Although there have been a lot of incredibly talented water skiers over the years, only a select few considered to be the best. We asked Matt Rini and Jack Travers to select the athletes they believe are the all-time best water skiers in each of the three disciplines. Here’s your chance to emulate the pros if you’re looking to make it to the very top of the heap.
Matt Rini’s Picks
Slalom: Wade Cox
When Wade first started running 39 off and won his first Pro Tour, he broke into the scene with a combination of intensity and technique that hadn’t been seen before. At the time, his rise to the top was much quicker than almost all the other skiers. He was a young gun — hard to believe now — and he immediately started winning tour stops. His technique was smooth, strong, compressed, balanced and aggressive. I recently watched a video of him, and I still appreciate his smooth, controlled edge change. I hear many people talk about casting the ski out. Well, Wade exemplifies the cast.
The takeaway: Wade’s performance shows how skiers should be fluid from the wakes out to the ball. His edge change and release are as smooth as silk.
Jump: Carl Roberge
I worked for Carl at his ski school for three years during the peak of his skiing career. Believe me, he is one of the most dynamic skiers to ever walk the Earth. Although he was not credited with innovating speed suits and long skis, he was using them long before most everybody else. Carl was big and powerful — he always wanted to get an edge and find something better. One day, this huge box with 78-inch jumpers arrived in the mail at his school and the tips had a kink in them. Carl told me he needed bigger skis than everyone else because he was bigger. That was the season he won every jump tournament on the tour.
The takeaway: Find equipment and technique that works best for you. Not everyone fits in the same box, so look at what you do best and try and compliment it.
Trick: Britt and Tawn Larsen
We’re supposed to pick just one person, but these two are identical twins and they’re both equally amazing. I remember the first time I saw them and thought, “This is perfection on trick skis.” Much of what separates them from even the very best trickers of today can be credited to their father and coach, Brent. I believe it’s their mastery of the basics that makes them so fluid, smooth and controlled. Not to mention, they were faster then most of the guys during that era. You can watch videos of them even now and still learn a lot from their abilities.
The takeaway: These two really exemplify everything that’s important in trick, but most of all, they have amazing balance, posture, rope control, speed and axis.
Jack Travers’ Picks
Slalom: Andy Mapple
Andy is a legend. He has so many world and professional titles it’s ridiculous, and he’s also a former world-record holder. He’s the obvious choice for slalom.
The takeaway: Over the years, Andy has had the ambition, desire and self control to be extremely diligent about training. He not only excels in tournaments, but he also trains hard during the offseason, working on physical exercises that keep him fit and healthy.
Jump: Freddy Krueger
Freddy dominates jumping. He’s the current world-record holder, and he has more professional titles than anyone can count.
The takeaway: Freddy has worked tirelessly on every aspect of jumping. He carefully breaks down everything, from the pull and the 600-foot buoy to air position and all of the other facets in between. Freddy has had the bonus of a longer jump, longer skis and the increase in the second segment. Before Freddy, my pick would’ve been Sammy Duvall.
Trick: Cory Pickos
Cory has not only held every possible title in trick, but he’s also sustained success over a longer period of time than any other skier.
The takeaway: If you have a true passion for skiing, you can do what you love for as long as you want.