Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament

Masters 2024: Here’s Everyone in the Final Field at Callaway Gardens

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Masters 2024: Here’s everyone in the final field at Callaway Gardens

Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament

Image: masterswaterski.com

By Jack Burden


The 2024 Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament is finally here! Official invitations were finalized this weekend at the second Masters Qualifying event held at Sunset Lakes in Groveland, Florida.

The qualified skiers include defending Masters champions from 2023, current world champions, and winners of three other Nautique-sponsored tournaments from the past 12 months. Most of the field was selected based on performances in two qualifying events held in Central Florida over the past two weekends.

A total of 40 athletes qualified to ski in the open ranks, including a number of young first-time competitors such as Charlie Ross, Luca Rauchenwald, Florian Parth, Aaliyah Yoong Hannifah, and Lili Steiner. Other notable qualifiers include Joel Poland, who will be the first man to compete in three events since overall was last contested 24 years ago, and Brittany Greenwood Wharton and Lauren Morgan, both making comebacks from injury to contest the women’s jump title.

Here are all those who have qualified, with the qualifying criteria listed below.

Masters Athletes

Men’s Slalom

  • Frederick Winter (World Champion, Botaski ProAm, & Moomba Masters)
  • Nate Smith (Defending Masters Champion & CA ProAm)
  • Charlie Ross (Qualifier #1)
  • Joel Poland (Qualifier #1)
  • William Asher (Qualifier #1)
  • Cole McCormick (Qualifier #2)
  • Stephen Neveu (Qualifier #2)
  • Adam Sedlmajer (Qualifier #2)

Women’s Slalom

  • Regina Jaquess (Defending Masters Champion, CA ProAm, & Moomba Masters)
  • Jaimee Bull (World Champion & Botaski ProAm)
  • Whitney McClinctock Rini (Qualifier #1)
  • Allie Nicholson (Qualifier #1)
  • Neilly Ross (Qualifier #1)
  • Venessa Leopold Vieke (Qualifier #2)
  • Paige Rini (Qualifier #2)
  • Luisa Jaramillo (Qualifier #2)

Men’s Trick*

  • Patricio Font (Defending Masters Champion, World Champion, Botaski ProAm, & Moomba Masters)
  • Martin Labra (Qualifier #1)
  • Joel Poland (Qualifier #1)
  • Louis Duplan-Fribourg (Qualifier #1)
  • Matias Gonzalez (Qualifier #2)
  • Adam Pickos (Qualifier #2)
  • Dorien Llewellyn (Qualifier #2)
  • Pablo Font (Qualifier #2)

* Jake Abelson achieved the highest score at the first qualifier, but has opted to ski in the Junior Masters instead.

Women’s Trick

  • Erika Lang (Defending Masters Champion, World Champion, & Moomba Masters)
  • Anna Gay Hunter (Botaski ProAm)
  • Neilly Ross (Qualifier #1)
  • Natalia Cuglievan (Qualifier #1)
  • Paige Rini (Qualifier #1)
  • Kennedy Hansen (Qualifier #2)
  • Hanna Straltsova (Qualifier #2)
  • Aliaksandra Danisheuskaya (Qualifier #2)

Men’s Jump

  • Ryan Dodd (Defending Masters Champion, World Champion, CA ProAm, & Moomba Masters)
  • Joel Poland (Qualifier #1)
  • Tobias Giorgis (Qualifier #1)
  • Louis Duplan-Fribourg (Qualifier #1)
  • Freddy Krueger (Qualifier #2)
  • Taylor Garcia (Qualifier #2)
  • Luca Rauchenwald (Qualifier #2)
  • Florian Parth (Qualifier #2)

Women’s Jump*

  • Hanna Straltsova (Defending Masters Champion, World Champion, & CA ProAm)
  • Aliaksandra Danisheuskaya (Qualifier #1)
  • Regina Jaquess (Qualifier #1)
  • Brittany Greenwood Wharton (Qualifier #1)
  • Lauren Morgan (Qualifier #2)
  • Valentina Gonzalez (Qualifier #2)
  • Lili Steiner (Qualifier #2)
  • Aaliyah Yoong Hannifah (Qualifier #2)

* Jacinta Carroll Weeks also qualified for winning the 2024 Moomba Masters, but has retired from professional competition.

Junior Masters Athletes

Boy’s Slalom

  • Tim Wild (Botaski ProAm)
  • Damien Eade (Qualifier #1)
  • Jaeden Eade (Qualifier #1)
  • Bautista Ahumada (Qualifier #2)
  • Andrea Pigozzi (Qualifier #2)
  • Tristan Duplan-Fribourg (Overall – Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Jake Abelson (Overall – Qualifier #1)
  • George Malinovski (Overall – Qualifier #2)

Girl’s Slalom

  • Trinidad Espinal (Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Christiana De Osma (Botaski ProAm & Jr. Moomba Masters)
  • Daniela Kretschmer (Qualifier #1)
  • Solie Stenger (Qualifier #2)
  • Kate Pinsonneault (Qualifier #2)
  • Megan Pelkey (Overall – Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Kristy Appleton (Overall – Qualifier #1)
  • Leona Berner (Overall – Qualifier #2)

Boy’s Trick*

  • Jake Abelson (Defending Jr. Masters Champion & Botaski ProAm)
  • Tristan Duplan-Fribourg (Overall – Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Bautista Ahumada (Qualifier #1)
  • Tim Wild (Qualifier #1)
  • Francisco Giorgis (Qualifier #2)
  • Adrian Elias (Qualifier #2)
  • George Malinovski (Overall – Qualifier #2)
  • BG Bickley (Qualifier #2)

* Matias Gonzalez and Martin Labra both qualified, but have opted to ski in the senior Masters instead.

Girl’s Trick

  • Hannah Stopnicki (Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Alexia Abelson (Botaski ProAm & Jr. Moomba Masters)
  • Megan Pelkey (Overall – Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Marie Lou Duverger (Qualifier #1)
  • Kristy Appleton (Overall – Qualifier #1)
  • Christiana De Osma (Qualifier #2)
  • Ella Gay (Qualifier #2)
  • Leona Berner (Overall – Qualifier #2)

Boy’s Jump

  • Tristan Duplan-Fribourg (Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Tim Wild (Botaski ProAm)
  • Chase Sparks (Qualifier #1)
  • Jake Abelson (Overall – Qualifier #1)
  • George Malinovski (Overall – Qualifier #2)
  • Jo Nakamura (Qualifier #2)
  • Siarhei Danisheuski (Qualifier #2)
  • Francisco Giorgis (Qualifier #2)

Girl’s Jump

  • Kristy Appleton (Defending Jr. Masters Champion & Jr. Moomba Masters)
  • Leona Berner (Botaski ProAm)
  • Camryn Waters (Qualifier #1)
  • Kate Pinsonneault (Qualifier #1)
  • Megan Pelkey (Overall – Defending Jr. Masters Champion)
  • Marie Lou Duverger (Qualifier #2)
  • Cameron Davis (Qualifier #2)
  • Alexia Abelson (Qualifier #2)
Obituary of Carl "Bill" Wenner Jr

Remembering Lifelong Volunteer Bill Wenner (1931-2024)

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Remembering lifelong volunteer Carl “Bill” Wenner (1931-2024)

Obituary of Carl "Bill" Wenner Jr

Image: USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation

By Jack Burden


Carl “Bill” Wenner, Jr., a beloved figure in the water skiing community, has passed away at the age of 92. Originally from Upstate New York and later residing in Auburndale, FL, Wenner’s legacy in the sport spans decades and leaves an indelible mark.

Inducted into the Florida Waterski Federation Hall of Fame in 2011, Wenner was a lifelong supporter of water skiing. Wenner was born into a family of avid snow skiers. His father saw water skiing for the first time in a newsreel at the movies, then built his own skis using sneakers for bindings. And so began Wenner’s lifelong passion for the sport.

Wenner dedicated over 75 years to the water skiing world, serving as a senior judge for nearly four decades and participating in various capacities. His contributions extended beyond his own achievements, as he served as President of the American Water Ski Association from 1974 to 1976 and the American Water Ski Educational Foundation for many years, retiring from the Board of Trustees in 2011.

His infectious passion for water skiing was evident in his active involvement as an athlete, official, board member, and volunteer throughout his life. He established the Bill Wenner Scholarship, awarded to deserving youth competitors at the Florida State Championships, showcasing his commitment to nurturing the next generation of water skiers.

Wenner’s remarkable career garnered numerous accolades, including the Tommy Dorwin Outstanding Judge Award (1983), American Water Ski Hall of Fame Award of Distinction (2007), and induction into the Florida Water Ski Hall of Fame (2011). Beyond his achievements, Wenner was cherished for his positive spirit, lively personality, and encyclopedic knowledge of the sport.

He often joked that he had met so many friends over the years that he would never have to stay in a hotel if he were to drive across the country.

As we mourn the loss of Bill Wenner, we celebrate his remarkable life and enduring contributions to water skiing. His absence will be deeply felt by all who knew him. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.

Donations may be made in his name to The Scholarship Fund at http://www.usa-wwf.org

Kyle Tate Arrested After Allegedly Pulling a Gun on Three Young Fishermen

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Kyle Tate arrested after allegedly pulling a gun on young fishermen

Tate was arrested in Brevard County on April 14, 2024.

By Jack Burden


Kyle Tate, the former over-45 world slalom champion, made headlines last month after allegedly pulling a gun on three young fishermen, aged 7, 10, and 15, whom he found fishing at Stillwater Lakes, where he serves as the president of the Homeowners Association (HOA).

Tate was arrested on felony charges of criminal mischief and grand theft following the incident. He is accused of approaching the young fishermen while brandishing a shotgun and confiscating one of their cell phones, which has not been recovered. Additionally, he is alleged to have “maliciously” damaged their fishing equipment. Tate, a practicing lawyer himself, was released on bail and now awaits trial.

The 56-year-old Floridian has consistently found himself at the center of controversy in recent years. He has been one of the most vocal critics of Nate Smith, particularly in the lead up to Smith’s SafeSport suspension for alleged sexual misconduct. In 2018, Tate filed a stalking petition against both Nate and Kevin Smith, Nate’s father (both denied before hearing), and in 2021, he and his wife Brenda Nichols Tate filed a lawsuit against USA Water Ski and Wake Sports for alleged retaliatory actions taken by the organization.

Despite these controversies, Tate remains on the Board of Trustees of the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation (USA-WWF), where his wife was recently appointed President. The Kyle P. Tate scholarship, established in 2022, awards $5,000 annually to a male college student who demonstrates excellence in academics, athletics, leadership, and volunteerism. The Tate Law Firm proudly sponsors the recently launched collegiate grant program.

It is difficult to reconcile the image of a man who is, on the one hand, charged with threatening a 7-year-old with a shotgun while, on the other hand, is championing the cause of youth water skiing. Tate is a lifelong devotee of the sport, who showed promise in his youth, winning a collegiate national slalom title and competing in several professional tournaments before attending law school. In his later years, he became one of the mainstays on the Nautique Big Dawg World Tour, finding a second wind as a senior competitor and culminating in an over-45 world title at the 2018 Senior Worlds.

However, Tate has been a polarizing figure in the sport for many years. His efforts to bring down Smith appeared deeply personal, as he shared on an episode of the Ski With Wade podcast, stemming from a traumatic childhood experience of being sexually victimized by a coach. This latest incident appears to be the actions of a man at his wit’s end. Those who remain sympathetic to Tate and his many crusades will struggle to reconcile this, and questions must be raised about the prudence of having this man associated with the charitable arm of American water skiing.

Update (5/5/2024): In a public statement, Nichols Tate has claimed that the incident involved an adult trespasser and that this, and other reports in the media, are missing key details that will be revealed at a later date.

Bonnemann Mechler Announces Pregnancy

“Baby Mechler Coming This August”: Bonnemann Mechler Announces Pregnancy

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“Baby Mechler coming this August”: Bonnemann Mechler announces pregnancy

Bonnemann Mechler Announces Pregnancy

Giannina Bonnemann Mechler, one of the world’s top water skiers, is expecting a baby! (image: @littlegermany)

By Jack Burden


The 30-year-old German shared her pregnancy news on Instagram Sunday, posing with her husband Dane Mechler while holding a child’s lifejacket. The couple, who tied the knot in 2022, expressed their excitement about the upcoming arrival.

Baby Mechler coming this August and we could not be more excited,” wrote the European trick record holder.

Bonnemann Mechler last competed at the World Championships in October, where she secured a second-place finish in Overall. Her impressive performance followed a near-perfect 2023 season, during which she remained undefeated on the WWS Overall Tour and achieved personal bests in both slalom and trick skiing, setting a new European record in the latter.

