The moments that defined the 2023 water ski season – and the stories behind them.

Year in Review: We Countdown the Most Memorable Moments of 2023

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Year in review: We countdown the most memorable moments of the 2023 water ski season

The moments that defined the 2023 water ski season – and the stories behind them.

The moments that defined the 2023 water ski season – and the stories behind them.

By Jack Burden


As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s time to revisit the unforgettable moments from this year’s water ski season. From seemingly impossible comebacks to record-breaking feats, each competition created its own narrative filled with anticipation, intensity, and sheer excitement.

Throughout 2023, skiers showcased their talents across three World Championships—Under-17, Under-21, and Open—two professional tours, the Waterski Pro Tour and WWS Overall Tour, and legacy events like the Moomba and U.S. Masters. The year witnessed record-breaking prize purses, and the quality of streaming for water ski enthusiasts continued to soar. Join us as we count down our selection of the top 10 unforgettable moments from the 2023 season.

After 27 wins in a row, I got to spray a competitor above me in the face with champagne.

Image: @natesmith43

10. Water Skiing’s 27 Club

Nate Smith flew to Europe this summer on an incredible run of form. After winning the Fungliss ProAm in France, his unbeaten streak in professional competitions tallied an impressive 27, one of the longest winning streaks in water ski history.

Following the qualifying rounds of the Botaski ProAm in Spain, where he finished with an equal top score of 1 @ 9.75m (43’ off), Smith seemed on track for another victory. He made easy work of his first head-to-head bracket, advancing to the semifinals. However, up against the young and relatively unknown Italian Brando Caruso, Smith faltered at 10.25 meters (41’ off), coming up half a buoy short of Caruso.

Facing defeat graciously, Smith shared, “After 27 wins in a row, I got to spray a competitor above me in the face with champagne. Congrats [Brando Caruso] for knocking me out… and Freddie [Winter] for ultimately taking first.”

Kaiafas Battle 2023 Skier of the Day!

Image: @waterskibroadcasting_

9. Nicholson Finds Another Gear

One of the hardest workers on the professional circuit, Allie Nicholson had been threatening to post a big score for some time. As the only skier to attend all 12 Waterski Pro Tour slalom events in 2023, her breakthrough came during the European leg at the Kaiafas Battle ProAm. In a qualifying round, the American became only the 12th woman ever to run 10.75m (39.5’ off). Announcer Matteo Luzzeri remarked, “We were waiting for the next lady to run 39, and here we have her; she just hammered it, super confident. She decided now, today’s my day.” Nicholson was elated with the performance, stating, “I almost didn’t ski; I wasn’t feeling good before I skied, and I’m so glad I did. I’m on cloud nine right now.”

Nicholson’s success continued with a victory at the San Gervasio ProAm the following weekend and multiple more successful attempts at 10.75m, including at the Calgary Cup the following month.

Erika Lang at the 63rd Masters

Image: @erikalang36

8. Lang Master’s the 11,000 Point Mark

Erika Lang had one of the closest things our sport has seen to a perfect season. In May, she broke her own world record during the Master’s LCQ. Throughout the season, she won three out of four professional events, broke the World Championships record on the way to her second world title, and closed out the season with a Pan American Games gold.

This incredible season was marked by Lang’s consistency, surpassing 11,000 with increasing regularity. The standout moment for Lang was at the U.S. Masters, where she achieved the second-ever score over 11,000 in a professional tournament by a woman. Her winning score, in the challenging conditions of Robin Lake, would have been enough to secure her a podium place in the men’s event.

Cole McCormick rocks some shades during the 2023 IWWF world waterski championships

Image: @johnnyhayward_photo

7. World’s Returns to “Sunset” Lakes

During the final series of the men’s slalom elimination round at the World Championships, the sun dipped lower on the horizon, presenting competitors with a challenging glare. Joel Howley became the first skier to wear sunglasses during his run, with the boat driver handing them to him for each pass into the glare. Others attempted to mitigate the increasingly difficult glare with eye black. In a candid interview, Freddie Winter commented on the conditions, emphasizing that “we’re all trying to survive as opposed to perform.” Further stating “it’s dangerous, it’s scary, and it minimizes our performance.”

Despite the challenging conditions, most of the top skiers successfully advanced to the finals. Notably, two-time former champion Will Asher suffered an early exit at 10.25m (41’ off). The day concluded with an electrifying eight-way runoff for the final two spots, with young Vincenzo Marino attempting a 10.75m (39.5’ off) pass in what might be the coldest start ever after not skiing for three days. In the end, Cole McCormick and Corey Vaughan secured their tickets to the finals.

rick action at the 2023 IWWF world waterski championships

Image: @johnnyhayward_photo

6. Font Pushes the Envelope

Before Patricio Font broke the world trick record in 2022, it had been the longest-standing record in three-event waterskiing, remaining unbroken since 2011. Proving that it was far from a one-off performance, Font extended his world record to 12,690 at the Master’s LCQ in May, before pulling out the record run in his victories at the Botaski ProAm, setting a professional tournament record, and in the preliminary round of the World Championships, setting a World Championships record.

This top seed position proved critical, as Louis Duplan-Fribourg, after executing a superb hand pass, seemed poised to achieve another big score. However, an equipment malfunction caused his toe strap to release before his final toe trick, preventing a score that could have totaled 12,580 points. Patricio Font, realizing the opportunity presented by Louis’ misfortune, opted for a less challenging run, omitting his Ski-Line-Seven, and cruised to victory with another huge score of 12,470 points.

