Regina Jaquess made the U.S. water ski team for her fourth Pan American Games and will compete July 20-23 at Ontario Place West Channel in Toronto. The skier is the only U.S. team member who has previously competed in the Pan American Games.
“I’ve actually always medaled in every event for the Pan Am Games I’ve been to,” said Jaquess. “So I would like to keep that routine going for every event: slalom, tricks and jumping.”
Jaquess has won 10 Pan Am medals, including five golds, since her first Pan American Games in 2003. She won her first gold in overall at the 2011 Games, where she also won gold in slalom and jumping, and bronze in tricks.
The eight-time USA Water Ski Female Athlete of the Year has set over 45 U.S. water skiing records and currently holds the women’s world slalom record (3-¼ buoys at 41 feet off).
The 2015 U.S. Pan American Water Ski Team consists of four skiers and one wakeboarder. The water ski athletes include Jaquess, Erika Lang, Adam Pickos and Nate Smith. Daniel Powers represents the team as the wakeboard athlete.
Lang, 19, is the youngest member of the team. She won gold in women’s tricks and overall at the 2014 Pan American Olympic Festival and is the current women’s world tricks record holder (10,460 points).
Smith, a five-time national slalom champion, holds the current world slalom record (2-½ buoys at 43 feet off). Pickos is an eight-time national tricks champion and a three-time national overall champion. He won gold in men’s tricks at the 2012 and 2014 Pan American Water Ski Championships.
“It’s definitely an honor to be on a team where three of the four skiers are world-record holders. It’s something that doesn’t happen often,” said Jaquess. “And the fourth skier that’s on the team is definitely pushing the limits to be a world-record holder himself.”
The skiers were selected by an American Water Ski Association's International Activities Committee, which analyzed athlete performances between May 2014 and May 2015. USA Wakeboard chose Powers based on his performance at the 2014 Pan American Wakeboard Championships, where he won gold.
"The United States will be well-represented at the 2015 Pan American Games," said Jeff Smith, chairman of the American Water Ski Association's International Activities Committee. "The athletes selected to the U.S. Pan American Water Ski Team are all capable of bringing home gold medals in their respective events.”
The U.S. water ski team won the overall medal count twice (1999 and 2003) and tied with Canada for the medal count at water skiing’s 1995 Pan American Games debut in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. The U.S. team won seven medals at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, including six of the nine gold medals awarded.
“I think we have a pretty good shot at winning this year,” Smith said. “We all want to be the best that we can in each one of our events. The main goal is to bring home the gold.”
S.K. Bowen is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.