U.S. Team Wins U17 Water Ski World Championships
by USA Water Ski & Wake Sports
U.S. U17 Water Ski Team member Kennedy Hansen won the gold medal in girls' overall. Photo by David Crowder/IWWF
The U.S. Junior Water Ski Team won the coveted overall team gold medal and four U.S. water ski athletes combined to earn eight individual medals in respective events at the 18th IWWF World Under 17 Waterski Championships, Aug. 22-25, at the Pickos Water Ski School in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
The United States tallied 7,891.93 points in winning the gold medal for the 13th time in the history of the biennial event. Chile earned the silver medal (7,784.48 points) and Canada claimed the bronze medal (6,767.13 points). Athletes and teams from 22 countries competed in the four-day tournament as the world team title and world individual titles in slalom, tricks, jumping and overall were at stake. The tournament was originally scheduled for August 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the U.S. U17 Water Ski Team were: Jake Abelson (Holderness, N.H.), James Bryans (Acworth, Ga.), Alyssa Drake (Oconomowoc, Wis.), Blaze Grubbs (Rio Linda, Calif.), Kennedy Hansen (Milton, Fla.), and Sage Pottbecker (Morris, Conn.). April Coble-Eller (Lillington, N.C.) served as the coach and Erin Kalkbrenner (Maize, Kan.) was the manager.
Hansen led the way for the U.S. team, winning gold medals in girls’ tricks and overall, and silver medals in slalom and jumping; Drake earned the silver medal in girls’ overall; and Grubbs earned silver medals in boys’ slalom and overall.
Hansen won the gold medal in overall with scores of 2 buoys at 38 feet off in slalom, 8,890 points in tricks and 142 feet in jumping to finish with 2,865.33 points. Drake earned the silver medal with scores of 5 buoys at 35 feet off in slalom, 5,060 points in tricks and 128 feet in jumping for 2,248.85 points. Chile’s Agustina Varas earned the bronze medal with 2,200.29 points.
Hansen won the gold medal in girls’ tricks, scoring 8,890 points in the finals. Colombia’s Daniela Verswyvel earned the silver medal (6,980 points) and Canada’s Olivia Chute earned the bronze (6,980 points). Drake placed ninth with 3,850 points. U.S. independents Allyson Grathwohl (Martindale, Texas) and Emma Davis (Milford, Va.) finished fourth and 12th, respectively.
Hansen earned the silver medal in girls’ slalom, scoring 2 buoys at 38 feet off. Colombia’s Luisa Jaramillo won the gold medal with a score of 4 buoys at 38 feet off and U.S. independent Annemarie Wroblewski (Toledo, Ohio) earned the bronze, scoring 2 buoys at 38 feet off (Hansen won the tie break for the silver medal with a higher preliminary round score).
Hansen earned the silver medal in girls’ jumping with a distance of 138 feet. Chile’s Agustina Varas won the gold medal (146 feet) and Canada’s Shae O’Brien earned the bronze (134 feet). Drake, Pottbecker and U.S. independent Brooke Boskus (Elkins, Ark.) placed seventh, eighth and 11th, respectively.
Grubbs earned the silver medal in boys’ overall, tallying 2,634.10 points with scores of 3 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off, 8,860 points and 173 feet. Chile’s Martin Labra won the gold medal with 2,713.12 points and France’s Pol Duplan-Fribourg earned the bronze with 2,478.57 points.
Grubbs earned the silver medal in boys’ slalom, losing a runoff for the gold medal to Colombia’s Federico Jaramillo. After both skiers tied with 3 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off, Jaramillo won the runoff, scoring 6 buoys at 38 feet off to Grubbs’ 5 buoys at 38 feet off. Austria’s Nikolaus Attensam earned the bronze (2 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off). U.S. independents Carter Reese (Walnut Creek, Calif.), Lake Jones (Corbin, Ky.) and Reid Meinhardt (Alpena, Mich.) placed fifth and tied for ninth, respectively.
In other events, Chile’s Martin Labra won the gold medal in boys’ tricks (10,790 points), while Mexico’s Pablo Font earned the silver medal (10,630 points) and Chile’s Matias Gonzalez earned the bronze (10,210 points). Abelson (10,170 points) and Grubbs (8,860 points) finished fourth and sixth, respectively. U.S. independents Erick Macias (Winter Garden, Fla.), Reid Meinhardt (Alpena, Mich.) and Connor Walsh (Lakeland, Fla.) placed fifth, eighth and 12th, respectively. France’s Pol Duplan-Fribourg won the gold medal in boys’ jumping (197 feet) with Italy’s Florian Parth earning the silver medal (186 feet) and France’s Antoine Morin earning the bronze (178 feet). Grubbs and U.S. independents Evan Robbins (Wexford, Pa.) and Brody Keller (New Hartford, Conn.) placed fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, while Bryans placed 12th.
For complete results of the 18th U17 Water Ski World Championships, visit http://www.iwwfed-ea.org/classic/21IWWF03/. The United States has won the world team title in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2020. France won in 1998 and 2006. Canada won in 2004 and 2016.
The Ski Nautique was the official towboat of the 18th IWWF U17 Water Ski World Championships. Nautique is a National Sponsor of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports.
To donate to the U.S. U17 Water Ski Team to help offset its expenses, visit https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=KWJ5ZG73ZN3US&source=url.