Ski with the Legends Raises $20,000

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The USA Water Ski Foundation's 'Ski with the Legends' fundraising event - that allows every day skiers a chance to get on the water with and get coached by the biggest names in the sport -far surpassed its fundraising goal as the event expanded to two cities for 2014 and included more water ski disciplines.

Ski with the Legends Raises $20,000

Ski with the Legends 2014

"It’s a day I will never forget. To get on the water with these water ski icons was just a magical experience. We learned a lot. They were so down to earth and very encouraging to all of us.”

When it comes to putting on an amazing event on the water and raising money to support water skiing, nobody does it better than sport’s greatest legends. This past weekend, the USA Water Ski Foundation’s “Ski with the Legends” event raised $20,000.

The action packed weekend included more than 100 participants who had the opportunity to learn from the legends and spend the day with their water ski heroes.

This year’s event kicked off on Friday night with a welcome reception at the Water Ski Hall of Fame following the U.S. Open Preliminaries on Lake Grew in Polk City, Florida. The reception brought together the legends with the current pros to launch to ultimate water ski weekend.

On Saturday morning at Lake Grew the slalom event included legends Wade Cox, Kris LaPoint, Carl Roberge, Kristi Overton-Johnson, Ricky McCormick, Lucky Lowe and Jennifer LaPoint. At the same time barefoot legends Mike Seipel and Ron Scarpa took to the water with participants at the World Barefoot Center along with Jennifer Calleri. A few hours later on the West Coast, legends Chuck Stearns, Mike Suyderhoud, Lisa St John, Gordon Rathbun, Mike Avila, Lance Renfrow and Glenn Sperry joined participants on Crystal Point Lake in Gilbert, Arizona.

Skiers had the chance to get on the water with the legends as they coached, shared their advice, strategies and tricks that helped make them the best of the best. Other highlights included ski setup and fin tuning clinics, and boat driving tips. Lunch at the Water Ski Hall of Fame and a beach party at the World Barefoot Center followed the morning skiing sessions. Skiing continued through the end of the day.

"It’s a day I will never forget” said slalom participant Deborah Coleman. “To get on the water with these water ski icons was just a magical experience. We learned a lot. They were so down to earth and very encouraging to all of us.”

“It was awesome, I learned so much and had a blast,” said barefoot participant Andrew Trottier. “I want to come back next year.” This sentiment was echoed throughout the day by many of the participants.

After a great day on the water, everyone came together in the evening for a celebration dinner banquet and auction at the Fantasy of Flight’s Officer’s Club. Participants enjoyed a great dinner and some drinks, bid on auction items and shared stories of their day on the water. Out west the Legends banquet was hosted by Lance Renfrow at Crystal Pointe Estates.

Just when you thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, on Sunday morning the “Dream Team” of Jumpers came together for the Ski with the Legends Jump Clinic. Legend Sammy Duvall, World Record Holder Freddy Krueger and Scot “Rocketman” Ellis created a brilliant finale to the Legends event, coaching the jumpers at Lake Grew.

“I can’t believe I’m here getting coached by these guys,” said Rollins College water ski team member Alexa Armour, “It’s unbelievable!” Fellow Rollins water ski teammate Matt Bengston said “I’ve learned so much in such a short time. This is incredible.”

2013 Men 6 National Jump Champion Hank Longo also chimed in saying, “Sammy, Freddy and Scot are the dream team of water ski jumping, talk about learning from the best, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.”

The Legends also had a great time sharing their knowledge and catching up with old friends. “I enjoyed coaching all the jumpers” said legend Sammy Duvall. When Cole McCormick and Chance Lowe put on their jump skis, Sammy said “it was a little crazy seeing Ricky and Lucky's sons go at it! It doesn't seem possible.”

“We really have an incredible group of Hall of Fame alumni out there doing some great things for the sport of water skiing. Our legends really stepped up this year,” said USA Water Ski Foundation Executive Director Tracy Mattes. “I can’t say enough about them. They are true champions on and off the water. Because of them and our generous sponsors, we far surpassed our fundraising goal. Our legends are a class act and are incredible role models for everyone in the sport.”

The Ski with the Legends fundraising event benefits the USA Water Ski Foundation programs which include water ski scholarships for college athletes, athlete & club grants, the Hall of Fame, Water Ski Museum and programs designed to grow and promote the sport. This year Ski with the Legends officially became a series taking place on the east coast and west coast. It also expanded to include other disciplines. Teri Larson, who organized the barefooters for the Legends event, said “my favorite part was helping barefooters reconnect especially those who hadn't seen each other in many years. The comradery was amazing.” The plan is to incorporate all disciplines into the Ski with the Legends program over the next few years.

Sponsors for the event included Five Star Family Growers, Publix, Connelly, HO Skies, O’Brien, MasterCraft, Westlake Produce Company, Eagle Sports, Michael Hayes Jewelers, World Barefoot Center, Lake Elmo Sports, Polk County Sports Marketing, Masterline, Swif Lift, Fantasy of Flight, CNN, Visit Florida, Clear Solutions Inc. and the American Barefoot Club.

The weekend ended with a closing barbecue at the Water Ski Hall of Fame and a surprise wedding. Barefoot participants Diana Dorflinger and Rob Kadansky decided to tie the knot at the closing event on Sunday among all their water ski friends and family. All in all, the entire event was a great success!

The legends and participants are already talking about how to make next year’s event bigger and better. Look for the Ski with the Legends program to expand even more next year as the 2015 event will also include the great legends of Show Skiing.

To see more photos of the 2014 Ski with the Legends events, visit our website at or visit our Facebook page:


About the USA Water Ski Foundation

Established in 1968, the USA Water Ski Foundation has been an integral part of the history and fabric of water skiing and all towed water sports in the United States. The Foundation promotes the values that come through our family oriented water sports such as:

  • Promoting a culture of health and fitness for today’s youth
  • Offering educational opportunities through college scholarships
  • Helping children and families around the nation to rediscover the importance of healthy lakes, oceans and waterways
  • Advocating the principles of friendship, respect and fair play
  • Demonstrating patriotism in the support of our Team USA athletes
  • Preserving the history of these great moments for future generations

Entering a new era, through a series of innovative educational and outreach programs, the Foundation seeks to enhance lives and communities in the United States through the values of the sport of water skiing and all towed water sports. These sports have a unique power to attract, mobilize and inspire. By their very nature, they are about participation, inclusion, social integration and family. The Foundation will assist people of all ages, walks of life and ability levels in finding fitness, enjoyment and accomplishment through water skiing and all towed water sports.

The Foundation also works closely with USA Water Ski, the only national governing body recognized by the United States Olympic Committee for all towed water sports. USA Water Ski consists of nine different sports disciplines (Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Show Skiing, Barefooting, Kneeboarding, Hydrofoiling, Water Ski Racing, Collegiate Water Skiing and Disabled Water Skiing).

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Tracy Mattes
since: 10/2010
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