Sheldrake sets record with run at Clean Slate at the Lake

Gregg Short cuts around a buoy duing his first run of the Clean Slate Water Skiiing event at Lake Mirage in GJ.

He knew it was in him.

Leigh Sheldrake, 46, of Glenwood Springs set a Western Region record, his second of his career, on a memorable Sunday afternoon in the Clean Slate at the Lake water ski competition at Lake Mirage.

Sheldrake set the Men’s Category 4 (ages 45-52) record with six buoys at 39 1/2 feet off (the 75-foot rope) and was able to get around 1 buoy at 41 off in the slalom event. He has the Men’s Masters Western Region record as well.

“It’s been a solid year” he said while receiving congratulations. “I always feel like I can do it, but the stars have to line up for you. It comes down to the driver, lake situation and how you feel that day. If you’re 99 percent sure, you’re not going to make it.

“You kind of always go for it, but you never know if you will do it.”

In all, it was a great weekend for Sheldrake, who won Saturday’s and Sunday’s competitions.

“It’s all that hard work finally paid off,” he said. “It makes you feel great.”

The contractor used to compete in the men’s open class in his younger days. Now, he spends most of his time being a dad. He and his wife, Gina Sheldrake, have a 7-year-old boy, Tucker, and a 3-year-old girl, Zoe.

Sheldrake grew up water skiing on Cherry Creek Reservoir. He’s competed in tournaments for 25 years.

He is ranked eighth in Men’s 4, and will likely move up after Sunday’s performance.

His score will likely qualify him for the 2010 nationals as well.

“It’s somewhere in Illinois, so I’ll go,” he said. “It’s a new place for me. I like being able to travel all over the U.S. I have friends all over the U.S. Water skiing is like a big frat.”

Gregg Short was the boat driver for Sheldrake’s run.

“He skied it really good,” Short said. “The boat was easy to drive.”
Short, 58, of Grand Junction had his personal best run Sunday, getting around five buoys at 38 feet off in Men’s 5 (ages 53-59).

“It happened so fast,” Short said. “I think it’s luck. You have to be right on.

“The conditions were good. It was not real hot, so I must have had more energy. Water skiing is a burst of energy.”

Short took first place Saturday and Sunday as well.

He placed second in nationals in Men’s 5 two years ago.

Mark Montgomery, 57, of Bakersfield, Calif., took second to Short on Saturday, making his first trip to the event worth it.

“I heard about it and planned my vacation around it,” he said. “I’ve known Dale (Reece, owner of Lake Mirage) for years and have friends in the Vail area. We (Montgomery and his girlfriend) knew when we left, we were coming here.”


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