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.

Update: Abelson’s world trick record was approved by the IWWF on May 23, 2024.

Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

The 10 Greatest Women’s Overall Skiers of All Time, Ranked

Rankings

The 10 greatest women’s overall skiers of all time, ranked

Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

Ranking the best female overall skiers of all time.

By RTB

Top 10 Rankings


Finally, we wrap up the series with the overall event, honoring some of the true legends of the sport. In this domain where versatility is key, these athletes stand out from the crowd. While calling someone the “greatest athlete” is a matter of opinion, here, we explore the incredible journeys of those who haven’t just achieved excellence but have mastered three distinct disciplines—slalom, trick, and jump—earning them the title of the sport’s greatest overall skiers.

These individuals haven’t just succeeded; they’ve gone beyond what was thought possible. Our journey takes us from the early pioneers through the sport’s golden age in the 1990s to today’s modern day greats. Along the way, we dive into each skier’s successes and challenges. These overall skiers represent the pinnacle of the sport, demonstrating unmatched athleticism and skill across all aspects 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 10 best female overall skiers 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!

Kaye Thurlow at the 1969 World Water Ski Championships

Kaye Thurlow receives her Australian team blazer for the 1969 World Championships in Denmark (image: VINTAGE WATER SKI PHOTOS)

10. Kaye Thurlow Faulkner

Representing Australia in five consecutive World Championships from 1967 to 1975, she earned eight medals across trick, jump, and overall, including two bronze medals in the latter event. Additionally, Kaye competed in the water skiing demonstration at the 1972 Munich Olympics, securing runner-up finishes in trick and jump.

Virtually unbeatable at the Moomba Masters, she secured an incredible 20 titles on the Yarra River, including eight titles in her favored overall event. Kaye deservedly makes this list as the most dominant skier in the only professional event of her era.

Whitney McClintock slalom skiing at 2017 Moomba Masters

McClintock won an incredible eight consecutive Moomba Masters slalom titles from 2011 to 2019 (image: @desburkekennedy)

9. Whitney McClintock Rini

Between 2009 and 2019, Whitney achieved remarkable success with two World Championship overall titles and two runner-up finishes. Her impressive collection at the World Championships includes 10 medals, with five of them being gold, spanning slalom, trick, and overall.

Excellent as a junior, Whitney secured multiple junior world championships, including an under-17 overall title and back-to-back under-21 overall titles. Despite her exceptional skills, she faced the unfortunate circumstance of never having the opportunity to compete in a professional overall tournament throughout her career.

World Champion Cindy Todd

Todd’s comeback season in 1975 was an almost instant success (image: VINTAGE WATER SKI PHOTOS)

8. Cindy Todd

Between 1977 and 1983, the Florida transplant secured an incredible seven World Championship titles spanning slalom, jump, and overall, with back-to-back victories in the overall category in 1977 and 1979.

Cindy’s dominance extended to the U.S. Masters, where she asserted herself as a four-time overall champion. Stepping into the void left by Liz Allan’s retirement, Todd claimed three consecutive titles from 1976 to 1978. Her supremacy wasn’t limited to a singular discipline; across slalom, jump, and overall, Cindy clinched a total of eight titles at the Masters, solidifying her reputation as one of the greatest skiers of her era.

Willa Worthington's father taught her to water ski on Oswego Lake in 1942 when she was 14.

Willa Worthington’s father taught her to water ski on Oswego Lake in 1942 when she was 14.

7. Willa Worthington

Water skiing’s first ever world champion, Willa came agonizingly close to sweeping a World Championships, winning slalom, jump, and overall and finishing runner-up in tricks at the inaugural event in 1949. She would go on to win a total of 14 World Championships medals, eight of them gold. At her last World Championships in 1955, she narrowly missed the clean sweep again, repeating her placements from the first event. 

At the U.S. Nationals she won nine overall titles, losing only once from 1946 to 1955. Three times she clean swept the competition, winning all four gold medals. In total, she was a 29-time U.S. National women’s champion, unmatched by any skier to this day. 

The only reason she is not placed higher on this list is because of the difficulty in gauging performances from this far in the past. While she was incredibly dominant, the women’s field was often thin in the 1940s and 1950s, with only three women competing at the inaugural World Championships. 

Natallia Berdnikava Water Ski Champion

Berdnikava held the world trick, jump, and overall records throughout her career (image: @natiski200)

6. Natallia Berdnikava

With an impressive tally of ten World Championship medals earned between 2007 and 2017, Natallia Berdnikava stands as one of the most formidable figures in water skiing. Her crowning achievement unfolded at the 2011 World Championships in Dubna, Russia, where she achieved an extraordinary sweep in women’s trick, jump, and overall events. This remarkable feat laid the foundation for Belarus’ team victory, securing its place as only the fourth nation to claim that prestigious title.

Despite limited opportunities to compete professionally in overall competitions throughout her career, Natallia clinched the 2018 Latrobe City International. Regarded among the greatest trickers and jumpers of all time, she has emerged as one of the dominant athletes in the 21st century.

A trailblazer in the sport, Natallia still holds the distinction of being the highest-scoring female of all time. She has broken the world overall record three times, maintaining her grip on it since 2012, making it one of the longest-standing records in the sport.

Elena Milakova trick skiing

Elena Thomsen-Milakova excelled in trick, jump, and overall (image: Swiss Waterski & Wake)

5. Elena Milakova

The Russian dominated the sport at the turn of the century, clinching three consecutive world overall titles from 1997 to 2001. Throughout her career, she amassed a total of nine World Championship medals, demonstrating her skills across the trick, jump, and overall events.

Her other major achievements include overall victories at the 1999 U.S. Masters and 2001 World Games, underlining her consistent excellence on the international stage. During a remarkable run of form in 2001, Elena broke the world overall record three times. This incredible feat included setting new records in both the preliminary and final rounds of the European Championships.

Waterski champion Karen Bowkett Neville

Karen and her husband Mick made up one of the sport’s greatest duos through the 1980s (image: VINTAGE WATER SKI PHOTOS)

4. Karen Bowkett Neville

The standard-bearer for Australia’s golden generation, Karen graced the overall podium in four consecutive World Championships from 1985 to 1991 and claimed the top spot twice. Her instrumental role in the Australian team led to three consecutive second-place finishes from 1985 to 1989, bringing them on the cusp of dethroning the United States’ decades-long reign. Her remarkable achievements include breaking Deena Brush Mapple’s four-year winning streak in 1989 to secure the U.S. Masters overall title, and she added another feather to her cap by winning the U.S. Open in 1991.

Karen dominated the Moomba Masters throughout the late 1980s, securing eight overall titles between 1984 and her retirement in 1993. Her remarkable tally of 20 titles across all four disciplines places her on par with Kaye Thurlow Faulkner as the most successful skier in the history of the Moomba Masters. Karen’s outstanding achievements in water skiing became a source of national pride, leading to her recognition as the Australian Sportswoman of the Year in 1985.

Deena Brush Mapple at the U.S. Masters

The Queen of Water Skiing (image: VINTAGE WATER SKI PHOTOS)

3. Deena Brush Mapple

From 1979 to 1989, the Sacramento native played a pivotal role in guiding the U.S. Team to an impressive seven consecutive World Championship team titles, showcasing her consistency by only missing the overall podium twice during this period. Following two runner-up finishes and a bronze, she solidified her legacy by claiming back-to-back world overall titles in 1987 and 1989. Her illustrious career boasts a total of 15 World Championship medals, spanning slalom, jump, and overall events, with an impressive six golds.

Renowned as one of the most dominant skiers in the history of the U.S. Masters, Deena secured a remarkable 20 titles across slalom, jump, and overall, with 14 of them earned after the Masters became professional in 1985. Her prowess in women’s overall was particularly noteworthy, experiencing only one loss between 1985 and 1993 on Robin Lake. Similarly, at the U.S. Open, she won four consecutive overall titles from 1987 to 1990, before taking the 1991 season off for the birth of her first child.

Deena stands as the sole female athlete to simultaneously hold the world slalom and jump records. Among her many accomplishments, the Grand Slam Victory in 1987 stands out, securing overall wins at the World Championships, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Masters, and the Pro Tour—a feat only matched by one other athlete. Known fondly as the ‘Queen of Water Skiing,’ Deena’s achievements place her among the greatest of all time.

World Champion Liz Allan

Liz Allan revolutionized women’s jumping through the 1960s and 70s (image: VINTAGE WATER SKI PHOTOS)

2. Liz Allan

At just 14 years old, the American phenom announced her arrival on the global stage by becoming only the second woman to jump 100 feet. In that same remarkable year, she clinched her inaugural world titles, seizing gold in both the jump and overall events.

Liz’s dominance in water skiing is unparalleled, as evidenced by her incredible tally of 15 World Championship medals between 1965 and 1975, boasting an impressive 11 golds—the highest count by any skier in history. Notably, she stands alone as the only skier to secure World Championships in all four disciplines: slalom, trick, jump, and overall, winning the latter event three times throughout her illustrious career.

In 1969, at the age of 18, Liz showcased near invincibility, very nearly effecting a clean sweep across all three events and overall at the U.S. Masters, U.S. Nationals, and World Championships. Her sole defeat that season came in slalom at the Masters. Liz’s dominance at her peak has yet to be surpassed by any other skier.

Her legacy extends to the U.S. Masters, where she reigns as the most successful skier in its storied history. Liz secured a staggering 24 titles, including an unmatched nine overall titles, with only one loss between 1966 and 1975. Liz’s extraordinary accomplishments reached their peak before she made the decision to retire from top-level competition at the remarkably young age of 24.

Regina Jaquess at the 2015 Malibu Cup

Jaquess is arguably the greatest water skier of all time, male or female (image: @regina_jaquess)

1. Regina Jaquess

Displaying exceptional talent from a young age, Regina Jaquess received her inaugural invitation to the Junior Masters at the tender age of 12. At 16, she nearly achieved a clean sweep at the Under-17 World Championships, securing victories in slalom, jump, and overall, only stumbling in the trick final, despite posting the highest score of the tournament in the preliminary round.

Undeterred, Regina clinched her first open world title in the trick event the following year at 17. She continued her dominance into the first two editions of the Under-21 World Championships, amassing a total of six gold medals. Her illustrious career includes five world overall championships, with back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2005, and an impressive three consecutive titles from 2013 to 2017. In total, Regina boasts 19 World Championship medals across slalom, trick, jump, and overall, securing 10 golds. A record-breaker, she has broken the world overall record four times and holds the World Championship tournament record.

Regina’s prowess extends to the Pan American Games, where she is a three-time overall champion, triumphing in 2011, 2019, and the most recent victory in 2023. Her outstanding performance in Chile last year, clinching gold in slalom, jump, and overall, earned her a nomination as the female athlete of the games.

Despite her remarkable achievements, Regina has faced a scarcity of opportunities to compete in professional overall tournaments, her career coinciding with a two-decade drought of events. Nonetheless, she made her mark by winning tricks and overall at the 2002 U.S. Open as an 18-year-old. In recent years, she has reached the podium on the WWS Overall Tour, reaffirming her enduring excellence in water skiing.

Honorable Mentions:

Clementine Lucine

While Clem may be best remembered as the first woman to trick 10,000 points, she boasts an impressive collection of eight World Championships medals, with four earned in overall competitions from 2003 to 2013. Her crowning achievement came in 2007 when she stood atop the podium in both the trick and overall events. Notably, she held the overall world record for an impressive five years, breaking it twice in 2004 and 2006.

Rhoni Barton Bischoff

While Rhoni could never secure top honors at the World Championships, she earned four medals, including back-to-back bronzes in the overall event in 1999 and 2001. On the professional circuit she was a two-time U.S. Masters overall champion and multiple-time U.S. Open champion. Making history, Rhoni became the first-ever world record holder in the overall category when the IWWF started recording records in the late 1990s.

Judy McClintock Messer

Between 1985 and 1995, Judy featured on the World Championships overall podium five times, finally clinching the coveted gold in 1995. She emerged as the backbone of the Canadian team, playing a pivotal role in their groundbreaking victories during the 1990s.

