From his biography in the USA Water Ski Foundation’s Water Ski Hall of Fame:
You can call Skip Gilkerson a lot of things – show skier, slalom champion, judge, driver and pioneer, but one name stands above them all: "Mr. Show Skiing."
Skip was born to entertain crowds, and was a natural at it even from his auspicious beginnings on Indiana’s Lake Freeman. After returning from a family vacation in Florida where he watched the world famous Cypress Gardens Ski Show, Skip pleaded with his father, Babe, to give him a chance to ski. Armed with his mother Ann's clothesline for a rope and her broomstick for a handle, 6-year-old Skip got up quickly behind Babe's 10 horsepower aluminum fishing boat. During that first ride, Skip hit some wakes, lost a ski and kept going, slaloming around Freeman his first time on skis. The seed was firmly planted.
Skip's love for skiing consumed him. He learned to barefoot soon thereafter, in the same fashion. Without instruction and having seen barefooting only once, Skip made a step-off on one of his very first attempts. The 11-year-old soon realized he not only wanted to spend summers skiing on Lake Freeman, but to spend the rest of his life on top of the water.
Through high school and college, Skip skied as often as he could in the chilly waters of the Midwest. Like all of the three-event greats before him – Alfredo Mendoza, Joe Cash, Barbara Cooper and others – Skip yearned to ski professionally, so he headed back to Cypress Gardens to fulfill his dream. His interview, during a college break, included a flawless barefoot run around a choppy Gardens show circle, and he was hired on the spot. Skip performed in a special show for Jordan's King Hussein the very same day.
In the summer of 1960, Skip defeated then "unbeatable" Warren Witherell in slalom at the Great Lakes Open, and later came within a buoy of the world slalom record. But it wasn't his slalom prowess that got him noticed. Word of Skip's show skiing mastery and the flair in which he performed acts quickly spread. Dick Rowe of Tommy Bartlett's Thrill Shows offered Skip a position at the Wisconsin Dells, Wis., theme park. After one summer, Skip was given the show director's position, which he held for 23 years.
During his tenure, Bartlett's show blossomed into the finest in the country. Skip incorporated many new acts and equipment into his shows, including show ski helicopter jumps, strap doubles and costume design. Skip is also credited for developing World's Fair and satellite ski shows for Bartlett, along with the Sea World of Ohio show.
Naturally, his work at the pro level trickled down to the amateur clubs. Skip was constantly called on to host instructional clinics for all skiing disciplines. In one year alone, Skip hosted three clinics in 11 states. Skip spread the gospel of skiing through his thousands of ski shows, hundreds of ski clinics and judge at every Show Ski National Championships. The Skip Gilkerson award is presented annually to the top male skier at the Show Ski Nationals.
Skip ended his Bartlett tenure at the calling of MasterCraft Boats’ owner Rob Shirley, one of Skip's former show skiers. Shirley enlisted Skip's help in the formation of the world's first cash-prize skiing series, the Coors Light International Water Ski Tour. As director of promotional activities for MasterCraft, Skip was instrumental in developing the tour's format, flow and legion of superstars.
He was the 35th inductee to the Water Ski Hall of Fame -- and the first show skier.
POLK CITY, Fla., Oct. 26, 2015 - USA Water Ski and the American Water Ski Association are pleased to announce that the 2016 GOODE Water Ski National Championships will be held at Broadside Harbor in Caldwell, Idaho. The dates of the 74th Nationals will be Aug. 8-13, 2016. The American Water Ski Association, one of nine sport discipline organizations of USA Water Ski, approved the bid from the Broadside Harbor Ski Club via a board of directors vote.
Broadside Harbor, a private water ski development featuring two world record-capability water ski lakes, is located outside Boise. It hosted the 2010 Western Regional Water Ski Championships and also will serve as the site of the 2016 Western Regional Water Ski Championships. For more information on Broadside Harbor, visit www.broadsideharbor.com.
It will mark the first time that the state of Idaho has ever hosted the U.S. Nationals and the first time the Nationals will be held in the AWSA's Western Region since 2007 (Arvin, Calif.). GOODE Skis, a gold level sponsor of USA Water Ski, has been the title sponsor of the Nationals since 2000.
