Dockside Chats: Jon Travers

Posted on Thursday, December 2, 2021

Jon Travers is not your typical professional waterskier. Growing up the son of the legendary Jack Travers of the world-renowned Jack Travers Waterski School at Sunset Lakes, Jon was raised by waterskiing. With pristine lakes, the world’s best coaches and a Ski Nautique at his disposal, Jon has lived and breathed waterskiing ever since he can remember. An elite slalom skier in his own right, Jon wears many hats in the industry and has one of the most diverse set of skills in water sports. This year he found himself hosting and competing in the IWWF World Championships in his very own backyard, and between training, coaching, site preparation and getting 3 lakes and ski courses set to hold competitors from across the globe, his summer consisted of hard work from sun up to sun down. Jon says it paid off, after playing host to skiers from across the world and highlighting his skills on the World stage on the waters where he spent his childhood is an opportunity not shared by many others. We had a chance to head out to Sunset Lakes and capture an early set with Jon and chat with him about how his busiest year was arguably his best.

It’s been a big year for you JT! How do you feel it all shook out?
This year has been one of the most challenging years for me, knowing that the IWWF World Championships would be at home. It wasn't the skiing that was the challenging part, but getting our site ready and making it what I wanted, but going back to the beginning of the year where I got my spot at the Masters at the first Masters Qualifier, I couldn't be happier how start was looking. I had my battles throughout the season but I'm very pleased with how this year went.

Tell us a little of the history of your father, Jack Travers and the school and your upbringing.
My dad, my role model, my best friend, he taught me everything. I couldn't ask for anything more from him. My dad runs a top-notch water ski school with some of the very best to ever ski. He started the ski school in the early 1970’s when he was in his 20’s and coached many to become world champions within the first few years. My dad has been a many-time US team coach on all the teams, from Jr’s to the Open teams which have all won the gold. He has also coached the Pan-Am Games team that won the gold. Growing up with all these great athletes around me just put fuel on the fire. I wanted to become Sammy Duvall, Andy Mapple, Wade Cox, Brenda Nicoles, Rhoni Bischoff, and many more.

Can you explain your exact role at the school?
At Sunset Lakes I have many roles, from coaching students and setting up all the technical equipment to surveying the courses for the events we host throughout the year. I also help with the general upkeep around the 120 acres that the ski lakes are on. You’re also pretty involved with building, setting up and maintaining ski courses all over the world.

How much of that are you doing in a typical year?
I have a side business that we provide all lake maintenance, from lake weeds, dock building, jump building and course setups. I travel as much as needed to provide the services that are asked. I try to do as much as I can in the spring and fall so I can take my skiing seriously without any distractions in the summer. My main business is the course installs though. I typically install 8-10 course worldwide in a year. We have been all over the globe from Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ukraine, England to all over the US.

Tell us about the preparation for hosting Worlds in your own backyard and training to compete at the same time?
This was the hardest thing I have ever done. Starting off, I had a vision of what our place had to look like to host an event like the IWWF World Championships. It took many, many hours to get the site close to my dream. I had a great team to help me with my vision. It was very exhausting though, for the three months I was at the lake from 4:30am to 9pm most days trying to get everything done. I skied during that time too. That helped to find a way to get back to myself. I found that for me, sitting on the end of the dock with my feet in the water and then jumping in helped to forget about everything else around me and just concentrate on my skiing. I believe that is what made this all possible for me to work as hard as I did and make the finals at the hardest cut ever.

What are some of the benefits of skiing in your own back yard?
Having a perfect lake and the best boats to train behind. As a lot of skiers say, I'm living the dream to have 3 man-made lakes at my backyard.

What about the downfalls?
The work it takes to keep up with the 120 acres is a 24-7 job. What else do you have going on, aside from being a professional skier, coach and running the day-to-day of the school? Being a father to the cutest little boy named Alexander, he has been the best gift, I love seeing him grow everyday becoming a little boy.

What’s next for you? Plans for 2022 and beyond?
Taking a little break from skiing and heal up after the season and be ready to attack the 2022 season.