The Silent Slalom Star of the Whiteshell

It’s a fantastic sight to see a slalom water skier cutting up a glassy calm lake, usually in the rising sun or the quiet of the evening, kicking up a wall of water with each turn and quickly zipping back across the wake. In the Whiteshell, this might be a less common sight in comparison to other water sports such as wakeboarding, wakesurfing, tubing etc. So it may come as a surprise to some to know that a professional water skier started her career in the Whiteshell and is now one of the top 10 female slalom skiers in the world. Experience the Whiteshell talks to Geena about starting out in the Whiteshell, travelling the world, and why she will always keep coming back to her roots.

1291423_10151713533411130_174525454_nThe name Geena Krueger is well-known in the water skiing world. She has travelled all over the world for tournaments, has several titles in the sport, is one of the top ten female slalom water skiers in the world, and is currently ranked third in Europe. It all started at her family cabin on Star Lake, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.

Geena’s first experience skiing was at the family cottage on an island at Star Lake. She learned to ski at a very young age when her dad propped her up on his own skis.

“My very first memory I remember going on his skis and then I started going off the Star Lake beach on my own,” said Geena, who was only five years old when she got up on two skis. Then the next summer, at age six, she kicked off one ski and started slaloming around Star Lake.

Geena slalom skiing on Star Lake at age six.

Geena slalom skiing on Star Lake at age six.

In 1998, Geena’s family bought a cabin on Lake of the Woods (the Star Lake cabin belonged to Geena’s grandparents). On Lake of the Woods they were close neighbours to the people who owned Sportsman Marine & Ski in Winnipeg, who were the first to introduce the Kruegers to a slalom ski course and even gave them their slalom course because they didn’t use it anymore.¬† The Kruegers set up the course in a quiet bay on Lake of the Woods, close to their cabin.

Geena says she was about 12 or 13 years old when she started going through the slalom ski course, and she did her first tournament at Betula Lake in the Whiteshell.

“That was my first tournament, I was so nervous,” she said. “And then I did a Manitoba record, I didn’t even know what I was doing.”

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First tournament, breaks a record….. No big deal. But it was the start of what would soon become a professional career for Geena. From there she started doing a few more tournaments and then went to Rollins College in Winterpark, Florida. That’s where Geena became really serious about skiing. Geena chose to go to Rollins College because she knew that’s where she could continue to progress her water skiing career.

“Orlando is like central-water skiing, it’s like golfing,” she said. “If you’re a pro golfer, you’re going to go to Florida, if you’re a pro water skier, you’re going to Florida. Once you’re there it has all the best coaches in the world, best lakes, and best facilities.”

“Once you get into that envirnoment where there’s people around you that are taking it seriously, you get more competitive and it pushes you. And at that point, I knew I definitely wanted to do this professionally.”

1370283_10151713533661130_1606517052_nAlong with slalom Geena also does trick and jump skiing. Slalom, which is her strength and her personal favourite, involves skiing through a course that consists of six buoys, with an entry gate and an exit gate. For slalom, the maximum speed for women is 34 miles/hr or 55 km/hr. Once you complete the course at maximum speed, you keep shortening the rope length, making it more challenging to turn sharp and cut across the wake in time to get around next buoy. Trick skiing is based off a point system that involves two 20 seconds passes to do as many tricks as you can. Jump skiing is based off the distance of the jump.
1388102_10151713533696130_196526222_nWater skiing has given Geena the opportunity to do what everyone dreams of: Travelling the world to do what you love most. In March she skied at a pro tournament in Melbourne, Australia, and at another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June. She recently received a bronze medal and the Europe and Africa Championships in Greece, and is heading to her first Open World tournament in Chile at the end of November.

Geena (far right) on the podium at the Europe and Africa Championships in Greece.

Geena (far right) on the podium at the Europe and Africa Championships in Greece.

Geena skiing on Star Lake - Summer 2013.

Geena skiing on Star Lake – Summer 2013.

All this world travelling doesn’t stop Geena from coming back to visit and ski at the place where it all started: in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. She says she will continue to return to the Whiteshell and Lake of the Woods every summer.

“I have so many memories here,” said Geena. “I don’t think anyone understands being out at the lake until you’ve actually been here. I’ve been to so many places in the world and I always come here and it’s just so peaceful; I love it here.”

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Reeling In With Shield Outfitters

Fishing.

To some it’s a relaxing day in the outdoors, enjoying being on the water and experiencing nature. To others, it is a stringer of walleye and a shore lunch, or perhaps the family dinner that follows a successful day on the pond. Then again, to some it is the thrill of a rod bending, unseen giant stripping line off against a feebly resisting drag; the adrenaline spike from the first glimpse of a massive trophy fish. And finally, if the angler wins the battle, the high fives and loud enthusiasms of the victory that cannot be explained, only understood.

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Shield Outfitters caters to them all. And in royal fashion, for the Shield Outfitters guides have the great privilege to guide their clients to memorable catches on some of the most picturesque lakes found in North America – in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. Whether it’s slab crappies, elusive trophy walleye, tackle-busting monster northern pike, or the acrobatic smallmouth bass, Shield Outfitters can provide the experience any angler is looking for.

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As the seasons roll by, each species takes its turn at center stage. First the walleye action lights up after ice out, only distracted by the huge lake trout available on a consistent basis in the spring. Then it’s the crappie, followed by the smallmouth bass and northern pike in June, leading us into the summer patterns that offer all species on an equal footing.¬†Late summer means walleye action is about to explode again, and look out for those giant northerns – September is the time!
dianerelease copyShield Outfitters has made many a trophy hunter’s dream come true. They have even guided to a provincial record, the crappie fly fishing mark was set on a Shield Outfitters excursion. Ian Young, AJ Gill, and Dave Abbott are the Shield Outfitters angling team that has years of combined success guiding clients to unforgettable catches, memorialized by great photos of their angling experiences in the Whiteshell.
BeaverDaysTrout copyFor those trophy hunters with Lake of the Woods muskie on their mind, giant walleyes through the ice on Lake Winnipeg, Red River catfish, or even the massive freshwater drum of Lake Manitoba, Shield Outfitters will trailer up and guide you to the action.

Ian_LOTWeye copyIn addition to trophy angling, Shield Outfitters also guides to family fishing experiences, wilderness tripping, and back country angling (for lake trout), as well as winter adventures, igloo building, and ice fishing. If your idea of fishing is more of a day on the water with friends and family complete with catching your own shore lunch, Shield Outfitters has got you’ve covered.

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Shield Outfitters. Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. Catch the excitement!

For more information on Shield Outfitters, visit http://www.shieldoutfitters.com. To book a guided fishing trip call the Falcon Lake Marina at 1(204)-349-8923 and ask for Ian or e-mail ian.flmarina@gmail.com