Ana-Maria Carrasco

Despite her greatest achievements coming in tricks, Ana-Maria secured a world overall title in 1983, alongside two runner up finishes throughout the 1980s. Throughout the decade, Carrasco consistently performed at an elite level, claiming gold in overall and trick at the inaugural World Games in 1981, and earning a U.S. Masters overall title in 1984.

Karin Roberge Woodson

The first Roberge to make their mark on the world stage, Karin secured back-to-back U.S. Masters overall titles in 1979 and 1980. She then claimed the title of world overall champion in 1981, showcasing her skills with podium finishes in both the slalom and trick events. Throughout the 1980s, she continued to shine, adding three consecutive Moomba Masters overall titles to her career achievements.

Giannina Bonnemann Mechler and Hanna Straltsova

These two young stars have been at the forefront of women’s overall for the last few seasons and are beginning to post scores that could threaten Berdnikava’s longstanding world record.

Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

The 10 Greatest Men’s Overall Skiers of All Time, Ranked

Rankings

The 10 greatest men’s overall skiers of all time, ranked

Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

Ranking the best male overall skiers of all time.

By RTB

Top 10 Rankings


Finally, we turn to the overall event, where we celebrate the true giants of the sport. In a realm where versatility reigns supreme, these athletes stand head and shoulders above the rest. The term “greatest athlete” is subjective, but here, we explore the remarkable careers of those who have not only achieved excellence but have conquered three distinct disciplines – slalom, trick, and jump – earning them the title of the sport’s greatest overall skiers.

These individuals have not just excelled; they’ve transcended the boundaries of what was thought possible. From the early pioneers, through the discipline’s professional peak in the 1990s, to the modern-day resurgence, our journey takes us through each skiers triumphs and tribulations. These overall skiers represent the pinnacle of the sport, demonstrating unmatched athleticism and finesse across the spectrum of water skiing events.

‘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 male overall skiers 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!

Kreg Llewellyn Trick Skiing

Llewellyn competes at the 1999 World Championships in Milan, Italy.

10. Kreg Llewellyn

One of the first men to break 10,000 points in trick skiing, Kreg, the elder of the renowned Llewellyn brothers, was an incredibly well-rounded skier. The sole athlete in the professional era to secure World Championship medals across all four disciplines (slalom, trick, jump, and overall), Kreg played a pivotal role on the Canadian team during their groundbreaking victories in the 1990s. At the 1991 World Championships in Austria he not only secured medals in trick and jump but also finished as the runner-up in overall. Llewellyn’s margin of defeat was the tightest ever seen in the sport, with Patrice Martin claiming victory by a mere 0.2 overall points.

His performances laid the foundation for Canada’s inaugural victory in the teams competition, the first time the U.S. lost the title in the history of the tournament. Although he never quite clinched top honors, he achieved runner-up placements in men’s overall again in 1997, along with a bronze in 1999. His professional achievements include victories at the U.S. Open, U.S. Masters, and Moomba Masters.

Siemers poses next to his photo on the USA Water Ski Museum

Siemers poses next to his photo in the USA Water Ski Museum (image: @jimmy_siemers)

9. Jimmy Siemers

An exceptionally talented skier from an early age, the Texan prodigy demonstrated his prowess by clinching victories in tricks, jump, and overall at the 1998 U17 World Championships. In a remarkable feat, at the age of just 18 in 2000, he broke the world overall record, bringing an end to Patrice Martin’s nine-year reign as the world’s number one ranked overall skier. His dominance continued at the inaugural U21 World Championships in 2003, where he triumphed again in tricks, jump, and overall. Later the same year, he came tantalizingly close to replicating these achievements at the Open World Championships, securing wins in tricks and overall, along with a runner-up finish in jump. Siemers would then go back-to-back, winning a second overall world title in 2005.

However, Siemers’ ascent to the pinnacle of the sport coincided with the decline of professional overall tournaments. Unfortunately, 2000 marked the final year of overall competition at the U.S. and Moomba Masters, while the U.S. Open continued until 2003. His lone professional victory in the discipline came at the 2002 U.S. Open. Ahead of his time, it would take nearly two decades for another skier to match his incredible feat of scoring over 12,000 points in trick skiing and jumping over 70 meters (230 feet).

Joel Poland performs a Raley on his Radar trick ski

Image: @radarskis

8. Joel Poland

After securing bronze at the 2019 World Championships in both jump and overall, Poland found another gear, breaking the world overall record in 2021 before winning one of the greatest overall battles in the sport’s history against Dorien Llewellyn and taking the world record back off Llewellyn in the process.

Dominant on the WWS Overall Tour, Poland emerged victorious as tour champion after an epic season long battle with Dorien Llewellyn and Louis Duplan-Fribourg in 2022, including one memorable tour stop where he won on all borrowed equipment. He followed up with an undefeated season in 2023, winning the final stop in style by breaking his own world record. After an early fall in the trick event at the 2023 World Championships, Poland was written off in the overall event before he produced the statement performance of the tournament the following day by running 10.25m (41’ off) for the first time to secure himself a runner up finish in the overall.

A quadruple threat, Poland is capable of winning events in slalom, tricks, jump, or overall as a member of the three most exclusive clubs in the sport; the 10.25m (41’ off), 70 meter (230’), and 12,000 point clubs. He stands as only the second man this century to secure podium finishes across all three disciplines at professional events. If Poland is able to maintain his current trajectory we expect him to finish his career much higher on this list.

Adam Sedlmajer Slalom Skiing

Image: @tiaremirandaphotography

7. Adam Sedlmajer

The first of a new generation of overall skiers, Sedlmajer’s foundation for success rested upon his slalom skills. Demonstrating remarkable versatility, he held the distinction, until last year, of being the sole male skier in the 21st century to secure podium placements across all three disciplines in professional tournaments. During his peak years, Sedlmajer dominated the World Championships, clinching two world overall titles and two runner-up finishes, showcasing his prowess at the only elite competition for overall skiers.

It’s one of the greatest tragedies of our sport that a skier of Sedlmajer’s calibre was given so few opportunities to showcase his talents. One poignant example is when he was left out of the invite list for the 2016 U.S. Masters, despite being the reigning world overall champion and the world’s number one ranked overall skier. Unfazed, he proceeded to claim victory in the U.S. Open slalom event later that year.

