Joel Poland slaloming at the Masters LCQ

Poland Makes History, First Man to Qualify in Three Events for the Masters in 24 Years

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Poland makes history, first man to qualify in three events for the Masters in 24 years

Joel Poland slaloming at the Masters LCQ

Image: @robhazelwoodcreative

By Jack Burden


The Masters Qualifying Series kicked off this weekend with slalom and tricks at Lake Ledbetter in Winter Garden on Thursday and Friday, followed by Jump at Sunset Lakes in Groveland on Saturday. The world’s top water skiers competed fiercely to secure their spot in the 2024 Masters. Among them, Joel Poland stood out, qualifying in all three events, a feat not achieved since 2000, when overall was last contested.

While the format has faced criticism, there’s no denying the remarkable results it can produce by pitting the world’s best athletes against each other in a multi-round, single-best-score format. The qualifications to clinch a Masters Invitation this weekend were exceptionally high. On the men’s side, it took 4@10.25m (41’ off), over 12,000 points, and 66.1 meters (217 feet). Achieving any one of these would be impressive, but attaining all in the same weekend is unprecedented.

The level of skiing was phenomenal throughout the event. Highlights included 15-year-old Damien Eade running 10.75m (39.5’ off) to secure his ticket to the Junior Masters, and 18-year-old Charlie Ross setting an under-21 world record of 5@10.25m (41’ off) for his first professional Masters qualification.

The weekend saw four skiers surpass 12,000 points, tying the record set at the Swiss Pro Tricks. Poland and Gonzalez equaled their personal bests, Martin Labra delivered the highest scoring toe run in living memory (5,680), and 16-year-old Jake Abelson achieved an astounding pending world record of 12,970, oh so close to the new frontier of 13k.

Poland had arguably the best tournament of his life on the slalom ski. While he didn’t reach the stratospheric heights of running 10.25m again, his scores of 3.5 and 4 at 10.25m were among his best ever, before he was thrown into a seven-way run-off after the log jam at 4. Facing challenging conditions and a strong tail breeze, Poland was the only one to successfully run the 10.75m (39.5’ off) opener in the runoff, making his way into his first Masters slalom event.

Poland’s first-round scores, 3.5@10.25m, 12,160 points, and 67.4 meters (221 feet), would have set a new overall world record if not for the fact that the event was spread across two different sites. He eked out another foot in the second round of the jump, finishing with the top jump score of the tournament.

This level of competitiveness across all three events is unprecedented, at least on the men’s side. You would have to go back at least 40 years to find another man capable of winning professional events across all disciplines, fittingly to Poland’s compatriot Mike Hazelwood, who dominated both the Moomba and US Masters through the late ’70s and early ’80s.

While several women have previously qualified in all three events since the overall event was sidelined, Joel Poland’s achievement marks the first time any man has accomplished this feat. With potentially three overall world records in the last 12 months and an undefeated streak on the WWS Overall Tour, Poland appears unstoppable. Having clinched professional titles in trick, jump, and overall events, the question now looms: will slalom be next for him?

Qualified Men

Slalom (5/8)Tricks* (4/8)Jump (4/8)
Freddie WinterPatricio FontRyan Dodd
Nate SmithMartin LabraJoel Poland
Charlie RossJoel PolandTobias Giorgis
Joel PolandLouis Duplan-FribourgLouis Duplan-Fribourg
Will Asher

* Jake Abelson qualified also, but has opted to ski in Junior Masters instead.

Qualified Women

Slalom (5/8)Tricks (5/8)Jump (4/8)
Jaimee BullErika LangHanna Straltsova
Regina JaquessAnna Gay HunterSasha Danisheuskaya
Whitney McClintock RiniNeilly RossRegina Jaquess
Allie NicholsonNatalia CuglievanBrittany Greenwood-Wharton
Neilly RossPaige Rini
Abelson sets pending world trick record

Abelson and Poland Set Pending World Records at Ski Fluid Classic

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Abelson and Poland set pending world records at Ski Fluid Classic

Abelson sets pending world trick record

Image: @tiaremirandaphotography

By Jack Burden


This past weekend at a record tournament in Central Florida, the season opener on Lake Grew saw the establishment of two pending world records. Fresh off his first score over 12,000 points at the Swiss Pro Tricks, Jake Abelson set a pending world trick record of 12,720. Meanwhile, Joel Poland managed to surpass his current world overall record by the narrowest of margins after delivering strong performances in all three events.

