Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

The 10 Greatest Men’s Overall Skiers of All Time, Ranked


The 10 greatest men’s overall skiers of all time, ranked

Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

Ranking the best male overall skiers of all time.


Top 10 Rankings

Finally, we turn to the overall event, where we celebrate the true giants of the sport. In a realm where versatility reigns supreme, these athletes stand head and shoulders above the rest. The term “greatest athlete” is subjective, but here, we explore the remarkable careers of those who have not only achieved excellence but have conquered three distinct disciplines – slalom, trick, and jump – earning them the title of the sport’s greatest overall skiers.

These individuals have not just excelled; they’ve transcended the boundaries of what was thought possible. From the early pioneers, through the discipline’s professional peak in the 1990s, to the modern-day resurgence, our journey takes us through each skiers triumphs and tribulations. These overall skiers represent the pinnacle of the sport, demonstrating unmatched athleticism and finesse across the spectrum of water skiing events.

‘Greatest Of’ lists in any sport are inherently subjective and water skiing is no exception. There’s no definitive checklist to crown someone as the absolute best. Every fan out there has their own opinion. But decisions had to be made. We proudly present our picks for the 10 best male overall skiers in the history of competitive water skiing. So sit back, enjoy, and maybe even debate a little over our choices—after all, that’s the fun of it!

Kreg Llewellyn Trick Skiing

Llewellyn competes at the 1999 World Championships in Milan, Italy.

10. Kreg Llewellyn

One of the first men to break 10,000 points in trick skiing, Kreg, the elder of the renowned Llewellyn brothers, was an incredibly well-rounded skier. The sole athlete in the professional era to secure World Championship medals across all four disciplines (slalom, trick, jump, and overall), Kreg played a pivotal role on the Canadian team during their groundbreaking victories in the 1990s. At the 1991 World Championships in Austria he not only secured medals in trick and jump but also finished as the runner-up in overall. Llewellyn’s margin of defeat was the tightest ever seen in the sport, with Patrice Martin claiming victory by a mere 0.2 overall points.

His performances laid the foundation for Canada’s inaugural victory in the teams competition, the first time the U.S. lost the title in the history of the tournament. Although he never quite clinched top honors, he achieved runner-up placements in men’s overall again in 1997, along with a bronze in 1999. His professional achievements include victories at the U.S. Open, U.S. Masters, and Moomba Masters.

Siemers poses next to his photo on the USA Water Ski Museum

Siemers poses next to his photo in the USA Water Ski Museum (image: @jimmy_siemers)

9. Jimmy Siemers

An exceptionally talented skier from an early age, the Texan prodigy demonstrated his prowess by clinching victories in tricks, jump, and overall at the 1998 U17 World Championships. In a remarkable feat, at the age of just 18 in 2000, he broke the world overall record, bringing an end to Patrice Martin’s nine-year reign as the world’s number one ranked overall skier. His dominance continued at the inaugural U21 World Championships in 2003, where he triumphed again in tricks, jump, and overall. Later the same year, he came tantalizingly close to replicating these achievements at the Open World Championships, securing wins in tricks and overall, along with a runner-up finish in jump. Siemers would then go back-to-back, winning a second overall world title in 2005.

However, Siemers’ ascent to the pinnacle of the sport coincided with the decline of professional overall tournaments. Unfortunately, 2000 marked the final year of overall competition at the U.S. and Moomba Masters, while the U.S. Open continued until 2003. His lone professional victory in the discipline came at the 2002 U.S. Open. Ahead of his time, it would take nearly two decades for another skier to match his incredible feat of scoring over 12,000 points in trick skiing and jumping over 70 meters (230 feet).

Joel Poland performs a Raley on his Radar trick ski

Image: @radarskis

8. Joel Poland

After securing bronze at the 2019 World Championships in both jump and overall, Poland found another gear, breaking the world overall record in 2021 before winning one of the greatest overall battles in the sport’s history against Dorien Llewellyn and taking the world record back off Llewellyn in the process.

Dominant on the WWS Overall Tour, Poland emerged victorious as tour champion after an epic season long battle with Dorien Llewellyn and Louis Duplan-Fribourg in 2022, including one memorable tour stop where he won on all borrowed equipment. He followed up with an undefeated season in 2023, winning the final stop in style by breaking his own world record. After an early fall in the trick event at the 2023 World Championships, Poland was written off in the overall event before he produced the statement performance of the tournament the following day by running 10.25m (41’ off) for the first time to secure himself a runner up finish in the overall.

