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

America Has an Overall Problem and it’s Costing them World Championships

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America has an overall problem and it’s costing them World Championships

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

Jimmy Siemers was the last American to win a World Championships medal in men’s overall, that was in 2005 (image: @jimmy_siemers)

By Jack Burden


Anyone tuning into the Pan American Games last October witnessed one of the most farcical scenes in the history of our sport when American slalom specialist Nate Smith took to the water in the trick event, scoring only side slides. The reason behind this spectacle was the Games’ selection criteria, mandating each country to send both a male and female overall competitor. Rather than taking a chance on emerging talents like Jake Abelson or Blaze Grubbs, the U.S. selection committee opted for Smith to attempt beginner tricks and pass a jump live on television. The decision was just the latest in a long history of neglect for the overall event in the U.S.

Since Jimmy Siemers’ last World Championships in 2009, the U.S. has not selected a single male overall skier to compete at the World Championships. Freddy Krueger is the only other male to represent the U.S. in overall this century. No American male competed in overall, even as an independent, for a decade between 2011 and 2021.

Relying on specialists on the men’s side has proven costly for the U.S. Team over the last three decades. After an undefeated streak through the first 40 years of the World Championships, the U.S. Team has won only 7 out of 17 since 1991. Men’s overall has been a crucial factor, with only four victories occurring without Siemers on the team.

For a nation that produced three-event water skiing legends like Duvall, Roberge, and Suyderhoud, the disappearance of overall skiers raises questions. Mastering all three events is incredibly difficult, is this just a pipeline issue? Unlikely. Since 2010, the U.S. has had 10 different skiers ranked within the top 20 for men’s overall performances, no other country had more during this period. Four of these skiers have been within the top 10, with only Australia and Great Britain having more, with five each.

However, a closer look at U.S. Team selection reveals consistent neglect of emerging overall talent. In 2011, without Siemers for the first time in a decade, the U.S. overlooked Storm Selsor, who finished the previous season as the 5th ranked overall skier in the world. Instead, they selected a team of three single-event specialists, including a 15-year-old Erika Lang. Had they included Selsor, who skied as an independent and placed 8th in overall, they would have finished within striking distance of Belarus, the winners, rather than the distant third they achieved.

The issue seems to be a lack of support and encouragement for young talent. Zack Worden, simultaneously ranked in the top 3 for men’s jump and top 10 for men’s overall as a teenager, never made a U.S. Team and effectively retired from overall at 19 to focus on jump. The list of such talents denied the opportunity to represent the USA is extensive, including Mike McCormick, Scott Smith, Ryan Fitts, Dylan Schaffer, and Nick Lang.

While the U.S. has shown more support on the women’s side, selecting three overall skiers for the most recent World Championships, the absence of Regina Jaquess, arguably the greatest skier of all time, leaves a void. Beyond Jaquess, the U.S. has won only three women’s overall medals this century, and just one since 2003. With Jaquess approaching 40, supporting young talents like Brooke Baldwin, Kennedy Hansen, and Anna Gay becomes critical for the future.

The most challenging discipline in water skiing requires encouragement and support to thrive. While the U.S. may lack the government funding of some other federations, it can still nurture young athletes, providing them with the recognition and opportunities to represent their country. Without overall talent, America will continue to fall behind countries like Canada and France on the world stage. One thing is certain: putting a novice on the water to trick and jump on a major platform for the sport does no good for anyone.

Triple Jump World Premiere

Watch: World’s First Freestyle Triple Jump | USA Water Ski

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Watch: World’s first freestyle water ski triple jump (2024)

USA Water Ski Show Team members Pete Hegarty, Liam Klotzbach and Caleb Ross featured at Jack Travers Water Ski School on April 28 in Groveland, Florida.

Camera & Editing: Rob Hazelwood Creative
Drone: Jake Snider Films
Additional Ramp: Bemman Custom Designs
Ramp Technician: Jon Travers
Driver: George Hartmann
Photography: Darian LeBlanc, Kevin Michael, Scott Atkinson
Wetsuits: Eagle
Ropes: Masterline
Special Thanks: Visit Central Florida, Jack & Lelani Travers, Conner Pesek

Alex Lauretano (Water Skiing)

Alex Lauretano Receives Award of Distinction | USA Waterski

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Alex Lauretano receives Award of Distinction from USA Water Ski Hall of Fame Selection Committee

Alex Lauretano (Water Skiing)

Image: IWWF

Renowned three-event water skier Alex Lauretano was honored with an Award of Distinction last night during the 2024 USA-WSWS Foundation Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Barefooter Elaine Heller-Fatla was the sole inductee into the Hall of Fame at the ceremony held on Saturday, April 6, 2024, at Nora Mayo Hall in Winter Haven, Florida. Additionally, Joe Knapp, Jason Lee, Dennis Longo, and Dusty Schulz were recipients of the Award of Distinction.

Having grown up on a lake in Connecticut, Alex Lauretano’s love for water skiing started at an early age. But frozen winters made it difficult to train and compete on the world stage. Alex moved to central Florida at the age of 16 to train and finish high school.

