The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2024 inductee to the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Elaine Heller Fatla will be formally enshrined at the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
Elaine will be inducted along with the 2024 Award of Distinction Recipients: Joe Knapp, Alex Lauretano, Jason Lee, Dennis Longo, and Dusty Schulz.
Elaine Heller Fatla is the first and only American woman to fly inverted off a barefoot ramp, land, and ski away in competition. Raised on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, her work ethic and quiet competitiveness made her a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.
Elaine learned to waterski at four years old and barefoot at eight years old. When she turned 10, her family joined the Ski Sprites Waterski Show Team to develop her skills further and compete in a team-based environment. At 12, she focused more on barefoot waterskiing, specifically Figure 8 tournaments and racing. Her dad drove her all over the state that summer to different tournaments, where she found early success.
In 2003, she entered her first traditional three-event barefoot tournament, the Wisconsin State Barefoot Tournament. After that tournament, she told her dad: “I want to be the World Champion someday.”
Her Dad went to work and did everything he could to support her as she learned and developed in the sport, including building a lake in their cornfield, calling it the “Blue Moo.” Elaine and her family not only supported her individual growth but also the barefoot community, hosting numerous Regional, National, and even World Barefoot Water Ski Championships on their property.
Elaine did most of her training with Lane Bowers, who helped her as she learned to jump inverted, something she still considers one of her proudest accomplishments.
In 2009, Elaine became the first US woman ever to jump inverted, and to this day, she is the only US woman to have ever jumped inverted longline, landed, and barefoot away in a tournament. Her jumping success continued from 2010 through 2012 with two new World jump records. Her success was not only in jumping but overall, including slalom and tricks. In 2010, she went on to win the elusive Elite Woman’s Overall World Championships title.
Here are a few of Elaine's numerous accomplishments: 1st US Woman to Jump Inverted, 2nd in the World 4-Time Individual Elite Women’s World Champion: Overall, Jump, & 2 Slalom 2-Time Team World Champion 2006 Junior Slalom World Championship 2009 World Games Overall Women’s Champion 5-Time US National Open Women Overall Champion: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 2010 IWWF Barefoot Athlete of the Year 4-Time ABC Athlete of the Year: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 5-Time Footstock Women’s Champion 2-Time Footstock Junior Champion Barefoot Racing Cup Series Last Man Standing Award Personal Best Scores: Slalom 15.2 – Tricks 4700 – Jump 69.9 feet (21.3 meters)
Huge Congratulations to Elaine... we can't wait to celebrate with her on April 6, 2024, at the Nora Mayo Hall in Winter Haven, Florida! Tickets go on sale on January 1, and sponsorship details will be released soon... we hope to see you there!
Established in 1968, the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation celebrates the history of all towed water sports and promotes these sports through our Scholarship Programs and the Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame.