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A Champion in the Making
You could tell almost from the time Mike Suyderhoud was training at Bee Wineman's Masters Water Ski School in Novato, Calif., in 1963 that here was a champion in the making. He was 12 then, but already the determination, the dedication, the natural ability that would take him to the pinnacle in competitive skiing were readily apparent to his instructors and knowledgeable spectators who watched his early moves.
In less than a year, Mike qualified to enter his first National Championships, and in 1965 he began a string of overall performances in the Nationals that have placed him among the finest "Complete" water skiers of all time.
During a stretch of 14 consecutive years in Boys and Men's competition, Mike won seven overall victories and finished no worse than third overall in every National tournament in which he competed in all three events.
Brought up in the San Francisco Bay area hotbed of slalom skiers, Mike made his mark early on the slalom course even against the outstanding single-eventers of his era, but his jumping ability was the primary ingredient of his overall success.
For six consecutive years beginning in 1966, Mike won the jumping gold medal in the Nationals, the first two in Boys Competition and then four straight in the highly competitive Men's Division.
Mike's determination and his reliance on his jumping were never more impressively demonstrated than at the 1967 U.S. Team Trials at Callaway Gardens. Still a "rookie" in this caliber of competition, Mike came close to the final event of the final round trailing in points for the fourth and last men's place on the team. He knew he had to jump well over 140 feet to have a chance and his best leaps in two previous rounds had been 127 and 137 feet. His 148 - footer not only tied the best jump of anyone in the trials but also assured him of a place on the team with the third best point total among the male contenders.
This was the start of something great for Mike at the World Championships level. He won the overall title that year in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and retained the title in 1969 at Copenhagen, Denmark. He won the world slalom and jumping titles in 1971 and again topped the world's best jumpers in 1977. In all, Mike earned a place on five United States Teams.
Among the major tournaments, only the Masters overall title seemed to elude him. Beginning in 1967, Mike finished second three times and third three times before finally capturing the Masters Trophy in 1973. In 1968, he missed the overall crown by less than one and a half point, but he had some consolation that year by setting new world jumping records of 154 and 155 feet on consecutive days in the Callaway Gardens Competition.
Mike also set a new national record of 160 feet a few weeks later in the California State Championships and then topped it with 162-footer in the 169 U. S. Team Trials.
Son of Jaap and Babs Suyderhoud, Mike was taught to water ski by his father when he was 10 and entered his first tournament at 13, not long after his training at Bee Wineman's school.
Mike is married to the former Lissa Wittner, no stranger to tournament skiing herself. The operate the Mike Suyderhoud Water ski Center on Lake Shasta in Redding, Calif. Mike has been active in the fellowship of Christian Athletes since 1967.
Although Mike has continued to enjoy tournament skiing in the older make divisions, he became eligible for consideration for the Water Ski Hall of Fame in 1986. The Selection Committee voted him in the first time his named appeared on the ballot.