More than 600 of the nation's top water ski athletes from across the United States are expected to compete for national titles in slalom, tricks, jumping and overall in respective age divisions and two Open divisions at the Nationals, the world's largest three-event water ski tournament. Advancement to the Nationals is primarily earned through placement on the national rankings list. Athletes also can qualify for the Nationals by placing in the top-five at Regionals or by placing in the top-five at the previous year's Nationals.
The first national championships was held in 1939 at Jones Beach in Long Island, N.Y. Except for three years during World War II (1942-1944), the Nationals has been held every year since 1939.
USA Water Ski has partnered with Columbia!
USA Water Ski is kicking off the Sun Safe campaign this fall, providing high-quality Columbia UPF products to keep you protected all year long. USA Water Ski has partnered with the Sun Safe leaders in the industry to provide education on healthy skin and eye care practices. Stay tuned for more information on how USA Water Ski Protects you and your family.
Protect what matters. Protect your life on the water. #USAWaterSkiPROTECTS
WINTER GARDEN, Florida - The Spray it Forwards team will be on site at the 22nd Nautique U.S. Open of Water Skiing on Lake Ivanhoe in downtown Orlando, FL on Saturday, October 24th. Where we will be collecting used and even new donated equipment that will be repurposed to College Water Ski Teams around the country. Modern slalom, trick, especially jump skis and gear are in a high demand for the college teams. Stop by to see the best skiers in the world compete for the coveted US Open title while will be helping grow the sport for years to come. Receive a Spray it Forward T-Shirt or Sticker with your donation. This past week Spray it Forwards attended the NCWSA Nationals where we handed out equipment to almost every team. We want to continue to support these teams, but need to replenish our stock of donated equipment! - SprayitForwards.org
Spray It Forward is a charity set up to help Collegiate Waterski Teams and Skiers across the country with the goal of growing the number of participants and enthusiasts within the sport at both the competitive and recreational levels.
(University of Wisconsin Madison)
About Spray it Forwards: Spray It Forward is a charity set up to help Collegiate Waterski Teams and Skiers across the country with the goal of growing the number of participants and enthusiasts within the sport at both the competitive and recreational levels.
We work with National Collegiate Waterski Association to distribute the donated equipment out to the College Water Ski Teams and schools across the country on a need basis. Spray It Forward will donate Slalom, Trick and Jump skis, to insure that skiers are using the proper equipment to participate in the sport as safely as possible. Having these kids training and competing on newer and properly sized equipment with correct fitting bindings is the first steps to better and safe skiing. The results will not only improved performances and greater experience, but also a safer ride.
Spray it Forward is a 501c3 charity that was created in Honor of Amanda Hoffman to better the sport of Collegiate Waterskiing. Our hope is that by supporting the collegiate water-skiers at the beginning of their journey, that later in life they will use their disposable income to better the lives of future generations of water-skiers by donating their gently used gear. Donate today and change the life of a skier. It never felt so good to Spray It Forward!
CYPRESS, Texas, Oct. 17, 2015 - The University of Louisiana-Lafayette water ski team won the Division 1 national title at the 37th Collegiate Water Ski National Championships, Oct. 15-17, at the Lakes at Cypress Hill. The Ragin' Cajuns tallied 12,845 points in winning their first national team title since 2010 and sixth since the inception of the tournament in 1979. Florida Southern College finished second, its highest finish ever at the Nationals, scoring 11,965 points. Four-time defending champion Louisiana-Monroe, which tallied 11,375 points, placed third. Alabama finished fourth with 11,265 points and Rollins College was fifth with 8,720 points.
The Nationals, organized and hosted by the Lakes at Cypress Hill Ski Team and the Alabama and Texas A&M water ski teams, included 12 teams in Division 1 and 12 teams in Division 2. National team champions were declared in both divisions. Individual medals for slalom, tricks and jumping were awarded based on athletes' placements within their division. Overall titles were awarded in each division to athletes competing in all three events. Athletes finishing in the top-five in each event of slalom, tricks, jumping and overall in Division 1 earned All-American honors.
The Division 1 field was comprised of Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida Southern College, Grand Valley State, Iowa State, Kansas, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Michigan State, Ohio State, Rollins College and San Diego State.
Athletes winning individual national titles in Division 1 were: Louisiana-Lafayette's Taryn Grant (Canada), women's slalom (5-1/2 buoys at 38 feet off) and overall (1,675 points); Florida Southern College's Lauren Morgan (Odessa, Fla.), women's jumping (153 feet); Louisiana-Monroe's Freddie Winter (Great Britain), men's slalom (2-1/2 buoys at 41 feet off); Rollins College's Erika Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.), women's tricks (5,960 points); Rollins College's Joshua Briant (Australia), men's tricks (6,370 points); Louisiana-Lafayette's Christopher Wharton (Great Britain), men's jumping (171 feet); and Florida Southern College's Thibault Dailland (France), men's overall (1,680 points).