In 2023, Bonnemann Mechler’s top scores across all three events, if achieved in the same round, would have surpassed Natallia Berdnikava’s longstanding world overall record.

Meanwhile, her husband, Dane Mechler, wrapped up a season of strong performances with a runner-up finish at the World Championships. The Ohio native, a member of the exclusive 41-off club, finished fifth spot on the Waterski Pro Tour last year, a remarkable feat considering his full-time job commitments and limited travel opportunities.

The Mechlers’ pregnancy announcement garnered numerous congratulations from fellow professional water skiers, including other mothers who have excelled on the professional circuit, such as Jacinta Carroll Weeks and Venessa Leopold Vieke.

UK Pro-Am - Waterskiing for all

Fundraiser Established For 2024 Oxfordshire ProAm

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Fundraiser established for 2024 Oxfordshire ProAm – waterskiing for all

UK Pro-Am - Waterskiing for all

Can you help? (image: Oxfordshire Waterski Pro-Am)

RTB


Steve Glanfield has had a vision for a decade of bringing the world’s best water-skiers to the United Kingdom to stimulate interest in this exciting sport which Steve has supported for all, regardless of background, ability or disability. Steve is looking for sponsors and individual support to make this vision a reality in July 2024. Some sponsors are in place. But to get it over the line he needs support from us to raise the funds that would allow young people to compete on an affordable basis alongside the world’s best.

All donors will have their name printed on a “Donors wall” at the event and will be welcome to attend any part of the two day event, including the exciting night-time run-off final on Saturday 20th July. With sufficient support the event will also be available to all on a live webcast.

Oxfordshire Pro-Am website

Hall of Famer Camille Duvall, a.k.a., the Golden Goddess of Water Skiing

Camille Duvall Reflects on Water Skiing’s Golden Age

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Camille Duvall reflects on water skiing’s golden age

Hall of Famer Camille Duvall, a.k.a., the Golden Goddess of Water Skiing

Hall of Famer Camille Duvall, a.k.a., the Golden Goddess of Water Skiing (image: eBay)

By RTB


In a recent episode of WaterSkier Magazine’s Podcast – Hit It!, the legendary Camille Duvall, hailed as one of the greatest water skiers of all time, took listeners on a journey through the golden age of water skiing. Her anecdotes and insights provided a unique perspective on the sport’s evolution, from its pinnacle in the late ’80s to the challenges it has faced in subsequent decades.

Duvall began by reminiscing about the extraordinary period from the early ’80s to the early ’90s, heralded as the golden age of water skiing. She described it as a time when the sport flourished, enjoying popularity across diverse demographics, thanks to sponsors like Coors Light and the emerging platform of ESPN playing pivotal roles. In her own words, “ESPN was in its youth; they didn’t have the big four [football, baseball, basketball, and hockey], so we had the luxury, privilege, and honor to be on national television every Monday night during the summer.”

Duvall expressed her pride in being part of a sport that had such a vast reach, allowing it to thrive and capture the imagination of the public, stating, “It was fabulous; we would go to the tournaments, we would ski, we’d do all the interviews; they’d have the television truck at the ski site. They would cut the one-hour show overnight and then they’d beam it straight up to ESPN.”

However, Duvall acknowledged the challenges the sport faced when it lost television exposure in the ’90s and 2000s, leading to a decline in sponsor support. Despite this setback, she commended the sport’s resilience in adapting to the times, particularly in embracing streaming platforms. In her words, “I’m really glad that we’ve embraced that; they’re doing a fantastic job with all of [the streaming].”

The discussion then delved into Duvall’s pivotal role in the breakaway Professional Association of Water Skiers (PAWS) Tour in 1990. Safety emerged as a paramount concern for Duvall, particularly given the challenges of skiing on large natural lakes. The PAWS organization aimed to address safety issues and collaborate with sponsors for the benefit of skiers. However, resistance from the existing tour, managed by WATERSKI Magazine, led to the establishment of a separate PAWS tour sponsored by Budget Rent a Car.

Reflecting on the reasons behind the PAWS Tour, Duvall emphasized, “The real impetus for it was safety for the skiers. Unlike today where they’re skiing on a lot of man-made lakes, we were skiing on huge natural lakes, so the wind would roll up, and the back of the jump is lifting out of the water, and they’re like ‘let’s go jumping, we have 15,000 people sitting on the shore’… at a certain point, yeah the show must go on, but you can’t risk hurting someone.”

