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A Fixture in Freestyle Jumping
Dave Reinhart never liked the attention he received from professional water skiing. He wasn’t in it for the acclaim, and he often shied away from the spotlight. Like anyone with a passion for his or her work, he simply loved what he was doing. “The attention I received was a byproduct of doing something I enjoyed,” he says. “I was just happy skiing.”
Reinhart became a fixture in freestyle jumping in the late 1980s to mid ‘90s after winning eight consecutive pro freestyle jumping titles through 1995 before freestyle jumping was taken off the pro tour as a competitive event. But his talent wasn’t limited to his spectacular flips off the jump ramp. He won three national overall bare footing titles in Men 1 and Men 2, and he competed in pro wakeboarding from 1992 to 1998, placing sixth at the Wakeboard World Championships in 1997. He also competed in knee boarding and participated in hot dog slalom, bare footing and hang gliding exhibitions on the pro tour.
But his competitive career that spanned over 20 years almost didn’t come to pass after a tragic construction accident in 1986 left him unable to see out of his left eye. Although he was advised by his doctor never to ski again, he couldn’t imagine a life without skiing. Against his doctor’s wishes, he went back to performing in a ski show in Hollywood, Fla., a move that subsequently led to a string of accomplishments including his reign as the world freestyle jumping champion. “That was a turning point in my life. The motivation I gained from the handicap overrode the handicap from my eye,” he says. Even with a loss of depth perception and sight in one eye, he successfully adjusted to his new way of seeing on the water. “In freestyle, my landings were never good. So I had to do harder tricks or go further in distance to beat my competitors,” he says.
Over the years, his strength and determination paid off for him in more ways than one. In the mid ‘80s, while working in the ski show at Six Flags Atlantis in Florida, he was recruited to perform water ski stunts for a movie. He made his film debut as a stunt man in the 1987 version of Aladdin. This led to numerous film roles, including performing specialized water ski stunts in Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, working as James Bond’s stunt double in License to Kill and performing stunt work for the film Scam where he was handcuffed and dragged through the water behind a 100-foot Hatteras boat. His most recent stunt work was on the set of the 2003 film From Justin to Kelly, a spin-off of the television hit series American Idol.
In addition to his water skiing stunt work in the film industry, he has also performed in countless water ski shows throughout the country and around the world including shows in Ireland, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. In 2003, he appeared as a “fire expert” at the Universal Studios Japan Water World live stunt show, and most recently he performed in an extreme water ski show in Sydney, Australia.