The 10 Greatest Women’s Jumpers of All Time, Ranked
Ranking the best female jumpers of all time.
In the thrilling realm of water ski jumping, a group of remarkable women have etched their names in the sport’s history. With every jump, these athletes defied gravity and pushed the boundaries of human potential. As we embark on this journey through the annals of women’s jumping, we invite you to witness the trailblazers who have elevated the sport to new heights. From historic victories to ground breaking records, their stories paint a portrait of passion, perseverance, and sheer excellence.
‘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 female jumpers 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!
10. Sue Lipplegoes
Sue represented Australia in six World Championships, featuring on every jump podium from 1979 to 1985, and securing runner-up positions in three of those World Championships. She was dominant on the Yarra, winning multiple Moomba Masters titles during the 1980s. Although it was a difficult trip for Australians to justify while still an amateur event, she traveled to and won the 1984 U.S. Masters. A true pioneer, she marked history in 1981 as the first woman to surpass the 40 meter mark, extending and maintaining the world record for five years throughout the 1980s.
June Fladborg kæmper for EM-guld (image: Claus Beyer)
9. June Fladborg
Hailing originally from Denmark, June, like many Europeans, relocated to Florida to facilitate year-round training. She embarked on an incredible journey of success in the latter half of the 2000s, securing victory in just shy of 50% of all professional tournaments she competed in between 2005 and 2010. Throughout this period, she attained the coveted number one elite jumper position three times, achieved runner-up positions at the World Championships on two occasions, clinched four U.S. Masters titles (including an impressive streak of three consecutive wins from 2008 to 2010), and secured back-to-back Moomba Masters titles in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, capping off an extraordinary career, she broke Elena Milakova’s long-standing world record.
Since her retirement from professional water skiing, June, alongside her husband Tom Asher, is dedicated to carrying forward the legacy of her coach, mentor, and former partner, Ray Stokes, through their involvement with Stokes Skis.
Image: Natallia Berdnikava
8. Natallia Berdnikava
An exceptional overall skier, Natallia held a pivotal role in securing victory for the Belarus team at the 2011 World Championships, where she won individual gold in the tricks, jump, and overall disciplines. Her collection of World Championships medals tallies to an impressive 10, including podium finishes in jump at the 2007, 2013, and 2017 events. Natallia also secured World Games titles in tricks and jump in 2017.
On the professional circuit, Natallia was incredibly consistent, securing top-three placements in 75% of all jump events she participated in from 2005 to 2019. Her notable victories include the Moomba Masters, U.S. Open, and three U.S. Masters jump titles, triumphing in 2007, 2011, and 2012. Natallia broke the world jump record three times between 2011 and 2012 and becoming the first woman to achieve a 190-foot jump.
Angeliki Andriopoulou jumps 54.9m to keep her title of World Champion. (image: IWSF)
7. Angeliki Andriopoulou
A consistent presence on the World Championships podium throughout the 2000s, the Greek champion earned a remarkable tally of seven medals between 2001 and 2009. This collection included three notable runner-up finishes in the overall category and one in trick skiing. However, it is her triumphant streak of three consecutive world jump titles from 2005 to 2009 that stands as her paramount achievement.
Within the professional circuit, Angeliki maintained an exceptional track record. She secured a podium placement in a staggering 85% of all tournaments she entered, and a winning rate exceeding 40%. Adept in all conditions, she ended Emma Sheers’ era of dominance on the Yarra River by clinching the Moomba Masters title in 2007. Other notable professional victories include the 2007 U.S. Open, back-to-back wins at the Malibu Open in 2006 and 2007, and four victories in IWWF World Cup stops spanning from 2005 to 2008.
