Meet The Trick Skiers on the Verge of 13,000 Points

Meet The Trick Skiers on the Verge of 13,000 Points


Meet The Trick Skiers on the Verge of 13,000 Points

Meet The Trick Skiers on the Verge of 13,000 Points

After years of stagnation, men’s tricks has become the fastest evolving discipline in the sport.

By Jack Burden

The year is 2011. Barack Obama is in his first term as US President, LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” is at the top of the charts, and the iPhone has just become the most popular smartphone in the world. In the world of tournament water skiing, the brand new Nautique 200 is in its second year of production, and a 31-year-old Belarusian is challenging one of the longest-held records in the sport.

On the same day that Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot, Aliaksei “Ace” Zharnasek tricked 12,570 points at a record tournament at Lake Hancock in Florida, breaking Nicolas Le Forestier’s decade-long hold on the men’s trick record.

Until 18 months ago, Zharnasek’s mark seemed unassailable. The only skier to come close was Ace himself, who, during one remarkable period, set five pending records from 2015 to 2017. However, each application was rejected by the IWWF after review, where every trick record is subject to immense scrutiny.

Fast forward to 2022. At 42, Zharnasek, now an all time great, has faded into retirement, and the new kid on the block is young Patricio Font from Mexico. On the eve of Halloween, Font eked out an extra 20 points to break the longest-standing open record in the sport, which had stood for 11.5 years.

Since then, it has been as if the floodgates have opened. Font has started to consistently score in the high 12,000s, and a new generation of trick skiers is starting to push up toward 13,000 points. How has the most stagnant event in water skiing, with only a single record broken from 2005 to 2022, suddenly become one of the most competitive and fastest-evolving fields in the sport? To find out, we spoke to skiers at the forefront of this evolution.

Abelson Sets Pending World Tricks Record At Masters Qualifier

Image: @tiaremirandaphotography

Jake Abelson

  • Age: 16
  • Personal Best: 12,970
  • Personal Best Two Years Ago: 11,720

With a water ski pedigree that includes two elite-level skiers as parents and none other than Patricio Font as his cousin, this American-Canadian-Mexican teenager has had a stratospheric rise through the first half of 2024. He broke 12,000 points for the first time to clinch a runner-up finish at the Swiss Pro Tricks and followed that up with two world record-setting performances over the next month.

Abelson draws inspiration from a variety of sources: the speed and efficiency of Font’s hand pass, the boundary-pushing tricks of Joel Poland, and the blistering pace of Matias Gonzalez and Martin Labra’s toe tricking, to name a few. Far from occurring overnight, the sudden rise in trick scores is the product of “the collective knowledge” of generations of skiers and coaches who have laid the blueprint.

With other skiers demonstrating what is possible, the process becomes relatively straightforward. “At a high level, more speed is required to add another trick or upgrade an existing one,” shared Abelson. For him, this has meant “learning to perform my runs at a higher pace without losing composure, as well as building the endurance necessary to trick at a high level for the entire 20 seconds.” On his signature wake-seven-front, “I spent the winter practicing and repeating” to fit that trick in time.

Matias Gonzalez competes at the 2023 Pan American Games

Image: @mati.waterski

Matias Gonzalez

  • Age: 16
  • Personal Best: 12,860
  • Personal Best Two Years Ago: 11,000

Perhaps no skier moves faster on a trick ski than the young Chilean, the current Under-17 World Champion and winner of the 2024 Swiss Pro Tricks. Gonzalez’s toe run plays out like a sped up tape, and now with a whole host of ski line tricks added to his repertoire over the winter he is ready to challenge the best of the best.

“To consistently trick over 12k, the most important thing for me was to focus on speed,” shared Gonzalez. He too is following in the footsteps of those who paved the way before him, learning from past legends such as Cory Pickos and more recent stars like Patricio Font. “Pato showed that 11 tricks on hands were possible, that set the new standard for everyone coming up.”

Trick action at the 2023 IWWF world waterski championships

Image: @johnnyhayward_photo

Patricio Font

  • Age: 22
  • Personal Best: 12,770
  • Personal Best Two Years Ago: 12,220

The two-time world champion and former world record holder’s résumé would be impressive for any skier, doubly so for one so young. Patricio Font has been the standard bearer for this new generation of trick skiers, breaking a slew of records on his way up through the junior ranks.

Speaking on how trick skiing has evolved even during his tenure at the top of the sport, Font attributed recent gains to everyone pushing the field higher and higher. He shared on the TWBC podcast, “I think now trick skiing has changed so that to win, you kind of have to do the world record or come close to it because you’ve got everyone chasing behind you.”

Tremendo torneo + tremenda experiencia!

