Congratulations to David Rezin and Matt Heilman being selected by the NSSA as the 2020 Team USA Co-Show Directors! Go Team USA!
GRACE PETZOLD of Mequon is a member of the USA Water Ski Show Team, which won the team title at the Show Ski World Championships, Sept. 8-9, on Peninsula Lake at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada. – Submitted photo
The USA Water Ski Show Team won the team title at the Show Ski World Championships, held Sept. 8-9, on Peninsula Lake at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada.
The tournament featured all-star show ski teams from the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China and Germany.
One of the skiers on the U.S. team is Grace Petzold of Mequon.
Petzold is the daughter of Andrew and Wendy Petzhold, sister to Aaron, and skies with the Cypress Garden Water Ski Team in Florida.
Petzold is a senior at University School of Milwaukee and travels to Florida many weekends to practice and perform and when she is home she visits relatives when time permits.
She has close ties to her grandmother, Diane Fiedler, who resides in the city of Sheboygan Falls and her great-grandmother, Elaine Fiedler, who lives in the town of Sheboygan Falls, as well as many other relatives in the surrounding area.
Petzold became fascinated with water skiing when she first watched a Badgerland Water Ski Show Team when she was about 5 years old and came away amazed.
When her family vacationed in Rhinelander during the summer of 2011, she saw the Hodag Water Shows ski team perform and decided that she wanted to join the team the following summer. She has been water skiing ever since.
Petzold was not only fascinated with water skiing, but her determination proved to show that she was a natural talent.
Her talent excelled and she was able to grasp what she was taught and perfected the moves to the point that it was not the skiing of an amateur, but now that of a professional.
At a young age, Petzold knew she wanted to compete. The process to be considered for the team started well over two years ago and led to Grace applying to be a member of the team in April 2017.
She then found out she was selected as a team member in August 2017. The team then got together in April 2018 in Florida for a long weekend to practice and then again this past Labor Day weekend in Lake Geneva. Then they headed to Canada for three days of practice before the competition began.
Petzold was the youngest female skier to be named to the team. She skied in the following acts: ballet line, back barefoot, swan swivel, double doubles and doubles line, along with the pyramid.
The USA Water Ski Show Team scored a grand total 1,735.02 points in winning its fourth consecutive world team title.
Australia finished runner-up with 1,623.16 points, followed by Canada (1,424.48 points), China (1,343.66 points), Belgium (1,258.12 points) and Germany (1,183.86 points).
Each team performed two shows over two days, with the highest-scoring performance determining the champion.
The USA Water Ski Show Team’s winning score came from Saturday’s show. The final scores from Australia, China, Belgium and Germany came from Sunday and Canada’s final score came from Saturday’s show.
In competitive show skiing, each club has one hour to present a theatrical performance on water skis.
Judges score acts by awarding points based on originality, presentation and execution. Elaborate costumes and staging intermix with music and fast action on the water as an announcer leads the audience through the show.
The team rosters in the Show Ski World Championships were limited to 35 total members, including skiers, boat drivers, announcers and show directors.
Four of the water skiers hail from Winter Haven
The USA Water Ski Show Team won its fourth consecutive world title at the 4th Show Ski World Championships, held at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, Sept. 7-9.
Featuring teams from Australia, China, Belgium, Germany, Canada and the U.S., upstart Australia finished runner-up while home team favorite Canada finished in third place.
Local members of the 2018 USA Water Ski Show Team were Jac and Nick Lyman, Shauna Pasanen and Angela Yauchler, all of Winter Haven.
Each team comes with a roster of 35 participants, including skiers, sound people, boat drivers and hosts. They then put on a one-hour theme related show, mixing a story with various tricks which are judged and awarded points.
This was the first time the competition had been held outside of the United States.
Austin Walstad of Zumbrota realized his “lifelong dream” in early September: water skiing at the World Water Ski Show Tournament. The Olympic-style competition was held in Huntsville, Ontario, earlier this month.
Twenty-three-year-old Austin has been skiing since age 4. Growing up, water skiing was definitely a family affair. Austin’s father taught him to ski, just as his father taught him. Austin and his older sister skied while their dad drove the boat and their mom supported them, often as the official family photographer. Heading to the Ponderosa Campground nearly every summer weekend, the family spent their days on the water at Lake Zumbro.
Austin started participating in water ski shows in 2004. In 2013, he began skiing with the Tommy Bartlett Show in the Wisconsin Dells.
