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Members Honored At Awards Reception

USA Water Ski and its respective sport disciplines honored several athletes, coaches, volunteers and ambassadors at its annual awards reception on Saturday evening at the Lake Eva Banquet Hall in Haines City, Fla. The reception, which celebrated the 2012 water ski season, was held in conjunction with USA Water Ski's mid-winter board meetings for the 13th consecutive year. The respective award winners were selected either by the USA Water Ski Awards Committee or by the sport discipline's organization. Mark Jackson and Hank Longo from Central Florida's Polk County Sports Marketing served as the masters of ceremonies.

Nate Smith (McCordsville, Ind.) and Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) were selected USA Water Ski's 2012 Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively. The U.S. Pan American Championships Water Ski Teams (Under 13, Under 17, Under 21, Elite, Over 35 and Over 45) earned USA Water Ski's 2012 Team of the Year honors, while Jeff Surdej (Wilmington, Ill.), the coach of the U.S. Pan American Championships Water Ski Teams, was selected USA Water Ski's National Coach of the Year. The USA Water Ski Awards Committee selected the award winners.

In addition, Rhoni Barton-Bischoff (Orlando, Fla.) is the recipient of USA Water Ski's Award of Merit, the organization's highest award for a volunteer; Duane Snow (Janesville, Wis.) is the Volunteer of the Year; Teri Larson-Jones (Monona, Wis.) is the recipient of the organization's That’s Incredible Award; and Dale Stevens (Wellington, Fla.) and Brian Heeney (Helena, Mont.) will receive the Innovator Award.

Smith won men's slalom titles in 2012 at the Moomba Masters, U.S. Masters, Malibu Open, Calgary Pro Shootout, and Soaked Orland. He ran 39-1/2 off 53 times out of 60 possible rounds, and 41 off eight times, one more time than last year.

Jaquess, now a six-time recipient of USA Water Ski's Female Athlete of the Year award, won women's professional slalom titles in 2012 at the U.S. Masters, Malibu Open, Soaked Orlando and Diablo Shores Pro-Am. She set a new women’s world slalom record of 3 buoys at 41 feet off on June 17 at the Cedar Ridge Early Record in Canton, Miss. She won gold medals in Elite women's slalom, jumping and overall, and the bronze medal in tricks at the 2012 Malibu Pan American Water Ski Championships, Sept. 12-15, at the Pickos World Ski Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. Her performances – including a Pan American tournament record 4-1/2 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off in slalom – helped lead the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team to the overall team gold medal at the biennial event. Jaquess also won the women’s jumping title at the 2012 Rocketman Night Jump and placed third in women's jumping at the U.S. Masters and Malibu Open.

All six U.S water ski teams – Elite, Under 21, Under 17, Under 13, Over 35 and Over 45 – competing in the 2012 Malibu Pan American Water Ski Championships earned overall team gold medals at the biennial event, Sept. 12-15, at the Pickos World Ski Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. Athletes on the six U.S. teams combined to win 72 individual medals, including 29 of a possible 48 gold medals. Members of the U.S. Elite Team were: Caroline Hensley (Hixson, Tenn.), Erika Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.), Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.), Freddy Krueger (Winter Garden, Fla.), Adam Pickos (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) and Jon Travers (Groveland, Fla.). Members of the U.S. Under 21 Team were: Kevin Malak (Justin, Texas), Lauren Morgan (Odessa, Fla.), Elizabeth Montavon (Dixon, Ill.) and Dylan Schaffer (Owens Cross Roads, Ala.). Members of the U.S. Under 17 Team were: Kara MacIntyre (Knoxville, Tenn.), Taylor Garcia (Winter Garden, Fla.), Nicholas Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.) and Sam Greenwood (Little Rock, Ark.). Members of the U.S. Under 13 Team were: Brooke Baldwin (Windermere, Fla.), Ryan Canepa (Mill Valley, Calif.), Anna Gay (Winter Garden, Fla.) and Quinn Haines (Avon, Conn.). Members of the U.S. Veteran 1 Team were: Brenda Baldwin (Windermere, Fla.), Lori Krueger (Martindale, Texas), Brandy Nagle (Sacramento, Calif.) and Marc Shaw (Orlando, Fla.). Members of the U.S. Veteran 2 Team were: Connie Bergmark (San Diego, Calif.), Leza Harrison (Chuluota, Fla.), Tony Knight (Wentzville, Mo.) and Mary Koenig (Waterford, Mich.). Lori Krueger (Martindale, Texas) and Jeff Surdej (Wilmington, Ill.) were the coaches; Jim Grew (Winter Haven, Fla.) was the team captain; Bob Schouten (Alexander City, Ala.) was the assistant manager; and Dr. Brad Harman (Cleburne, Texas) was the team physician.

Despite being in charge of the overall Pan American Water Ski Championships’ skier training on two lakes for the local organizing committee and volunteering for additional duties, Surdej worked with fellow coach Lori Krueger to provide excellent coaching as the two of them juggled starts on two different lakes from two different docks operating at the same time for 26 different U.S. skiers. His jump coaching expertise was especially helpful and praised. The end result was that all six U.S. teams won team gold medals.