In 2017, Sedlmajer broke Jaret Llewellyn’s longstanding world overall record, a record that had remained unbroken since 2002. What adds to the remarkable nature of this accomplishment is the fact that he achieved this under the rules established almost two decades earlier, rules that significantly undervalued slalom in comparison to today’s standards.

Chuck Stearns jumps at the 1961 World Championships in Long Beach, California

Chuck Stearns jumps at the 1961 World Championships in Long Beach, California (image: HSLB)

6. Chuck Stearns

Water skiing’s first ever superstar, Stearns was a household name across America during the 1960s. From 1957 to 1967, he clinched an astonishing 11 World Championships medals across all four disciplines, still one of only a handful of skiers to earn medals in slalom, tricks, jump and overall to this day. At the 1959 World Championships in Milan, he claimed the men’s overall title.

The first man to dominate at the U.S. Masters, Stearns secured overall victory four times from 1960 to 1965. Additionally, he was among the first Americans to receive an invitation to the Moomba Masters, the world’s only professional competition at the time. Stearns won the overall event on his debut visit in 1963 and followed up with an incredible showing in 1966, where he emerged victorious in the slalom, jump, and overall categories.

A truly versatile athlete, Stearns is the only skier in history to simultaneously hold top positions in both tournament skiing and ski racing. He boasts a remarkable record in the latter sport, being a 10-time winner of the Grand National Catalina Ski Race and setting the drag racing speed record at over 120 miles per hour. In an era when most competitive water skiers retired young, Stearns’ strict fitness regimen allowed him to remain at the pinnacle of the sport for over two decades.

Mike Suyderhoud takes a crash at the Cal Cup in Berkeley, CA

Suyderhoud takes a spill at the Cal Cup in Berkeley, CA (image: Gary Warren)

5. Mike Suyderhoud

The son of a rags-to-riches Dutch immigrant, who had served in the underground resistance during the Nazi occupation, Mike inherited his father’s tenacity and channeled it into water skiing as a young man. At 17 years old, he won his first of five World Championships, and by 18, he had set his first of three world jump records.

Suyderhoud helped the U.S. Team secure five World Championships team titles from 1967 to 1977, accumulating a total of 11 individual medals. His achievements included consecutive overall victories in 1967 and 1969, a runner-up finish (bolstered by golds in slalom and jump) in 1971, and a bronze in 1975. Domestically, he became a U.S. Masters overall champion, finally clinching the title in 1973 after six consecutive years of either second or third-place finishes. Furthermore, he claimed five consecutive overall titles at the U.S. Nationals from 1968 to 1972. Suyderhoud also achieved back-to-back victories in slalom, jump, and overall at the Moomba Masters during his visits to Melbourne. His remarkable career featured triumphs in every major tournament of his era.

World Overall Champion Mike Hazelwood

Image: Yvon le Gall

4. Mike Hazelwood

Following his triumph in the men’s overall at the 1977 World Championships, Hazelwood was a constant presence on the podium for the next six years, securing back-to-back runner-up finishes in 1981 and 1983. While jump skiing undoubtedly stood as his strongest event, Hazelwood’s versatility was exceptional, earning him membership in the exclusive club of skiers to secure World Championship medals in all four events, totaling an impressive count of 10 medals.

Within Europe, Hazelwood claimed an incredible eight consecutive European Championships titles in overall from 1976 to 1983. Furthermore, he is one of only four men to win European Championships in all four events. A fierce competitor in all conditions, Hazelwood’s tenacity shone through as he secured four consecutive overall titles at the U.S. Masters from 1978 to 1981 and an impressive five consecutive Moomba titles from 1977 to 1981. His victory list extended to every major overall tournament across the globe, solidifying his legacy as a true champion of water skiing.

Sammy Duvall water ski jumping

Duvall held No. 1 world ranking in either jump or overall for eleven consecutive seasons from 1983 to 1993.

3. Sammy Duvall

Duvall’s first major victory in overall came as a 19-year-old at the inaugural World Games in 1981, where he won gold in jump and overall. Notably, Duvall remains the sole skier with a perfect undefeated record in overall at the World Championships. He secured four consecutive overall titles from 1981 to 1987, before retiring from amateur competition following the 1987 World Championships. Duvall’s contributions were not limited to individual achievements; he played a pivotal role in the United States’ dominance in the teams competition throughout the 1980s, successfully repelling strong challenges from Australia during that decade.

Among his numerous accolades, Duvall stands as one of only two men to attain three U.S. Masters titles in a single year, with four of his impressive tally of 13 U.S. Masters titles coming in the overall event. His prowess extended to the Moomba Masters, where he secured four overall titles, including three consecutive victories from 1984 to 1986. As a U.S. Open overall champion as well, Sammy’s exceptional talents were on full display in an era predating official world records. For six consecutive years, from 1983 to 1988, he reigned as the number one ranked overall skier in the world. His scores in his final season as the world’s best, including 4@11.25m (38′ off), 8,600 points, and 61.7m (202′), would have undoubtedly set the mark had official records existed at that time.

Canadian Jaret Llewellyn still walking on water at age 45

Canadian Jaret Llewellyn still walking on water at age 45 (image: Bernard Weil)

2. Jaret Llewellyn

A late bloomer in the jump event, Llewellyn’s initial success came in tricks when he won the inaugural Junior World Championships in 1986. It would take him until age 20 in 1990 to jump 50 meters (164 feet), but within two years he was jumping over 200 feet and broke his first world jump record at the U.S. Masters in 1992.

No man can match Llewellyn’s 16 World Championships medals, with majority of these coming in the overall event where he finished on the podium nine times between 1991 and 2015. His breakout performance as a 21-year-old at the 1991 World Championships was particularly memorable, as he and his older brother Kreg picked up the overall bronze and silver respectively, leading Canada to teams victory. Across his career he was up against a peak performing Patrice Martin, then Jimmy Siemers, and finally Adam Sedlmajer, and was unlucky to only finish on top of the World Championship podium twice in 2001 and 2007. He broke the world record twice, with his final record of 5@11.25m (38’ off), 10,730, and 71.7 meters (235’) standing for an incredible 14 years, 7 months, making it the longest standing world record of all time.