With a stated goal of breaking 13,000 points, Font is at the forefront of a new wave of trick skiers redefining the boundaries of the sport. Although his potential record of 12,770 was ultimately downgraded upon IWWF review, we expect more big scores from him in the future.

Some moments from the dock during the final day of the King of Darkness.

Image: @waterskibroadcasting_

5. Clutch Performances from the Nightmare

Although still a regular at the top of the podium, Freddy Krueger showed signs of slowing down throughout the season. At the MasterCraft Pro, his second professional win of the season, he very nearly missed the final after failing to qualify on his first two jumps. The 48-year-old veteran then delivered the biggest jump of the tournament on his third and final attempt with 70.7 meters (232 feet).

The following weekend at the Malibu Open, Joel Poland set the pace early with a jump of 69.3 meters (227 feet), which held firm through six skiers and seemed poised to force a jump-off for the title. However, Krueger clinched the championship with an extraordinary 71.0-meter (233 feet) jump on his third and final attempt.

Finally, at the World Championships, Krueger was in serious danger of missing the final, not to mention jeopardizing U.S.A.’s chances in the teams competition, after managing only 56.4 meters (185 feet) from his first two jumps. Yet again, his wealth of experience came to the fore, enabling him to qualify on his third attempt, ultimately going on to finish runner-up in the final and help Team U.S.A. to a world title.

Frenchmen Louis Duplan-Fribourg ready to jump

Image: @johnnyhayward_photo

4. Duplan-Fribourg Takes Flight

In a picturesque setting in the south of France, the WWS Overall Tour opened its 2023 season with an extraordinary performance by Louis Duplan-Fribourg. The Frenchman soared to new heights, setting a national jump record at 68.1 meters (223 feet), igniting the local crowd and taking the lead in the overall competition. Announcer Glen Williams acknowledged Duplan-Fribourg’s achievement, stating, “We’ve talked for a long time about Joel Poland and Dorien Llewellyn, and now there are three names in that category.” Duplan-Fribourg’s performance positioned him among the world’s top overall skiers.

“I was a little stressed after Louis’ big jump; when someone goes out and jumps that far, it’s intimidating,” said Poland in his post-jump interview. In the tightest overall battle of the year, Poland managed to win the event by the razor-thin margin of less than 3 overall points—equivalent to a quarter buoy or a side slide.

As the WWS Overall Tour unfolded, the French contender’s newfound jump form combined with his world-class tricking kept him ahead of the rest of the pack, finishing close second to Poland in all four tour stops. The final stop in Florida saw him extending the French national jump record, and shortly after, he clinched his first professional jump placement at the MasterCraft Pro.

His trick performance at the World Championships broke both the French national and World Championships records in the preliminary round. This impressive foundation paved the way for his breakthrough world title, cementing his status not just as a trick skier but as a rising star among the world’s top overall skiers.

Hanna Wins Jump at 2023 Malibu Open

Image: @malibuopen2023

3. Sweet Home Malib-Ama

The Malibu Open, with over two decades of history, returned to LymanLand in Alabama for the second consecutive year, delivering nearly nonstop record-breaking excitement. First, Regina Jaquess solidified her status as one of the greatest women’s slalomers of all time by setting a new world slalom record of 5 at 10.25 meters (41‘ off) in the preliminary round. Then, Hanna Straltsova became only the third woman ever to jump over 190 feet during the finals, not only claiming victory in the tournament but also securing the season title of the Waterski Pro Tour. Finally, Joel Poland broke his second world overall record in as many weeks, achieving scores of 2@10.25m in slalom, 11,680 in tricks, and 69.3 meters (227 feet) in jump. The latter score very nearly won him the jump event too.

In an interview following her record-breaking performance, Jaquess shared her elation and gratitude, saying, “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what to say, I’m shaking. I think getting out of two this morning unlocked a little bit of mental pressure because it was my best score. I haven’t gotten a three since my ACL [surgery], so thank you, Andrews Sports [Medicine], for getting me back together. This is unbelievable, and to do it at the Malibu Open behind Malibu Boats… I got mental; I should have run it… it felt so amazing.”

2023 U17 IWWF World Waterski Championships

Image: @nicolasnelson_

2. New Year’s Double Run-Off

For number two, we go all the way back to the very start of the year, to the Under 17 World Championships in Santiago, Chile. This tournament was filled with promising young talents and exhilarating moments on the water. However, the peak of tension unfolded during the boys’ slalom final. Skiing early in the lineup, positioned 3rd and 5th off the dock, respectively, Australian Lucas Cornale and Mexican Nicolas Nelson set an early pace with 3 @ 10.75m (39.5’ off), falling just half a buoy short of the World Championships record. This combined lead persisted through all 12 competitors, necessitating a runoff to determine the winner.

Starting at 11.25 meters (38′ off), Nelson skillfully navigated the pass, narrowly missing four ball at 10.75 to match his initial score. As Cornale entered the course for his chance to challenge, announcer Tony Lightfoot noted, “Nicolas Nelson [is] still in the course.” Cornale fell early around buoy two but promptly signaled for a reride by raising his ski in the air. Meanwhile, Nelson, having initially stayed within the buoy line, was slowly making his way to the shore, perhaps overwhelmed by the occasion. After a split decision from the judges, Cornale’s request for a reride was denied. Nevertheless, the Australian team lodged a formal protest citing unsafe skiing conditions, which was ultimately upheld.

