Wonder Lake Ski Team History
The Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team has been in existence since 1955 and has performed shows for their home crowd since 1959.
In 1986, the team took on a new perspective and began competing in tournaments. To this day, our primary objective is to perform to the best of our ability and entertain crowds. Proudly boasting to be the 1996, 2000, 2001, and 2010 National Show Ski Champions.
The Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team has consistently finished in the top five places at the National Tournament, and also held the Regional title several times throughout the years! The Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team from Wonder Lake, Illinois is comprised of about 140 members primarily from the local community.
About half of these are skiing members. The rest of the team is supporting. The Membership consists of all ages, moms, & dads, brothers & sisters, sons & daughters, husbands & wives, aunts & uncles, cousins, neighbors but most importantly Friends.
The WLWSST is proud to have had a history of professional water skiers performing all across the world. Ski shows at Sea World, Cypress Gardens, Tommy Bartlett’s, Water Ski Show Inc. World Entertainment, and many others. Our skiers have performed for professional shows in Florida, Ohio, California, Louisiana, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Australia, Germany, Malaysia, Japan, and others.
For the history of show skiing click on the link. http://www.usawaterski.org/pages/divisions/showski/History.htm
Ski Team Timeline
1955 8 teenagers form the Wonder Lake Water Ski Club.
1955 First equipment purchase (a Saucer) costs each member $0.80.
1956 Club builds ﬁrst “small” jump, 24 feet long, 4 foot high. Membership rises to 40 participants.
1959 Wonder Lake Ski Club performs 1st ski show on Labor Day.
1960 Club builds “big” jump, 25 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 6 feet high. Performs their second show.
1961 Club purchases 4 pairs of specially designed jump skis. Barefoot waterskiing was demonstrated.
1962 Club performs a ski show for the McHenry Fiesta Days.
1963 Glenn Riedel demonstrates the “Difficult and Dangerous” shoe ski jump. Club purchases a 16 x 14 Foot Kite. The kite act and triple barefoot act were performed in the show.
1970’s Sky Divers are part of intermission show on the 4th of July.
1959-86 Club performs 1 ski show on Labor Day
1984 Introduction of the straps act: the adagio trios and strap doubles.
1986 Team competes in 1st National Tournament.
1986 Bob Hartmann lands the 1st single ski gainer in a National Tournament.
1988 Junior Team formed 1991 1st Twin rig Hydrodyne Outboard Purchased. Keni Koreba wins Willa Cook Award.
1994 Wausau Invitational 1st place. Bob Hartmann wins Skip Gilkerson Award.
1996 Jump team wins first National Show Ski Championship. 1st Illinois Team to win Triple Crown of Show Skiing- Lamb’s Farm, State, and Nationals. Team purchases 2 Carolina Skiff outboards to be used as Pick-up Boats
1996-97 Record setting 6 back barefooters behind 1 boat.
1996-2003 1st place ﬁnish in Regional Tournament.
1998 Record setting 8 back barefooters behind 1 boat.
1998 Team completes unprecedented 6 staggered three high pyramids.
1998 Jarret Graff wins Skip Gilkerson Award
1999 Team adds 2nd twin rig – DynaSki 2000 with 2 225HP Yamaha’s
1999 Five Tiers High! The team completes and brings home the ﬁve high pyramid.
2000 Team wins second National Show Ski Championship.
2001 Team wins third National Show Ski Championship. Jump Team introduces the dangerous and thrilling “Hangman” (Dan Hansen & George Hartmann)
2001 Dan Hansen wins Skip Gilkerson Award
2001-03 Three-peat of National titles for the Jump Team.
2002 Big Act puts 54 skiers on the water behind 4 boats, Jump Team premiered the even more dangerous variation of the “Hangman” adding a 3rd jumper (Jarret Graff doing a back gainer.) Team purchases a home site in the Hickory Falls subdivision.
2003 Arik Lebda performs a shoe ski back gainer off the ski jump. Triple Rig DynaSki 2000 with 3 250HP Yamaha Outboards launched.
2004 Bob Hartmann wins Skip Gilkerson Award for the 2nd time! First practice at our home site in Hickory Falls
2005 First ski show held at our home site by the Junior Club.
2006-07 Team performs the Thread the Needle, Hot Pick-up Prefab Pyramid act and earns top honors at the National Tournament for highest scoring act for 2 consecutive years.
2009 Ski Team celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ﬁrst ski show on Wonder Lake. Teams registered membership soared to historic high in celebration of 50th reunion show. Over 400 Team Alumni gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ﬁrst ski show over Labor Day weekend.
2010 Impromptu1st Friday night home show at Ski Team Beach due to beach closure at Wonder Center.
2010 Team Wins fourth National Championship. Jump Team, Back-barefoot Line, Swivel Stars and Boat Driving Team take 1st Place National honors.
2012 Five team members are asked to participate on Team USA at the first ever World Water Ski Show Tournament in Janesville, WI. Dan Hansen, performs the Backbreaker act, Barefooting while towing 2 jumpers behind him who perform gainers over the jump.
2011 Back Barefoot Line wins highest scoring barefoot Act at Nationals.
2012 Team members Jayson Rishling, Roger Gerstad, Jarret Graff and Dan & Kim Hansen represented the USA in the first ever World Show Ski Tournament. Team USA placed first ahead of Australia, China, Canada & Belgium. Dan Hansen, & Arik Lebda Lebda perform the first barefoot/Jump ‘Backbreaker’ in a full circle.
2014 Team members Jayson Rishling, Jarret Graff, Arik Lebda, Jordan Shulda and Dan & Kim Hansen represented the world champion USA team in the second ever World Water Ski Tournament ahead of Australia, Canada, China, and Belgium. Team member Jayson Rishling wins Skip Gilkersen Award for Most Valuable Male Skier at National Tournament. Jump Team wins Individual National title.
2015 Team purchases second “triple-rig” hydrodyne; wins Regional title; places 5th in National Tournament.
2016 Team Wins fifth National Championship. Tow Boat Driving Team, Pick-up Boats, Dock and Equipment Crew, and Sound Crew take 1st Place National honors. Team wins top scores in Showmanship. TEAM USA Wins 3rd World Championship including the six elite athletes from WL that participated on the 2014 TEAM USA.
2017 1st in the Central Region and 2nd in National Tournament; 1st place Pyramid Act in the National Tournament scoring 449 points. Team member Dan Hansen wins Skip Gilkerson Award for the Most Valuable Male Skier in the National Tournament and also National Show Ski Association Skier of the Year award.
2018 Team places 1st in the Central Region and 3rd in National Tournament; 1st place Swivel Act in the National Tournament scoring 380 points.
2018 Team members Arik Lebda and Brea Imse represented the USA in the World Show Ski Tournament. Team USA placed first ahead of Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, and Germany.
1996 – 2018 Placed in the “top 5” at the Division 1 National Show Ski Tournament for 22 consecutive years.