The 10 Greatest Men’s Trick Skiers of All Time, Ranked
Ranking the best male trickers of all time.
In the world of trick skiing, certain athletes have left an unforgettable mark on the sport’s history. From dominating performances in prestigious tournaments to breaking records and achieving unparalleled feats, these trickers have showcased their exceptional talent and dedication. In this article, we delve into the rankings of the greatest trick skiers of all time, celebrating their achievements and contributions to the sport. Each skier’s remarkable journey and extraordinary accomplishments have solidified their status as legends in the world of water skiing.
‘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 best male trickers in the history of water skiing. So sit back, enjoy, and maybe even debate a little over our choices—after all, that’s the fun of it!
10. Mick Neville
During the 1980s, the Moomba Masters was the most significant professional tournament for trick and overall skiers, as the U.S. Masters remained amateur until 1985, and the Coors Light Water Ski Tour focused solely on slalom and jump events. Amidst this competitive landscape, one skier stood out as the dominant force in the trick event on the Yarra River – Mick Neville. His prowess in trick skiing was further highlighted by his podium appearances at every World Championships from 1981 to 1987, including a runner-up finish to Patrice Martin in England during the 1987 event.
A strong competitor in overall as well, Neville has the unfortunate distinction of winning the most World Championships medals (eight) without ever taking home a gold.
9. Tory Baggiano
The Colorado native was the only man to rival the dominance of Patrice Martin and Cory Pickos during the late 1980s and early 1990s. His exceptional skills allowed him to end Pickos’ six-year streak as national champion, winning the U.S. Nationals in 1986 and the U.S. Open in 1988. In 1990, he made history by becoming the first man to break the 11,000-point mark in trick skiing. Notable victories include the 1993 World Championships, 1990 Pan American Championships, and three U.S. Masters titles. Despite significant progress in the sport over the past 30 years, Baggiano remains one of the greatest toe trickers of all time.
8. Carlos Suárez
In the 1970s, Venezuela produced some of the greatest water skiers in the world, and Suárez was chief among them. As a four-time world record holder, he was the first to achieve the impressive feats of tricking over 6,000 and 7,000 points. His skill and consistency earned him back-to-back world titles in 1975 and 1977, along with a runner-up position in 1979. Additionally, Suárez secured two U.S. Masters titles in 1976 and 1979, cementing his status as a prominent figure in trick skiing during that era.
Siemers named to Hall of Fame Class of 2023 (Image: USA-WWF)
7. Jimmy Siemers
Known primarily for his overall skiing, the exceptional talent hailing from Texas was equally formidable in the trick event. As a junior, Siemers was an Under-17 and Under-21 World trick, jump and overall champion. He clinched the tricks title along with the overall title at the 2003 World Championships in Florida, showcasing his versatility and excellence in both disciplines.
Throughout his career, he was always a contender on the professional circuit, winning tricks four times at the U.S. Masters, in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011, and twice at the Moomba Masters, in 2011 and 2018. Additionally, he secured victories at four IWWF World Cup stops held in Doha, Qatar (twice), Putrajaya, Malaysia, and Mandurah, Australia. Finally, in 2008, he dethroned Nicholas Le Forestier and ascended to the number one spot on the elite rankings, a testament to his exceptional talent.
Pato Font celebrates after his winning trick run at the 2023 World Championships (Image: Johnny Hayward)
6. Patricio Font
Hailing from Mexico, the young prodigy, Pato Font, has taken the water skiing world by storm, leaving a trail of broken records on his path to the top. Font’s talent has been evident from an early age, securing back-to-back Under-17 World Championships in 2016 and 2018, followed by repeat victories in the Under-21 World Championships in 2021 and 2023. His incredible journey continued as he claimed the World Championships title in both 2019 and 2023, with a runner-up finish in between in 2021, further cementing his status as one of the sport’s biggest rising stars.
Font has dominated the professional circuit in recent years, securing four consecutive U.S. Masters titles from 2019 to 2023, back-to-back Moomba Masters titles in 2020 and 2022, and victory at the 2021 U.S. Open. To top it all off, Font etched his name in history by breaking Aliaksei Zharnasek’s long-standing world record in 2022, and remarkably, he has since exceeded it twice.
Just twenty-one years of age, Font is on track to become one of the greatest trickers of all time.
Image: Water Skier Magazine
5. Ricky McCormick
McCormick’s incredible talent in waterskiing was evident from a young age when, at only 14 years old, he wowed audiences with his jumps and tricks as the opening act on The Ed Sullivan Show. He shared the stage that night with none other than the Rolling Stones.
McCormick held the world trick record and was a consistent presence on every World Championships podium from 1967 to 1973, ultimately claiming the gold medal in 1971. Additionally, he was a seven-time U.S. Masters trick champion, over a twelve year span from 1966 to 1977. He competed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he secured the sport’s only Olympic gold in the trick skiing category, further solidifying his status as one of the sport’s legends.
Perhaps McCormick’s greatest legacy in trick skiing is his claim to being the first to land a flip on skis. Valued at only 350 points when first approved, his flip didn’t make it into his regular trick run. However, he would often throw it for the crowd on his way back to the dock.
