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Water skier with Saltcoats roots recognized provincially

Barnes, an adaptive water skier told Yorkton This Week that his selection was unexpected.
Nolan Barnes set a world record in adaptive water skiing in 2019.

YORKTON - Nolan Barnes, who grew up in the Saltcoats area was recently presented an Inspire Through Sport Award.

The presentation was made at the 2022 Saskatchewan Sport Awards on Jan. 26 in Saskatoon, the first time since 2019 for the ceremony to be held.

Barnes was nominated by Waterski and Wakeboard Saskatchewan.

Barnes, an adaptive water skier told Yorkton This Week that his selection was unexpected.

“I was almost blindsided,” he said, the nomination itself was more than he would have imagined. “. . . That alone was quite a special moment for me. It feels pretty good when you are recognized for your effort.

“It’s pretty special for me.”

Barnes became involved in water skiing after a single vehicle collision in 2010 left him a paraplegic.

Barnes had to start from the very basics of the sport but worked his way to a spot on Canada’s national team in 2012, going on to become a world champion and world record holder.

The records included smashing the MP2 record in slalom at the 2019 world championships in Norway. The record had been a score of 1,000-points and he increased it to 1,363-points.

Barnes said he sees his latest award as important for his sport too, having adaptive water skiing on the stage with a lot of other sports, most better known than his at this point.

“It’s a non-Olympic sport,” he said, adding he appreciates that adaptive water skiing has lots of room for growth, but that will need more recognition and dollars, but things are moving in the right direction.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth,” he said.

That has meant greater recognition within the water ski community where the adaptive side of the sport is now getting a place at the table and are involved in world championships.

Barnes said it is important to sport itself in being inclusive.

Barnes knows well about sport growth noting after his own accident he was not even aware adaptive water skiing was a thing.

“It wasn’t even on the radar. I didn’t even know it existed,” he said, adding he only learned of it from a poster and as soon as he was out of the rehab centre following his accident he was checking out the sport.

Barnes visited the local water ski club and had one request “I want to learn how do to this adaptive skiing,” he explained.

Not that sport was really in his plans early on.

Barnes said before the accident he was anticipating following his family into farming near Saltcoats, but the farm sector is not really easy for someone in a wheelchair, so his path took a left turn of sorts, including a move to Saskatoon.

“It was a better decision going on my own. I wanted to develop my new life in the chair on my own,” he said.