Abelson, the 16-year-old trick phenom, recorded the highest-scoring hand pass of all time, totaling 7,670 points, which included a crowd favorite wake seven front (W7F) right at the buzzer. His score of 12,720 is 30 points higher than the current record held by Patricio Font, but 50 points lower than the pending world record set by Font at the Swiss Pro Tricks last weekend. Consequently, Abelson’s performance will only be recognized as an open world record if Font’s score is downgraded upon review. Additionally, Abelson’s score has the potential to set the under-17 and under-21 world records as well as the US national under-17 and open records. If approved, Abelson will be the first American to hold the men’s world trick record since Cory Pickos in the year 2000, seven years before Abelson was born.

Meanwhile, Joel Poland, the super talent from Great Britain, showcased incredible performances across all three events to surpass his current mark by a razor-thin margin. With scores of 1 @ 10.25m (41’ off), 11,680 points, and 70.3 meters (231 feet), Poland scored just three overall points higher than the current record set at the 2023 Malibu Open. While Poland is capable of more, particularly in the slalom and trick events, the pending record was only his second time surpassing 70 meters (230 feet) since he set the British record of 71.7 meters (235 feet) at the 2023 California ProAm.

Poland shared his elatement with the performances on social media, stating, “Still room for improvement, but I couldn’t be happier! There was a time where I couldn’t even imagine running these scores.” He emphasized, “Some will call it talent, but those around will know it’s a commitment to improving every day.”

The tournament witnessed countless other notable performances, including Freddy Krueger jumping 71.5m (235’), Patricio Font posting another score over 12,000, and the ‘retired’ Scot Ellis leaping 59.5m (195’) in the master’s men’s division.

Watch: The Most Talented Water Skier of This Generation | Grab Matters

Video

The Most Talented Waterskier of This Generation | Joel Poland

Grab Matters


Meet the most talented waterskier of this generation, Joel Poland. Growing up in England, Joel grew up wakeboarding and after a few years of that he got into waterskiing. After attending “Jump camp” in Orlando, Joel became extremely driven towards progression, practicing all 3 disciplines of waterskiing (slalom, trick, and jump). Grabbing your trick ski, sky flying, college waterskiing, getting banned from Australia, keeping skiing fun, competition vs. camaraderie, getting a boat sponsor, G.O.A.T. skiers, and getting wrecked on a dirtbike right before a tournament. Hear all that and much more in Episode 48 of the Grab Matters Podcast, now streaming on all major platforms!

Joel Poland and Erika Lang were named the IWWF male & female waterskiers of 2023.

Lang, Poland Named Skiers of the Year | IWWF

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Erika Lang and Joel Poland named IWWF Waterskiers of the Year

Joel Poland and Erika Lang were named the IWWF male & female waterskiers of 2023.

IWWF


The IWWF is pleased to announce the 2023 IWWF Male & Female Skiers & Riders of the Year, selected by their respective disciplines’ councils.

Images: Camaro/Johnny Hayward

2023 IWWF Female Water Skier of the Year: Erika Lang (USA)

Erika Lang demonstrated remarkable consistency throughout the season, securing victories in every trick event she participated in, with just one exception. A fantastic athlete, she set a new world trick record, surpassing her previous record.

  • Female Tricks World Record Holder: Erika set the record during the 2023 season with an impressive 11,360 points on May 19th, 2023, at the Sunset Cup – MLCQ.
  • World Ranking: 1st Place
  • Waterski Pro Tour Leaderboard: 1st Place
  • Pan American Games: 1st Place
  • World Championships: 1st Place

Images: BWSW/Johnny Hayward

2023 IWWF Male Water Skier of the Year: Joel Poland (Great Britain)

Joel Poland showcased outstanding consistency, consistently finishing among the top 10 in all disciplines throughout the season, with only one exception. A fantastic overall athlete, he set two overall world records in 2023. Notably, he became the sole three-event skier to run 10.25 (41′ off) at 58kph (36mph).

