Lisa St. John
Lisa St. John can hardly remember when she wasn't up on water skis. And no wonder.
She took her first ride in the arms of her father in 1956, at the age of 18 months. Thus began a water ski career that filled the St. Johns' home in Fall River Mills, Calif., with trophies representing victories in the smallest local tournaments on up to the World Championships.
Lisa's future in the sport seemed almost unlimited until a severe back injury sustained in the 1973 California International Cup cut short her career. She skied competitively in the Open Division after that but not with the unbounded skill and enthusiasm that had marked her skiing before the accident.
Born Lisa Dale St. John September 30, 1954, in Redding, Calif., Lisa came into the world of water skiing as a natural extension of her family's favorite recreational activity. Her father, Dale St. John, not only enjoyed skiing but was skilled as a boat driver for tournaments that later would include world class competition. Her mother, Babs, was an accomplished three-event contestant, winning the Senior Women's National overall title in 1963. Lisa's younger sister, Lynn, later became a Nationals-caliber skier. Only her older brother, Dennis, with his 6 - 4, 200 pound plus frame, moved into other high school athletic pursuits such as football and basketball.
Lisa continued to ride with her father on skis until she was four. Then she took off on her own, all 30 pounds and 3 1/2 feet of her. At age five, she was skiing on a single ski and appearing in exhibitions. She entered her first tournament the next year, 1961, and placed second in slalom. Later that same year, she finished second in tricks and third in slalom in the California State Championships - and she was off to bigger and better things.
From 1966 through 1971, Lisa amassed a total of 16 Nationals titles. She entered her first Nationals at the age of eight in 1963 at Long Beach, Calif., and continued to ski in Junior Girls competition for a total of five Nationals, a record for the division.
Her success continued when she graduated into the Girls Division, despite a knee injury, which hampered her jumping performances. She made a clean sweep for the Girls overall crown in 1970 and just missed repeating the feat a year later with victories in slalom and tricks and a second in jumping.
Lisa's skill earned her an invitation to the Masters in 1966 when, at age 11, she became the youngest invitee in the history of the tournament. She responded with a 3208-point performance in the second round of tricks, which turned out to be the best score among the women contestants even though a fall in the opening round had kept Lisa out of the finals.
She skied in eight consecutive Masters, winning the slalom title in 1972 and finishing second overall twice - this at a time when the incomparable Liz Allen Shetter was dominating women skiing worldwide.
Lisa's career reached its climax in 1973 when she set a world jumping record of 116 feet in June and won the World Overall Championship in Bogotá, Columbia. Ten days after the world meet, she injured her lower back in the Cal Cup.
Even though Lisa developed into an excellent jumper, slalom and tricks were her dominant disciplines early in her career. Her parents didn't permit her to try the five-foot ramp until 1964, three years after she began tournament skiing.
So it is not surprising that Lisa recalls her greatest thrill in water skiing as the time when she leaped 100 feet in the 1970 Masters to become the eighth woman member of the Century Club.
In more recent years, Lisa has lived in Florida. At the time of her induction in the Hall of Fame, she was manager of a restaurant in Orlando.