On the professional circuit he was a five-time U.S. Masters overall champion. In 1996, he ended the Neville family’s stranglehold on overall at the Moomba Masters and would go on to dominate the event through the late nineties. He was also a two-time U.S. Open overall champion. Unfortunately for Llewellyn, the industry turned away from overall right at the peak of his career and the event was eliminated from legacy events such as the U.S. Masters, Moomba, and U.S. Open in the early 2000s. Fittingly, he has spearheaded the WWS Overall Tour in recent years, heralding a resurgence for the discipline.

Le Petit Prince of Water Skiing

Martin is one of the finest achievements in French sport (image: Graine de Sport)

1. Patrice Martin

Known as “Le Petit Prince,” this French prodigy burst onto the water skiing scene as a teenager, securing his first World Championships victory in tricks at just 15 years old in 1979. Initially specializing in trick skiing, he gradually mastered all three disciplines throughout the 1980s and, by the decade’s end, had risen to the pinnacle of the sport.

His extraordinary collection of 10 World Championships gold medals is only exceeded by Liz Allan on the women’s side. Immovable from the top of the podium, his winning streak of six consecutive World Championships in overall from 1989 to 1999 is the longest in our sport across any discipline. The most decorated skier in the history of the World Games, Martin clinched six golds, one silver, and one bronze from 1981 to 2001. Finally claiming gold in overall at the twilight of his career when it was reintroduced after a 20-year absence at the 2001 event. Within Europe he was virtually unstoppable, winning a total of 30 European Championship golds across slalom, trick, and overall, including nine overall titles spanning from 1984 to 2001, matching Hazelwood’s record.

On the professional circuit, he proved his mettle as a Moomba Masters champion, securing the overall title five times at the U.S. Masters and reigning supreme in the U.S. Open during the 1990s, with six consecutive titles from 1992 to 1997. Even though his two strongest events, tricks and overall, were not part of the pro tour, Martin remained a regular contender, even clinching a tour stop victory in slalom in 1996, edging out formidable opponents like Andy Mapple and Wade Cox. His reign as the number one ranked overall skier in the world spanned nine consecutive seasons, from 1991 to 1999. When the IWWF began recording world overall records in the mid-1990s, Martin was the first holder and broke the record three times throughout his illustrious career. His final record, set in 2001, of 4@10.75m (39.5’ off), 11,550 points, and 62.5 meters (205’), remains a highly competitive score in the sport to this day.

Honorable Mentions:

Dorien Llewellyn

Sport can be cruel, and it’s not hard to imagine a world in which Llewellyn emerges victorious at a few additional tournaments, avoids injury, retains the world record, and ends up ahead of Poland on this list. After breaking the overall world record a month earlier, he finished 2nd in overall, winning the tricks, at the 2021 World Championships. Llewellyn’s other major victories include the 2019 and 2023 Pan American Games, the 2018 Latrobe City Invitational, and multiple stops on the WWS Overall Tour.

Felipe Miranda

The Chilean won the world overall title at his home site in 2013 and backed it up with a second title in challenging conditions at the 2017 Paris World Championships. ‘Pipe’ is also a Pan American Games overall champion and won the 2017 Latrobe City Invitational.

Javier Julio

The Argentinian secured five medals in men’s overall between 2001 and 2013, including a gold medal in 2009, and finished his career with three years as the number one ranked overall skier from 2009 to 2011 and gold at the 2011 Pan American Games.

Bruce Neville

Although primarily known as a jumper, he clinched an impressive five consecutive Moomba Masters overall titles from 1991 to 1995, matching Hazelwood’s record.

Carl Roberge

A three-time overall champion at all three major professional tournaments of his era, Roberge had great success at the Moomba Masters, U.S. Masters, and U.S. Open. While never claiming the highest honors, he finished on four consecutive overall podiums at the World Championships from 1983 to 1989, including finishing second to Patrice Martin by a margin of only 6 overall points in 1989.

Mick Neville

Despite finishing on the podium at the World Championships eight times between 1981 and 1987, Mick could never quite claim the gold. He lost two of the tightest ever overall battles to Sammy Duvall in 1985 and 1987, with the margin less than 25 overall points each time. He did manage overall victories at both the U.S. and Moomba Masters.

Ricky McCormick

Featured on the podium in at least one discipline at every World Championships from 1967 to 1975, including medals in all four disciplines and runner-up finishes in overall in 1973 and 1975. McCormick won three Moomba Masters overall titles. Additionally, four of his 13 U.S. Masters titles came in overall, and he joins Sammy Duvall as the only other man to win three titles in a single year.

George Athans and Alfredo Mendoza

Both of these men deserve recognition as two-time world overall champions.

Adam Sedlmajer Slalom Skiing

Quiz: Every Man to Run 10.75m, Jump 200′, and Trick 10,000 Points

Quizzes

Quiz: Every man to run 10.75m, jump 200′, and trick 10,000 points

Adam Sedlmajer Slalom Skiing

Image: @tiaremirandaphotography

By RTB


2 minute play

In this quiz, you need to name all the male skiers who have run 10.75 meters (39.5′ off), jumped 200 feet (60.9m), and tricked 10,000 points.

The list has 12 skiers, all of whom belong to the exclusive club of skiers who have performed each of these impressive feats at least once in a world ranking tournament. Containing some of the best overall skier of the last several decades, the skiers on this list have won a combined 13 world overall titles. We have given you each skier’s country, the year they ticked off the last of the three achievements, as well as their top scores across all three events.

Data updated as of October 31, 2023

Joel Poland joins Team MasterCraft

Joel Poland: Rising Star Secures Sponsorship with MasterCraft

News

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.

10 tightest teams competitions at world water ski championships

World Championships: We Countdown the 10 Closest Team Battles in the History of the Tournament

Articles

World Championships: we countdown the 10 closest team battles in the history of the tournament

10 tightest teams competitions at world water ski championships

The tightest team overall competitions in the history of the Water Ski World Championships.

By Jack Burden


The World Championships have always delivered breathtaking competition, but perhaps the most exhilarating aspect has been the fiercely contested teams’ battles. Originally, these clashes were dominated by the United States, but in recent years, the field has become far more diverse, with four different countries claiming victory over the last three decades. As we approach the 2023 World Championships, the anticipation builds, and we find ourselves reminiscing about the ten most tightly contested team battles in the event’s storied history.