Seizing this opportunity, Cornale successfully completed the 11.25-meter pass, matching Nelson’s runoff score of 3 @ 10.75m. Once again, the young men found themselves in a runoff, this time with Cornale starting first. Unfortunately, the Australian fell early at 11.25m, leaving the door open for Nelson, who ultimately claimed the world title by navigating around three buoys. This dramatic double runoff set the stage for an intense start to the year.

Getting knocked down happens, getting back up is a choice.

Image: @fotografacamilabernal

1. Poland’s New Haircut

It should come as little surprise that our top pick for the number one moment of 2023 involves the hottest commodity in world water skiing right now – Joel Poland. Many moments came to mind for the extraordinarily talented Brit: his first 70-meter (230-foot) jump at the California Pro Am, and his back-to-back world records set live on webcast to close out the professional season—any of these could have easily made this list. However, it was his World Championships effort, ironically one of the only events he didn’t win, that stood out the most.

Poland, who only needed 10,000 points to make the trick final, stood up in his opening toe pass “like clockwork,” as remarked by announcer Glen Williams. Williams added, “I don’t think he has a B run; [he] pretty much just goes for it no matter what.” Fifteen seconds later, Poland, along with his overall aspirations, were in deep water after he fell during his signature Super-Mobe-Five, ruling himself out of the final and overall contention—or so it seemed.

The following day, the down-and-out Joel Poland, who had shaved his head overnight, skied with the determination of a man with nothing to lose. Poland took a bold approach, attacking the 10.25m (41’ off) pass rather than taking the safer route of securing his spot in the final with an S-turn mid-pass. The Brit produced the defining performance of the World Championships, becoming the newest member of the 41-off club. Suddenly, he was back in the overall title race.

Poland described his emotions, saying, “I’m not gonna lie. I lost sleep over that trick run, I’ll probably lose a little more too. But, the job was not done and giving up is not an option. After a small talk with myself and a new f*cking haircut, I felt like I had nothing to lose… that’s a dangerous feeling. Now the rest is history.”

Poland would ultimately come up short of the 70.6-meter (232-foot) jump he needed to secure the world overall title, finishing in second to the well-deserving Louis Duplan-Fribourg. However, his comeback will be remembered as one of the greatest World Championships performances of all time.

Honorable Mentions

  • Jacinta Carroll’s continued dominance on the Yarra
  • Three skiers running 10.25m (41′ off) in a single round at the Kaiafas ProAm
  • Three skiers jumping over 70m (230′) in a single round at the California ProAm
  • The incredibly tight battle for Waterski Pro Tour season title in women’s slalom
  • Nate Smith’s close call with the jump ramp at the Traver’s Grand Prix
  • Dorien Llewellyn’s and Lauren Morgan’s injury comebacks for World Championships medals
2023 Water Ski Season: Records Shattered and Dominance Prevails

Year in Review: RTB’s Top Five Stats of 2023

Analysis

Year in review: RTB’s top five stats of the 2023 water ski season

2023 Water Ski Season: Records Shattered and Dominance Prevails

The moments that defined the 2023 water ski season.

By Jack Burden


The 2023 water ski season proved to be a historic one, with outstanding performances and records tumbling across various categories. Here’s a glimpse into the remarkable achievements that defined this unforgettable season:

1. Rabbit Remains Unbeaten

Jacinta Carroll’s victory at the 2023 Moomba Masters was her 34th consecutive* professional jump title, maintaining an unbeaten streak since 2013. Her career winning percentage stands at an impressive 79%.

2. The Highest Scoring Year, Ever!

Over 25% of all trick scores exceeding 12,000 points were accomplished in 2023. Even more remarkable is the fact that over half of the female trick scores surpassing 11,000 points were achieved in this same year.

3. A ‘Joel of All Trades’

Throughout 2023, Joel Poland attained podium finishes in slalom, trick, jump, and overall in professional competition. He stands as the sole individual in the 21st century to accomplish this remarkable feat within a single year, and only the second man this century, following Adam Sedlmajer, to achieve it over the course of his career.

4. Among the Greats

Securing his fifth consecutive World Championships victory, Ryan Dodd became the second oldest skier ever to clinch a world title, only three days younger than Andy Mapple. Only Mapple in slalom and Patrice Martin in overall have won more golds (six) in a single event.

5. Records on the Big Stage

Joel Poland’s performance at the WWS Florida Cup marked the first instance of a world record being broken at a professional tournament since the 2005 U.S. Masters. Additionally, the two world records set by Regina Jaquess and Poland at the Malibu Open marked the first time multiple world records were set in a professional tournament since the 2002 Malibu Open.

* Carroll’s 34 consecutive victories did not include Moomba Night Jump victories. If you add those and her World’s titles it is an astounding 42 consecutive wins at elite events!

Slalom skiing at the 2023 World Championships

Thrills, Spills, and Triumphs: Highlights from the 2023 World Championships

Articles

Thrills, spills, and triumphs: highlights from the 2023 World Championships

Slalom skiing at the 2023 World Championships

Cole McCormick slaloms at sunset during the 2023 IWWF World Championships (image: @johnnyhayward_photo)

By Jack Burden


The 2023 IWWF World Water Ski Championships proved to be a thrilling showcase of skill and determination, with each day bringing its own set of remarkable moments and challenges. From the impressive kickoff early in the week, to the unexpected turns in the tournament caused by adverse weather conditions, this competition was a rollercoaster of excitement and resilience. The water skiing world watched in anticipation as emerging talents and seasoned champions went head-to-head, vying for world titles and displaying the sheer tenacity that defines this sport. Here, we delve into the highlights and surprises from this extraordinary event, setting the stage for the action-packed journey that followed.

