Q&A with Womens 9 National Champion Shirley Coble

Ten GOODE skiers won slalom titles at the 2020 GOODE Water Ski National Championships held at Tri-Lakes in Zachary, La.

One of those 10 skiers was Womens 9 National Champion Shirley Coble, who is well known as the matriarch of one of water skiing’s most storied families and competed in her 33rd Nationals this year.

GOODE recently chatted with Shirley about the thrill of winning a National title, her approach heading into this year’s events and why she skis.

GOODE: How long have you been skiing and how did you get into the sport?
Shirley: I have been skiing for 56 years and have never missed a season. My husband taught me to ski at age 20.

GOODE: For the readers out there who might not already know, where, and with whom, do you do most of your training?
Shirley: All of my training is done at Coble Water Ski School with my daughter, April, as my coach and her husband, Chris, as my boat driver. I have a perfect setup for training so I have no excuse not to ski well.

GOODE: How many National titles have you won?
Shirley: This is my first National title! I have gotten the silver and bronze medals many times but this is my first National title.

GOODE: What does it feel like to have won?
Shirley: It is a great feeling to be a national champion at age 76.

GOODE: How did you prepare for Nationals? Anything different than in the past?
Shirley: I have a routine training schedule. I normally ski three days in a row and then take the next day off. I never ski the day before a tournament. This has always worked well for me, especially as I get older.

GOODE: Besides winning the National title, what are some other highlights in your skiing career?
Shirley: My favorite highlights in my skiing career have been qualifying to ski in multiple Senior Worlds since the Over 65 division was created in 2014. The first one was held at Jack Travers’ in 2014 and I tied for the silver medal but received the bronze because the other skier had a better backup score. I skied in my second Senior Worlds in 2016 in Madrid, Spain, and came in fourth. But the biggest highlight of my career was the last Senior Worlds in Santiago, Chile in 2018 where I placed fourth again. I was 74 years old and had to ski against skiers much younger than me like Cindy Benzel, whom I was honored to ski with. I was the oldest female skier and was as happy as if I had won. Cherished memories.

GOODE: Why do you ski?
Shirley: I personally think water skiing is the best sport a person can do as it is a total workout mentally and physically. It will definitely keep you in shape and is good cardio therapy. It also provides the opportunity for someone to ski as long as they wish and be able to compete in an age division. I have never missed a season since I started skiing at the age of 20.

GOODE: What’s the most important thing skiing has taught you and/or given you over the years?
Shirley: I think water skiing is one of the best family sports anyone could have. It keeps a family close and the children always want to invite friends to come ski with them. Also, the atmosphere of fresh air and water is conducive to good health.

GOODE: Who are some people that have been important to your skiing success?
Shirley: First, my husband, Gary, as he taught me to ski. However, the most important person to my skiing success is my daughter, April. She is very protective of me and ensures that all my equipment is good, that weather conditions for training are acceptable and that I don’t over train and get injured. She is responsible for my long tenure in this great sport.

GOODE: Anything else you would like to add?
Shirley: I would like to say that I sincerely appreciate the contributions that the Goode family has given to the sport of water skiing for so many years. I would also like to wish Dawn the very best in her future operations of the company.

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