramp; the object is to jump the furthest.

Sage explained she just started all three events last year as she learned how to jump.

"Slalom has always been my favorite and main event," she said. "Jump is my second favorite and trick is my least favorite. Maybe at one point when I'm actually good at trick I'll like it, but as of now it is just something I do for overall."

Sage currently holds multiple state records for slalom with goals to break the Connecticut and Eastern Region Slalom record for her new age division next year. Her final tournament of the season until probably June, is the first weekend in October in Groveland, FL.

While living in the Northeast is a disadvantage for year-round water skiing, she explained that she's come to embrace all it has to offer in making her a better overall student-athlete.

"Living up North gives your body a chance to relax and take a break and you are able to do other things," she said. "Up North I can attend a strong school like Westover, a school where you can meet tons of different people from different states and countries. You are able to be a part of a team, instead of just focusing on yourself against others, as you do in water skiing."