Russia's best windsurfer quits to become top-ranked jet-skier
Many sportsmen have tried their hand at two different sports, with varying degrees of success.
Double Grand Slam and Olympic Champion, Evgeny Kafelnikov was one of the best tennis players of his generation as well as a fine poker player, but he has yet to reach the same heights with golf.
Michael Jordan was one of the best basketball players ever but unfortunately for him he didn't have the same success on the baseball field.
However, the little-known Mikhail Ershov has shown it is possible to be successful in two disciplines.
“When you are successful in one sport, you develop your own type of style and rhythm,” he explains.
“This has helped me immensely in helping to cross over from windsurfing to jet-skiing.”
Ershov was crowned Russian Champion 12 times, and was by far the best windsurfer in the country in the 80s and 90s. His single-handed efforts to raise the profile of the sport included the setting up of wind-surfing schools.
However. nine years ago, he decided he wanted a radical change in his sporting career.
“I haven't given up windsurfing, it's my favorite sport, and always will be,” says Ershov.
“There are many interesting things to try in life. The problem with windsurfing is there is a lot of waiting around as one is dependent on the elements. Today, I wanted to try and surf, but couldn't due to a lack of wind – you don't have that problem with a jet ski.”
Ershov's success as a jet-skier has been phenomenal. In under 10 years, he has already established himself as one of the world's best. He mainly competes in freestyle competitions, where he is judged on the jumps and tricks he is able to conjure up in two minutes.
However, with the jet-ski weighing around 150 kilograms, or roughly twice Mikhail's body weight, it does not look like the easiest thing in the world to do.
“Of course, I started to learn the sport of jet-skiing with people who could teach me something. I went to America, then to Moscow and around Europe. I started to improve slowly but surely and now I'm one of the world's best,” says Ershov.
A lot has changed since the last time Ershov was in Tallinn, which also hosted the sailing events for the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Back in the 80s he was in his early 20s, and he was not always allowed out to sea to windsurf. He would often be stopped by Soviet border guards wary of the possibility that he might try to make the 80-kilometer dash to Finland!
Obviously much has changed. For one, he is allowed out to sea whenever he wants, and now Mikhail is trying to raise the profile of jet-skiing in Russia.
“Jet-skiing is an expensive sport. A good bike will cost upwards of $30,000, so not everyone who wants to take part can,” explains Ershov, adding:
“However, you aren't dependent on the elements, and can ride off into the water whenever you want. The sport is growing slowly, but much more time and help are needed for it to fully develop.”
Mikhail says there is not much difference in the technique needed to windsurf and jet-ski. This has been an obvious factor in his success.
He splits his time between Moscow, Turkey and the Maldives, where he continues to train in the hope of trying to win a world title – something he never managed as a windsurfer.