After six years of skiing two shows a day from Memorial Day through Labor Day for a grandstand holding 5,500 people, Austin has plenty of experience skiing and performing for an audience. When the Tommy Bartlett Show closes for the season, Austin heads out for road shows.
Whether he is water skiing in Winterhaven, Fla., or somewhere else on the globe, the sport he is so passionate about has opened many doors.
“I have skied around the world,” said Austin, sharing stories of trips to China, Lebanon (three times), and many states.
Austin nearly had his dream deferred this summer after breaking his leg. He said, “I barely snuck into Worlds.” But Austin made it onto Team USA and headed to Canada.
Despite the fun and excitement, conditions weren’t optimal. Even in late summer, the Canadian water temperatures were chilly. Austin said, “I couldn’t feel my fingers after the show.”
However, cold water and a tough injury couldn’t stop Austin and Team USA. They came home with the gold.
one to Rochester, which is something she aspires to do. Perhaps she’ll be able to check that off her bucket list soon.
Colleen Timimi is a Rochester freelance writer.
U.S. National Team member Noah Leach is a now seasoned veteran in the water skiing world and widely known around the sport. After speaking with him about the growing sport, there are a few things he wants us amateurs to know. Mostly, there are so many aspects to water skiing – and no matter the tricks you master, there is always room for improvement. That is something the nationally recognized athlete had to learn over the years.
Rewind to the summer of 2006. Coach Todd Thorson, an Ipswich high school teacher and track and cross-country coach, offered a special opportunity during the summer months to those brave enough to try on a pair of water skis. While he recruited his runners for his Aqua Addicts water skiing team, he didn’t limit his students to only those in high school.
Leach’s parents decided to sign their energetic eight year old up for a lesson, and after watching him on the water, they knew he had found his calling. From there, his water skiing career took off.
Over the next 12 years, Leach not only put Aberdeen water skiing on the map – he also went on to represent his country on the sport’s biggest stage. Just three weeks ago, he returned home from the 2018 World Water Skiing Championships held in Huntsville, Ontario, passing through customs with some gold-plated hardware.
“This has to be one of my favorite memories from my entire career,” said Leach. “Other countries train together year-round, but the U.S. athletes are named to the team, practice with their own teams, report the week before, and that is oftentimes the first time we ever practice together. The team clicks pretty quickly, and we count on everyone to do their job. We tell each other to try to do things that are on the top of the scoring scale, and when we nail it, the feeling is indescribable.”
Another indescribable moment for Leach was when he secured his spot on the U.S. national team in 2015 at the age of seventeen.
“When I was competing with the Aqua Addicts, I placed at a competition in Illinois,” Leach said. “The awards were given out on a Sunday, and I had finished on Friday. As we were driving back to South Dakota, I got a call from the Director of USA Water Skiing. I didn’t have his number, but I knew exactly who it was. He said, ‘I would like to offer you a spot on the national team.’”
“I froze and didn’t say anything for a minute, but of course I agreed, and then got back to work,” Leach said.
He described 2015 as his breakout year when things just began to click on the water, and he put his fear of trying new things behind him. After spending the next year training for the 2016 World Championships, competing and taking first, Leach secured his roster spot for the upcoming years as well.
“Being a part of that national team has not only helped me grow considerably as an athlete, but I’ve gained some best friends along the way, too,” Leach said. “What I love about being a part of this team and sport is that we are all over the United States. We compete against each other – but really, we are competing with each other at the same time. We push each other in this sport to try new things and see what works, and combine that work when the World Team gets together.”
Each time he returns from his World Championship runs, Leach comes back to where it all began. He trains with the Aberdeen Addicts over the summer, and relies heavily on his coach –who has been a main supporter since his first time putting on skis. Over the last twelve years, his relationship with Coach Thorson has grown to be something irreplaceable.
“He always tells me, any time I need to be spotted or pulled, he’s on speed dial,” Leach said. “I credit most of my success to what he has taught me. He’s always pushing me to try new things, take some falls, but when I end up making it, the feeling of making something new is like nothing else. We’re family. He’s like a second dad to me.”
While the Addicts look to Coach Thorson for direction, they also hold Leach in high regard and look to him for motivation.
“I tell them to keep trying new stuff, and push them to hit the ‘no fear’ stage,” Leach said. “They have it in them to get over the fear of falling, and try something new. I also tell them to soak up all of the experiences, because it all goes so quick.”