  • World Overall Record Holder: Joel set two records during the 2023 season. The first record, with 2664.16 points (1.00@58/10.25 – 11680 points – 69.8m), was established on September 2nd at the WWS Florida Cup. The second record, with 2670.62 points (2.00@58/10.25 – 11680 points – 69.3m), was set on September 16th during the Malibu Open.
  • World Ranking: Slalom 4th Place, Tricks 5th Place, Jump 3rd Place, Overall 1st Place
  • Waterski Pro Tour Leaderboard: Slalom 13th Place, Tricks 1st Place, Jump 4th Place
  • World Championships: 2nd Place Overall

2023 IWWF Skiers & Riders of the Year

DisciplineFemaleMale
BarefootAshleigh Stebbeings (AUS)Keenan Derry (AUS)
Disabled SkiSamantha-Jane Longmore (AUS)Connor Poggetto (USA)
Cable SkiPhoenix Baumgardt (GER)Aviv Levy (ISR)
Cable WakeboardJulia Rick (GER)Oliver Orban (HUN)
RacingNellie McMillan (AUS)Carter Robertson (AUS)
Show SkiGrace Petzold (USA)Peter Hegarty (USA)
WaterskiErika Lang (USA)Joel Poland (GBR)

Please click here to learn more about them. Congratulations!

From this list of outstanding skiers & riders, the IWWF Executive Board then selected the 2023 IWWF Male & Female Athletes of the Year:

2023 IWWF Female Athlete of the Year: Ashleigh Stebbeings (Australia)

2023 IWWF Male Athlete of the Year: Joel Poland (Great Britain)

 

Joel Poland flipping on his Radar Graviton

IWWF Approves Four New Flips, But Their Tournament Presence Looks Unlikely

Articles

IWWF approves four new flips, but their tournament presence looks unlikely

Joel Poland flipping on his Radar Graviton

Joel Poland is the most talented person we’ve ever seen ride a waterski, he’s also the weirdest. (image: Radar Skis)

By Jack Burden


The IWWF Water Ski Council has given the green light to four new flips for the upcoming season, potentially infusing the sport with a sense of novelty and innovation. However, despite this approval, one of the creators of these flips is expressing skepticism, stating, “you will never see them in a tournament” at current point values.

1. BFLSLB (“Super Half Twist”)

  • Backflip with a ski-line-back
  • Submitted by Clarens Lavau
  • Approved at 850 points

2. BFLSLO (“Supermobe Front-to-Front” or “UFO”)

  • Backflip with a ski-line-360
  • Submitted by Joel Poland
  • Approved at 900 points

3. RFFLF (“Reverse Half Jack”)

  • Frontflip from the back-to-the-front (regular and reverse)
  • Submitted by Axel Garcia
  • Approved at 850 points

4. FFLSL5F (“Super Front Five” or “Matrix”)

  • Frontflip with a ski-line-540 from the back-to-the-front
  • Submitted by Joel Poland
  • Approved at 950 points

Joel Poland, the architect behind two of these flips, revealed his reservations about the process for assigning point values to new tricks. Both the ‘UFO’ and ‘Matrix’ were successfully executed in 2022, with Poland debating whether it was worthwhile to submit them for approval. In correspondence with the IWWF, he shared, “[I] didn’t feel like it was worth sending them in as the point values would make them another trick on the list we would never see in competition.” Poland remained hopeful, stating, “But I have hope that we can come together and create a point value that makes them worthwhile.”

Upon learning the IWWF-assigned point values, Poland expressed understandable frustration. Regarding the ‘Matrix,’ a frontflip with a 540-degree spin over the rope, he voiced disbelief that it was valued only 150 points more than a regular frontflip. In his words, “The point values for high difficulty flips, in my opinion, are crippling trick and limiting the athletes.”

Poland’s frustration resonates with many top trick skiers and fans, who are in agreement that there is a pressing need for change in the point values assigned to high-end flips.

The most perplexing aspect of this issue is that no one seems opposed to a revision of the trick points in principle. IWWF Water Ski Council Chairman Candido Moz has expressed vocal support in the past for rationalizing trick values. As recently as October, he urged the newly formed Trick Working Group to bring forth proposals for better recognizing “the true difficulty levels” across tricks.