A quadruple threat, Poland is capable of winning events in slalom, tricks, jump, or overall as a member of the three most exclusive clubs in the sport; the 10.25m (41’ off), 70 meter (230’), and 12,000 point clubs. He stands as only the second man this century to secure podium finishes across all three disciplines at professional events. If Poland is able to maintain his current trajectory we expect him to finish his career much higher on this list.

Adam Sedlmajer Slalom Skiing

Image: @tiaremirandaphotography

7. Adam Sedlmajer

The first of a new generation of overall skiers, Sedlmajer’s foundation for success rested upon his slalom skills. Demonstrating remarkable versatility, he held the distinction, until last year, of being the sole male skier in the 21st century to secure podium placements across all three disciplines in professional tournaments. During his peak years, Sedlmajer dominated the World Championships, clinching two world overall titles and two runner-up finishes, showcasing his prowess at the only elite competition for overall skiers.

It’s one of the greatest tragedies of our sport that a skier of Sedlmajer’s calibre was given so few opportunities to showcase his talents. One poignant example is when he was left out of the invite list for the 2016 U.S. Masters, despite being the reigning world overall champion and the world’s number one ranked overall skier. Unfazed, he proceeded to claim victory in the U.S. Open slalom event later that year.

In 2017, Sedlmajer broke Jaret Llewellyn’s longstanding world overall record, a record that had remained unbroken since 2002. What adds to the remarkable nature of this accomplishment is the fact that he achieved this under the rules established almost two decades earlier, rules that significantly undervalued slalom in comparison to today’s standards.

Chuck Stearns jumps at the 1961 World Championships in Long Beach, California

Chuck Stearns jumps at the 1961 World Championships in Long Beach, California (image: HSLB)

6. Chuck Stearns

Water skiing’s first ever superstar, Stearns was a household name across America during the 1960s. From 1957 to 1967, he clinched an astonishing 11 World Championships medals across all four disciplines, still one of only a handful of skiers to earn medals in slalom, tricks, jump and overall to this day. At the 1959 World Championships in Milan, he claimed the men’s overall title.

The first man to dominate at the U.S. Masters, Stearns secured overall victory four times from 1960 to 1965. Additionally, he was among the first Americans to receive an invitation to the Moomba Masters, the world’s only professional competition at the time. Stearns won the overall event on his debut visit in 1963 and followed up with an incredible showing in 1966, where he emerged victorious in the slalom, jump, and overall categories.

A truly versatile athlete, Stearns is the only skier in history to simultaneously hold top positions in both tournament skiing and ski racing. He boasts a remarkable record in the latter sport, being a 10-time winner of the Grand National Catalina Ski Race and setting the drag racing speed record at over 120 miles per hour. In an era when most competitive water skiers retired young, Stearns’ strict fitness regimen allowed him to remain at the pinnacle of the sport for over two decades.

Mike Suyderhoud takes a crash at the Cal Cup in Berkeley, CA

Suyderhoud takes a spill at the Cal Cup in Berkeley, CA (image: Gary Warren)

5. Mike Suyderhoud

The son of a rags-to-riches Dutch immigrant, who had served in the underground resistance during the Nazi occupation, Mike inherited his father’s tenacity and channeled it into water skiing as a young man. At 17 years old, he won his first of five World Championships, and by 18, he had set his first of three world jump records.

Suyderhoud helped the U.S. Team secure five World Championships team titles from 1967 to 1977, accumulating a total of 11 individual medals. His achievements included consecutive overall victories in 1967 and 1969, a runner-up finish (bolstered by golds in slalom and jump) in 1971, and a bronze in 1975. Domestically, he became a U.S. Masters overall champion, finally clinching the title in 1973 after six consecutive years of either second or third-place finishes. Furthermore, he claimed five consecutive overall titles at the U.S. Nationals from 1968 to 1972. Suyderhoud also achieved back-to-back victories in slalom, jump, and overall at the Moomba Masters during his visits to Melbourne. His remarkable career featured triumphs in every major tournament of his era.

