TORONTO, July 23, 2015 - Five U.S. Pan American Water Ski Team members combined to win eight medals, including three gold, in respective events at the XVII Pan American Games, July 20-23, at Ontario Place West Channel. The U.S. Pan American Water Ski Team finished with three gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals during the four-day competition.
Members of the 2015 U.S. Pan American Water Ski Team were: Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.), Erika Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.), Adam Pickos (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.), Daniel Powers (Orlando, Fla.) and Nate Smith (McCordsville, Ind.). Jaquess, Pickos and Smith each won one gold medal. Jaquess also won two silver medals, Powers claimed a silver medal, and Lang earned two bronze medals.
Lori Krueger-Covington (Martindale, Texas) and Jim Powers (Orlando, Fla.) were the coaches for water skiing and wakeboarding, respectively. Jim Grew (Winter Haven, Fla.) was the team leader and Dr. Brad Harman (Alvarado, Texas) was the team physician.
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Jaquess, competing in her fourth Pan American Games, led the way for the U.S. Team, collecting a gold medal in women's jumping and silver medals in slalom and overall. She increased her career medal count at the Pan American Games to 13, the most by a U.S. water ski athlete. "I didn't have the tournament that I was looking for performance-wise, but I am happy to come away with some medals," said Jaquess, who won gold medals in slalom, jumping and overall at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. "It just wasn't my tournament. I had a rough start and never could build on anything. The competition is always tough, and it wasn't any different here at the Pan American Games. I'm proud to have been a part of the U.S. Team and hope to be able to compete in the next Pan American Games four years from now to redeem myself."
A day after winning the silver medal in women's overall, Jaquess started Thursday's events by winning the silver medal in women's slalom, scoring 3 buoys at 38 feet off. Canada's Whitney McClintock won the gold medal (4 buoys at 38 feet off) and Lang earned the bronze medal (2 buoys at 35 feet off). Jaquess won the gold medal in jumping on her first of three available attempts, soaring 161 feet for the victory. She decided to forego her final two attempts. Jaquess had earned the top seed for the finals with a distance of 164 feet in Tuesday's preliminary round. "I felt good about my jumping," said Jaquess, who also placed sixth in women's tricks. "It was nice to finish strong with a gold medal."
Smith, competing in his first Pan American Games, won the men's slalom gold medal by defeating Canada's Jason McClintock in a runoff. After both athletes tied with scores of 1 buoy at 41 feet off in the finals, Smith defeated McClintock in the subsequent runoff, scoring 5 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off to McClintock's 4 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off. Argentina's Javier Julio earned the bronze medal (5 buoys at 38 feet off). Smith had earned the top seed for the finals of men's slalom with a tie of the Pan American Games record (2 buoys at 41 feet off) in Monday's preliminary round. "First time here...gold medal, it's an amazing feeling," Smith said. "It doesn't get any better than skiing against the best of the best and coming out on top."
Pickos, competing in his first Pan American Games, recorded a score of 11,110 points to win the gold medal in men's tricks over Canada's Jaret Llewellyn (10,550) and Argentina's Javier Julio (9,450).Pickos earned the top seed for the finals of men's tricks with a score of 10,920 points in Monday's preliminary round. "I figured the scores in the finals were going to be similar to the preliminary round, so I just wanted to make sure I went up and back with two solid, stand-up runs," Pickos said. "I ended up doing what I needed to do and everything turned out pretty well. I couldn't be happier. To earn the top seed and then go up against Jaret and Javier in the finals and come away with the gold medal is a dream come true."
Lang scored 8,000 points in the women's tricks final to claim the bronze medal behind Peru's Natalia Cuglievan (8,360) and Canada's Whitney McClintock (8,030). Lang, competing in her first Pan American Games, earned the top seed for the finals of women's tricks with a Pan American Games record 8,590 points in Monday's preliminary round.
Jaquess earned the silver medal in women's overall on Wednesday, tallying 2,670.3 points. Canada's Whitney McClintock won the gold medal (2,796.3 points) and Mexico's Carolina Chapoy earned the bronze medal (2,226.0 points). Lang placed fourth with 2,032.4 points in the event that included slalom, tricks and jumping. "I needed to stand up my tricks and I didn't do it," said Jaquess. "It wasn't my day, but anytime you can bring home a medal - particularly a silver medal at the Pan American Games, - it is a good day."
Powers earned the silver medal in wakeboarding on Wednesday, scoring 80.44 points. Canada's Rusty Malinoski won the gold medal (89.11 points) and Venezuela's Juan Mendez earned the bronze medal (72.22 points). "You want to win the gold medal, but it is very special to be on the podium at an event like the Pan American Games," said Powers, competing in his first Pan American Games. "I got off to a good start with the toeside 900, but then I made a few mistakes. It all worked out pretty well, though."