Despite the initial success of the PAWS Tour, internal conflicts and a desire to unite the sport ultimately led to its discontinuation after just one season.

In closing, Duvall reiterated her deep-seated passion for water skiing, stating, “[I water ski because] I love it, I love the physical pleasure of it, I love being outside, I love being in the summertime, there’s nothing better than being in the boat with all of your friends and going out and water skiing. That’s why I water ski.”

Jacinta Carroll Welcomes her First Child

World Record Holder Jacinta Carroll Welcomes Her First Child

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World Record Holder Jacinta Carroll Welcomes Her First Child

Jacinta Carroll Welcomes her First Child

Image: @jacintacarroll

By Jack Burden


Renowned water skier Jacinta Carroll, holder of the current world record and the only woman to jump 200 feet, has embraced a new chapter in her life. Jacinta and her husband, Sam Weeks, celebrated the arrival of their baby girl, Amelia Ray Weeks, born on December 2nd. The couple opted to keep much of the pregnancy journey private.

The pregnancy kept Jacinta from defending her title at this year’s World Championships. The most dominant female jumper of all time, she is undefeated in professional tournaments since 2013, securing another victory at the Moomba Masters earlier this year.

Since 2021, Jacinta has chosen not to compete outside of Australia, prioritizing her career as a physiotherapist and, now, her growing family over competitive water skiing. Whether Jacinta will return to top-level competition in the future remains to be seen.

Introducing Skier Stats by Waterski Pro Tour

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Introducing Skier Stats by Waterski Pro Tour

@waterskiprotour

By RTB


In an exciting development for waterskiing enthusiasts worldwide, a comprehensive platform named “Skier Stats” has made its debut courtesy of the Waterski Pro Tour. This valuable resource offers a deep dive into the world of professional skiers, providing a treasure trove of statistics that shed light on their careers. Skier Stats can now be accessed at stats.waterskiprotour.com.

The official announcement was made by Gregoire Desfond, of Waterski Nation, in a video released on September 7th. Desfond invited waterskiing enthusiasts to explore the Skier Stats, stating, “Some really interesting news for this weekend… We are releasing the skier statistics, so make sure you go and check this out if you want to find any numbers, the best score, the first win, how many podiums of your favorite pro. It’s all going to be out there. Everything was made by Manon Costard, because she’s not only a world champion, a pro water skier, but she’s also a super talented web developer, so keep that in mind if you have any inquiries.”

In an Instagram post the following day, Waterski Pro Tour shared intriguing statistics that serve as a teaser for what Skier Stats has in store:

  • In the last 8 and a half years, since March 2015, only four women have won a professional trick event. These are Anna Gay, Erika Lang, Neilly Ross and Giannina Bonnemann.
  • Anna, Erika and Neilly all won their first pro event before they turned 18. Neilly is the youngest victor of this golden generation at 15 years, 7 months, 12 days.
  • Freddy Krueger has won a jump (or Ski Fly) event every year since 1995 with the exeception of 1997 – a total of 28 different seasons. His first win was at age 20 years, 1 month, 8 days. His most recent victory was 48 years, 3 days old.
  • With two events left on the ’23 tour, Krueger is top of the John K Philips jump leaderboard. Six of the remaining nine in the top 10 were born after Krueger’s first victory.
  • Only four skiers have ever won a slalom event after the age of 40, three men and one woman. They are Andy Mapple, Karen Truelove, Thomas Degasperi and, most recently, Will Asher.
  • The men’s slalom podium for age at the time of latest pro win:
    • Mapple – 41 years, 9 months, 28 days
    • Degasperi – 41 years, 5 months, 9 days
    • Asher – 40 years, 2 months, 3 days
  • In the nearly three seasons of the Waterski Pro Tour, four skiers have won every men’s slalom stop, a run of 33 events. These are Nate Smith, Freddie Winter, Will Asher and Thomas Degasperi. The last skier to win an event besides them was Stephen Neveu on June 30th 2019.
  • The longest unbeaten streak in professional waterskiing belongs to Jacinta Carroll with her 37 pro wins in a row (not including non-Waterski Pro Tour events). She has not lost an event she entered since March 2013. Though she has not been at as many events of recent her streak still stands to this day.

For those eager to dive into the statistics of professional water skiing, the journey begins at stats.waterskiprotour.com.