Young Talent Shines Early

Day one featured a full day of slalom skiing under perfect conditions, with over 70 skiers in total. While some might consider these early rounds as a curtain raiser, they still delivered some incredible performances. Notably, 17-year-old Italian skier Vincenzo Marion took the lead by running 2 at 10.25 meters (41′ off). Setting the pace early with 38 of the world’s top-ranked skiers yet to compete.

Moving on to Wednesday, it was time for the lower-seeded competitors in the jump and trick events to showcase their skills. This day was marked by numerous emerging talents achieving personal bests in the jump competition. Jutta Menestrina, making a remarkable comeback from knee surgery, posted an impressive score in the third series of the women’s jump. On the men’s side, Marino once again delivered an outstanding performance, achieving a personal best jump by 5.6 meters, crossing the 60-meter mark for the first time in his career.

Battling the Elements

Thursday marked the onset of dramatic developments as heavy rain showers and strong winds intensified throughout the morning. These adverse conditions prompted officials to suspend the women’s slalom competition midway through the third series. Following consultations with officials and team captains, the decision was made to postpone the women’s slalom to the following day. The weather conditions proved extremely challenging, with intermittent heavy rain and white caps on the lake, making it extremely difficult for both skiers and even the boat drivers to navigate the course for much of the day.

This postponement, although necessary for safety, came at a cost due to the tight schedule for the weekend. Despite the forecast predicting better conditions on Friday, the early seeds of women’s slalom and the top seeds of men’s slalom would have to contend with sun glare and reflection in the morning and afternoon, as the lake runs from east to west.

In the midst of these weather challenges, the men’s tricks elimination round proceeded as scheduled on Thursday afternoon. Skiers faced the daunting task of battling strong winds and bumpy conditions in the first completed elimination round of the tournament. The quality of tricks, which has been steadily rising in recent years, remained exceptional despite the unfavorable conditions. The French team exhibited remarkable prowess, with both veteran Pierre Ballon and newcomer Pol Duplan-Fribourg leading the pack out of series two.

As the saying goes, the overall event is won or lost in the trick event, and this held true at this World Championships. Notably, Italian skier Edoardo Marenzi, who was nursing an Achilles injury, exited early, effectively ending his campaign. Defending trick champion Dorien Llewellyn, competing in his first trick tournament in six months, and former overall champion Martin Kolman did enough to secure their spots in the finals. However, the biggest upset of the tournament occurred when the clear favorite, Joel Poland, who only needed 10,000 points to make the final, fell during his signature Super-Mobe-Five, ruling himself out of the final and overall contention—or so it seemed.

In a defining moment, as Poland experienced this unexpected setback, the next skier off the dock, Frenchman Louis Duplan-Fribourg, emerged as the new favorite in the overall event. Instead of succumbing to the mounting pressure, he took a daring approach, opting for the hardest run in his repertoire. In doing so, he set a new personal best with 12,510 points, earning himself the French national trick record and a World Championships record. The skier who previously held the latter record, Patricio Font, responded in thrilling fashion by reclaiming his World Championships record only three skiers later, matching his own world record and securing the top seed position.

Nonstop Action Shines Through (A Little Too Bright)

Friday delivered another action-packed day of slalom skiing, with the top three series of both women’s and men’s slalom running. On a separate lake, the women’s trick preliminaries took place concurrently throughout the afternoon. Among the top female slalomers, there were no major upsets, but unexpected subpar performances from prominent overall contenders Giannina Bonnemann Mechler and Paige Rini set them back considerably. The cut for the finals remained comparable to 2021, with a runoff at 1.5 @ 10.75m (39.5’ off).

The afternoon treated viewers to one of the most thrilling and engaging broadcasts ever produced by TWBC. It featured simultaneous men’s slalom and women’s trick skiing, earning comparisons to “NFL’s RedZone.” The excitement peaked during the start of the women’s series one tricks. On one lake, the women’s overall title was being determined, with the likes of Hanna Straltsova, Kennedy Hansen, and Paige Rini competing. On the other lake, the down-and-out Joel Poland, who had shaved his head overnight, skied with the determination of a man with nothing to lose. Poland took a bold approach, attacking the 10.25m (41’ off) pass rather than taking the safer route of securing his spot in the final with an S-turn mid pass. The Brit produced the defining performance of the World Championships, becoming the newest member of the 41-off club. Suddenly, he was back in the overall title race.

Women’s trick skiing concluded in spectacular fashion, with three athletes surpassing 10,000 points. Erika Lang claimed the pole position with a World Championships record of 10,930 points. As all eyes shifted to the slalom lake for the final series, the sun dipped lower on the horizon. Competitors had to adapt to the challenging glare. Joel Howley became the first skier to wear sunglasses during his run, with the boat driver handing them to him for each pass into the glare. Others attempted to mitigate the increasingly difficult glare with eye black. In a candid interview, Freddie Winter commented on the conditions, emphasizing that “we’re all trying to survive as opposed to perform.” Further stating “it’s dangerous, it’s scary, and it minimizes our performance.”