In this prestigious competition, each country assembles a team of six skilled skiers, with a limit of four from each gender. These athletes compete across all three disciplines: slalom, tricks, and jump, with the top three scores from each discipline contributing to the team’s total. This format places a premium on versatile all-around skiers, as teams that lean too heavily on specialists risk lacking depth and the margin for error becomes razor-thin. Join us on a journey through the most thrilling team competitions in the history of the World Championships.

1985 World Waterski Championships in France

Image: WATERSKI Magazine

10. Toulouse, France 1985

Contenders: Australia vs. the United States

Australia

  • Geoff Carrington
  • Sue Lipplegoes
  • Bruce Neville
  • Karen Bowkett Neville
  • Mick Neville
  • Glenn Thurlow

United States

  • Deena Brush (Mapple)
  • Camille Duvall
  • Sammy Duvall
  • Bob LaPoint
  • Lucky Lowe
  • Carl Roberge

Australia’s golden generation secured podium positions in six consecutive World Championships from 1979 to 1989. During this period, they came second to the United States on four occasions. However, it was the 1985 World Championships that marked their closest attempt to dethrone the Americans from the top of the podium. While the Australians boasted arguably the greatest jump team ever assembled, featuring Carrington, Thurlow, Lipplegoes, and Bruce Neville, as well as two of the best overall skiers of the 1980s, Mick and Karen Neville, they couldn’t quite match the star power of the Americans in the slalom event. LaPoint and Camille Duvall clinched gold medals for the United States, with Roberge and Brush also standing on the podium. The United States’ unbeaten streak would remain intact for yet another World Championships.

Key Moment: Lippelgoes’ mixed tournament, in the preliminary round she set a World Championship record of 40.5m (133 feet), but also missed her first pass in slalom.

Winning Margin: 175 points. Equivalent to roughly two passes in slalom.

  1. United States (8,550 points)
  2. Australia (8,375 points)
  3. Great Britain (7,812 points)
Team Canada wins gold at the 1991 World Water Ski Championships in Austria

Team Canada at the 1991 World Championships (image: World Water Skiers)

9. Villach, Austria 1991

Contenders: Canada vs. the United States

Canada

  • Jim Clunie
  • Kreg Llewellyn
  • Jaret Llewellyn
  • Judy McClintock Messer
  • Susi Graham (McCormick)
  • Drew Ross

United States

  • Tory Baggiano
  • Joy Kelley
  • Leza Harrison
  • Mike Morgan
  • Cory Pickos
  • Sherri Slone

Heading into the tournament, the United States boasted an incredible undefeated streak over the 40+ years of World Championships history. However, they were facing a vulnerable situation without their 1980s stars, including Brush, Roberge, and the Duvall siblings. Meanwhile, Team Canada, led by Steve Bush, had been quietly assembling a young team of future superstars, with veteran McClintock Messer anchoring the group. However, it was Kreg Llewellyn who stole the show in Austria. He not only secured medals in trick and jump but also finished as the runner-up in overall. Llewellyn’s margin of defeat was the tightest ever seen in the sport, with Patrice Martin claiming victory by a mere 0.2 overall points.

Key Moment: The U.S. Team selected two trick specialists, Baggiano and Pickos, both of whom failed to secure a podium finish. Yet the Larsen twins, who were not part of the team, claimed the gold and silver medals with the two highest scores of the tournament.

Winning Margin: 159 points. Equivalent to roughly 1,100 points in trick.

  1. Canada (8,191 points)
  2. United States (8,033 points)
  3. France (8,010 points)
Team Belarus wins gold at the 2011 World Waterski Championships in Russia

Image: WaterSkiWorld

8. Dubna, Russia 2011

Contenders: Belarus vs. France

Belarus

  • Herman Beliakou
  • Natallia Berdnikava
  • Oleg Deviatovski
  • Iryna Turets
  • Maryia Vermchuk
  • Aliaksei Zharnasek

France

  • Anais Amade
  • Iris Cambray
  • Jean Babtiste Faisy
  • Clementine Lucine
  • Marion Mathieu
  • Alexandre Poteau

Early falls in the tricks event proved costly for Regina Jaquess, Erika Lang, and Whitney McClintock. Their slips left both the United States and Canada out of contention. From this wreckage emerged Belarus and France as the top contenders. Both countries exhibited exceptional strength in the tricks discipline. France held a clear advantage in slalom, but ultimately, Belarus surged ahead, driven by their remarkable jumping performances. Berdnikava led from the front, clinching three individual gold medals across the tricks, jump, and overall events.

Key Moment: Beliakou jumped a 3 meter (10 foot) personal best in the preliminary round, going over 60 meters for the first time in his life.

Winning Margin: 149 points. Equivalent to less than 5 meters in jump.

  1. Belarus (7,812 points)
  2. France (7,663 points)
  3. United States (7,593 points)
Patrice Martin slalom skiing

Image: InsideTheGames

7. Medellín, Columbia 1997

Contenders: France vs. Italy

France

  • Anais Amade
  • Christophe Duverger
  • Dimitri Gamzukoff
  • Geraldine Jamin
  • Nicolas LeForestier
  • Patrice Martin

Italy

  • Andrea Alessi
  • Patrizio Buzzotta
  • Fabrisio Ciatponi
  • Marina Mosti
  • Christian Rampanelli
  • Irene Reinstaller

In another tournament of upsets, the United States faced an early elimination when both Rhoni Barton and Scot Ellis failed to run their first passes in the slalom preliminaries. The defending champions, France, were then left to defend their title against challenges from Canada and the emerging Italian team, which had not graced the podium in nearly four decades.

Italy fielded arguably their two greatest three-event skiers ever, with veteran Alessi and newcomer Mosti on their team. While France and Italy showed relative parity in tricks and jump, France managed to pull ahead thanks to Martin’s bronze in the slalom event and strong performances from the young talents Amade and Jamin.

Key Moment: Jamin ran close to a personal best in the preliminary round with 1@11.25m (38’ off), finishing one buoy short of the top score.

Winning Margin: 108 points. Equivalent to roughly a pass in slalom.

