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Kjellanders Take 2 in Mission Bay


SAN DIEGO — Their travel agent knows the routine--schedule the flight from Florida so the landing coincides with the flight from Washington. Arrange the same hotel accommodations and have the rental car put in two names.

A secret rendezvous?


It's the way the Kjellander siblings, Helena, of Olympia, Wash., and Mike, of Orlando, Fla., travel on water ski tours--share a hotel, share a car, and Sunday, they shared the limelight.

Mike, 27, and Helena, 24, both won slalom events Sunday at the Michelob Dry Water Ski Tour at Mission Bay's Fiesta Island, the second stop of eight on the tour.

Mike won the men's slalom with a mark of three at 38 off ahead of Brett Thurley's mark of two at 38 off. Third was Orlando's Andy Mapple three at 39 1/2 off and fourth was Lake Tahoe's Bob LaPoint (one half at 38 off). Mapple and LaPoint hold the Michelob Dry Tour record of five at 39 1/2 off.

"(When Mike won) it got me psyched up to do a brother-sister combination," Helena said. "We're so close as a team so it was nice."

Helena won the women's slalom with a mark of three at 32 off ahead of Kristi Overton's mark of 2 1/2 at 32 off. Toni Neville of Australia was third (two at 35 off) and Orlando's Jennifer Leachman was fourth (three at 28 off).

The last time the Kjellanders, originally from Sweden, both won the slalom at the same competition was at the 1989 U.S. Masters. This is Mike's seventh season on this tour and Helena's fourth.

Mike, who won the Michelob Dry Water Ski Tour's overall title (both the jump and slalom) the last two years, just missed qualifying in the jump.

This past year has been one knee surgery after another for Mike. He has endured three, the most recent was arthroscopic surgery seven weeks ago.

It started a year and half ago when Mike was involved in a water ski jumping accident and had major reconstructive surgery on his right knee. He was then off the water three and a half months, which set him back in jumping.

"The past two seasons I've done better in jumping as far as placement," Mike said. "Since my knee surgeries, I try to concentrate on slalom."

Mike says he has jumped eight or nine times in the past four weeks. Because of this, he was not disappointed with finishing in sixth place.

In the women's event, Overton fell just as she came around the second buoy opening the door for Helena. Helena's first thought: "Go for three".

With the windy, choppy conditions, Helena knew trying to setting a record could be costly to her finish so she skied conservatively.

"I was real defensive," Helena said. "I didn't want to risk three buoys by turning hard enough for the fourth."

Helena finished fifth in Orlando--the first stop on the tour--so this victory gave her a boost to defend her slalom title.

The Kjellanders used to live together in Florida while Helena was attending Rollins College, where she received a degree in economics a year ago. She decided to pursue her studies and is now working on a masters degree in marketing at the University of Washington.

Mike runs Competition Water Ski Center in Orlando, a school that prepares its students for tournaments.

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