While the conditions were far from ideal and arguably hazardous for the top series of men’s slalom, in an event with limited time and significant weather-related disruptions, the officials made the right call. The alternatives, such as running the women’s slalom in the rainy and whitecap-filled conditions from the previous day or scheduling the jump preliminaries in similar glare or strong gusty tailwinds the following day, would have been significantly more dangerous.

Despite the challenging conditions, most of the top skiers successfully advanced to the finals. Notably, two-time former champion Will Asher suffered an early exit at 10.25m. The day concluded with an electrifying eight-way runoff for the final two spots, with young Marino attempting a 10.75m pass in what might be the coldest start ever after not skiing for three days. In the end, Cole McCormick and Corey Vaughan secured their tickets to the finals.

The First World Champions Are Crowned

The penultimate day of the competition brought an abundance of excitement with five series of jump preliminaries. As anticipated, the cut in women’s jump was lower than two years ago, mainly due to an injury-plagued field. Straltsova had an unusual off day, still managing to secure the top seed position but failing to cement her overall title chances. She finished the prelims just behind Bonnemann Mechler after an underwhelming, by her standards, 54.1-meter (177-foot) performance.

The men’s jump competition provided non-stop excitement, with an impressive 21 men surpassing the 200-foot barrier. Overall hopefuls Louis Duplan-Fribourg and Llewellyn narrowly missed the finals, leaving room for a potential comeback from Poland, who secured the second-to-top seed. The veteran Freddy Krueger put Team USA and the fans through some nerve-wracking moments, as he didn’t secure his finals spot until his third jump. It was the defending champion, Ryan Dodd, who claimed the top seed position.

Attention then shifted to the trick lake as the first world champions of the tournament were to be crowned. The early seeds, including many young skiers competing in their first-ever finals, encountered a series of stumbles and early falls while attempting to achieve high scores. Straltsova made significant improvements over the preliminary round, effectively securing the overall title. Three-time world champion Anna Gay led the event early, despite a fall on her final flip, and had to watch from the shore as Peruvian Natalia Cuglievan came up just 10 points short of her lead. Then, Bonnemann Mechler and Neilly Ross went down early while chasing big scores. It all came down to Erika Lang in the end, who, despite being one of the most dominant trickers in the sport over the last decade, had not secured World Championships gold since 2013. Although she appeared shaky at times, she managed to complete both passes and earn a well-deserved second world title.

In stark contrast to the low-scoring final in 2021, the men’s field posted impressive scores throughout, with six skiers surpassing 11,000 points. Llewellyn improved upon his preliminary trick score, securing fourth place in the trick event and a bronze in the overall competition, a remarkable feat considering his injury comeback timeline. Chilean phenom Martin Labra took the lead with two skiers left to go, guaranteeing himself a medal. The stage was set for an epic battle between the two standouts from the preliminaries. Louis Duplan-Fribourg, after executing a superb hand pass, seemed poised to achieve another record score. However, an equipment malfunction caused his toe strap to release before his final toe trick, preventing a score that could have exceeded Aliaksei Zharnasek’s long standing world record, totaling 12,580 points. Patricio Font, realizing the opportunity presented by the Louis’ misfortune, opted for a less challenging run, omitting his Ski-Line-Seven and cruising to victory with another huge score of 12,470 points.

Schedule Shake-Up Ignites Controversy Among Outstanding Performances

A last-minute schedule change stirred some controversy as the start time was moved up to 8:30 am, and the order was reversed to begin with the jump event. The weather forecast had predicted increasingly strong winds throughout the afternoon, prompting the schedule adjustment. This change allowed for an earlier start, avoiding the morning sun glare for slalom and offering safer jump conditions. Nevertheless, many skiers expressed their dissatisfaction with the shift. Regina Jaquess, after taking the lead in the event with her longest jump of the season, gave a defiant interview referring to the early start as “ridiculous” and questioning the feasibility of “throwing big scores down that early.” Similarly, Jack Critchley, also in an emotional speech following a disappointing performance, voiced concerns, lamenting that he “was in bed when they changed the event, how do you prepare for that?”.

Despite the emotional outbursts from some skiers, it’s important to note that schedule changes at World Championships are quite common. In this case, the alteration significantly improved the skiing conditions for the final day. A team captains meeting was held at the conclusion of skiing on Saturday, where the revised schedule was communicated to representatives from all participating countries. Thus, there should have been no excuse for not being aware of the change.

The early start at 8:30 am might not have been preferred by some, but it proved to be beneficial for the performances. 10 out of the 12 finalists in the women’s jump improved on their preliminary scores, some by several meters. Lauren Morgan, in her first major event after knee surgery, secured her second consecutive World Championships medal. Notably, the two former Belarusian skiers, now competing under the USA Water Ski banner, claimed the top two spots. Hanna Straltsova, who has shown incredible form throughout 2023, clinched gold medals in both jump and overall.

Similarly, the men delivered strong performances in the jump event, with over half of the field improving on their preliminary scores. However, some skiers like Rodrigo Miranda and Joel Poland ended up with lower rankings after failing to convert their late cuts into big jumps. Poland faced the Herculean task of achieving a 70.6-meter (232-foot) jump to secure the world overall title, but he came up short on all three attempts, setting the stage for Americans Freddy Krueger and Taylor Garcia to secure podium finishes. The defending champion, Ryan Dodd, was the final skier to go, needing to chase a score of 69 meters (226 feet). Dodd succeeded, clinching his fifth consecutive World Championships victory on his first attempt.

