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Having FUN Today...Building CHAMPIONS For Tomorrow
Having FUN Today...Building CHAMPIONS For Tomorrow

2013 Awards' Recipients Announced

USA Water Ski and its nine sport discipline organizations are pleased to announce respective award recipients for 2013. Nate Smith (McCordsville, Ind.) and Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) have been selected USA Water Ski’s 2013 Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively. The U.S. Elite Water Ski Team earned USA Water Ski’s 2013 Team of the Year honors.

Bill Bowness (Brandon, Miss./Truckee, Calif.) is the recipient of USA Water Ski's Award of Merit, the organization’s highest award for a volunteer. In addition, Matt Oberholtz (Oroville, Calif.), the coach of the 2013 U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team, was selected USA Water Ski's National Coach of the Year, and Libby Van Treese (Sidney, Ohio) was named USA Water Ski's Volunteer Coach of the Year. Nicole Baird (Covington, La.) was selected the Volunteer of the Year, and Todd Haig (Redlands, Calif.) was named the recipient of the organization's That's Incredible Award for 2013. The USA Water Ski Awards Committee selected the USA Water Ski award winners.

USA Water Ski and its respective sport discipline organizations will honor several athletes, coaches, volunteers and ambassadors at its annual awards reception on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, at the Lake Eva Banquet Hall in Haines City, Fla. The reception, which celebrates the 2013 water ski season, will be held in conjunction with USA Water Ski's mid-winter board meetings for the 14th consecutive year. It also will be the kickoff event for the 75th anniversary celebration for USA Water Ski.

Regina JaquessJaquess, selected USA Water Ski's Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year and seventh time in her career, won gold medals in women’s slalom and overall at the 2013 Water Ski World Championships, and help lead the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team to the overall team gold medal. She also won titles in 2013 at the Diablo Shores Pro-Am (slalom), GOODE Water Ski National Championships (slalom, tricks, jumping and overall), World Games (slalom and jumping), Malibu Open (slalom), Atlanta Pro-Am (slalom) and Masters (slalom).

Nate SmithSmith, selected USA Water Ski’s Male Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year, won the gold medal in men’s slalom at the 2013 Water Ski World Championships and contributed valuable points to the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team’s gold-medal winning performance. Smith also won titles in 2013 at the GOODE Water Ski National Championships, Diablo Shores Pro-Am, MasterCraft Pro Water Ski Shootout, Malibu Open, Atlanta Pro-Am and Orlando Extreme Watersports Fest. He also set a new men’s world slalom record of 2-1/2 buoys at 43 feet off at the Ski Ranch Fall 1 on Sept. 7 at the Ski Ranch in Covington, La. 

The U.S. Elite Water Ski Team won the overall team gold medal and three team members combined to win four individual gold medals in respective events at the 33rd Water Ski World Championships, Nov. 26-Dec. 1, at Lago Los Morros in San Bernardo, Chile. The United States tallied 8,248.66 points in winning the gold medal for the 26th time in the history of the biennial event. Members of the 2013 U.S. Elite Water Ski Team were: Scot Ellis (Auburndale, Fla.), Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.), Erika Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.), Alex Lauretano (Windermere, Fla.), Adam Pickos (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) and Nate Smith (McCordsville, Ind.). Jody Johnson (Nashville, Tenn.), Jeff Surdej (Wilmington, ill.) and Dr. Brad Harman (Cleburne, Texas) served as team manager, coach and physician, respectively. Lang (women's tricks), Jaquess (women's slalom and overall) and Smith (men's slalom) each won gold medals, and each set world championship records as well – Lang, 9,780 points in the elimination round; Jaquess, 1 buoy at 41 feet off in the elimination round and finals; and Smith, 5 buoys at 41 feet off in the elimination round. Ellis, Lauretano and Pickos also advanced to finals in respective events. Ellis placed 11th in men's jumping, Lauretano placed fourth in women's overall, fifth in jumping and seventh in tricks, and Pickos placed seventh in men's tricks.

Bowness, a past president of the Water Skiers with Disabilities Association and the current president of the Pan-Am Confederation of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation’s Disabled Skiers Council, has been active in disabled water skiing as both an athlete (sit skier) and official since 1987. He was a nine-time member of the U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team, and he won seven national overall titles, nine individual world titles and set six world records over the course of his illustrious career. He was the author of USA Water Ski’s Level 1 Adaptive Instructor’s Manual in 2006. He has been the owner/operator of Unlimited Skiing Water Ski School in Brandon, Miss., since 2000. During the summer months, Unlimited Skiing provides water ski instruction to a variety of individuals with disabilities from countries throughout the world.

