Brian Detrick was only four years old and already an accomplished water skiier. He was enrolled in Kindergarten and his father Steve, an avid skiier himself, knew of some local competitions and thought Brian might be ready to enter.
“My parents made a bet with me that year that they would take me to the Regionals if I qualified,” he recalled. “Hearing the stories now they said they thought there was no way I would qualify. I ended up qualifying. I had to miss some days of Kindergarten and went to the Regionals in Washington.”
He was the youngest person ever to compete in the Western Regional Championships.
|Elk Grove pro waterskiier Brian Detrick
Brian doesn’t remember how he fared in his first competition, but now more than 20 years later water skiing events has become a big part of his life.
He attended St. Mary’s College after graduating from Elk Grove High School in 2007. While he was in college, Detrick helped to form a waterskiing club. His final year at St. Mary’s he was a part of the team that represented the U.S. at the FIFU University World Water Ski Championships in Santiago, Chile.
The U.S. won a gold medal at that event.
Detrick was also named a collegiate All-American and in 2009 was honored as the National Collegiate Water Ski Association’s Male Leader of the Year.
Detrick is now skiing professionally and doing quite well. The International Wakeboard and Waterskiing Federation recently ranked him the eighth-best skier in the world.
Frequently, Detrick is entered into a pro waterskiing event somewhere around the country. Earlier this year he traveled to Australia where he competed in a pair of that country’s best events. It was his 2nd place showing in the Australian Open and the 3rd place finish in the coveted Moomba Masters that springboard him into the world rankings. That has seemed to earn him a big spotlight in professional waterskiing.
But, unlike most professional sports, waterskiing just hasn’t seen the kind of money that would provide the big paydays to allow Detrick and other pro skiiers the opportunity to spend their lives only on the water where they can hone their skills.
“There isn’t a ‘tour’ (such as in golf), “ he explained. “There are a series of event organizers who put on professional events. Most of the events are elite-ranking events which go towards the ranking list and that’s the one where I’m eighth on.”
He and the other competitors generally pay between $200 and $300 to enter each event. The winner can earn between $3,000 and $10,000. Depending on the amount of cash each skier earns at each event, points are awarded towards the world ranking.
Detrick’s move up in those rankings has earned him a few sponsors to help offset some of his expenses. But, Detrick is working at PG&E so that he can afford to cover all the costs.
“They’ve been flexible in letting me off so I can enter the big events,” he said.
He'll compete in Texas this weekend in a regional championship, then take off work July 23 so he can fly to Colorado for another competition. He'll be back at PG&E the next day.
“I work a full day (at PG&E) so I have just a handful of hours to get in all my trainings, both on and off the water,” Detrick said.
It does help that he and his family live on Shortline Lake, a small body of water just off Sheldon Road, where the ski boat is docked and he can practice his slaloms as often as he likes.
“I ski about four days a week,” he explained. “I do like to give my body some days off, especially coming into a tournament where I’m going to be skiing four or five times in a weekend.”
In recent years Detrick has put lots of time off the water in building up his strength.
“You work on your core,” he said. “You aren’t exactly muscling it when you’re out there.”
Detrick thinks that there is a growing interest in professional water skiing such that eventually bigger paydays may come to him and most of the other competitors.
“I recently hired a management company and one of our goals is to at least offset my expenses to where it is not costing me anything,” he said. “The big I have is to where I could do this full-time. I think that could be reached. What we’re doing right now is solidifying my brand, working on my website, coming out with a logo to help identify my brand. Once we get all that in order, and base on my success this year, hopefully we can negotiate some better contracts with my current sponsors, obtain some additional sponsors inside as well as outside the state.”
Currently, he’s sponsored by Centurion Boats, H.O. Skiis, Liquid Image, Mello Martine, ProAnox Systems, Strive, Warriorz Crossfit, Gormet Grassfed, Bikram Yoga and Alves and Martinez Physical Therapy.