Image: @nicoaguilera22

Martin “Tincho” Labra

  • Age: 18
  • Personal Best: 12,590
  • Personal Best Two Years Ago: 11,710

The Chilean three-event phenom has forged a different path to the top of the tricking world, earning comparatively more points through toe tricks than many of his contemporaries. With innovations like the ‘reverse’ toe-wake-five-back and his metronomic efficiency and speed, Labra is now the highest scoring toe tricker in living memory. Fresh off his victory at the 2024 US Masters, the most decorated skier in the history of the Under-17 Worlds is ready to make his presence felt on the professional circuit.

“In my case, what helped me a lot was being with Mati [Gonzalez] since we were like 4 and 2,” shared Labra, who credits close competition with other rising stars in the sport for the dramatic rise in trick scores. “I think we helped each other to be better… we started pushing ourselves to a better level.” Labra emphasized that this is not solely about competition, but also about camaraderie and friendship. “Starting to know each other and be close to each other helped in a good way to improve the scores in tricking”

@world.water.skiers Florida Cup

Image: @johnnyhayward_photo

Louis Duplan-Fribourg

  • Age: 24
  • Personal Best: 12,510
  • Personal Best Two Years Ago: 12,280

While the proliferation of Latin American trick skiers among the elite ranks is undoubtedly one of the key storylines of the past few years, one skier is working hard to maintain France’s historical dominance in the event. The current world overall champion, Duplan-Fribourg, is perhaps the most well-rounded of the new generation of trick skiers. Capable of both a hand run over 7,000 points and a toe run at 5,500, there doesn’t appear to be any weaknesses in the Frenchman’s routine.

“New trick combinations [are the key] for me,” shared Duplan-Fribourg. This includes both following successful trends, such as the now-ubiquitous mobe-mobe-half jack sequence, and thinking outside the box, like adopting the unconventional “French” run, which seamlessly intersperses big-ticket ski line tricks with a front flip in the middle. Ultimately, it is all about finding sequences that work for you. His other key: speed in toes. For Louis, that is what makes or breaks a 12k trick run.

Jake Abelson's World Trick Record Approved

Teen Sensation Jake Abelson Pushes Water Ski Trick Record to New Heights


Teen Sensation Jake Abelson Pushes Water Ski Trick Record to New Heights

Jake Abelson's World Trick Record Approved

Image: @karinsidiali

By Jack Burden

Jake Abelson’s world trick record of 12,970 has now been officially approved by the IWWF, bringing the sport to the precipice of 13,000 points. This incredible achievement caps off one of the most rapid ascents in water skiing history, with 16-year-old Abelson transforming from a promising junior to the highest-scoring tricker of all time in just a matter of weeks.

In mid-April, Abelson’s personal best was just shy of 12,000 points, ranking him 6th in the world for Open Men Tricks. At the Swiss Pro Tricks, he set solid scores to qualify for the finals mid-pack before achieving a new personal best of 12,230 points—a US National record. This score secured him a runner-up finish, his second of the year following a photo finish at the Moomba Masters.

The following weekend, Abelson improved his personal best by another 500 points, setting a new world record of 12,720 at the Ski Fluid Classic. This marked the first time an American man held the world trick record since Cory Pickos’ last mark 24 years earlier.

Fast forward another two weeks, and Abelson continued his ascent, setting yet another world record with 12,970 points. Over the span of just three weeks, the 16-year-old lifted his personal best by a full 1,000 points, increasing the world trick record by 280 points—equivalent to the combined progress in the 17.5 years between Nicolas Le Forestier’s last record and Patricio Font’s most recent one.

Abelson further intensified his run in the 2nd round of the Masters Qualifying event, swapping in a ski line seven back (SL7B) for his ski line back-to-back (SLBB). He fell on his last two tricks in that round, but had he landed them, the score would have been another 300 points higher than his current record, comfortably surpassing 13,000 points.

This proof of concept, with both falls occurring in time, shows that it is likely only a matter of time before Abelson or another skier cracks 13k. While Abelson’s record hand run of 7,670 is the highest of all time, there are other skiers with better marks on toe. The Chilean duo of Martin Labra and Matias Gonzalez hold the two highest toe runs in living memory at 5,680 and 5,600 points, respectively.

The men’s trick field, much like slalom, is the most competitive it has been in a long time, with three separate winners across the first three professional events of 2024. With such a large group of skiers capable of tricking in excess of 12,000 points, it is no longer possible for the top seeds to play it safe. Each skier must push as close to the world record as possible to win at any given event.

With two more professional trick events in Europe scheduled for the next month, we are excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds.