As Freddie Winter highlighted in an insightful Waterski Journal article on the subject, the issue is how to get a consensus on specific changes when each skier, or coach, has a vested interest in elevating the value of tricks they excel at while suppressing the value of those they do not. In the past “the skiers could never agree on point values, so [the] IWWF never received a proposal,” shared Moz.

Instigating change, especially in the face of entrenched interests, is difficult. It may require a new generation to step forward and advocate for reforms. Poland, for his part, remains steadfast. “[I] intend to be very vocal about [point values] in the coming months.”

Joel Poland joins Team MasterCraft

Joel Poland: Rising Star Secures Sponsorship with MasterCraft

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Joel Poland: Rising Star Secures Sponsorship with MasterCraft

Joel Poland joins Team MasterCraft

Poland of London, England, becomes the newest member of the MasterCraft Team (image: MasterCraft)

By Jack Burden


In an exciting development for the water skiing community, the talented and previously unsponsored athlete, Joel Poland, has officially secured a sponsorship deal with MasterCraft boats. At just 24 years old, Poland has established himself as one of the most dominant and charismatic figures in the world of water skiing.

Joel Poland’s rise to prominence in water skiing has been nothing short of spectacular. Over the past three seasons, he’s arguably been the sport’s most dominant athlete. His achievements include back-to-back season championships on the WWS Overall Tour, World Championship gold, a U.S. Masters jump title, and professional podium placements across all three events. Poland’s exceptional skill and magnetic personality have earned him a massive following, particularly among younger fans on social media, where he boasts over 40 thousand Instagram followers.

What puzzled many in the waterskiing community was why Poland didn’t have a boat sponsor until now. Given his incredible talent and growing influence, it seemed like a logical partnership was missing. Poland conducts the majority of his training at Matt Rini’s ski school, a place with a strong association with Nautique Boats through individuals like Whitney McClintock Rini and Robert Pigozzi, who are both Nautique-sponsored athletes.

While MasterCraft’s sponsorship opens exciting new doors for Poland, it also raises questions about his training situation. Much of his appeal to MasterCraft is tied to his substantial social media following, which implies that his content will prominently feature MasterCraft boats. This could necessitate a shift in his training location, perhaps to facilities like Ski Fluid or The Boarding School.

The waterskiing community was naturally curious about a potential partnership between Poland and Nautique, given his close ties to the Rini family and their long-standing relationship with Nautique Boats. However, rumors suggest that cultural differences, including Nautique’s conservative values and strict athlete censorship, may have played a role in this decision. Alternatively, it could have been a more compelling financial offer from MasterCraft that sealed the deal.

As the reigning overall world champion and a multiple-time world record holder, Poland has long deserved the financial support and industry recognition that now accompany him. Additionally, this partnership marks a turning point in industry support for overall skiing, recognizing the significance of athletes like Poland who excel across multiple disciplines. It’s a thrilling moment not just for Poland but for the entire waterskiing community, celebrating the elevation of overall skiing’s importance and its brightest talents.

Joel Overall Record Malibu Open

Records Tumble at the 2023 Malibu Open: Poland Sets Another Overall Record

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Records Tumble at the 2023 Malibu Open: Poland Sets Another Overall Record

Joel Overall Record Malibu Open

Joel Poland has a New Pending World Overall Record at the Malibu Open (image: @malibuopen2023)

By Jack Burden


If Regina Jaquess’ outstanding slalom performance on Friday left spectators in awe, the Malibu Open at LymanLand in Alabama continued to deliver record-breaking excitement on Saturday. Hanna Straltsova impressed early, becoming the third woman ever to jump over 190 feet during the finals of the Malibu Open. Her incredible feat equaled Natallia Berdnikava’s European record of 58.6 meters. Straltsova not only claimed victory in the tournament but also secured the season title of the Waterski Pro Tour. It was Joel Poland, however, who stole the spotlight.