The winds, as predicted, had intensified into a strong head/tailwind by the time the slalom event began. This left the women with a dilemma – whether to take the challenge of running 11.25m (38′ off) with the tailwind, or to play it safe with a headwind. Most of the early seeds opted for the aggressive approach, aiming to win, but they struggled to run 11.25m with the wind behind them. Neilly Ross from Canada, one of the few who chose the conservative path, led the pack with 2 @ 10.75m (39.5’ off), with four skiers remaining. The defending champion, Jaimee Bull, was only the second skier to successfully navigate 11.25m with a tailwind, securing the crucial headwind 10.75m. She took the lead with 3.5 and anxiously awaited the outcome. The top two seeds, Allie Nicholson and Regina Jaquess, took the safe option, setting up a comfortable 11.25m pass but facing the critical 10.75m pass with the tailwind. Ultimately, both fell short of the lead, granting Bull her second consecutive world title and rewarding her brave decision to tackle 11.25m downwind.

The men encountered a similar dilemma, needing to choose between a safe 10.75m pass or taking the risk for 10.25m (41′ off) with a headwind. Several skiers aimed high but couldn’t complete the 10.75m pass downwind. Cole McCormick, Stephen Neveu, and Dane Mechler played it safe, running 10.75m and achieving 3 @ 10.25m with the wind at their backs. Freddie Winter, skiing in the middle of the pack, attacked 10.25m with his characteristic aggressive style after running 10.75m downwind. He managed to reach 4, ending with a spectacular crash on his way to ball 5. Then, he had to watch the next five skiers try to surpass his lead. Nate Smith and Joel Poland, the top two seeds, both set themselves up for a headwind 10.25m pass but failed to make it past three ball, ultimately granting Winter his second world title.

Meanwhile, the team competition was a closely contested battle, with France, Canada, and the USA closely matched during the trick event. Yet, the American team’s substantial lead in the slalom event proved to be a significant advantage. Despite Canada’s strength in the jump event, it was challenging for them to bridge the gap. France, on the other hand, required one more big jump score to truly contend for the top spot.

A World Championship for the Ages

As the 2023 World Championships came to a dramatic close, it was clear that this year’s competition had surpassed the expectations of many. The competition unfolded in a fashion that kept spectators on the edge of their seats from start to finish, with each day bringing its own unique set of challenges and triumphs. The weather, although at times a hindrance during the preliminary rounds, added a layer of strategy and intrigue to the finals, intensifying the excitement of the World Championships. As the sun set on this extraordinary event, the memories of thrilling performances and unexpected twists will endure, leaving an unforgettable mark on the annals of water skiing history.

Teams podium from the 2023 IWWF World Water Ski Championships

USA Reclaims Team Overall Gold Medal in Lake County, Florida | IWWF

News

USA Reclaims Team Overall Gold Medal in Lake County, Florida

Team podium from the 2023 World Championships (image: @iwwfed)

IWWF


Groveland, Florida (October 16, 2023) – The final day of competition of the 2023 IWWF World Waterski Championships brought lots of excitement to waterski fans at Sunset Lakes in Lake County Florida and all around the world watching the live stream.

In Women’s Jump, Hanna Straltsova (USA) won the gold medal with a jump of 55.9 metres ahead of Aliaksandra Danisheuskaya (USA) 53.6 metres who won the silver medal and Lauren Morgan (USA), The World Games 2022 Jump Champion, with 53.0 metres to win bronze.

Men’s jump saw some mind-blowing distances at Sunset Lakes with the reigning World Champion and World Record holder, Ryan Dodd (Canada) winning the gold on his very first jump 69.9 metres (skiers are given three jumps), ahead of many-time World Champion & record holder Freddy Krueger (USA) 69.0 metres who won the silver medal and Taylor Garcia (USA) who won the bronze with a 67.9 metre jump.

Canada’s Jaimee Bull reclaimed her World slalom title by scoring 3.5 buoys on the 10.75 metre line, edging out current World Record Holder Regina Jaquess (USA) 2.50 buoys at 10.75 metre and Allie Nicholson (USA) 2 buoys at 10.75 metres winning the bronze medal.

Great Britain’s Frederick Winter reclaimed the Men’s World Slalom title he last won in 2017 with a score of 4 buoys on the 10.25 metre line, ahead of USA’s Dane Mechler who was just shy of Winter’s score, 3 buoys on the 10.25 metre line, to win the silver medal.  Canada’s Stephen Neveu also scored  3 buoys on the 10.25 metre line but took home the bronze because he had lower preliminary round score that broke the tie with Dane.

Hanna Straltsova (USA) won her second gold medal in the Women’s Overall event, ahead of Germany’s Giannina Bonnemann Mechler who won the silver medal and USA’s Regina Jaquess who won the bronze medal.

In Men’s Overall, France’s Louis Duplan-Fribourg became the first Frenchman to win the Men’s Individual Overall Gold Medal in 24 years, since Patrice Martin won it in 1999.  Reigning World Overall Champion and current World Overall Record Holder Joel Poland from Great Britain won the silver medal followed by Canada’s Dorien Llewellyn winning the bronze medal.

The USA won their first Team Overall title since 2017, ahead of Canada and France to the delight of the many home fans who came out to Sunset Lakes to watch the best waterskiers in the world.

