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Water-skiing competition falls into three categories: slalom, jumping, and tricks. Rapidly developing technique in each of the three events and the keen rivalry which has accompanied the growing popularity of the sport have forced increasing specialization.
The day when a man could win two and three events at the national level has past, and the person who is making this fact most evident is Al Tyll, the Men's National Trick Riding Champion from Litchfield, Connecticut.
One of the few skiers from the Eastern Region ever to win a national championship, Tyll has been constantly close to setting a world record in this event over the past year and a half.
In the trick event, each stunt has a value assigned to it by the American Water Ski Association. The skier has two passes of twenty seconds each in which to perform as many different tricks as he can. The points are totaled, deductions for bad form are subtracted, and the skier receives a bonus for not falling in either of the two passes. The skier with the highest score wins the event.
Last year in the National Championships held in Georgia, Tyll tallied 3311 points with flawless form to far outdistance the rest of the competition. Later on in the season he scored 3355 at the North American Championships to set a National record and eclipse the mark of 2849 he had needed to win the same title the year before.
Although he was unable to practice this past winter, Tyll went to the West Indies in December to take a second in tricks there, followed by winter firsts in the Western Hemisphere International Invitational and the All-American tourneys. The champ had trouble at the Dixie in April when he took a third behind the 3432 point record performance of Mike Osborn.
This season Tyll has won the Bay State Open, the Masters title, the North American Championship for the third time, and the Eastern Championship for the second time. In this last tournament, he set a new Eastern record of 3485 points.
His speed and grace are not all that set him apart from the rest of the trick skiers in the world. He has placed in his run the very difficult back-to-back 360 degree turns off the wake on both two and one skis. He has perfected another seldom-seen trick which he might use in the Nationals this coming week-end to run his total for that tournament up to 3795. That very difficult maneuver is the 360 turn off the wake with the bar held on the toe.
Three years of experimentation have led him to a revolutionary new design for trick skis. After he won the National title with his light double square-ended skis, the Cypress Gardens Ski Company began to manufacture a line of Al Tyll-endorsed skis which have been in great demand by the experts.
Johnson Motors has also recognized Al's championship calibre by supplying him with a beautiful twin rig for his practice.
Al's supremacy will be cemented this week-end if he can maintain his hold on the National title in Long Beach, California
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