World Water Ski Pros has announced that the 18th U.S. Open Water Ski Championships will take place Sept. 9-11 on Village Lake at Downtown Disney in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. World Water Ski Pros will host the event in conjunction with Disney Sports Attractions. More than $100,000 in prize money will be on the line when male and female athletes compete for titles in slalom, tricks and jumping. Athletes competing in all three events will be eligible for the coveted U.S. Open overall title.
“I have been fortunate to win the U.S. Open title twelve times,” said Andy Mapple, president of World Water Ski Pros, which recently entered into a long-term licensing agreement with USA Water Ski to conduct the Open. “But now I can only imagine how prestigious it is going to be for the 2005 winners to hold their trophies high at Disney World.”
Pre-U.S. Open qualifying rounds for all skiers holding an “open” rating is scheduled for Sept. 7-8 at the new water ski lake adjacent to USA Water Ski headquarters in Lakeland, Fla.
Downtown Disney, a retail, shopping, dining and entertainment district in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, was thought to be the ideal choice of venue to attract a broader audience to world-class water skiing.
“Disney Sports Attractions is continually looking to add unique and challenging sporting events to our calendar,” said Jeff Sturgeon, manager of sports events for Disney Sports Attractions. By bringing world-class water skiers to Walt Disney World Resort, we are joining together great athletes and a great venue.”
World Water Ski Pros, Disney Sports Attractions and Sammy Duvall — a 2001 inductee into the Water Ski Hall of Fame — worked together to bring the event to Walt Disney World Resort.
“When we established water sports operations here seven years ago, I always envisioned hosting professional water skiing events on one of the beautiful waterways at Walt Disney World,” said Duvall, who operates the Sammy Duvall Water Sports Center at the Disney resort. “The U.S. Open is the most recognized event in the sport of water skiing, so I am both excited and honored to be a part of it.”
The first U.S. Open Water Ski Championships was held at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach, Fla. in 1987. The event, modeled after the U.S. Nationals for amateurs, was established to provide professional water ski athletes a similarly prestigious event. The U.S. Open quickly grew to be one of the largest cash-prize tournaments in the world, attracting top water ski athletes from around the globe. The U.S. Open was canceled in 2004 following the devastating series of hurricanes in Florida.