Brando Caruso (Italy) won the gold medal in Mens slalom at the 2018 Mediterranean Games, held June 23-24, at Marina Port Tarraco in Tarragona, Spain.
Fellow Team GOODE skier Aris Techoueyres (Greece) finished fourth, while in the Womens slalom event Alice Bagnoli (Italy) placed fifth. Greece’s Stella Anastasi, who is only 14 years old, finished an impressive seventh.
After Venessa Vieke won last year’s Queens Cup, water ski fans would be forgiven if they thought “huh, who is that?” and then moved on without ever giving the name a second thought.
But after seeing the Australian native turned U.S. resident take third in Women’s slalom at this year’s Moomba Masters – beating out a bevy of the sport’s A-list names in the process – surely fans took notice of this new name that had suddenly become a threat at major events.
As it turns out, Venessa is not as new to the elite ski scene as it seems. She has a lengthy list of accomplishments in the sport and a close connection to one of the hotbeds of slalom greatness.
GOODE Skis recently talked to Venessa about her past, present and future.
Where did you grow up and how did you get your start in water skiing?
I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. It is known for being the most isolated city in the world. My father waterskied and I wanted to do everything he did. I did three events as a junior and held the Australian under-14 girls jump and overall records for many years.
Skiing under your maiden name of Leopold you had a number of impressive accomplishments while growing up in Australia, including competing for Team Australia at the 2003 world championships. What were some of your best memories from those days?
My fondest memories of skiing for Australia are remembering the ups and downs of travelling. The lost ski bags, beaten up rental cars and stolen passports. Even though it sounds stressful it was all an adventure! I’m so blessed to have met so many wonderful skiers and their families, many I still keep In touch with. Breanne and Ryan Dodd, Regina Jaquess; we were all at the junior and under 21 worlds together. This sport will give you life long friends.
When did you come to America and what brought you here?
I took a break from my physical therapy career and came to the USA in the spring of 2013 to train with Chet Raley, ski in some Florida tournaments and really consolidate my scores from the Australian summer (which ends in April). I met Noah (Vieke), my now husband while I was training at Chet’s. After two years of dating long distance we got married in Florida in July 2015. Yes a summer wedding in Florida! HOT!
Noah works with Chet at the Palm Beach Training Center. How has that impacted your skiing?
Noah and Chet are a great team. In my opinion they are the best in the business. The time and effort they put into continually learning about slalom is just phenomenal. Everyone who skis with them improves. My preparation for Queens Cup and Moomba consisted of Chet or Noah driving and coaching. We tried to switch things up as much as possible so I never got too comfortable with one of them as my driver. But the best training was when I had both Noah and Chet in the boat. They compliment each other very well and as an added bonus, Noah would hold our baby girl (12-month old Riverlee) in the boat. She likes to wave to me when I exit the gates, it’s very cute! She has been amazing. I drag her to the lake in the mornings at 6:30 a.m., five days a week. I ski four days with Chet and Noah and then one day (Sundays) with Noah only. If Noah can’t hold the baby and drive, the skiers at Palm Beach Training Center always volunteer to watch her. It’s such a supportive atmosphere, it really is like a family.
How hard is it to juggle being a mom, work, etc., while still trying to compete against the world’s best skiers?
I think athletes in general want to be the best they can be at everything, whether it’s sport, work, relationships or parenting. So it’s important to remind myself not to put too much pressure on being “the best” or doing things “perfectly.” It’s not easy juggling it all but man it’s rewarding.
It seems that you’ve taken a couple extended breaks from the sport. What is it that always brings you back?
I have taken multiple breaks from skiing, mainly due to the loss of my father, pursuing my physical therapy career and then having a baby, but I just can’t seem to give it up. I am a believer in God and know He has a plan for my life and feel strongly that He wants me to continue to waterski. He’s gifted me with passion and determination so as long as I can do a deep-water start, you’ll see me slaloming!
After winning the Queens Cup last year and taking third at Moomba, it seems as if you are ramping up your involvement in big-time events. What’s the plan moving forward?
The plan is to continue to ski and compete in a few local record tournaments to improve my world ranking. This summer I also hope to grow my personal training business, V2 Movement. Noah and I would love to ski in a pro event together so whether it’s the Malibu Open this year or Moomba next year, that is a goal we want to achieve.
Dave Miller outlasted runner-up Greg Badal to win the first stop of the 2018 Big Dawg World Tour and Greg Sund finished fourth as GOODE XTRs occupied three of the top four positions. Jeff Rodgers finished 3rd.