Final Results – click here

The 2023 IWWF World Waterski Championships was exclusively towed by the World-record setting Ski Nautique and Masterline was the Official Tow Rope of the event.

The event was live-streamed throughout on IWWF’s YouTube Channel.

Official Event Web Site (general information, results, live stream link, etc):  https://iwwf.sport/world-title-events/waterskiworlds2023/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iwwfed/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IWWFED
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/@IWWFsport

Erika Lang tricking at the IWWF World Championships October 2023

Hosts US Impress at Home IWWF World Waterski Championships | Inside The Games

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Hosts US impress at home IWWF World Waterski Championships

Erika Lang tricking at the IWWF World Championships October 2023

Erika Lang tricking at the IWWF World Championships October 2023 (image: Johnny Hayward)

By Neil Shefferd

Inside the Games


Hosts United States impressed with a one-two in the opening women’s event at this year’s International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) World Waterski Championships held at Florida.

More than 200 waterskiers from 35 countries took part across six days of action at the Jack Travers Water Ski School at Sunset Lakes.

The first medals were handed out in the tricks disciplines, with the host nation claiming a one-two in the women’s event.

Erika Lang took gold with a score of 10,400 points in the final to claim a second World Championship gold, with her compatriot Anna Gay taking silver with 9,320.

The podium was completed by Peru’s Natalia Cuglievan Wiese who won bronze scoring 9,970.

In the men’s tricks, gold went to Patricio Font of Mexico with a score of 12,470.

Earlier in the competition he tied his men’s tricks world record when he scored 12,690 points in the elimination round.

Silver went to Louis Duplan-Fribourg of France with 11,980 points, with bronze going to Martin Labra of Chile with 11,610.

Full article at Inside the Games.

Dorien Llewellyn jumping at the 2021 IWWF World Championships

Records Beware! We Preview the 2023 IWWF World Championships

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Records Beware! We preview the 2023 IWWF World Championships

Dorien Llewellyn jumping at the 2021 IWWF World Championships

Dorien Llewellyn jumping at the 2021 IWWF World Championships (image: @waterskination)

By Jack Burden


Get ready for an electrifying showdown at the 2023 IWWF World Championships! The world’s top waterskiing athletes are gearing up for an epic battle at the picturesque Sunset Lakes in Lake County, Florida. This marks the second consecutive time this venue has hosted the World Championships, and expectations are sky-high. To put things into perspective, the last time this event graced these waters, seven world championship tournament records were broken, setting the stage for a spectacular display of skill and athleticism.

Slalom

In the women’s slalom event, all eyes are on Regina Jaquess, who’s in pursuit of her fifth world title. She’s fresh off setting a new pending world record and finished as the runner-up in the last two World Championships. A gold medal here would not only surpass Helena Kjellander as the most decorated women’s slalom skier but would also equal Liz Allan’s record of 11 gold medals, the most in the sport. Jaquess faces strong competition from defending champion and Waterski Pro Tour leader Jaimee Bull, her long-time rival Whitney McClintock Rini, and the rising star of 2023, Allie Nicholson, any of whom could emerge victorious.

In the men’s slalom event, only five men have won more than one title in the over 70-year history of the World Championships. This is largely due to the nearly three decades of dominance by Bob LaPoint and Andy Mapple. In 2023, we are fortunate to have the other three repeat champions, namely Nate Smith, Will Asher, and Thomas Degasperi, all competing. Despite the challenging competition, Nate Smith is the favorite to secure his fourth world title, with Asher and former champion Freddie Winter in close pursuit.

Tricks

The most cutthroat of the three disciplines, tricks is the hardest event to predict even when the conditions are favorable. On the women’s side, another thrilling battle is expected among Erika Lang, Anna Gay, and Neilly Ross. Lang had a remarkable run earlier in the year, winning three consecutive professional events and extending her own world record. However, her focus has shifted to wakeboarding over summer, leaving her current form uncertain. On the other hand, Gay is chasing her fourth world title, which would draw her level with Tawn Larsen Hahn for the most ever in women’s tricks. Ross and Gianninna Bonnemann Mechler are also strong contenders.

In the men’s tricks event, any one of about 10 competitors could clinch the gold. What we can expect is for the podium to have a strong Latin American presence, with Mexico’s Pato Font, the world record holder, seeking his second world title, and Chileans Mati Gonzalez and Martin Labra displaying impressive recent form. European skiers Joel Poland and Louis Duplan-Fribourg have also been tricking over 12k with regularity and will look to push the Latin Americans.

Jump

With the absence of Jacinta Carroll, who has won the last five World Championships, we’re guaranteed to see a first-time champion in the women’s jump event. While there has been plenty of controversy in the buildup over the eligibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes, there should be no controversy over who the outright favorite is – Hanna Straltsova, who has won five out of six professional events she has entered this season and whose recent personal best of 58.6 meters (192 feet) is the biggest jump by a woman since Carroll at the 2022 Moomba Masters.

Since 1995, no one not named Llewellyn, Krueger, or Dodd has won men’s jump at the World Championships, making these three skiers the most decorated in the history of the event. With the old guard of Krueger and Dodd still producing winning performances, we could well see this era of dominance continue for one more year. However, Krueger at 48 years old is showing signs of slowing down and Dodd, who turns 40 next year, has been battling injuries in the last few seasons. Look for young challengers Jack Critchley, Taylor Garcia, and Joel Poland to try and break into the winner’s circle.

