Janesville’s Duane Snow to once again lead World Water Ski Show Tournament committee

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Shelly Birkelo
September 6, 2014

JANESVILLE—The Rock Aqua Jays learned a lot when they organized and hosted the World Water Ski Show Tournament in 2012.

That's why Duane Snow, tournament director, is pleased the same people make up the 2014 tournament planning committee.

Planning took longer this time as organizers worked to attract sponsors.

The Aqua Jays in October 2011 won the bid to host the 2012 inaugural event. Eleven months later, the tournament showcased world-class athletes on the Rock River at Traxler Park, attracting an audience of more than 15,000 from 12 states, Snow said.

By the time the Aqua Jays host the second world ski event—The Skipper Buds-Tige Boats-Indmar Marine World Water Ski Show Tournament presented by Visit Florida First—it will be almost two years in the making.

“Finding sponsorship has been the biggest hurdle,” Snow said.

“The world economy has changed, and as a result our ability to attract sponsors has diminished,” he said.

The cost of the tournament will increase from $80,000 in 2012 to about $100,000 this year.

In addition to hosting the tournament, the Aqua Jays are hosting the annual meeting of the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation executive board. The 27 board members from around the world are in town to conduct federation business, Snow said.

The expenses include picking up the tab for board members' lodging, meals and transportation, he said.

Also different this year is teams from Australia, Belgium, Canada and China bringing more personnel—up to 35 members.

“They now realize a world competition takes more effort, more people, more pageantry and more creativity. You can't do that much with so few skiers. More skiers allow better flow, including costumes changes,” he said.

Also new: More foreign teams will bring their own boat drivers.

“In 2012, American drivers were asked to drive the multi-engine outboards because these other countries don't have twin or triple rigs like here,” he said.

Snow, 67, Janesville, spends at least three hours a day volunteering to organize the tournament.

“I get email and text alerts all the time while communicating with individuals around the world whose night time is my daytime,” he said.

Snow is quick to attribute the success of tournament planning to a 15-member committee.

“It's the easiest way to gather information, pull it together and make a production,” he said.

Snow said his computer skills have improved from two years ago.

“I'm faster,” he said.

He leaned on others, he said, to proofread his work for spelling and grammar.

Bids to host the 2016 World Water Ski Show Tournament are due Sept. 15. A site will be chosen a month later.

The Aqua Jays have not yet decided if they will bid to host the tournament again in two years, Snow said.

“The Aqua Jays have always been in the forefront of organizing large water ski show tournaments. It is their mission to produce tournaments that exhibit the skill, family value of water ski tournaments and to bring as much cultural diversity as it can to the city of Janesville,” he said.

“We think it's important we provide a place for these teams to go and have these events,” Snow said.

Snow recommends not missing the world tournament.

“You'll see the diversity of the types of shows put on in different parts of the world,” he said, “and get a good view of what foreign teams like.”

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