Team Nautique Skier Scot Ellis has been ranked within the top 10 jumpers in the world since 1990 and remains one of the most influential athletes in the sport. Water skiing has been his whole life from ski shows as a kid to 300ft Ski Fly jumps that are just outright scary. Ellis has an inspiring, hard charging style that makes your hair stand on end every time he approaches the ramp. Earning his name “Rocketman” from his go for broke attitude, he was featured on the Discovery Channel show Stunt Junkies for a world record boat jump in which he launched over 19 boats. When he isn’t traveling to compete in the most elite jump events in the world, Scot spends his time coaching athletes from all over the globe at his school “Ski Fluid” in Central Florida. At 41 years old Scot shows no signs of backing down with strong finishes at the first three events of 2013 remaining a worldwide crowd favorite.
You just returned from a long trip overseas with podium finishes at three major events. Tell us about the trip!
This being my 21st Moomba Masters I am use to the long 30-hour trip and all the money you have to spend to get there. Finishing 3rd on all the events was a great bonus. It’s nice to see that I can still compete with the new guys coming up in the sport. Moomba is one of my favorite events I compete at; HUGE crowds, very challenging conditions, and a long way from home. I really feel Moomba has helped me become a great competitor. If you can ski well or win there, you can truly become an elite skier.
How long have you been skiing for Nautique?
I have been with Nautique for 14 years. Still waiting for the Rocketman limited edition boat….lol. I like how Nautique stays involved in our sport (big events like Masters and Moomba) and uses their athletes to make boat improvements. The product is one that last over time…kind of like me.
How did you get into Jumping?
My ski career stared by joining the Lakeland Water Ski Club and show skiing. I have even been to Show Ski Nationals at Cypress Gardens. These are pictures of me at Cypress Gardens during my 6th grade field trip. The Gardens let me ski in the show for my class. Kind of cool.
I have done it all, pyramids, slalom, jump, barefoot, shoe ski, disc …I have even done a helicopter in a Pro Jump event after making the finals! Jumping, I just love. I’ve always been jumping off stuff since I was a kid.
Picture of me in 1974 jumping off my parents car with a towel for a cape.
Picture of me doing the kids pyramid at show
practice for the Lakeland Ski Club. Little fact
in this picture: I am climbing on Rick and Lori
Powell. World Champions and Hall of Fame
barefooters from Lakeland. They are also
past Team Nautique Barefoot members.
Here I was at 8 years old, foot’in in the kids barefoot act in the 1979 Lakeland show behind a Nautique.
What was it like the first time you went off a ramp?
I was at Dee’s Ski School with Chuck Dees (Frankie Dees father – Frankie I think still is the youngest ever to win overall at the Masters at 15 years old.) I can’t really remember the first time. I am sure I flipped up side down, but I do remember loving jumping from the start. I would be told I couldn’t jump if I didn’t practice my slalom and tricks.
During the course of your career what would you say has been your biggest accomplishment?
I have had a great career and wouldn’t change one day of it, but the greatest accomplishment would be that I can still compete on a high level at 41.
What would you say is the hardest part about learning to jump?
Learning to jump. I would say getting over the fear of what might happen. It’s still a topic not talked about much in the jumping world. We never provoke it, but are always ready for it. A CRASH…it’s violent and scary! It’s better to get knocked out and not remember it then have to relive it in your mind over and over. I really think that is what separates the elite jumpers. The ones that can get up, forget the crash and keep going.
Where do you see yourself and the sport going?
Right now the sport is expensive. Gear, practice, coaching, and entry fees to tournaments. I feel like there is always a place for our “waterski” events, but to take it to the next level. We need to bring the fun back to it. I remember the PRO tour when I started and the crowds were massive. The event was FUN. Lots of off the water stuff going on. We really need to think along the lines of entertainment. There is no way the NFL would be so big if the games outside the playing field weren’t fun!!!!! Music, giveaways, stuff for the kids…not everyone who pays for a ticket likes what sport is being played. Entertainment off the water is what we need! It would be awesome to see Ski Fly come back. Now my mom would not like me going back out and flying 300′ again, but I sure do miss it. Skiflying, held at the proper place, has its entertainment value. We just need a super charged Ski Nautique 200…hint hint!
What are your plans for this year’s Rocketman Night Jump?
Every year I try to add something to the event and continue to get the best jumpers in the world competing in the night jump. It’s a party on and off the water with a live DJ, entertainment, VIP food and drinks, and just an all around good time. This year I would like to possibly add a wakeboard double up contest.
You now run a ski school with Kyle Eade at the Water Ski Hall of Fame. How did Ski Fluid come about?
Well, I have always liked coaching and helping other skiers. Once USA Waterski was looking for someone to lease Lake Grew, I was all over it. I made the bid and asked Kyle Eade to join me. We have made Fluid one of the best competition sites in the world in just 4 years. We have the best boat in the world and the best athletes come here to train. We are dedicated to progressing the sport and this is the perfect place to do that.