Overall

Undefeated all season on the WWS Overall Tour and knocking on the door of the world record, Gianninna Bonnemann Mechler is undoubtedly the favorite to take home her first world overall title. Expect stiff competition from top ranked Hanna Straltsova, defending champion Sasha Danishueskaya, young up-and-comer Paige Rini, and five-time world overall champion Regina Jaquess.

Similarly, the current world record holder and defending champion Joel Poland has come off an undefeated season on the WWS Overall Tour. He will look to be the first skier to go back-to-back since Jimmy Siemers in 2003/2005. Hot on his heels will be 2023’s break-out star in men’s overall, Louis Duplan-Fribourg, whose recent form in the jump event has lifted his overall scores to new levels. The dark horse will be Dorien Llewellyn, who has been absent since an ankle injury sustained at the LA Nite Jam back in June but is making a late charge for the World Championships. If Llewellyn can regain his previous form with a limited run-up, look for him to push Poland hard throughout the Championships.

Teams

Defending champions Canada will aim to secure their third consecutive title, and much of their chances will hinge on Llewellyn’s recovery, as they depend on him for scores in all three events. The United States, with Regina Jaquess returning from injury and competing in all three events, will be formidable contenders. France and Great Britain, building teams around their own overall superstars, will be determined to upset the North Americans. The stage is set for an intense battle for the World Championships title.

The World Championships run from October 10-15 and will be broadcast live on TWBC.

Sunset Lakes is hosting the 2023 World Water Ski Championships

Best Waterskiers In The World Return To Lake County, Florida | IWWF

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Best Waterskiers In The World Return To Lake County, Florida For 2023 IWWF World Waterski Championships

Image: @jacksunsetlakes

IWWF


Groveland, Florida (October 6, 2023) – The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation’s (IWWF) World Waterski Championships kicks off next week in Lake County, Florida from 10th to 15th October 2023. The biennial event, that was last held in 2021 in Lake County, will feature more than 200 water skiers representing 35 countries at the Jack Travers Water Ski School at Sunset Lakes.

“We are thrilled to be back here in Lake County to host the 2023 IWWF World Waterski Championships. Florida is the undisputed waterski capital of the world, where the best athletes either live or travel to train and compete, and we all feel at home here after having one of our best ever waterski events in 2021. Our return to Lake County will give the ones who could not previously attend two years ago the opportunity to experience the good vibe and an opportunity to perform to the best of their abilities at one of the premier waterskiing venues, Sunset Lakes.” said José Antonio Pérez Priego, President of IWWF.

The event also brings many International Federation representatives, who will be attending the IWWF World Congress, IWWF International Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, as well as a final night’s Awards Banquet & Closing Ceremony that will conclude the week’s formalities.  In addition to world-class waterski competition, there will be an exciting show on the water featuring the top athletes in show skiing performing unique and incredible barefooting, world-class swivel ski, strap doubles, pyramid and freestyle jumping acts.  On shore, there will be live music, a waterski equipment village, food trucks and a playground for children to engage everyone attending the event.

On behalf of our local partners at the Jack Travers Water Ski School and the Greater Orlando Sports Commission, we are thrilled to welcome the 2023 IWWF World Waterski Championships to Lake County!” said Ryan Ritchie, Director of Discover Lake County, Florida. “Our area continues to be a destination for championship waterskiing and our communities thrive off the visitation from spectators and athletes who stay in our hotels and visit our local establishments translating in positive economic impact. We are looking forward to hosting our national and international guests to the area and we hope they enjoy their time here!”

“The Travers family is very excited to welcome again the water ski community to Sunset Lakes. We will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary (October 1973-2023) of Jack Travers’ International Tournament Skiing next week while the IWWF World Waterski Championships is in full swing.” said Jack Travers.

The 2023 IWWF World Waterski Championships will be exclusively towed by the World record setting Ski Nautique and Masterline will be the Official Tow Rope of the event.

The event will be live-streamed all 6 days, from 10th to 15th October 2023, on IWWF’s YouTube Channel.

Watch the Promotional Video here

Official Event Web Site (general information, results, live stream link, etc):  https://iwwf.sport/world-title-events/waterskiworlds2023/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iwwfed/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IWWFED
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/@IWWFsport

Event Schedule – click here

Joel Poland tricks at the 2021 World Championships

Quiz: Every Medalist at the 2021 World Championships

Quizzes

Quiz: Every medalist at the 2021 World Championships

Joel Poland tricks at the 2021 World Championships

Image: Jeremy Stephenson

By RTB


5 minute play

In this quiz, you have to name every medalist at the 2021 World Championships.

There were 24 medalists across 8 events at the 2021 World Championships held at Sunset Lakes in Groveland, Florida. The event is probably best remembered for the epic battle over the men’s overall title, culminating in a new world record. We have mentioned each medalist’s country, along with their placement in each event.

Regina Jaquess slalom skiing

Quiz: Most Women’s World Titles of All Time

Quizzes

Quiz: Most women’s world titles of all time

Regina Jaquess slalom skiing

Image: Women’s Water Ski Gold Medalist

By RTB


4 minute play

In this quiz, you have to name the female skiers with the most world championship titles of all time.

The list contains 17 skiers, all of whom have won at least three world titles. We have mentioned the years of their first and last gold medals, along with their country, and number of titles.