His new record score of 12,970 points was set at the Masters Qualifying Series 1

Watch: Abelson’s World Trick Record is Approved | IWWF


IWWF Open Men Tricks Record Broken Again


He has done it again, this time even better!! 16 years old Jake Abelson (USA) has surpassed his previous IWWF World Open Men’s Tricks Record of 12,720 points

His new record score of 12,970 points was set at the Masters Qualifying Series 1, on Lake Ledbetter, Winter Garden, Florida on 10th of May, 2024. This also becomes the new Under-17 Boys and Under-21 Men tricks record. Once again, the new world record was pulled behind the World record-setting Ski Nautique.

@jakeableson World Record 12720!

Watch: Abelson’s World Trick Record is Approved (12,720) | IWWF


New World Open Men’s Tricks Record Set by 16-Year-Old Jake Abelson


16-year-old Jake Abelson from the USA has set a new World Open Men’s Tricks Record with a remarkable score of 12,720 points. This impressive feat has been officially approved by the IWWF World Waterski Council, marking a significant milestone in the world of waterskiing.

Jake Abelson achieved this record-breaking performance during the Ski Fluid Classic held at Lake Grew in Polk City, Florida, USA, on April 28, 2024. By scoring 12,720 points, Jake surpassed the previous World Trick Record of 12,690 points, which was held by Mexico’s Patricio Font.

Jake’s achievement is particularly notable as it not only sets a new benchmark for the Open Men’s category but also becomes the World Tricks Record for Under-17 Boys and Under-21 Men.

Abelson Sets Pending World Tricks Record At Masters Qualifier

Abelson Sets Pending World Tricks Record At Masters Qualifier | USA Water Ski


Abelson sets pending World Tricks Record at Masters Qualifier

Abelson Sets Pending World Tricks Record At Masters Qualifier

Image: @tiaremirandaphotography

By Scott N. Atkinson

USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Jake Abelson (Holderness, N.H.) set his second pending men’s world tricks record in the past two weeks on Friday at the Nautique Masters Qualifying Series 1 event at Lake Ledbetter in Winter Garden, Fla.

Abelson scored 12,970 points – the highest score among all competitors in either round of the tournament – in round 2 to earn a spot in the 2024 Nautique Masters. If approved by the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation, the score will eclipse the current world record of 12,690 points held by Mexico’s Patricio Font.

Full article at USA Water Ski.

Nautique Masters Qualifying Series 1 Results

    Abelson sets pending world trick record

    Abelson and Poland Set Pending World Records at Ski Fluid Classic


    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.

    Elena Milakova-Thomsen has held the world skifly record since 2002

    Quiz: Longest Currently Held World Records


    Quiz: Longest currently held world records

    Elena Milakova-Thomsen  has held the world skifly record since 2002

    Image: Swiss Waterski & Wake

    By RTB

    3 minute play

    In this quiz, you need to name the skiers whose current world record has been held for the longest time.

    The list has ten current world records, all set in 2015 or earlier. For the purposes of this quiz, we are including all IWWF records, including world records and world championship records. The list is topped by a ski fly record that has been unbroken for over twenty years. We have mentioned the type of record, score, and the date last set.

    Data updated as of January 1, 2024

    2023 Water Ski Season: Records Shattered and Dominance Prevails

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


    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!

    Canadian Neilly Ross Toe Tricking at the U.S. Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament

    Quiz: Every Women’s Tricker to Score More than 10,000 points


    Quiz: Every women’s tricker to score more than 10,000 points

    Canadian Neilly Ross Toe Tricking at the U.S. Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament

    Masters memories (image: Instagram)

    By RTB

    2 minute play

    In this quiz, you need to name all the female skiers who have scored more than 10,000 points.

    The list has only six skiers, all of whom belong to the exclusive club of women who have tricked over 10,000 points at least once in a world ranking tournament. Three of the six women have scored in excess of 11,000 points. We have mentioned the number of scores over 10,000, as well as the country and top score.

    Data updated as of October 31, 2023

    Erika Lang Trick Skiing World Record Holder

    Erika Lang Keeps Setting World Records, One Trick at a Time | Team USA


    Erika Lang Keeps Setting Water Ski World Records, One Trick at a Time

    Erika Lang Trick Skiing World Record Holder

    Erika Lang competes during the preliminary round at the 2023 IWWF World Waterski Championships on Oct. 13, 2023 in Lake County, Fla. (image: Johnny Hayward)

    By Bob Reinert

    Team USA

    Put Erika Lang behind a powerful motorboat, and she can do things no other woman ever has.

    That was the case again in May, when Lang nailed another water ski tricks run in Groveland, Florida, to establish a new world record.

    Riding under puffy white clouds and a pale blue sky, the Phoenix native performed a dizzying series of turns and spins while connected to the tow rope by her left foot. Then, in her second pass while holding the rope handle with her hands, she flew back and forth over the wake, performing a more impressive flip each time.

    It was just another day for the world’s best trick skier.

    Full article at Team USA.