Bischoff, a former women’s world overall record holder and winner of more than 20 national titles, has represented the organization for more than 20 years as an athlete, coach and volunteer. She has served on the American Water Ski Association board of directors since 1996 and the USA Water Ski board of directors since 2005. She has served as the United States Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Advisory Council representative for USA Water Ski since 2005 and has served on USA Water Ski’s Athletes’ Advisory Council since 1996. She was a member of USA Water Ski’s Executive Committee from 2000-2005 and is a former member of the USA Water Ski Bylaws Committee and several committees from the American Water Ski Association. She was instrumental in implementing the fast track judging program for Open-rated skiers.

Snow was the tournament director for the inaugural World Show Ski Tournament in September in Janesville, Wis. He coordinated a volunteer staff to establish practice schedules and travel arrangements while the teams were in Janesville, and he helped arrange tournament social events.  He also worked to make arrangements for live Webcasting and to provide needed support for the officials working the tournament to ensure the tournament was a great success.

Leading up to the Senior Barefoot Water Ski World Championships in late August, Larson-Jones had 10 months off and only seven weeks to prepare because of two shoulder surgeries she underwent during the offseason. Because of the obstacles she faced with her shoulder, her primary goal became to simply compete in the 2012 Senior Worlds. On Aug. 1, she was only five months out from a very complex rotator cuff revision surgery, so the last thing she wanted to do was damage the excellent work that her surgeon did in March to help her. She only jumped on the boom except for the U.S. National Championships in mid August, and she skied very conservative sets in practice to avoid falling. Unfortunately, despite her cautious training regimen, she ended up needing a cortisone shot in her left bicep tendon after the U.S. Nationals just to make it to the Worlds because she was in so much pain. Despite little training and competing in a lot of pain, Larson-Jones ended up on the podium in every event she competed in at the Senior Barefoot World Championships, earning silver medals in Senior Women's slalom and tricks, and bronze medals in jumping and overall.

Stevens and Heeney are always testing and developing new ways to improve the efficiency and overall experience for the officials, skiers and spectators at barefoot tournaments. Stevens served as the chief judge of the 2012 Barefoot Water Ski World Championships in Waco, Texas. He wanted a new method to make communication and scoring as instantaneous as possible for the teams and individuals competing in the tournament. Stevens and Heeney developed an on-line method in which the judges’ score sheets would be scored immediately after a skier’s run and then uploaded to a Website as preliminary results for viewing by the team representatives. Once the protest period expired, the final results and videos of each run were made available for the entire globe to view.  To save time, the videos were uploaded during the protest period, but not made available until the protest period had expired. Daily team communications, event schedules and more were also uploaded to private team areas for each team to receive. This eliminated the daily reams of paper that were normally distributed to each team representative. The program was first tested at the 2012 U.S. Barefoot Nationals and some improvements were made in time to be implemented three weeks later at the Worlds.

Awards from USA Water Ski’s respective sport discipline organizations are as follows:

The American Water Ski Association: Nate Smith, Male Athlete of the Year; Regina Jaquess, Female Athlete of the Year, Slalom Skier of the Year and Overall Skier of the Year; U.S. Pan American Championships Water Ski Teams (Team of the Year) – Under 13, Junior, Under 21, Elite, 35+ and 45+; Freddy Krueger, Jumper of the Year; Erika Lang, Tricks Skier of the Year; Brooke Baldwin, Rising Superstar; and Dana Reed, Volunteer of the Year;

The National Show Ski Association: The Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Show Team, Team of the Year; Trista Foster, Female Athlete of the Year; Jeff Jacobson, Male Athlete of the Year; Ellen Sachs, Official of the Year; Duane Snow, Volunteer of the Year; Sherm Schraft, President’s Award; and Skip Gilkerson, Officials’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

The National Collegiate Water Ski Association: Lorenzo D'Alberto of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (Male Athlete of the Year); Manon Costard of Florida Southern College (Female Athlete of the Year); Anthony Campbell of Iowa State University (Male Outstanding Leader); Emily Van Treese of Miami University of Ohio (Female Outstanding Leader); and Miami University of Ohio (Team of the Year).

The American Barefoot Club: Johnathan Martines, Male Athlete of the Year; and Teri Larson-Jones, Female Athlete of the Year.

The National Water Ski Racing Association: Erin Saunders, Female Athlete of the Year.

The American Kneeboard Association: Ken Stuart, Male Athlete of the Year; A’lisa Piper, Female Athlete of the Year; Patrick Dicus, Junior Male Athlete of the Year; McKenzie Wallace, Junior Female Athlete of the Year; and Robyn Bohlen, Andy Remy/Ron Veno Founder’s Award.

The United States Hydrofoil Association: Tyler Narans, Male Athlete of the Year; MJ Pohl, Female Athlete of the Year; Austin Pope, Junior Athlete of the Year; Shannon Pope, Most Improved Athlete; Southeast Hydrofoil Association, Club of the Year; Jim Chismar and Rick Mason, Ambassadors of the Year; Nathan Southerland, Best Supporting Member; and Torey Narans, That’s Incredible Award.

The Water Skiers with Disabilities Association: Joe Ray, Male Athlete of the Year; and Megan McCauley, Female Athlete of the Year.

USA Wakeboard: John Zdeblick, Male Athlete of the Year; and Raimi Merritt, Female Athlete of the Year.
















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