Waterski World Championships 2015

Oct 12, 2015
Tagged with: Waterski World Championships 2015

The 12th Disabled Water Ski World Championships was held in Elk Grove, California (near Sacramento) September 24-27, 2015.  The event was held on Shortline Lake (my second favorite lake to ski on in the world) with the support and hospitality of the lake owners (including the Bush and Detirck Families).  On its slow, blue water 48 skiers from 11 countries slalomed, tricked, and jumped their hearts out to try to win the gold for their team and country. Ultimately, the United States came away with the team gold,  Australia took silver, and Italy took the bronze medal. Lakeshore’s own athletes Joe Ray took 8th overall in the men’s seated division and the team gold with the USA and Derek Vanderbom took 3rd overall in the men’s seated division and the silver medal with team Australia.

The back story—a story most skiers present didn’t even realize — was about how special this world’s was.  It was special, not only because it was the first time in California, but it was truly special because of how close it was to the birthplace of disabled water skiing in Chico, California.  In the early 1980’s, Royce Andes was looking for a way to get back into water skiing after a barefoot skiing accident resulted in tetraplegia. Being an inventor and a brilliant mind, Royce came up with the design for what eventually was called the KanSki, and collaborated with Jim Westmoreland, a local woodshop teacher to build the first sit skis. Royce recruited the Chico State wheelchair basketball team members to be his test dummies and try out the prototypes of his skis.  Low and behold, some of his guinea pig skiers stuck with the sport, helped grow the sport, and went on to become national and world champions.  What was so cool about being at this competition at Shortline was the brief reunion of the key people behind the sport—they were there amongst all of us, watching and hanging out.  Both Royce Andes and Jim Westmoreland, along with Steve Hornsey, Bill Bowness, and many others were amongst the crowd.  Royce brought the very first ski that he and Jim made and had it on display (see photo).  Most skiers would have passed by it, not thinking twice about it, not realizing the significance.  It could be likened to a telephone booth where teenagers wouldn’t have a clue as to what it was, the rare sight that they were witnessing.  It was a juxtaposition of the young and old.  And speaking of old…. “old” skiers and supporters came out of the wood work to spectate: from Terry Lewis (my competition when I first started competing), Steve Pullin, the Brett Family, Aric Fine (on the Mic) and moi.

The only way to have made the World’s better (for me) was if I had been skiing alongside my USA teammates.  Maybe next time… The next world competition will be held in Myuna bay, NSW Australia in 2017.  The competition will be fierce as all athletes will be once again vying for the individual and team gold, trying to better their scores and one up the competition.

To watch the archived live webcast of the tournament, please go to: http://www.dwwsc.org/index.php/live-web-cast

For full results from the 2015 Disabled World Water Ski Championships, please go to: http://www.iwwfed-ea.org/competition.php?cc=D-15IWWFD01&page=mp1_m_overall_results

For more information on disabled water skiing, please go to: http://www.usawaterski.org/pages/divisions/WSDA/main.asp

Author: Kerri Vanderbom



  • bobl07

    Thank you Kerri for this historical view of the sport. Also, for the unique perspective on how the sport has significantly advanced. Hope you can find your way back out there to compete again. Is this in your plans?