  1. France (7,758 points)
  2. Italy (7,650 points)
  3. Canada (7,551 points)
Chuck Stearns Water Ski Jump

Image: USA-WWF

6. Milan, Italy 1959

Contenders: Italy vs. the United States

Italy

  • Franco Carraro
  • Piera Castelverti
  • Pietro Marzoto
  • Alberto Penderzani

United States

  • Jim Jackson
  • Mike Osborne
  • Nancy Rideout
  • Chuck Stearns
  • Vicki Van Hook

This World Championships finds its place on the list due to a technicality. The scoring system for teams was changed to the points system we use today for the next event in 1961. While the competition might not have been as tight in relative terms, it marked the closest any team came to putting pressure on the United States during the first two decades of World Championships.

The host nation, Italy, put up a valiant fight against the American superstars. Notably, all five members of the American team would later earn spots in the USA Waterski Hall of Fame. Castelverti’s exceptional tricking skills secured Italy’s first-ever gold medal, and she also clinched runner-up positions in women’s slalom and overall events. However, the Americans proved to be too dominant, securing six out of the eight individual gold medals and two-thirds of all individual medals.

Key Moment: 15-year-old Van Hook’s overall victory ahead of Castelverti and the favorite Rideout. Cypress Gardens, where Rideout was the poster girl, continued to bill her as the World Champion in advertisements for the next two years, only mentioning Van Hook in the fine print.

Winning Margin: 108 points. Probably insurmountable.

  1. United States (602 points)
  2. Italy (507 points)
  3. France (440 points)
Women's Trick podium at the 1977 World Water Ski Championships in Milan

Image: Ultrasport7

5. Milan, Italy 1977

Contenders: the United States vs. Venezuela

United States

  • Deena Brush (Mapple)
  • Camille Duvall
  • Bob LaPoint
  • Cory Pickos
  • Mike Suyderhoud
  • Cindy Todd

Venezuela

  • Maria Esperanza Carrasco
  • Maria Victoria Carrasco
  • B. Quintini
  • Elpidio Rodriguez
  • Carlos Suarez

The first real challenge to the United States’ dominance of the team title emerged in the late 1970s, and it came from Venezuela. The South Americans showcased their prowess in tricks, with both world record holders Maria Victoria Carrasco and Suarez securing gold medals in tricks and finishing as runners-up in the overall standings. An unexpected standout, Rodriguez, even outperformed LaPoint in the preliminary round, achieving the highest slalom score of the tournament.

However, the Americans ultimately held the advantage in the jumping event. Suyderhoud claimed a late-career world title, and LaPoint, Todd, and Duvall all earned medals in the jumping competition. This collective effort in jumping proved to be the difference-maker, allowing the United States to maintain its grip on the team title.

Key Moment: the U.S. took a chance on a 13-year-old trick specialist by the name of Cory Pickos, while he may have only placed 6th, he produced the highest trick score for Team USA.

Winning Margin: 85 points. Only 2.5 meters (8 feet) in jump.

  1. United States (7,614 points)
  2. Venezuela (7,529 points)
  3. Canada (7,118 points)
Team USA wins gold at the 2007 World Water Ski Championships in Austria

Image: Facebook

4. Linz, Austria 2007

Contenders: France vs. the United States

France

  • Anais Amade
  • Nancy Chardin
  • Jean Baptiste Faisy
  • Nicolas LeForestier
  • Clemetine Lucine
  • Marion Mathieu

United States

  • Rhoni Barton Bischoff
  • April Coble Eller
  • Regina Jaquess
  • Mandy Nightingale
  • Cory Pickos
  • Jimmy Siemers

This team’s result was all about the women, as both France and the United States fielded teams consisting of four women and two men for the tournament. The competition remained evenly balanced throughout. After both Amade and Lucine posted scores deep down the 11.25m (38’ off) pass, the American duo of Jaquess and Coble Eller responded by running it. While Lucine secured victory in the tricks event, earning 1,000 points for her team, Barton Bischoff and Nightingale of the United States both finished in the top five.

In the jumping event, there was only one meter separating Lucine, Jaquess, Chardin, Amade, and Barton Bischoff. In the end, the Americans finished on top, but it came right down to the wire.

Key Moment: Lucine broke Tawn Larsen’s World Championship trick record which had stood since 1989.

Winning Margin: 20 points. Less then a buoy in slalom.

  1. United States (8,087 points)
  2. France (8,067 points)
  3. Belarus (7,792 points)
1995 World Waterski Championships in France

Image: Jean-Pierre Serra

3. Roquebrune/Argens, France 1995

Contenders: France vs. the United States

France

  • Christophe Duverger
  • Geraldine Jamin
  • Nicolas LeForestier
  • Patrice Martin
  • Claude Perez
  • Frederique Savin

United States

  • Tory Baggiano
  • Rhoni Barton (Bischoff)
  • Tawn Larsen (Hahn)
  • Brenda Nichols
  • Carl Roberge
  • Sherri Slone

After suffering consecutive defeats at the hands of Canada, the United States was determined to secure a victory and managed to assemble their strongest team since the 1980s. Loaded with overall talent, all four American overall competitors performed exceptionally well, with each of them finishing within the top five. However, the French team had the advantage of competing on their home turf and strategically built their team around a Martin who was performing at the peak of his abilities.

Both teams faced some challenges in the slalom event, as Martin was the only skier from either team to finish in the top five. However, the French team displayed exceptional strength in the trick event, with Savin achieving the highest score among the women during the preliminaries and a young LeForestier posting the top score among the men.

The American team excelled in the jumping event, with Nichols, Roberge, and Slone securing gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively. When the final results were tallied, it was Team France that emerged victorious in this hard-fought competition.

Key Moment: After failing to ride out a jump in the finals, Martin had to watch from the shore as Roberge, the in form jumper in the world at the time, attempted to squash the French jump scores (all three of which came from the men’s side).

Winning Margin: 19 points. Equivalent to 0.7 meters (2 feet) in jump.