Dave beat Jodi Fisher, top-seed Harald Hintringer and Greg Sund to advance to the finals, while Greg Badal had to get past Jason Seels, Fred Halt and Jeff to reach the final pairing.
After waiting out a rain storm, Dave edged Greg by one buoy with a score of 3 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off to earn the victory.
The weekend was a successful one for GOODE skiers, as they made up nine of the Sweet 16, 5 of the Elite 8 and three of the Final Four. Additional GOODE skiers advancing to the Sweet 16 were Bruce Dodd, Mark Menasci, Chet Raley, Tim Huston, and Chad Scott.
Full of big wins, new records and exciting new products, 2017 was a great year for Team GOODE.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories of 2017.
Regina Rules the World(s), Again
Regina Jaquess once again led the way for Team GOODE at the World Championships, securing an unprecedented slalom/overall three-peat (2013, 2015, 2017) at the 2017 iteration held in Paris last September.
Her slalom win set the all-time mark for Women’s world slalom championships at four, breaking the record of three that she previously shared with legends Liz Allen, Cindy Todd and Helena Kjellander. Regina’s four World Slalom titles came in 2005, 2013, 2015, and now, 2017. The overall gold is the fifth of her career, the most ever for a Woman and second only behind Patrice Martin all time. She also earned a silver medal in jumping to go along with her team gold, giving her four medals during the 2017 championships.
Additional Team GOODE highlights included Felipe Miranda winning his second career World overall title and six of the 12 Women’s slalom finalists skiing on GOODEs.
GOODE skiers won 14 national slalom titles – easily more than any other ski manufacturer – at the 75th GOODE Water Ski National Championships held in August at San Marcos River Ranch in Martindale, Texas.
Winning national slalom titles were:
Girls 3 – Brooke Baldwin; Womens 1 – Ruth McCreary; Womens 2 – Keri McClure; Womens 3 – Lauren Malitz; Womens 4 – Stephanie Stange; Womens 5 – Joy Kelley; Womens 6 – Janie Fausold; Womens 9 – Pat Fischer; Mens 1 – Chris Kuykendall; Mens 3 – Barton Rachwal; Mens 4 – Chad Scott; Mens 5 – Greg Sund; Mens 6 – Steve Ware; and, Mens 7 – Steve Raphael.
Three new products added to the GOODE lineup in 2017 were greeted with big-time results and strong customer demand:
XTR™: Introduced at the GOODE Nationals in August, the XTR combines the world record-breaking DNA of the Nano 1XT with a trailblazing new rocker profile to create the highest performing ski in the GOODE lineup. The result? Multiple National titles, a world slalom championship, a world-record tie, two U.S. National records, and countless PBs.
Power-G-Flex™: GOODE Skis and Reflex partnered to create the Power-G-Flex system, bringing the comfort and performance long associated with the PowerShell 5 boot to the sport’s leading mechanical release system. A specially designed injection molded piece connects the PowerShell boot to the Reflex toe bar, and an added rear heal cleat secures the boot to the mechanical release. The PowerShell/Reflex pairing will come standard mounted to a G-10 carbon plate and will also feature a rear half-boot option.
The FUTURE™: GOODE’s first-ever ski designed exclusively for young up-and-coming buoy slayers, the FUTURE features all the pure carbon-fiber construction and world-record DNA you’ve come to expect in a GOODE, but with kid-friendly graphics, a more forgiving flex pattern and a great price. The FUTURE is a high-performing, no-compromises ski that will get tomorrow’s little rippers in the course and into deep shortline.
Pro Team Members Post Big Wins
GOODE pro team members scored big victories all over the world in 2017.
Thomas Degasperi got the year off to a great start by taking the Moomba Masters title, then things kept rolling with victories from Clementine Lucine (European Championships, Fun Gliss Pro Am), Taylor Garcia (Jr. U.S. Open), Brooke Baldwin (California Pro Am), Adam Sedlmajer (World Games and the Andy Mapple Pro Am), Felipe Miranda (World overall). And of course, there’s Regina (world slalom and overall, San Gervasio, Malibu Open and Swiss Slalom Pro).
Miller and Badal Face Off for Bracket Challenge Title
After four rounds and the elimination of 14 skiers, the 2017 GOODE Bracket Challenge came down to No. 1 seed vs. No. 2. Dave Miller vs. Greg Badal. Watch the video above to see who won.