6. Sherri Slone
Raised in Kansas, Sherri began her skiing in a local sand pit before becoming one of the first in a long list of elite jumpers to blossom under the coaching of Jay Bennett in Louisiana. Sherri’s entrance on the professional circuit was instantly felt when she became the first individual to defeat Deena Brush Mapple on the pro tour in almost three years. She went on to win four consecutive stops that year on the 1990 Michelob Dry Waterski Tour, eventually earning her the coveted title of tour champion. Her success continued into the following year, 1991, where she defended her title with five out of seven wins on the pro tour, in addition to clinching victories at the U.S. Open and the World Championships. Unfortunately, women’s jump was dropped from the pro tour in 1992, right at the peak of her career. Undeterred, Sherri managed to accumulate over 20 professional titles throughout the 1990s. In 1995 she had another notable season, winning the U.S. Masters, a third U.S. Open title, claiming a bronze at the World Championships, and equaling Deena Brush Mapple’s world record.
Off the water, she played a pivotal role alongside Jennifer Leachman in the formation of the Women of Waterskiing (WOW) tour that gave a platform to female athletes in the late nineties after they were excluded from the pro tour.
Elena Thomsen-Milakova. (image: Swiss Waterski & Wake)
5. Elena Milakova
Growing up on the outskirts of Moscow during the waning years of the Soviet Union, Elena honed her skills by practicing in a swimming pool during the winter months. Her initial international triumph materialized at the 1997 World Championships in Colombia, where she secured victories in both jump and overall categories. In the jump event, she followed up with another victory at the 2001 World Championships, and even in the later phase of her career, achieved a runner-up position in 2007 while competing for Switzerland under her married name, Elena Thomsen.
On the professional circuit, she clinched a Moomba Masters championship and was a three-time U.S. Masters champion. She broke the world jump record on three occasions, becoming the first woman to jump over 55 meters and 180 feet. Her final record of 56.6 meters remained unbroken for over eight years.
During the short-lived era of women’s Ski Fly, Elena excelled. Her world Ski Fly record, established at 69.4 meters during the 2002 U.S. Masters, holds to this day, making it the longest-standing record in world water skiing.
Elizabeth Allan Reid. (image: Gary & Carol Warren)
4. Liz Allan
Demonstrating extraordinary talent from an early age, Liz made her entrance onto the water skiing stage in 1965, becoming the first woman to achieve a 100-foot jump while just 14 years old. Even more astonishingly, the same year, she traveled to Surfer’s Paradise in Australia for the World Championships and emerged victorious in the jump and overall events. This remarkable feat set the tone for her future accomplishments.
Liz would go on to win a total of four World Championship jump titles, only missing the podium once between 1965 and 1975. Her dominance was equally impressive on home soil, where she secured six U.S. National jump titles and seven U.S. Masters jump championships, including five consecutive victories as a teenager from 1966 to 1970. In addition, Liz broke the world jump record on five occasions throughout her illustrious career.
Image: Sunshine Coast Daily
3. Emma Sheers
Emma and her younger brother Curtis came up under the tutelage of Ray Stokes, whose innovations in jump ski design and technique played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the sport during the 1990s. Displaying talent from an early age, Emma accomplished the remarkable feat of clinching back-to-back U17 World Championships in 1990 and 1992, a record that remains unbroken among girl’s jumpers to this day. Particularly dominant on her home turf, Emma’s prowess was highlighted by a streak of five consecutive Moomba Masters jump titles throughout the 1990s. Her domination continued with another impressive run of six consecutive titles in the early 2000s, suffering only a single defeat on the Yarra between 1994 and 2005.
After securing the runner-up position at the 1995 World Championships, Emma claimed gold in the jump event at the 1997 World Games and both the 1999 and 2003 World Championships. On the professional circuit, she won the season championship of the Café de Columbia World Cup in every year that women’s skiing was included from 1997 to 1999 and followed up with victory on the 2000 U.S. Pro Water Ski and Wakeboard Tour. Emma was also a six-time jump champion at both the U.S. Masters and U.S. Open, losing only once between 1996 and 2003 at the latter event.
Despite narrowly missing the distinction of becoming the first woman to jump 50 meters, Emma broke the world jump record three times during her career. Notably, she also co-held the women’s Ski Fly record with compatriot Toni Neville for two years, achieving a distance of 66.6 meters.