  1. France (8,270 points)
  2. United States (8,252 points)
  3. Canada (8,102 points)
Team Canada wins gold at the 2019 World Water Ski Championships in Malaysia

Image: @iwwfed

2. Putrajaya, Malaysia 2019

Contenders: Canada vs. France vs. the United States

Canada

  • Ryan Dodd
  • Dorien Llewellyn
  • Whitney McClintock Rini
  • Stephen Neveu
  • Paige Rini
  • Neilly Ross

France

  • Pierre Ballon
  • Emma Brunel
  • Manon Costard
  • Tanguy Dailland
  • Thibaut Dailland
  • Louis Duplan-Fribourg

United States

  • Taylor Garcia
  • Anna Gay
  • Brittany Greenwood
  • Regina Jaquess
  • Erika Lang
  • Adam Pickos

The only World Championships where three countries remained in contention right through to the final event was competed in challenging conditions in South East Asia.

The French team initially built a lead through slalom, thanks to Costard’s winning performance and Thibaut Dailland’s impressive preliminary score into 10.25m (41′ off). Canada and the United States caught up in the tricks discipline with strong performances from Llewellyn, Gay, and Ross.

After solid jump scores from Greenwood, Jaquess, and McClintock Rini, it all came down to the men’s jump final. An unknown teenager at the time, Duplan-Fribourg, led the way for France in the preliminaries but wasn’t able to improve in the finals. Garcia managed an extra 10 centimeters for Team USA, extending their lead with only one jumper left to compete. It was Dodd, the final skier of the tournament, who would decide the outcome. Despite the rough conditions, he managed a 67.9-meter (223-foot) jump, securing both the individual jump title and the team gold for Canada.

Key Moment: Canada was in third when Dodd left the dock, but by increasing on his preliminary score by a full 2 meters he squashed Garcia’s and all three French jump scores to leapfrog into first.

Winning Margin: 6 points. Equivalent to 0.2 meters (less than a foot) in jump.

  1. Canada (8,026 points)
  2. United States (8,020 points)
  3. France (7,934 points)

Image: IWSF

1. Singapore 1993

Contenders: Canada vs. the United States

Canada

  • Jim Clunie
  • Susi Graham (McCormick)
  • Jaret Llewellyn
  • Kim De Macedo
  • Judy McClintock Messer
  • Matt Rini

United States

  • Tory Baggiano
  • Britt Larsen (Kovak)
  • Mike Morgan
  • Brenda Nichols
  • Kristi Overton (Johnson)
  • Sherri Slone

After experiencing their first defeat in 1991, the U.S. returned to the World Championships with a determined vengeance. They even convinced Kristi Overton, a previous U.S. Masters trick champion who had shifted her focus to slalom in 1989, to compete in trick and jump again for her country. Canada, on the other hand, faced challenges with their star from the 1991 Worlds, Kreg Llewellyn, unavailable due to injury.

Competition remained intense throughout the championship. Graham and Overton tied in slalom, just two buoys behind the leader. The American team dominated in the tricks event, with Larsen and Baggiano securing individual gold medals. Unfortunately, an early fall for Jaret Llewellyn ruled him out of the final. While Slone managed to secure 1,000 points in women’s jump during the preliminaries, Nichols missed the finals, only scoring 30.8 meters (101 feet) in the challenging conditions. Strong performances from De Macedo and McClintock Messer, who finished second and third in women’s overall, kept Canada’s hopes alive as they entered the men’s jump final.

With no American men in the final, the United States could only watch from the sidelines as Llewellyn improved his first-round score by over two meters, closing in on the Americans’ lead. The fate of the team’s title now rested with the fiery little truck driver, Clunie, who was the last to ski after posting the longest jump in the preliminary round. Team Canada had been good-humoredly teased for their meticulous approach to the team’s competition, including sending scouts to Singapore in advance to arrange accommodation and training, and using portable computers to calculate live results in the overall standings. One thing was certain: the team management would have made sure Clunie knew exactly how far he needed to jump when he left the dock. His best effort was 58.7 meters (192 feet), which might have seemed somewhat disappointing out of context, as it fell short of Andrea Alessi’s lead. However, for Team Canada, it was just enough to secure the title by the narrowest of margins.

Key Moment: De Macedo’s gold medal winning jump, the only individual gold Canada earned in 1993, where she improved her preliminary score by almost 5 meters.

Winning Margin: 2 points. Equivalent to less than a side slide in tricks.

  1. Canada (8,009 points)
  2. United States (8,007 points)
  3. France (7,829 points)
Joel Overall Record Malibu Open

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

News

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.

Dorien Llewellyn "Feels good to be back"

Injury Update: Dorien Llewellyn Makes Return to Practice, Looks Sharp on His Slalom Ski

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Injury update: Dorien Llewellyn makes return to practice, looks sharp on his slalom ski

Feels good to be back (image: @dorienllewellyn)

By Jack Burden


Dorien Llewellyn made his return to training at Sunset Lakes over the weekend as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury that sidelined him since June of this year.

A twisted ankle during a jump crash at the LA Night Jam on June 10 left Llewellyn with two torn ligaments and bone fragments in his right foot. This injury forced him to miss the entire 2023 WWS Overall Tour and all subsequent jump events on the Waterski Pro Tour.

Instead of competing, Llewellyn spent the summer undergoing intensive rehab at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center in Austria. Unfortunately, this injury was part of a series of setbacks he faced this year, which also caused him to miss the U.S. Masters earlier in the season.

Llewellyn, the current world trick champion and former world overall record holder, plays a crucial role on Team Canada’s squad for the upcoming World Championships, where they aim to secure their third consecutive team title. With only six skiers on the squad, having at least two world-class overall skiers is essential to ensure depth in all three events. Canada’s success over the past three decades has been built on skiers like the Llewellyns (Kreg, Jaret, and later Dorien) and the McClintocks (Judy and Whitney), who have excelled across all three events.

In contrast, the U.S. has faced challenges in the team competition despite having some of the most dominant specialists in the sport, including Freddy Krueger, Nate Smith, Anna Gay, and Erika Lang. While they have an all time great in Regina Jaquess on the women’s side, the U.S. has not claimed a medal in men’s overall since Jimmy Siemers won his last world title in 2005.

Canada received encouraging signs as Llewellyn tackled the slalom course at close to 100 percent in training just four weeks before the World Championships. To defend their title, they will rely on him returning to near-full fitness by the start of the event.

Joel Poland tricking at Ski Fluid

Joel Poland Sets Pending Overall World Record | BWSW

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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.