Lang's score of 5,960 points is a pending National Collegiate Water Ski Association record for women's tricks. If approved by the NCWSA, the score will surpass Lang's current record of 5,510 points set at the 2014 Collegiate Nationals.
To view the Division 1 scorebook, click here.
The Division 2 field was comprised of Arizona State, Auburn, California State University-Chico, Clemson, UC Davis, Miami of Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas State, Western Washington and Wisconsin.
Western Washington won the Division 2 title, scoring 9,130 points. Wisconsin finished second with 9,030 points. Michigan (8,480 points), Miami of Ohio (8,335 points) and Arizona State (7,960 points) rounded out the top-five placements.
Athletes winning individual national titles in Division 2 were: Western Washington's Jaye Morris (San Diego, Calif.), women's jumping (110 feet), tricks (1,540 points) and overall (tie - 1,580 points); Western Washington's Alex Bachmeier (Spanaway, Wash.), women's slalom (2-1/4 buoys at 28 feet off) and overall (tie - 1,580 points); Arizona State's Nick Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.), men's jumping (167 feet), tricks (5,570 points) and overall (1,745 points); and Arizona State's Stephen Neveu (Canada), men's slalom (2 buoys at 41 feet off).
Because Lang's scores in tricks and jumping, and Neveu's score in slalom, would have earned them top-five placements in Division 1, they also earned All-American honors per NCWSA rules.
To view the Division 2 scorebook, click here.
About USA Water Ski
The National Collegiate Water Ski Association is one of nine sport discipline organizations of USA Water Ski, which was formed in 1939 as a non-profit organization promoting water skiing in the United States. USA Water Ski is affiliated with the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (world governing body) and is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and Pan-American Sports Organization as the national governing body of organized water skiing and wakeboarding in the United States. This press release, as well as other information, is available at www.USAWATERSKI.org.
The 22nd Nautique U.S. Open of Water Skiing will return to Lake Ivanhoe in downtown Orlando, FL to once again electrify the heartbeat of watersports. The world’s best three-event athletes, including current World Record holders and Team Nautique skiers Nate Smith, Erika Lang, Aliaksei Zharnasek and Jacinta Carroll will headline this action packed competition putting it all on the line to take home one of the most coveted titles in water skiing. The Big Dawg Finals allows the world’s best amateur 34 mph skiers in the world to vie in head-to-head competition behind the world record breaking Ski Nautique 200.
Preliminary rounds for both events will be held at Sunset Lakes in Groveland, Floridaand followed by the final rounds at Lake Ivanhoe in downtown Orlando on Saturday, October 24th. Admission for all competition days is free to the public. Spectators will enjoy live music, autograph signings, exhibitors, prize giveaways and more.
The final rounds of the Nautique U.S. Open of Water Skiing and the Sweet 16 of the Nautique Big Dawg World Tour will broadcast live via webcast beginning at 8:00am EST on nautique.com.at
The first ever Centurion BallOfSpray Cash Prize was a complete success mostly because of the efforts of Kim and Marc Austin. Without Kim and Marc, as well as the other homeowners at Aquaplex, none of this could have happened. Thank you Aquaplex!
I would like to also thank Centurion Boats, HO Skis, O’Brien, and Performance Ski and Surf for supporting the event. BallOfSpray exists because of the support of these companies. Without them, events like this would not exist.
I wish to additionally thank the skiers, officials, and drivers who believed in the format and made it happen. The judging, driving, sportsmanship, and skiing exceeded my expectations.
Lastly, I want to thank my lovely wife, Gallagher, for enduring yet another cross country trip to spend the weekend at a water ski tournament.
Head 2 Head
1 Will Asher
2 Stephen Neveu
3 Adam Caldwell
4 Jay Leach
5 Ward Mclain
6 Trent Finlayson
7 Kevin Bishop
8 Lori Krueger
1 Kevin Fennel
2 Matt Leach
3 Bailey Austin
4 Mark Turner
5 Shawn Boozer
6 Mitch Ross
7 Dylan Melnar
8 Richard Hall