Eight skiers won national titles as the 68th annual GOODE Water Ski National Championships kicked off Sunday at Waters Edge in Wilmington, Illinois.
Ed Hickey of Coral Gables, Florida, won the Men 5 national slalom title after a three-way run-off for first place. Hickey, Kim Contos of Pendleton, Indiana, and defending champion Steve Ware of Phoenix, Arizona, all tied with scores of 2 buoys at 39.5 feet off. In the subsequent run-off, which started at the 38 off line length, Hickey and Contos tied again with scores of 3 buoys at 38 feet off, while Ware lost the handle at the first buoy. In the second run-off, starting at the 39.5 off line length, Hickey scored 2 buoys at 39.5 feet off, while Contos fell at the first buoy.
Todd Kuykendall of Enid, Oklahoma, won the Men 4 slalom title with a score of 4 buoys at 39.5 off. Chris Brown of Chico, California, won the Men 2 slalom title with a score of 5 buoys at 38 feet off. Kelly Zoellner of Edinburg, Illinois, won the Women 2 slalom title with 4 buoys at 35 feet off. Stephen Nelson of St. Paul, Minnesota, won Men 6 tricks with 3,010 points. Kay Nichols of Austin, Texas, won Women 5 tricks with 4,130 points. Marc Bedsole of Orlando, Florida, won Men5 tricks with 4,880 points and Benjamin Lohr of Orlando, Florida, won Men 2 tricks with 6,410 points.
Nearly 800 water ski athletes — ages 3 through 85 — from across the United States are competing for national titles in slalom, tricks, jumping and overall in respective age divisions and two Open divisions during the seven-day tournament that culminates on Aug. 14.
Advancement to the Water Ski National Championships — the world’s largest three-event water ski tournament — is primarily earned through placement on the national rankings list. Athletes also can qualify for Water Ski Nationals by placing in the top five at regionals or by placing in the top five at the previous year’s Water Ski Nationals.