Image: Trading Card Database
2. Deena Brush Mapple
Known as the “queen of water skiing,” this California native was a perennial contender across the slalom, jump, and overall disciplines throughout her illustrious 25-year career. Her notable achievements include a ‘grand slam’ in 1987, securing overall victories at the World Championships, U.S. Nationals, and U.S. Masters. Additionally, she holds the distinction of being the only woman to simultaneously hold the world slalom and jump records. However, it was in the jump event where her talents truly shone.
Deena clinched the world jump champion title an impressive four times, only missing the podium once between her first medal in 1979 and her last victory in 1989. Her dominance extended to the U.S. Masters, where she claimed the jump title on nine occasions, including an extraordinary streak of seven consecutive victories from 1986 to 1993. In addition, her visits to Melbourne resulted in multiple Moomba Masters jump titles.
On the pro tour, her prowess was unmatched throughout the late 1980s. Deena secured the season champion title for three consecutive years, from 1987 to 1989, on the Coors Light Water Ski Tour. Her exceptional streak included a run of 22 consecutive tour stop victories spanning from 1987 to 1990, and she simultaneously accomplished an unbeaten season on the 1987 U.S. Grand Prix of Water Skiing. Moreover, she broke the world jump record five times over her career, significantly advancing women’s jumping distances from 39.3 meters in 1979 to 47.5 meters by her final record in 1988.
The calm before the storm (image: @jacintacarroll)
1. Jacinta Carroll
Another of Ray Stoke’s protégés, the Australian known as “Rabbit” has redefined the boundaries of achievement in women’s jumping. While still a teenager, she secured victories in the Moomba Masters, LA Nite Jam, and the U21 World Championships all in 2011. At her final U21 World Championships she clinched both the jump and overall titles.
Since losing to Jutta Lammi at the 2013 Moomba Masters, Jacinta has won every single professional event she has competed in. Nobody, not even the great Andy Mapple, has ever achieved this level of sustained dominance in the sport. Her unparalleled streak includes nine consecutive Moomba Masters titles and seven consecutive U.S. Masters titles, with the latter streak only ending after a forced absence in 2021 due to Covid-related travel restrictions. After finishing as the runner-up at the 2011 World Championships, Jacinta went on to secure five consecutive world titles between 2013 and 2021. She has held the world record since 2015, breaking it five times, and in 2021, became the first woman to jump 200 feet.
After she was controversially dropped by Nautique, her major sponsor, for setting the world record behind the ‘wrong boat,’ it appears Jacinta has effectively retired from the professional circuit. She has made only brief cameos over the last two years to continue her winning streak at the Moomba Masters. Only recently turning 30, she will be a substantial loss to our sport. However, having won everything there is to win, we can’t blame her for moving on to the next chapter of her life.
The Belarusian is one of only three women to jump over 190 feet and finished runner up to Carroll at both the 2019 and 2021 World Championships. She has dominated women’s jump in the Australian’s absence, clinching two U.S. Masters titles and finishing on top of the Waterski Pro Tour leaderboard every year from 2021 to 2023.
Featured on the World Championships jump podium three times, including a runner-up position in 1999, she was also a U.S. Masters and U.S. Open champion. In an extraordinary streak of form, she broke the world record four times in 2000, achieving this feat twice in a single weekend.
Brenda Nichols Baldwin
Remembered as the first woman to jump 50 meters, she accomplished this feat in only her second tournament after women were allowed to raise the ramp to five and a half feet in 1997. Brenda was also a world jump champion in 1995 and U.S. Masters jump champion in 1997.
A two-time world jump champion, clinching gold in 1979 and 1983, along with a runner-up finish in 1977. She also triumphed at the 1982 U.S. Masters. She held the world jump record for a single day in 1982.
Willa Worthington, Nancie Rideout, and Renate Hansluwka
Assigning rankings to skiers from the 1950s and 1960s is a complex task, yet all three of these exceptional women merit acknowledgment as two-time world jump champions.
Updated: in the original article Sherri Slone’s home state was incorrectly listed as Arkansas.