1962 National Junior Boys Trick Champion
Back in 1957, at the age of five, Ricky McCormick got up on a pair of water skis behind a swimmer at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks, and he stayed up for the better part of the next 25 years.
In that time, he became one of the most respected, fiercely competitive water skiers in the history of the tournament sport.
He became world renowned as a performer and innovator in trick skiing. He skied in 23 consecutive National Titles, beginning in 1960, and he won a total of 25 national titles, including one in mixed doubles. He was a member of six United States teams competing in the biennial World Water Ski Championships, and he was one of three U.S. water skiers selected to participate in the 1972 Olympic games in Germany where water skiing was honored as a demonstration sport.
Although McCormick was a sensation in trick skiing right from the start, he developed into one of the world's leading three-event competitors. He won eight Nationals overall crowns, including three in a row in Open Men beginning in 1977. He became the first male skier to win back-to-back overall titles in the Masters Tournament at Callaway gardens, Ga., in 1970 and 1971, then captured two more Masters overalls in 1975 and 1977, an unprecedented feat in men's competition at the time.
McCormick won eight titles in the Group I (Pan American) Championships from 1966 to 1980, including two overalls and three victories each in tricks and jumping.
Ricky McCormick was born to water skiing. His father and mother, Earl and Lorraine McCormick, and his two older brothers, Jim and Terry, were already ardent participants in the sport when Ricky was born in Independence, Mo., in 1952. The family was putting on a ski show at Lake of the Ozarks when Ricky became a part of the act. A 210-pound swimmer, Allen Brown, wearing swim fins, pulled him up on plane behind a 12-foot towline.
With his own natural ability and the fine coaching of his family McCormick entered his first tournament, the Omaha Open, in 1960 at the age of eight. He won the tricks event and finished second in jumping and third in slalom. His tricks performance earned him a Master rating which made him eligible to enter his first Nationals later that same year.
McCormick won the National Junior Boys tricks title in 1962, then two years later began a string of eight consecutive tricks victories in the Nationals, two more in Junior Boys competition, four in Boys and two straight when he moved into the Men's Division. Along the way he was credited with developing more than half a dozen tricks that were added to the official rules.
His remarkable success in tricks competition is to be attributed to his keen sense of balance and coordination and a determination that translated into constant practice. He spent hours on the trampoline sharpening his balance and timing. He mastered the unicycle at one point with no trouble at all, and he was a familiar sight on the grounds of National tournaments, darting among the contestants and spectators on his single wheel. He also became a judo junior champion.
At the international level, McCormick won the tricks crown in the World Championships in 1971 and captured the jumping title tow years later. However, he considers the gold medals he won in tricks and jumping at the 1972 Olympics as his greatest achievement in his quarter century of tournament skiing.
McCormick retired from Open competition in 1982, and the Hall of Fame Selection Committee honored him on his first year of eligibility.