World Overall Champion Mike Hazelwood

Image: Yvon le Gall

4. Mike Hazelwood

Following his triumph in the men’s overall at the 1977 World Championships, Hazelwood was a constant presence on the podium for the next six years, securing back-to-back runner-up finishes in 1981 and 1983. While jump skiing undoubtedly stood as his strongest event, Hazelwood’s versatility was exceptional, earning him membership in the exclusive club of skiers to secure World Championship medals in all four events, totaling an impressive count of 10 medals.

Within Europe, Hazelwood claimed an incredible eight consecutive European Championships titles in overall from 1976 to 1983. Furthermore, he is one of only four men to win European Championships in all four events. A fierce competitor in all conditions, Hazelwood’s tenacity shone through as he secured four consecutive overall titles at the U.S. Masters from 1978 to 1981 and an impressive five consecutive Moomba titles from 1977 to 1981. His victory list extended to every major overall tournament across the globe, solidifying his legacy as a true champion of water skiing.

Sammy Duvall water ski jumping

Duvall held No. 1 world ranking in either jump or overall for eleven consecutive seasons from 1983 to 1993.

3. Sammy Duvall

Duvall’s first major victory in overall came as a 19-year-old at the inaugural World Games in 1981, where he won gold in jump and overall. Notably, Duvall remains the sole skier with a perfect undefeated record in overall at the World Championships. He secured four consecutive overall titles from 1981 to 1987, before retiring from amateur competition following the 1987 World Championships. Duvall’s contributions were not limited to individual achievements; he played a pivotal role in the United States’ dominance in the teams competition throughout the 1980s, successfully repelling strong challenges from Australia during that decade.

Among his numerous accolades, Duvall stands as one of only two men to attain three U.S. Masters titles in a single year, with four of his impressive tally of 13 U.S. Masters titles coming in the overall event. His prowess extended to the Moomba Masters, where he secured four overall titles, including three consecutive victories from 1984 to 1986. As a U.S. Open overall champion as well, Sammy’s exceptional talents were on full display in an era predating official world records. For six consecutive years, from 1983 to 1988, he reigned as the number one ranked overall skier in the world. His scores in his final season as the world’s best, including 4@11.25m (38′ off), 8,600 points, and 61.7m (202′), would have undoubtedly set the mark had official records existed at that time.

Canadian Jaret Llewellyn still walking on water at age 45

Canadian Jaret Llewellyn still walking on water at age 45 (image: Bernard Weil)

2. Jaret Llewellyn

A late bloomer in the jump event, Llewellyn’s initial success came in tricks when he won the inaugural Junior World Championships in 1986. It would take him until age 20 in 1990 to jump 50 meters (164 feet), but within two years he was jumping over 200 feet and broke his first world jump record at the U.S. Masters in 1992.

No man can match Llewellyn’s 16 World Championships medals, with majority of these coming in the overall event where he finished on the podium nine times between 1991 and 2015. His breakout performance as a 21-year-old at the 1991 World Championships was particularly memorable, as he and his older brother Kreg picked up the overall bronze and silver respectively, leading Canada to teams victory. Across his career he was up against a peak performing Patrice Martin, then Jimmy Siemers, and finally Adam Sedlmajer, and was unlucky to only finish on top of the World Championship podium twice in 2001 and 2007. He broke the world record twice, with his final record of 5@11.25m (38’ off), 10,730, and 71.7 meters (235’) standing for an incredible 14 years, 7 months, making it the longest standing world record of all time.

On the professional circuit he was a five-time U.S. Masters overall champion. In 1996, he ended the Neville family’s stranglehold on overall at the Moomba Masters and would go on to dominate the event through the late nineties. He was also a two-time U.S. Open overall champion. Unfortunately for Llewellyn, the industry turned away from overall right at the peak of his career and the event was eliminated from legacy events such as the U.S. Masters, Moomba, and U.S. Open in the early 2000s. Fittingly, he has spearheaded the WWS Overall Tour in recent years, heralding a resurgence for the discipline.

Le Petit Prince of Water Skiing

Martin is one of the finest achievements in French sport (image: Graine de Sport)

1. Patrice Martin

Known as “Le Petit Prince,” this French prodigy burst onto the water skiing scene as a teenager, securing his first World Championships victory in tricks at just 15 years old in 1979. Initially specializing in trick skiing, he gradually mastered all three disciplines throughout the 1980s and, by the decade’s end, had risen to the pinnacle of the sport.