Two years later, she was competing on the pro circuit and setting records. Alex is a former Open Women national slalom, tricks, jump and overall champion, Pan American Water Ski Championships overall champion, Collegiate tricks and jump champion, and a past member of the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team. She was the 2015 AWSA Jumper of the Year and recipient of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports’ “That’s Incredible Award.” Her jumping is indeed incredible. She set the Open Women national jump record of 184 feet in 2013 and set a new record three years later at 188 feet that still stands today.

Aside from focusing on her training and career, she reached out in many other ways to advance the sport of water skiing and women in professional sports. She is a member of multiple standing committees for USA Waterski & Wake Sports and has been the Athletes’ Advisory Council chairwoman since 2013.

Alex was a charter member of Girls That Fly, an organization of the top women water ski jumpers in the world formed in 2011. Girls That Fly highlights and promotes worldwide jump events for women and establishes parity for women in areas such as prize money, publicity, and event equality.

Read more about the other award recipients at USA Waterski

Ski West Village To Host 2024 Goode Water Ski Nationals

Watch: US National Water Ski Championships to be held in Arvin | Bakersfield Now

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Watch: 2024 GOODE Water Ski National Championships to be held in Arvin

By Bakersfield Now


Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/FOX58) — More than 500 of the nation’s top water ski athletes will head to the Ski West Village in Arvin, for the Goode Water Ski National Championships in August.

The Ski West Village last held the event in 2007, which marked the last time the competition was held in California.

Athletes will compete in multiple events including slalom, tricks, jump, and overall.

The Ski West Village is located at 28311 Millux Road, Arvin, California 93203.

Full story at Bakersfield Now

Get On The Water, Presented By Radar Skis, To Offer Free Learn To Ski Clinics

Get On The Water To Offer Free Learn To Ski Clinics | USA Waterski

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Get On The Water, presented by Radar Skis, to offer free learn to ski clinics

Get On The Water, Presented By Radar Skis, To Offer Free Learn To Ski Clinics

Image: USA-WSWS

On July 2, 1922, history was changed when Ralph Samuelson became the first person to successfully water ski. USA Water Ski & Wake Sports is honoring the birth of our sport this summer by offering everyone the chance to learn to ski all summer long.

USA Water Ski & Wake Sports, along with our affiliated ski clubs across the country, will host free learn to ski events June 1-August 31, 2024. USA Water Ski & Wake Sports recognizes that financial limitations often hinder participation in towed water sports and Get on the Water was designed to provide a fun, non-intimidating environment in which participants can learn to water ski for free.

Presented by Radar Skis, Get on the Water is a coast-to-coast initiative, waiving all sanctioning fees and guest membership fees for USA Water Ski & Wake Sports affiliated clubs that host basic skills learn to ski events through Aug. 31, 2024, providing clubs with a national platform, the opportunity to connect with their community, and the ability to better reach those who might not otherwise be able to participate.

The clinics are open to anyone who would like to learn to ski. Participants do not need any prior water-skiing experience to participate. The ability to swim is recommended but not required (each participant will wear a life vest).

Interested clubs should visit https://www.sharelifeonthewater.com/gotw-info.html for vital information as well as a step-by-step How to Sanction a GOTW Event Guide.

Get on the Water is presented by Radar Skis and sponsored by Indmar Marine Engines, MasterCraft Boat Company, and Visit Central Florida.

The new USA Water Ski executive director poses for a photo in board shorts and a blazer

Kevin Michael: A Revolutionary in Board Shorts

Articles

Kevin Michael: A revolutionary in board shorts

The new USA Water Ski executive director poses for a photo in board shorts and a blazer

Kevin Michael, USA-WSWS’ new Executive Director, poses for a photo opportunity during his first month on the job (image: @gangstersofflight)

By Jack Burden


In many ways, Kevin Michael embodies what is great about the sport of water skiing. A laid-back Midwesterner with a penchant for cracking jokes and flashing smiles, his passion ignites when the conversation turns to the lake. Whether it’s slalom, wakeboarding, freestyle jumping, or any other watersport activity, if it involves enjoying a summer’s day behind a boat with friends, count Michael in. But can this man, recently appointed as the Executive Director of USA Water Ski and Wake Sports, effectively lead one of the sport’s most influential organizations, clad in board shorts and a blazer?

It’s a tough gig, to say the least. Steering and expanding towed water sports in the United States—the world’s largest market—is akin to pushing against the tide. By all accounts, Michael’s predecessors were highly competent and managed to navigate the organization through difficult times. Nate Boudreaux, the outgoing Executive Director, was an experienced manager of large sports organizations, excelling at financial stewardship and running a tight ship. However, it is hard to imagine an outsider to the sport, like Boudreaux, having the passion, reach, and insider knowledge to turn the tide on a sport in decline.

This is where Michael steps in. A 30-year industry veteran, his passion for towed water sports has taken him far and wide. With stints in marketing and media roles at Waterski and Wakeboarding Magazine, Malibu Boats, and as the executive director of the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA), he’s well-versed in the industry’s ins and outs. In the latter role, he rubbed shoulders with politicians in Washington D.C., advocating for the industry’s interests—presumably, his wardrobe does include attire beyond just board shorts.

