Nick Leuthauser of Hannawa Falls
By CRAIG FREILICH
After two national water-skiing championships in two years between them, Nick Lethauser of Hannawa Falls and Matt Richardson of Ogdensburg are thinking about a North Country dynasty.
“It’s kind of cool,” said Leuthauser, who took top honors in the M2 division at the national water-skiing championships in West Palm Beach, Fla., a couple of weeks ago.
“Last year he took first and I took second,” Leuthauser said. Richardson took third place this year.
“It’s become a joke between us to try to keep the championship up north,” he said. “We’re kind of like a team.”
Leuthauser said he and Richardson ski together “a lot,” and will generally meet up during preliminary tournaments leading up to the championships.
An engineering and technical education teacher at Potsdam High School, Leuthauser grew up in Hannawa Falls, and hit the skis on the Racquette River there when he was quite young.
“The first time I was up on two skis was behind my father’s 1986 Mastercraft.
“We’ve had the course ever since I grew up there,” referring to the slalom course set up by Bill and Crystal Hayman on Hannawa Pond.
“I try to get out each spring as soon as the ice gets out of the pond. I have a dry suit,” to keep him warm in the frigid water. “And it’s nice in the fall, just for fun,” when the water is warmer and the leaves are turning.
“With the weather conditions, skiing up here does make you a more versatile skier.”
To get into the championships, Leuthauser and Richardson compete in about five regional tournaments and then state and regional qualifying tournaments. “You can get in either by placing in the top five in the region or are in the top 20 percent in the nation,” he said.
The two North Country skiers are competing in the M2 division, for 25- to 35-year-olds, one of several divisions based on age.
“The top scores in each division are pretty similar, and then there is the ‘open’ division for the pros, who make their living at water-skiing.”
The two men are already setting their sights on the nationals next year in San Marcos, Tex., south of Austin, “so we’ll be taking the trip down there.”