Oberholtz was the coach of the U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team, which under his leadership won the gold medal at the 2013 Disabled Water Ski World Championships for an unprecedented third consecutive time. The U.S. team entered the world championships as the No. 2 seed and emerged as champion with six first-time team members.

Van Treese has volunteered as a coach for collegiate teams in Ohio for the past seven years. Most recently she has devoted time to Miami University, which qualified for its first Nationals in 2012, and the University of Cincinnati. Nearly every student that she has worked with has attended at least one summer tournament and expressed interest in fully integrating into AWSA after graduation. Many of them have also started to give back to the sport by working on officials’ ratings because she has spread the technical side of the sport as well and encouraged students to become more involved.

Baird is a longtime volunteer and official for the American Water Ski Association. In addition to being a senior judge and scorer, she has served as site coordinator for the Malibu Open and the selection chairperson for the U.S. Under 13 Pan American Water Ski Championships and Can Am Challenge water ski teams.

Todd HaigHaig won the silver medal at the 2013 Water Ski Racing World Championships in particularly impressive fashion. The Worlds consisted of four rounds of racing, each race being 1-hour, plus 1 lap in length. In round 4, Haig lapped the entire field, including eventual world champion Wayne Mawer of Australia, on his way to winning the race. Haig – who was forced out of round 1 while leading the race due to boat mechanical failure – and Mawer both lapped the entire field in rounds 2 and 3. But Haig was the only athlete at the Worlds to finish on the lead lap in every round he finished.

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

The American Barefoot Club: Keith St. Onge (Winter Haven, Fla.), Male Athlete of the Year; and Lauren St. Onge (Winter Haven, Fla.), Female Athlete of the Year.

•    The American Kneeboard Association: Jared Bohlen (Lake Placid, Fla.), Male Athlete of the Year; Alisa Piper (Lake Placid, Fla.), Female Athlete of the Year; Austin Daman (Talking Rock, Ga.), Junior Male Athlete of the Year; McKenzie Wallace (De Pere, Wis.), Junior Female Athlete of the Year; and Ed Sauls (Titusville, Fla.), Andy Remy/Ron Veno Founder’s Award.

•    The American Water Ski Association: Nate Smith (McCordsville, Ind.), Male Athlete of the Year and Slalom Skier of the Year; Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.), Female Athlete of the Year and Overall Skier of the Year; U.S. Elite Water Ski Team, Team of the Year; Freddy Krueger (Winter Garden, Fla.), Jumper of the Year; Erika Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.), Tricks Skier of the Year; Anna Gay (Winter Garden, Fla.), Rising Superstar; and Floyd McCreight (Buda, Texas), Volunteer of the Year.

•    The National Collegiate Water Ski Association: Dylan Schaffer (Owens Cross Roads, Ala.) of Louisiana-Lafayette (Male Athlete of the Year); Ashley Combs (Frederick, Colo.) of Alabama (Female Athlete of the Year); Kirk Lee (San Diego, Calif.) of UCLA (Male Outstanding Leader); Erin Slater (Sidney, Ohio) of Cincinnati (Female Outstanding Leader); and Louisiana-Monroe (Team of the Year).

•    The National Show Ski Association: The Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Show Team (Janesville, Wis.), Team of the Year; Kelley Nemec (St. Paul, Minn.), Female Athlete of the Year; Garth Peter (Waterloo, Iowa), Male Athlete of the Year; Sandi Oleson (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.), Official of the Year; Bud Ruhl (New London, Minn.), Honorary National Director; Bruce McCalmon (Riverview, Fla.), Volunteer of the Year; and Tom Ghiloni (Winchester, Wis.), Lifetime Achievement Award.

•    The National Water Ski Racing Association: Brett Kennedy (Skyforest, Calif.), Male Athlete of the Year; and Dawn Wallace (Discovery Bay, Calif.), Female Athlete of the Year.

•    The United States Hydrofoil Association: Shannon Pope (Wake Forest, N.C.), Athlete of the Year; Allie Pohl (Minneapolis, Minn.), Most Improved Athlete; and Al Lewin (Austin, Texas), Ambassador of the Year.

•    USA Wakeboard: Andrew Adkison (Chipley, Fla.), Male Athlete of the Year; Raimi Merritt (Orlando, Fla.), Female Athlete of the Year; and Nick McDonald (Monroe, La.), Volunteer of the Year.

•    The Water Skiers with Disabilities Association: Bill Furbish (Atlanta, Ga.), Male Athlete of the Year; and Jessica Radmilovic (Pine Grove, Calif.), Female Athlete of the Year.

























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