Michael’s strengths lie in marketing towed water sports and lobbying for the sport’s interests—an ideal fit for the organization’s needs. As a lifelong participant himself, he understands the importance of grassroots campaigns and broad audience visibility to drive participation. He injects fresh energy and innovative ideas into a sport often bogged down in tradition. While many in the sport focus solely on their preferred discipline, Michael has the cross-discipline passion to unite disparate groups under the same tent.

In his first month on the job, Michael has already made promising strides. He recently appeared on both the Water Skier Magazine’s Hit It! podcast and the TWBC podcast, sharing his vision for the future of the organization. His optimism and desire to build forward momentum are infectious. He’s even taken over the organization’s social media accounts, producing videos featuring some of the USA’s top athletes.

However, it’s crucial to temper expectations. Michael now oversees an organization with 14,000 members across nine sport disciplines—a monumental responsibility. Navigating relationships with the U.S. Olympic Committee and other government bodies, providing insurance for clubs and tournaments, and appeasing elected representatives from the various disciplines are no small feats.

Yet, Michael remains undaunted. Embracing the challenge, he emphasizes the need for grassroots involvement and hands-on participation from the water skiing community. Sharing on the Hit It! podcast: “Everyone asks me, ‘What can I do? How can I help?’ I keep telling everybody, I need you on the water, and I need you to teach people for the first time how to do anything behind the boat… introduce people to the sport.”

Author Frank Herbert once remarked, “Bureaucracy destroys initiative.” We hope that Michael, in his new role at USA Water Ski and Wake Sports, is the exception that proves the rule. He has the opportunity to challenge the norm and pave the way for a brighter future. As he embarks on this “revolution,” Michael’s leadership could redefine the landscape of towed water sports for generations to come.

Fundraiser Established For 2024 Goode Nationals Webcast

Fundraiser Established For 2024 Goode Nationals Webcast | USA Water Ski

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Fundraiser Established For 2024 Goode Nationals Webcast

Fundraiser Established For 2024 Goode Nationals Webcast

Image: USA Water Ski

Ski West Village, the host of 2024 Goode Water Ski National Championships, has received feedback from many skiers about offering a live webcast of the 82nd Goode Water Ski National Championships, Aug. 13-17, in Arvin, Calif.

It takes a large team and a lot of work before, during and after the event to produce a high quality webcast over three lakes for a week. While USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and the American Water Ski Association are helping to fund the event, additional money is needed in order for the webcast to be produced by The Waterski Broadcasting Company.

https://www.usawaterski.org/news/2024/february/02/industry-veteran-kevin-michael-hired-as-executive-director-of-usa-water-ski-wake-sports

Kevin Michael Hired As Executive Director Of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

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Kevin Michael hired As Executive Director Of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

https://www.usawaterski.org/news/2024/february/02/industry-veteran-kevin-michael-hired-as-executive-director-of-usa-water-ski-wake-sports

Image: Brandon Thomas

USA Water Ski & Wake Sports is pleased to announce the hiring of Kevin Michael (Orlando, Fla.) as the organization’s next executive director. Michael, who will begin his new position with the national governing body of organized water skiing and wakeboarding on Feb. 5, takes over for Nate Boudreaux, who stepped down in November after five years with the organization.

Michael, 48, comes to USA Water Ski & Wake Sports with more than 30 years of experience in the towed water sports industry. He most recently served as the executive director of the Water Sports Industry Association during a nine-year tenure with the association.

“We are excited to announce the hiring of Kevin Michael as our new executive director,” said Bob Archambeau, president of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports. “Kevin comes to us with boating industry knowledge and ties to water sports manufacturers as well as experience initiating programs to bring a variety of water sports back to life. He has strong skill sets in association and event management as well as in-depth knowledge in media, digital marketing and branding. We can’t wait to get him started.”

Full article at USA Water Ski & Wake Sports.

81ST GOODE WATER SKI NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Watch: Highlights from the 81st Goode Water Ski Nationals | America’s Boating Channel

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Watch: Highlights from the 81st Goode Water Ski National Championships

By America’s Boating Channel


USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and the American Water Ski Association held the 81st Goode Water Ski National Championships in August 2023 at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach, FL. Here is a look back on the storied history of the Water Ski National Championships.

The video is Featured Now on America’s Boating Channel’s free smart TV app on Apple TV, Roku, and Fire TV, on AmericasBoatingChannel.com, and on its YouTube channel, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks from Dec. 31 through Jan. 6.

The announcement was made by America’s Boating Channel’s Vice President of Smart TV, Kathy Strachan, and USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Senior Director of Communications & External Relations, Scott Atkinson.

“We’re thrilled to ring in the new year with an exciting documentary tracing the development of the Water Ski National Championships in the United States. This video has special appeal to more than five million American participants in towed water sports. Viewers can also enjoy a superb assortment of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports video titles available anytime at bit.ly/USAWSonTV,” said Strachan.

Atkinson said: “We’re excited to partner with America’s Boating Channel to promote not only our Water Ski National Championships video but also our full catalog of titles covering water ski and wakeboard instruction, water ski history, and show skiing.”