4. Aliaksei Zharnasek
The muscular Belarusian, known simply as “Ace” for his remarkable talent in trick skiing. Zharnasek held the title of the number one ranked elite tricker for seven seasons, including four consecutive years from 2011 to 2014. His world trick record of 12,570 stood for eleven and a half years, making it the longest-standing trick record in the history of the sport. His contributions were pivotal in Belarus’ unexpected victory at the 2011 World Championships, and he maintained an unyielding presence on every World Championships podium from 2005 to 2013. Notably, he secured three consecutive world titles in 2009, 2011, and 2013.
With an impressive resume boasting over 20 professional victories, Zharnasek maintained a winning record of greater than 50% in the 2010s. His accomplishments include being a four-time U.S. Masters champion, five-time Moomba Masters champion, along with five U.S. Open champion titles. He secured three IWWF World Cup stop victories in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Ace’s prowess on the water and his remarkable achievements place him amongst the top trickers of all time.
The European champion Patrice Martin performs a Trick in 1979 on the Castel Gandolfo lake (image: Le Monde)
3. Patrice Martin
The Frenchman burst onto the world stage as a trick phenom while still a teenager and eventually concluded his career as one of the greatest overall skiers of all time. He was the second man to trick 10,000 points, achieving the feat a mere two months behind Cory Pickos. Throughout his illustrious career, Martin broke the world trick record seven times between 1978 and 1996, helping extend the record from 7,000 to 11,000 points.
Martin’s achievements in trick skiing include an impressive haul of seven World Championships trick medals, which includes four world titles secured in 1979, 1985, 1987, and 1991. At the World Games, Martin was unbeaten through the first four editions from 1981 to 1993, earning himself a spot among the top 10 all-time medal winners across all sports. Moreover, he boasts 16 European trick titles, with victories spanning from 1978 to 2001. His dominance extended to the professional circuit, where he clinched numerous victories, such as three U.S. Masters titles in 1978, 1988, and 1989, and three U.S. Open titles in 1991, 1993, and 1995. Martin’s remarkable talent and achievements have firmly cemented his status as one of the sport’s legends.
2. Nicholas Le Forestier
The first man to trick 12,000 points, this Frenchman left his mark on the sport by breaking the world record five times and holding it for an impressive eleven and a half years during the early 2000s. He showcased his exceptional talent on the world stage, securing top-two finishes in seven out of nine World Championships from 1995 to 2011. He won the World Championships in 2001, and had back-to-back wins again in 2005 and 2007. Le Forestier’s peak performance coincided with the heyday of professional trick skiing in the early 2000s, during which he asserted his dominance at IWWF World Cup events, clinching gold at an impressive nine out of eleven events between 2004 and 2007.
Throughout his career, he maintained the distinction of being the number one ranked elite tricker from 2002 to 2007. At the U.S. Masters, he secured an incredible nine titles, including an unbeaten streak of five consecutive wins from 2001 to 2005. Additionally, Le Forestier was a frequent champion at the Moomba Masters, with three consecutive victories from 2001 to 2003, adding to his long list of professional victories.
Tricks skier Cory Pickos among Hall of Fame Class of 2012 (Image: The Ledger)
1. Cory Pickos
Competing in an era where professional trick tournaments were scarce, Pickos may not have as many professional titles as Le Forestier, but he undoubtedly stands as the greatest tricker our sport has ever seen. A true trailblazer in world trick skiing, his career spanned a remarkable four different decades. Pickos achieved the historic feat of being the first man to break the 10,000-point mark in trick skiing. Moreover, he set an astounding 24 world records between 1977 and 2000. At the young age of 13, he set his first record at 6,860 points, and by the twilight of his career, he had raised the bar to an impressive 11,920 points. Remarkably, Pickos held the world trick record for 17.5 years during this 23-year period.
His accolades in competitions further solidify his standing in the sport. Pickos secured back-to-back World Championships in 1981 and 1983, setting the tone for his consistent podium appearances over the next two decades, where he earned another four medals. Domestically, he boasted an impressive ten U.S. national champion titles, including six U.S Open titles. He won eight U.S. Masters titles and maintained an undefeated record in the short-lived 1987 U.S. Grand Prix of Water Skiing, winning all four events. Moreover, he showcased his dominance on the Coors Light Water Ski Tour during the 1980s, triumphing at the few stops that included the trick event—such as Vallejo, CA in 1987 and 1989, and Wichita, KS in 1989.
Remarkable as a junior, Briant won the Under-17 World Championships in 2012, back-to-back Under-21 World Championships in 2013 and 2015, the 2014 Moomba Masters, featured on the podium at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017, and took gold at the 2017 World Games. He suffered serious injuries after a jump crash in 2017, and although he has since posted scores back over 11,000 points, he appears to have effectively retired from top-level competition.
Among the first 10 men to trick 10,000 points, he picked up medals at three consecutive World Championships from 1999 to 2003, matched Pickos’ 10 U.S. national titles, was the 1996 U.S. Open champion, and won an IWWF World Cup stop in Changshu, China in 2004.
Kreg and Jaret Llewellyn
The brothers from Canada were among the first to trick over 10,000 points and between them picked up a World Championships gold, a U.S. Masters title, and multiple U.S. Open and Moomba Masters victories.
Aymeric Benet and Adam Pickos
Both are two-time world champions, but narrowly miss the top 10 based on a lack of professional victories.