White knuckle jumper heads to Florida

Alex King

One of the country’s top water skiers, Cambridge-based Alex King, left for the United States this week to take part in October’s IWWF World Waterski Championships in Florida.

The October 8-15 event will be the fifth worlds for the Hokitika-raised athlete; his first crack at those was at age 18.   His reputation as a top New Zealand competitor has grown steadily over the years, and he was named overall champion at the 2023 Nautique NZ National Water Ski Championships held over Easter at the Piarere Water Ski Club at Horahora.

The 28-year-old has skiing in his blood; both his parents enjoyed the sport recreationally.  Most of those who move into tournament competition come from ‘tournament families’ he said, but in his case, it was happenstance that saw an eagle-eyed tournament family spot his early talent.  Alex was just eight years old.

“From then on, I was into competitions.  I did my first one at eight, and entered my first nationals at nine,” he said.  “I loved it from the start … never wanted to stop.”

After that, the only years Alex didn’t compete in the NZ nationals were from mid-2015 to 2021 when he was in the US on a water skiing scholarship to the University of Louisiana Monroe, earning himself an undergraduate degree in criminology followed by a Master of Business Administration.

When he came home and re-established himself in Cambridge because his coach lived here, another stroke of luck saw him sharing a flat with Olympic cyclist Sam Dakin.  The pair, strangers until then, found they also shared a passion for high-end sports and fabulous coffee.

They became good mates and decided to find a way to turn their love of coffee into a career opportunity that would earn them a crust and swell Alex’s income as a full-time skiing coach.  The lads set up a roastery in their garage, plugging into online Auckland-based importers to access and roast some of the world’s best coffee beans.

By late 2022, they had established Slow Coffee – aimed at encouraging patrons to take time to enjoy their coffee rather than just grabbing a cup on the run.

Then it was a pop-up store in Alpha St around April – a good time for Alex as he entered the quiet winter season.  Now, they market their coffee through The Store in Duke St, where Alex also puts in a few barista hours.

Sam and Alex work their respective training schedules around building their roastery business.  The interruption caused by Alex’s competing at the worlds will take him away from it until his return in mid-October, he hopes with a respectable placing under his belt.

Competition water skiing involves three main events – slalom, tricks and jumps.  It’s at the white-knuckle jumps, known as one of the most extreme sports in the world, that Alex excels. He been ranked New Zealand’s number one jumper for the past 10 years.

Alex King

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