In a thrilling display of skill, Poland, who had put in solid scores in slalom (2@10.25m) and trick skiing (11,720), set the pace early with a jump of 69.3 meters (227 feet). This jump marked his second world overall record in as many weeks. Poland’s incredible distance held firm through six skiers and seemed poised to force a jump-off for the title. However, Freddy Krueger clinched the championship with an extraordinary 71.0 meter (233 feet) jump on his third and final attempt. It’s worth noting that Poland, arguably one of the most marketable athletes in the sport, lacks a boat sponsor, giving him the freedom to pursue records at any event without fear of losing sponsorship.

Poland, reflecting on his incredible world record-setting performance, shed light on the unique challenges of pursuing overall records. He explained, “In terms of overall records, the hardest part is finding a lake that’s good enough for jump. Trick, it doesn’t really matter, slalom you need a good site, but for jump, you’ve got to have a boat that’s good, a ramp that’s good, and a good driver. They have got all of that right here this weekend. So that makes my job a whole lot easier.” Poland’s words underline the significance of having the perfect conditions for record-breaking performances.

Looking ahead, Poland expressed his hope that there’s still more to achieve, stating, “Hopefully there’s a little more left in the tank. I’ve got one more big tournament left this year, so I’ll try to save a little bit for that.” When asked about his aspirations of breaking the world record and winning the World Championships, he affirmed, “That’s the aim, to finish strong. It’s been a good season, and if I can finish strong at the worlds, that will be the job complete.”

Two world records haven’t been broken in the same weekend since Jaquess and Adam Sedlmajer set the women’s slalom and men’s overall records, respectively, at a tournament at the Isles of Lake Hancock in April 2018. Furthermore, there have not been multiple world records broken in a professional tournament since the 2002 Malibu Open held at Bell Acqua in California, where Emma Sheers, Elena Milakova, and Freddy Krueger famously set world jump records.

In the year 2023, a total of six pending world records have been set so far. If all these records are approved, it would mark the most records set in a single year since 2012, when Natallia Berdnikava set four records and Whitney McClintock set one, in addition to Jaquess’ record.

While world records should not be the sole focus of the sport, as the hyper-focus on records has sometimes hindered its progress, they undeniably serve as a barometer of advancement in terms of technique, training, and technology. Theoretically, the rate of new records should decrease as we approach the limits of human performance. Combining the record-breaking spree of 2023 with the highest professional prize purse in 15 years paints a picture of a thriving elite water skiing scene. What’s especially exciting is that half of these records were set in professional competition and broadcast live, allowing fans to share in the excitement in real-time.

Moreover, despite initial concerns expressed by many skiers about adjusting to Malibu Boats during the broadcast, the title sponsor can proudly walk away from this event with phenomenal publicity. Actions, as demonstrated over this weekend, speak louder than words, confirming that the Malibu pull is indeed world-class.

Poland’s record was officially approved by the IWWF on December 18th, 2023 with a revised trick score of 11,680.

Joel Poland tricking at Ski Fluid

Joel Poland Sets Pending Overall World Record | BWSW

News

Joel Poland Sets Pending Overall World Record

Joel Poland tricking at Ski Fluid

Joel Poland at Ski Fluid (image: Johnny Hayward)

The 24-year-old Overall World Champion set the new world record in impressive style at a competition in Florida on Saturday 2nd September.  The record is subject to official ratification.

The new record came in the final competition of the four-stop Overall World Tour – the Florida Cup held at Ski Fluid in Polk City near Orlando. Joel won the competition, as he did all three of the previous stops, taking the Tour title for the second successive year.

The scores that set the record were: 

  • 1@10.25m
  • 11,680pts
  • 69.8m

Full article at British Water Ski & Wakeboard.

Joel Poland tricks at the 2021 World Championships

Poland Earns Overall Men’s Title at IWWF World Waterski Championships | Inside The Games

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Poland and Danisheuskaya win overall men’s and women’s titles at IWWF World Waterski Championships

Joel Poland tricks at the 2021 IWWF World Waterski Championships (image: Jeremy Stephenson)

By Patrick Burke

Inside the Games


Joel Poland became the first Briton since Mike Hazelwood in 1977 to win the overall men’s title at the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation World Waterski Championships in Florida in the United States, while Belarus’ Aliaksandra Danisheuskaya earned the women’s title.

Full article at Inside the Games.