Foundation News

Central Florida is considered the water skiing capital of the world. It's the home of our USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame, Cypress Gardens, and hundreds of world-class athletes from every towed water sport possible. We love it here!

But water skiing began quite a bit north of Winter Haven. Up where winter really happens.

On July 2, 1922, Ralph Samuelson took to the water of Lake Pepin, Minnesota near Lake City on a set of water skis he made out of lumber he bought for two dollars. Ralph is credited with several "firsts." He was the first water skier, the first slalom skier, and the first ski jumper.

To honor Ralph and the 100th year of his amazing feat... the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation is establishing a USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame Up North in Lake City, Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Pepin.

We have curated some midwest-specific memorabilia and built a 100-year timeline which will be on display beginning June 18th.

The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame Up North is part of the Lake City's big celebration which includes the premiere of the Ralph Samuelson Documentary Film by Ben Threinen on June 18, Water Ski Days June 23-26 which includes a Learn-to-Water Ski Clinic sponsored by the Foundation on Lake Pepin SIGN UP HERE and the unveiling of the Ralph

Samuelson Bronze Statue on July 2... the day it all began.

Our USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Glenn Sperry will be showcasing his stilt skiing abilities as part of the many water ski shows on Lake Pepin during Water Ski Days.

We hope this partnership with the Birthplace of Water Skiing, Lake City, will continue to promote and spread the love of water skiing from Florida to Minnesota to all corners of the world.

For more information email

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From skiing at Cypress Gardens when he was six-months-old, to winning the X-Games at 14, to inventing new tricks, Parks Bonifay has progressed the sport of wakeboarding to new heights.

He was inducted into the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 because of his achievements on the water and his long-term impact in the sport. He even has a film about his life and wakeboarding career titled, “Parks Bonifay: Documentary.”

A few of his career highlights include:

- 1996 & 1999: X-Games Champion

- 5-time X-Games Competitor

- 2-time U.S. Masters Wakeboard Champion

- U.S National Champion

- Wakeboard World Cup Champion

- Gravity Games Champion

- First rider to successfully land a 1080

In celebrating the 100-year anniversary of watersports, we are honored to highlight Parks and the impact he continues to have on the sport of wakeboarding. To stay up-to-date with what Parks is doing now, follow him on Instagram (@parxxx).

Click the button below to learn more about the USA-WWF Hall of Fame inductees and youth scholarship programs!

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This week’s spotlight article features an athlete that has won 47 Pro Slalom Titles, 10 World Cup Titles, and 2 U.S. Masters Titles. He was a dominant slalom skier in the 1990’s and has been a consistent face in the waterski community for decades.

Do you know who it is yet?

If you guessed Wade Cox, then you are correct!

Wade’s dominant career landed him in the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. (Check out the video above to watch his induction ceremony intro and career highlights!) Today, Wade is still passionate about promoting the future of our sport. He hosts coaching clinics around the country, works with The Waterski Broadcasting Company, and even hosts his own podcast called Ski with Wade.

To stay up-to-date with Wade's events and involvement in the waterski community, check out his website,,

Want to attend next year's Hall of Fame Ceremony? Click the below to learn more.

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