2018 Water Ski Hall of Fame Award of Distinction Recipients Announced

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The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2018 Water Ski Hall of Fame Award of Distinction recipients.

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Brandi Hunt-Martin, Tom King, Jon Kretchman, Ham Wallace and Tom Weber will join the Hall of Fame Class of 2018! These outstanding individuals will be honored for their exceptional contributions to the sport on April 28th at the Water Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Walt Disney’s grand Fantasia Ballroom at the Contemporary Resort.

The Hall of Fame Award of Distinction recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution as tournament skiers, innovators, industry leaders, officials and others responsible for landmark achievements in the development of water skiing as well as those whose long periods of dedicated and generous service deserve special recognition.

Jon Kretchman

8- time world record holder and barefoot jump pioneer Jon Kretchman has been a key figure of barefoot water skiing since age 13. Under the mentorship of barefoot legend Mike Seipel, Kretchman became known as the “barefoot jumping wonder child.” In 1991, just four years after competing in his first national championships, Kretchman shattered the World Jump Record, held by Seipel, by an astonishing 11 feet. He was one of only a few in the world to land an inverted style jump. Kretchman exceeded the World Jump Record seven more times and is credited with refining the modern barefoot jump style that is still used by current champions today. Kretchman is the only barefooter to ever complete a 360 turn off the ramp, score a wake to wake 360 in a tournament and was the first to complete feet-to-feet toe turns in a tournament. Kretchman was a member of five World Champion U.S. Barefoot teams and coached three World Champion U.S. Barefoot teams. He is the only barefooter to have skied and coached on gold medal winning US Teams. He is a four-time National Jump Champion, and a two-time U.S. Open Jump Champion. Before retiring in 2000, Kretchman received 11 consecutive Midwest Region and Minnesota State overall titles, won the 1998 X-Format Jump, received silver at the 1996 ESPN X-Games Barefoot Jumping and was also the recipient of the 2000 Banana George “Barefooter of the Year.” Kretchman has given back to the sport as a world-renowned coach, driver, ABC Senior Judge and scorer.

Tom King

Tom King has been operating at the highest levels of watersports photography for more than 40 years, uniquely capturing some the most awe-inspiring moments in our sports history. As one of water skiing’s first professional photographers, King has been a pioneer in the industry. While working as a staff photographer for WaterSki magazine, King became well known for capturing some of the sport’s most iconic images with many of the world’s best water skiers and wakeboarders. For more than four decades, King’s photos have graced the covers of multiple national publications and have been featured in advertising campaigns for almost every major industry company. It all started in the 1970’s while King was a member of the Sarasota Ski-A-Rees, competing in both show ski and three-event tournaments. He began taking pictures of his friends to help improve their water skiing skills. King was still working on a college degree in Photography when he started with WaterSki magazine for their premier issue in the fall of 1978. This was the beginning of King’s illustrious 40-year career. King opened a home studio on the Butler Chain of Lakes in Orlando, Florida and developed the Boom Pole rig to shoot pictures with no wake from the picture boat ion the pictures. King’s work was profiled in the “American Photographer” magazine. He has won many awards from Communication Arts Magazine, the American Advertising Federation and his work has been exhibited in shows at around the nations. In 2015, Tom was inducted into the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame. Tom has since then downsized his studio but continues to shoot for industry manufacturers and “WaterSki” and “Wakeboard” magazines. Whether he captures them by land, boat or hanging out of a helicopter, King’s photos tell the story of towed water sports history like few people can.

Thomas E. Weber

For more than 50 years, Thomas Weber has contributed to the sport of water skiing as a competitor, event director, innovator and executive. Weber first learned to water ski in 1966 with legendary Jimmy “The Flea” Jackson. Weber started out a 3-event competitor in the Southern Region Tournaments and then turned to show skiing. For more than 10 years Weber skied in major ski shows at theme parks including Cypress Gardens, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld of Ohio, and SeaWorld of Florida. In 1980, he became the show director of SeaWorld of Ohio, and SeaWorld of Florida. In 1979, Weber became a National level barefoot competitor. In the 1979 Barefoot Nationals he earned 1st Place Starts, 1st Place Wake Slalom, Men’s II, and in the 1980 Nationals earned 1st Place Starts and was the first to complete a backward 2-ski jump out in competition. Weber became the Director of Operations for World Sports Marketing and produced the Michelob Dry/Budweiser Water Ski Tour in 1990. Weber launched World Entertainment Services in 1995, which managed show skiers for SeaWorld theme parks. For three years, World Entertainment Services provided skiers to several theme parks including SeaWorld of Florida, SeaWorld of Texas, SeaWorld of Ohio, SeaWorld of California, and Jazzland Theme Park, employing more than 200 water skiers. To this day, World Entertainment Services continues to provide skiers to SeaWorld of Texas. In 2002, Weber became President/General Manager of World Sports and Marketing, a division of Bonnier Corporation which produces the Pro Wakeboard Tour, Wakeboard World Championships, Wakeboard National Championships, Wake Open, Wake Games and more.

Brandi Hunt-Martin

3-time world championship gold medal team member Brandi Hunt Martin has been competing nationally since she was 9 years old. She finished seventh in the junior girls division at the 1988 national championships. By 1996, she won the slalom, tricks and overall championships at the Junior World Championships. She was the US Open Tricks and Overall champion, and won the Masters Overall in 1998. Martin truly established herself as a strong competitor in all three events and in Overall with podium finishes in the Masters, Nationals, US Open and Pan American Championships from 1997-1999. In 1999, Martin was selected as a member of the Elite Water Ski Team and competed in the 2001, 2003 and 2005 World Championships as a team member receiving the Gold Medal all three years for Team Overall. As a women's elite division skier, she has won numerous gold medals in international competitions, including multiple gold medals at the 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 Pan American Championships. In 2001, Brandi held the US National record in Jumping with 167’ and again in 2002, jumping 176’. Brandi has retired from competition and is the Grass Roots coordinator for USA Water Ski and is working hard on bringing a new generation to the sport she holds dear. Martin’s experience from competing at the local, regional, national and world level is the driving force behind her efforts.

Ham Wallace

Former World Champion and 4-time National Champion Ham Wallace’s involvement with water skiing spans more than 50 years. Wallace started out his career skiing at the age of five, learning to slalom at the age of seven. Wallace began training with Vic Varallo and Dave Andrews in 1966, who taught him how to Jump. In 1968, Wallace entered his first Nationals in Canton, Ohio, which would be his first of 46 consecutive championships. Wallace won the Men II slalom in the 1979 and 1981 Nationals, and won first for Jumping and Overall Men sixth at the 2015 Nationals. Wallace started the University of Alabama Ski Team and became the first University of Alabama student to ski in an intercollegiate tournament. Water skiing took Wallace around the world for international competition and water ski exhibitions. He Jumped in the Marine World Africa Jump Tournament, traveled to Jordan to ski for King Hussein’s Birthday, competed in a Pro Jump Tournament in Lebanon, won the Gold Medal in jumping as part of the 35+ U.S. Team in Milan, Italy, and jumped in the 35+ World Championships in Chapala, Mexico. Wallace won the Men 4 Ski Flying in Ski Fly. Wallace was awarded the USA Water Ski “Male Athlete of the Year” award in 2010. Wallace has been the President of the Tennessee Water Ski Association for the past 15 years and the Southern Region Boat Driver’s Committee Chair for the past ten years. Additionally, he is the National Boat Driver’s Committee Chair and Senior 3 Event Driver. 2017 will be his 52nd consecutive year competing.

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Tracy Mattes
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