National Records Go Down
The U.S. National record books will look dramatically different at the end of 2017 than they did at the beginning of the year, thanks in large part to GOODE skiers.
Chet Raley first tied the Mens 6 National record, then proceeded to top it twice more, eventually ending up with a pending record of 2 buoys at 41 feet off. Joy Kelley set the Womens 6 slalom record three different times herself, ending the year with a pending record of 2 at 38 off.
Bob Hardeman set a pending Mens 8 record of 2-1/4 at 39-1/2 off, Cyndi Benzel a Womens 7 pending record of 1/2 at 38 off, Steve Raphael a Mens 7 pending record of 5-1/4 at 39-1/2 off (since disallowed due to boat path deviation) and Bill Mahan tied the Mens 8 record of 2 at 39-1/2 off.
When the October 2017 IWWF preliminary world rankings list was released, seven GOODE skiers earned top spots: Open Women – Regina Jaquess, Under 21 Women – Brooke Baldwin; Junior Women – Brooke Baldwin; 35+ Women – Karen Truelove; Under 21 Men – Brando Caruso; Junior Men (tied) – Griffin Stange; 55+ Men – Dave Miller; and, 65+ Men – Steve Raphael.
12 #FirstTimersForFree Participate in GOODE Nationals
Twelve skiers not only competed in their first-ever Nationals last August at San Marcos River Ranch, but they had their entry fees paid too. The #FirstTimersForFree promotion was part of GOODE’s effort to encourage Nationals participation and reward achieving major goals.
“Qualifying for and skiing in Nationals is a really big deal,” says GOODE Skis founder and president Dave Goode. “We just wanted to do something to make peoples’ first Nationals extra special and encourage even more people to come. It was really great getting to meet everyone and congratulate them personally.”
Participating first time Nationals competitors were: Josh Gardner – Boys 3, Plainfield, IL; Joey Hayes – Mens 3, Decatur, MS; Brian Kreis – Mens 4, Miami, FL; Isak Nightingale – Boys 2, Lake Elmo, MN; Reed Favret – Boys 2, Windermere, FL; Sharon Baker Brown – Womens 7, Orlando, FL; Addy Flint – Girls 1, Lawton, OK; Don Stanford – Mens 8, Pleasant Hill, CA; Kate Lemcke – Womens 1, Saint Louis, MO; Landon Geels – Boys 3, Denver, CO; Brendan Schultz – Boys 2, Dow, IL; and, Justin Bloyer – Mens 3, Lake Elmo, MN.
Congratulations to Chet Raley for setting a pending U.S. National Mens 6 slalom record with 1-1/2 buoys at 41 feet off at the Oct. 3-event Record Sunday last weekend at Okeeheelee Park.
Chet’s new mark tops the previous record of 1 at 41 off, which he scored earlier this summer and co-held with Kris Lapoint, and is the ninth pending U.S. National slalom record set on GOODEs this year.
Joy Kelley owns three of those marks topping out with a pending Womens 6 record of 2 at 38 off. Bob Hardeman set a pending Mens 8 record of 2-1/4 at 39-1/2 off, Cyndi Benzel a Womens 7 pending record of 1/2 at 38 off, Steve Raphael a Mens 7 pending record of 5-1/4 at 39-1/2 off and Bill Mahan tied the Mens 8 record of 2 at 39-1/2 off.
For a full list of pending U.S. National records click here, or here for the list of approved records.
After four rounds and the elimination of 14 skiers, the 2017 GOODE Bracket Challenge came down to No. 1 seed vs. No. 2. Dave Miller vs. Greg Badal.
The two faced off in the first round of last weekend’s Imperial Lakes Skiers Choice Record in El Centro, Calif., to determine the champ. Watch the video above to find out who won.
Fan contest won with perfect bracket
Kyle Kuykendall is the winner of a brand new XTR, thanks to his perfect picks in the 2017 GOODE Bracket Challenge.
With the bracket submission named “Winner!,” Kyle correctly picked both of the two upsets during the four round event – his uncle (No. 13) Todd Kuykendall’s win over No. 4 seed Jay Leach and (No. 2) Greg Badal’s victory over top seed Dave Miller.
Nine brackets – Gloerson, June 2017, Kevin’s Bracket, LLUSA, Malibu Dave’s Picks, Mary’s Picks, Rich’s Bracket picks, Skicm777, and skidawg – tied for second place, with each only having one mark against them.
To see where all 385 bracket submission placed, click here.