2024 Swiss Pro Slalom

Asher, Bull Win Swiss Pro Slalom Titles | USA Water Ski


Asher, Bull win Swiss Pro Slalom titles

2024 Swiss Pro Slalom

Men’s slalom podium (image: Conner Pesek)

By Scott N. Atkinson

USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Great Britain’s Will Asher and Canada’s Jaimee Bull won the men’s and women’s slalom titles, respectively, on Sunday at the 10th Swiss Pro Slalom at the Swiss Waterski Resort in Clermont, Fla.

Asher scored 3-1/2 buoys at 41 feet off to win the men’s title. It was his first victory at the Swiss Pro Slalom since 2019. Great Britan’s Robert Hazelwood (3 at 41 off) and Joel Poland (3 at 41 off) placed second and third, respectively. Canada’s Charlie Ross (2 at 41 off) and U.S. athlete Nate Smith (McCordsville, Ind.), who scored 2 at 41 off and was seeking his fourth consecutive Swiss Pro slalom title, rounded out the top-five placements.

Bull won her first career Swiss Pro Slalom title after scoring 1 at 41 off in the finals. Canada’s Whitney McClintock finished second (5 at 39-1/2 off), followed by U.S. athletes Allie Nicholson (Gallatin, Tenn.) and Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.), who scored 3 at 39-1/2 off and 2-1/2 at 39-1/2 off, respectively. Jaquess had won nine consecutive Swiss Pro titles.

A brand new Malibu Response TXi

Malibu Discontinuing Ski Boats? Here’s What We Know So Far


Malibu discontinuing ski boats? Here’s what we know so far

A brand new Malibu Response TXi

The end of an era? (image: Malibu Boats Australia)

By Jack Burden

Rumors have emerged within the waterskiing community regarding the potential discontinuation of Malibu’s Response TXi model. While Malibu has yet to make an official announcement, multiple sources have speculated that the future of the company’s ski boats may be in jeopardy.

The company, which manufactures Malibu, Axis, and Cobalt boat lines, is facing significant financial trouble. Malibu’s stock price plummeted following a sharp decline in revenue, as revealed in their most recent quarterly earnings report. Adding fuel to the fire, Dennis Kelley, the longtime National Promo Team Director of ski program, was let go by the organization.

Kelley, who celebrated 30 years with Malibu in late 2022 and managed their ski program for much of that time, is uncertain about the future of the TXi. While Return to Baseline has reached out to Malibu for comment, no response has been received thus far.

Update: Malibu confirms that they will continue production of the TXi, albeit with reduced tournament support

Malibu dealers and others close to the organization have not received any news of changes to the program from the company at this stage, leaving us cautiously optimistic that the rumors may be unfounded. However, the plausibility of one of the big three manufacturers ceasing production underscores the tenuous situation of three-event skiing. The limited market leaves us dependent on the legacy goodwill of boat manufacturers, who typically earn much higher margins on their other products.

Malibu’s recent stockholders’ earnings call portrayed a bleak outlook, reflecting broader industry challenges. CEO Jack Springer candidly acknowledged the tough quarter, attributing it to economic uncertainty and soft retail demand. Expressing his frustration, Springer remarked, “It is a tough market to say the least.”

Bruce Beckman, Malibu’s CFO, underscored the severity of the company’s financial predicament, stating, “We anticipate a year-over-year decline in annual net sales ranging from a mid to high 30s percentage point decrease.”

The Tennessee-based boat manufacturer, founded in Merced, California in 1982, quickly rose to prominence for its innovative ski boats. Over the years, the company expanded its offerings to include wake boats, capitalizing on the rise in popularity of wake sports. Today, the company manufactures boats in Tennessee, California, and Australia.

The rumors of discontinuation have sent shockwaves through the waterskiing community, raising concerns about the future of the sport. Athletes like Regina Jaquess and Thomas Degasperi, Malibu’s remaining water ski athletes, face the loss of their primary sponsor. Additionally, the fate of the longstanding Malibu Open tournament hangs in the balance, casting a shadow over the 2024 season.

Moreover, dwindling competition and production in the ski boat market pose significant challenges for water skiers. The rising cost of boats, coupled with a smaller supply, could further inflate prices and limit accessibility to the sport. In recent years, the Response TXi has consistently been the most affordable top-end ski boat on the market, rivaled only by the limited run of Nautique 200s still in production.

While hopes remain that competitors like Nautique and MasterCraft would fill the void left by a potential Malibu exit, uncertainties loom large. Both companies have historically prioritized higher-margin wake boats, leaving waterski enthusiasts anxious about the future.

These are potentially challenging times for the sport of water skiing, and we remain hopeful that the rumors turn out to be untrue, or at the very least, that Malibu’s decision is only a temporary measure and that they are able to reenter the water ski market in the future.

American water ski jumper Lauren Morgan underwent a second knee surgery

Injury Update: Lauren Morgan Undergoes Follow-Up Knee Surgery


Injury update: Lauren Morgan undergoes follow-up knee surgery, spring season uncertain

American water ski jumper Lauren Morgan underwent a second knee surgery

“Knee surgery #2 let’s do it” (image: @lauren.a.morgan)

By Jack Burden

Renowned American jump skier Lauren Morgan underwent critical knee surgery yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, aiming to overcome persistent issues stemming from an injury sustained in September 2022. The 30-year-old athlete, America’s number one ranked female jumper for much of the past decade, has been grappling with the aftermath of an ACL injury, forcing her to miss a substantial part of the 2023 season. Unfortunately, it appears Morgan will remain on the sidelines throughout at least the start of 2024 as well.

The former World Games and U.S. Masters champion finished third at the World Championships in October last year, a mere 12 months after undergoing ACL surgery. Morgan missed almost the entire 2023 season, competing only in the World Championships and a warm-up tournament at Jack Travers’ two weekends prior. Despite participating in only two tournaments the entire year, only five women posted higher jump scores than Morgan in 2023.

Expressing her joy at the podium finish last year, Morgan stated, “I really can’t believe it; my goal was to be back. I didn’t want to just be back; I wanted to be on the podium. I couldn’t be happier, and I’m excited for next year.” Unfortunately, the persistence of her injury has dashed those hopes for at least a few more months.

In the face of adversity, Morgan shared an inspiring quote before the recent surgery, encapsulating her mindset: “When it comes to doing something hard but necessary: Don’t focus on how you’ll feel in the moment, focus on how you’ll feel when it’s done.”

While Morgan faces a challenging road to recovery, she continues to stay engaged off the water. Balancing an intensive rehabilitation regimen, she is concurrently pursuing her studies as a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

The women’s jump skiing landscape has been marred by injuries in recent years, with Morgan, along with Brittany Greenwood, Taryn Grant, and Valentina Gonzalez, missing substantial portions of the 2023 season. Additionally, world record holder Jacinta Carroll took time off for the birth of her first child. The challenges posed by injuries underscore the sport’s physical demands and the tenacity required of its athletes.