Leach has made a life out of these experiences, and will continue to compete in the annual regional and national tournaments, and focus in on his skills for the biennial World Championships. This offseason, he will continue to work out with his family at their local gym, and come spring, he will hit the lake with the Aqua Addicts – and, of course, Coach Thorson.
Gabbie Taschwer may feel as comfortable being on water skis as she does on her feet.
The 21-year-old has been water skiing as far back as she can remember. Her talent on the water was recognized by the organizers of the Team USA water ski skills team, who offered a position with the group for the 2018 world championships.
The United States team recently won the 2018 International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation World Waterski Show Tournament two-day contest in Canada, where it competed against national teams from Germany, Belgium, Australia, China and the host country.
“To meet other people from other countries who shared the same passion was so cool,” she said.
Taschwer applied for the team in summer 2017 and was selected as among the best 40 water skiers in the country (35 skied in the competition and five were alternates). This was the first time the McFarland resident applied for the team.
She said members were chosen based on the type of show the directors want to put together.
“This is every show skier’s goal – to compete at the top level with Team USA,” Taschwer said.
The McFarland resident said being selected to compete with Team USA was one of her highest water skiing accomplishments. It also allowed her to ski next to people she had looked up to while growing up.
“It was super rewarding and awesome,” the UW-Madison senior said. “All of the practice and long hours put into skiing had paid off. I felt so honored to ski alongside these people who I’ve looked up to for so many years. It felt surreal to be able to ski with them and be a part of the team with them.”
Taschwer, who has been competing with Madison-based Mad-City Ski Team for about 15 years, said the team was composed of people from all across the United States with the bulk coming from the Midwest region. She’d skied professionally with a majority of the team at the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in the Wisconsin Dells, where Taschwer has been employed during the last seven summers.
Team USA had a limited amount of time to prepare together – just a single week in Florida in April and a few days before the start of the championships, held Sept. 7-9 at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada.
“We’re not together very often, but the show directors have confidence that your individual skills are strong enough that they can throw you into a situation and be able to adapt,” Taschwer said.
She explained each team has exactly one-hour to perform based on a theme where the skiers complete various acts.
“You do dances, you pay-on and pay-off when you’re done skiing, it’s a huge production,” Taschwer said, noting as part of this year’s championships, she became the first to attempt and complete a triple helicopter spin with a pair of teammates.
Taschwer will graduate with a degree in kinesiology from UW-Madison in December and plans to take a few gap years before attending physical therapy school. She hopes those gap years are in Germany as part of the Holiday Park amusement park professional water ski team.
She wouldn’t be the first member of her family to ski professionally overseas. Her parents were part of professional groups that water skied in Germany and at the various Sea Worlds in the United States.
“It’s great to be able to share this passion with my parents,” Taschwer said. “It’s just an awesome family sport.”
Worlds final score:
1 USA 1735.02
2 Australia 1623.16
3 Canada 1424.48
4 China 1343.66
5 Belgium 1258.12
6 Germany 1183.86
Tailgating at day 2 of Worlds (Packers/Bears playing tonight). Thank you so much Worlds ski moms & dads!!!
Team USA at the opening ceremonies today at Worlds in Canada!!!
World Water Ski Show Tournament Set to Thrill the Waters at Deerhurst Resort
The 2018 World Water Ski Show Tournament is set to kick off a new era of water sports in Muskoka!
Tickets are now on sale for the tournament, which will take place for the first time ever on Canadian waters, at Deerhurst Resort from September 7-9, 2018.
The tournament features top athletes from all around the globe – Austalia, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany and the USA – and is full of action packed entertainment for all ages. Join us on the water on Peninsula Lake in Huntsville for incredible stunts, technical sophistication and even some comedy sprinkled in.
The Muskoka region will be well-represented on Team Canada. The team features many athletes from Summer Water Sports, Canada’s leading water sports entertainment company, which has been running water ski shows in and around Muskoka since the 1970’s.
“This is going to be a fun and friendly even for the whole family showcasing the best waterskiers in the world,” says Geordie Newlands of SWS and Team Canada. “With teams from all over the world, I encourage everyone to come out.”
Click here to get your tickets and come cheer on SWS and Team Canada.
Photo Credit: Mind Works Photography, via worldwaterskishowtournament.com