His extraordinary collection of 10 World Championships gold medals is only exceeded by Liz Allan on the women’s side. Immovable from the top of the podium, his winning streak of six consecutive World Championships in overall from 1989 to 1999 is the longest in our sport across any discipline. The most decorated skier in the history of the World Games, Martin clinched six golds, one silver, and one bronze from 1981 to 2001. Finally claiming gold in overall at the twilight of his career when it was reintroduced after a 20-year absence at the 2001 event. Within Europe he was virtually unstoppable, winning a total of 30 European Championship golds across slalom, trick, and overall, including nine overall titles spanning from 1984 to 2001, matching Hazelwood’s record.

On the professional circuit, he proved his mettle as a Moomba Masters champion, securing the overall title five times at the U.S. Masters and reigning supreme in the U.S. Open during the 1990s, with six consecutive titles from 1992 to 1997. Even though his two strongest events, tricks and overall, were not part of the pro tour, Martin remained a regular contender, even clinching a tour stop victory in slalom in 1996, edging out formidable opponents like Andy Mapple and Wade Cox. His reign as the number one ranked overall skier in the world spanned nine consecutive seasons, from 1991 to 1999. When the IWWF began recording world overall records in the mid-1990s, Martin was the first holder and broke the record three times throughout his illustrious career. His final record, set in 2001, of 4@10.75m (39.5’ off), 11,550 points, and 62.5 meters (205’), remains a highly competitive score in the sport to this day.

Honorable Mentions:

Dorien Llewellyn

Sport can be cruel, and it’s not hard to imagine a world in which Llewellyn emerges victorious at a few additional tournaments, avoids injury, retains the world record, and ends up ahead of Poland on this list. After breaking the overall world record a month earlier, he finished 2nd in overall, winning the tricks, at the 2021 World Championships. Llewellyn’s other major victories include the 2019 and 2023 Pan American Games, the 2018 Latrobe City Invitational, and multiple stops on the WWS Overall Tour.

Felipe Miranda

The Chilean won the world overall title at his home site in 2013 and backed it up with a second title in challenging conditions at the 2017 Paris World Championships. ‘Pipe’ is also a Pan American Games overall champion and won the 2017 Latrobe City Invitational.

Javier Julio

The Argentinian secured five medals in men’s overall between 2001 and 2013, including a gold medal in 2009, and finished his career with three years as the number one ranked overall skier from 2009 to 2011 and gold at the 2011 Pan American Games.

Bruce Neville

Although primarily known as a jumper, he clinched an impressive five consecutive Moomba Masters overall titles from 1991 to 1995, matching Hazelwood’s record.

Carl Roberge

A three-time overall champion at all three major professional tournaments of his era, Roberge had great success at the Moomba Masters, U.S. Masters, and U.S. Open. While never claiming the highest honors, he finished on four consecutive overall podiums at the World Championships from 1983 to 1989, including finishing second to Patrice Martin by a margin of only 6 overall points in 1989.

Mick Neville

Despite finishing on the podium at the World Championships eight times between 1981 and 1987, Mick could never quite claim the gold. He lost two of the tightest ever overall battles to Sammy Duvall in 1985 and 1987, with the margin less than 25 overall points each time. He did manage overall victories at both the U.S. and Moomba Masters.

Ricky McCormick

Featured on the podium in at least one discipline at every World Championships from 1967 to 1975, including medals in all four disciplines and runner-up finishes in overall in 1973 and 1975. McCormick won three Moomba Masters overall titles. Additionally, four of his 13 U.S. Masters titles came in overall, and he joins Sammy Duvall as the only other man to win three titles in a single year.

George Athans and Alfredo Mendoza

Both of these men deserve recognition as two-time world overall champions.

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Paul Fletcher
3 months ago

The Nevilles, Bruce and Mick, are not brothers. They are cousins.

Jack Burden
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul Fletcher

Good catch. I updated the article.

Thomas Sharp
2 months ago

No mention of Mapple or Parrish?

1 month ago

Great article, well researched 👍
Hard to argue with any of that!