Musselburgh water skiing prospect Marisa Alongi flew to the USA today on the latest leg of a journey she hopes will lead to a world title next year.
The 17-year-old was competing successfully for Britain at the last global junior event in Tenerife last October – she was part of a team which finished runner-up and took the prize for the most improved skier – when talent-spotted by top coach Lori Dunsmore.
Although in her 50s,Ms Dunsmore has competed internationally for the US for more than 20 years out of her home in Boulder City, Nevada, and has an evangelical approach to the sport.
“Lori invited myself and an English skier, Tom Smith, to stay at her home on a lake and train with the US team just because she wanted to see us improve as much as possible. It is the most fantastic opportunity but I had to venture out on to the River Forth a couple of weeks ago in cold weather to make sure I was fit to travel,” said Marisa.
That was due to Marisa fracturing a patella at the world juniors and not having been on the water since. “In many ways, I was lucky because I sustained a vertical fracture which was much more straightforward than the normal horizontal crack across the kneecap.
“Doctors said they hadn’t seen many like that and I avoided having my leg put in plaster.
“The first time back on water made me feel very nervousbut by the next session a day later I was back up to speed jumping waves and feeling comfortable.
“It was a relief because I wasn’t sure if my knee would be the same as before but gym sessions had obviously helped as had treatment from Scott Murray, a physio who is also a water skier.”
Warm-weather training will help Marisa, the reigningBritish junior champion, build towards the first leg of the European Championships at Stone, Essex, in April.
From there she will head for Belgium followed by two legs in France accompanied by dad, Alfredo, who drives her boat, and Dave Finlayson, the observer whose responsibilities include feeding out the lead rope.
Alfredo is an ex-international skier himself whose career was ended by injury and he would be able to empathise when Marisa was hospitalised earlier in the Tenerife event with a damaged kidney. “After winning my first race in Tenerife I was in a really good position when I fell and was rushed to hospital,” explained Marisa.
“The next race wasn’t until two days later so the doctors agreed my bruised kidney would not stop me competing.
“However, it was within sight of the chequered flag and pushing hard I fell again and this time I ended up in the leg brace.
“The journey home was really uncomfortable but I wanted to be back in Scotland for treatment.”
Alfredo continues to offer encouragement and mentoring.
“Dad has worked out there are 22 races between now and the world championships in New Zealand next year and I’m sure the next month will help in that challenge – thanks to Lori Dunsmore,” says Marisa.