GAINESVILLE, FL (FR) – A championship water skier who won the national title for slalom skiing in August of this year says she finds more fulfillment in her relationship with Jesus Christ than in the fame and excitement of athletic competitions.
The August tournament in Palm Beach, Florida, was the second that Jett Segal has participated in since she became a Christian. “I never skied so well. I wasn’t the typical competitor who is arrogant and unapproachable. I served my competitors,” she related. Besides the excitement of skiing, Jett was able to encourage the other skiers with her faith in Christ.
Accustomed to severe pressure and expectations from coaches, sponsors, and parents, Segal began skiing at 7-years-old with her father – who has served as her coach throughout her athletic career. “At 5 a.m. we got out on the water and skied until 11 a.m. Then we were back on the lake at 4 p.m. until dark.”
The hard work paid off when she turned pro at 17-years-old. Ranked as the #3 skier in the world in 1976, she began living a celebrity lifestyle. “People wanted my autograph, and I traveled to Australia, France, England, and all over the world and received superstar treatment,” said Jett. “It was fun, but very empty.”
In 1981, she was one of ten skiers invited to compete in the most prestigious tournament in the world, the U.S. Masters at Pine Mountain, Georgia. But Jett’s performance there turned out to be a major disappointment: “I bombed out. I did so bad, and began wondering, ‘Why do I ski?’ “ After the defeat, she said her father asked what she would do for an encore. “I started crying out to God, and this was the beginning of a search,” said Segal. “To most people it didn’t look like that because I was basically living a life of fame and fortune.
“I was skiing for everyone else, and I was constantly trying to prove myself and perform for others,” she admitted. Shortly after the defeat, while in Las Vegas, Jett bought a book called “The Positive Power of Jesus.” Raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, Segal winced every time she read the word “Jesus” because it was never said at home. But something seemed to draw her to pursue the search.
Jett then went to Dallas, Texas, to study at the University of Texas. Her father called and apologized for pressuring her after the previous defeat at the tournament. At that time she was also working with her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, and continuing to ski. It was a year later that she became a Christian while attending a Messaniac Jewish fellowship. This was the major turning point in her life, Segal explained. Her discovery brought unexplainable personal fulfillment, and released her from the constant drive to achieve acceptance.
After a brief time at home with her parents in New Jersey in 1985, Segal moved to the Orlando area and began to attend the Orlando Christian Center. At that time she ranked as one of the top skiers, but had never won a major title.
“That summer, after I found out who I was in Christ, not for my father, or any other coach, I could go for it and ski in the next tournament.” For the first time in 19 years she won three out of four national titles. Said Segal: “It was a glory to God and a direct result of my new relationship with God.”
This past summer’s victory was the second time she captured three out of four national titles. Her greatest dream now, she said, is to move to Israel to help start a Christian ministry.